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Top 100 Influencers in Local Government

Each year, ELGL recognizes the top 100 influencers in local government.

The award, previously named the Traeger Award, is named after Chris Traeger, the city manager for the fictional City of Pawnee, Indiana on the show "Park and Recreation." He was known for extreme energy and commitment to improving local government.

Why do we do this?

One of our strategic goals as an organization is to find the joy in local government, and one way we do this is by recognizing the incredible people who work for towns, cities, counties, and districts. We know that influence isn't based on longevity or job title - anyone can make a difference when they work for local government.

We also want to take time in December to reflect on the year and the great work that people have done in their communities. Too often, we forget to recognize or say "thanks" to the people who make our communities run. Lifting up and celebrating local government is key if we are to attract - and keep - people working for local government.

The List is based on an individual’s influence in their community and outside their community through professional associations, mentoring, and writing. Most importantly, everyone on the list was nominated by a friend or peer who thinks they're doing amazing work.

Any current ELGL member is eligible to make a nomination each year for the award program. Winners are announced over two weeks in December. If you're not yet a member, you can join here.


Prior Year Winners:

2016 Traeger Award | 2017 Traeger Award2018 Traeger Award

2019 Traeger Award | 2020 Traeger Award


The 2021 Top 100 Influencers List is made possible by ELGL’s partnership with CivicPlus.

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2021 Top Influencers in Local Gov Award Winners

Top Ten

Jessica VanderKolk

Jessica VanderKolk

City of Battle Creek, MI

Communications Manager

LinkedIn | Twitter


Solid, Outgoing, Exceptional

Jessica is dedicated to informing her community through the city’s social media channels. Battle Creek has one of the best local government social media presences out there.

Jessica is a one-of-a-kind gem in local government and invaluable to the City of Battle Creek. She is passionate about her profession and public service.

I believe communications and messaging is at the heart of public service, now more than ever. No one understands that better than Jessica does. You see it in everything she touches. Whether its daily messaging, commission meetings, town halls, public meeting, or city fair. There is a component in Jessa in all of that. Which is an amazing reflection on Battle Creek.

Jessica challenges herself to develop professionally by putting herself out there in ways to advance her knowledge and understand best practices as well as volunteering in a variety of ways to serve and network with her peers.

The counsel she provides me as city manager is critical to my success as a leader and our city’s success in serving our neighbors. Jessica understands the constant flow of information can be overwhelming to neighbors and staff, thus she works hard at answering and providing information in a variety of ways. She is also a valuable and contributing member of the city’s senior staff.

The role of Communications Manager in municipal government is often thankless and behind the scenes. However Jessica does all she can to bring this critical work to light for a more informed city team and community. I dare so, no one does it better!

Jessica LITERALLY gives of herself to our city every day, and not just Monday through Friday. No different than Chris Traeger gave to Pawnee. I can think of no better recognition for her than being a 2021 Top 100 Local Government Influencer.


The 2021 Top 100 Influencers List is made possible by ELGL’s partnership with CivicPlus.

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Michael Baskin

Michael Baskin

Montgomery County Government. MD

Chief Innovation Officer

LinkedIn


Conscientious, Persistent, Connector

I’ve never met anyone who goes ABOVE the above and beyond like Michael! He relentlessly seeks and implements new ways of spreading innovation in government, primarily by creating structures that enable team members who are already in place. Michael understands that, while innovation in government may be valued, it is not often practiced at work because conventional structures make it too difficult to do so.

Michael has this incredible way of genuinely connecting with people. He is the ultimate convener, connector, and cheerleader who truly wants government – and the people that work in the #localgov space – to be the best they can be. Michael is the real deal, folks.

Michael Baskin is magic! So incredibly grateful that he is in this world of #localgov. The field – and our communities – are better because of it. 🙂

To that end, Michael and his team work alongside Montgomery County department staff to expand their capacity and tap into their own expertise to solve their toughest challenges. Michael never acts alone and constantly brings others along. He is always working to make things better—whether it’s a new tool to make hiring more transparent, starting meetings with a round of well-being check-ins and ending them with a moment of gratitude, or building new partnerships across governments and higher education institutions to test new ways of working. Michael is also an expert facilitator, connector, and advocate.

Beyond the day-to-day at MoCo, Michael interviews current and former government leaders to collect stories and deeply understand different place-based lessons learned; he runs ongoing online events—open to the public—to help those outside of his jurisdiction develop professionally; and he is an eager and willing collaborator with others beyond government, primarily in academia and philanthropy.

To get even more specific, here are some of Michael’s above-and-beyonds:

1) Runs ongoing Open Innovation events (anyone can register through eventbrite) such as spreading and teaching Liberating Structures, Civic Design Conversations, Innovation and Accelerator Open Office Hours, How Design Turns Insight Into Action, and many more!

2) Launched and runs an Innovation Accelerator program (https://www.montgomerycountymd.gov/innovation/accelerator/), which is an introduction to structured problem solving and community for MoCo staff. The program is rooted in community organizing inside of government where local government leaders recognize their own power to create change. The program has grown beyond MoCo staff; it’s also been taken by folks from Madison, WI and the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA).

3) Michael hosts other innovators in government to share their stories via a “Celebrity Interview” series, and is partnering with ELGL to turn this into a podcast.

4) Michael serves as a formal and informal mentor and thought partner to other government leaders, including mentoring three people through ELGL’s mentorship program.

5) Michael launched the DesignXPeople Fellowship to match local designers with government problem solvers to learn from each other as they deliver projects together, which has, in turn, helped at least one designer land a job in local government with Boston’s MBTA.

6) Michael ran CityLab Unleashed where he hosted= more open and inclusive tag-along events to tap into the energy of Bloomberg’s CityLab.

7) Sometimes Michael appears in Brendan Babb’s twitter feed (which is kind of a big deal)

8) Prior to MoCo, Michael did excellent work in Chattanooga (around police recruiting, PEAK, budgeting for outcomes, participatory design process for the Mayor’s Youth Council). Also, before joining MoCo, he facilitated Cities Count, which brought together city Census leads from around the country in community to ensure everyone counted.

9) Michael helped launch the National League of Cities’ initiative, Cities Vote as well as the National Conference on Citizenship’s Democracy Fellows programs.

I’d like to share an example that I think illustrates Michael’s above above-and-beyond. In my role at Stanford Impact Labs, I coach faculty on how to do impact-focused research with practitioners and how to co-create their research agenda with government collaborators. I reached out to Michael to see if he could help me design an excellent cohort gathering for 12 Stanford faculty members that would be meaningful to them and to the work.

Michael willingly agreed to meet with me and my colleague, outside of his working (and sleeping) hours since we are on the west coast. While he could have just sent us some references or given us a few tips and suggestions, Michael took the time to meet with us, listen to and question what we were really trying to achieve, ask questions to provoke our thinking, ask us what would be helpful, then throw out a bunch of ideas and resources—exactly what we said would be helpful—and finally give us his final recommendations on the agenda and activities that he thought would work best.

He gave us so much content to work with and think through and provided us with a structure that we could refine prior to the session. The session went INCREDIBLY well, as affirmed by the participants and the feedback they shared at the end of the session in the plus/delta format that Michael suggested. This session had absolutely nothing to do with Montgomery County. In fact, no one in government will ever know it happened or the ways Michael helped us (and, hopefully, the way we helped researchers help their government partners). But that’s the point. Michael’s work has a ripple effect, sometimes where the direct benefit to people and projects is visible, and often where the positive impact he has goes well beyond him and his purview.


The 2021 Top 100 Influencers List is made possible by ELGL’s partnership with CivicPlus.

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Danielle Rogers

Danielle Rogers

City of Newton, IA

Community Marketing Manager

LinkedIn | Twitter


Smart, Passionate, Quirky

I recently had the pleasure of presenting alongside Danielle (sharing communication and marketing knowledge with other Iowa cities) at the Iowa City Managers Association annual conference and her stage presence and excitement energized the entire room like I had never seen before! Afterwards, one of the conference hosts came up to us and said it was the best presentation of the entire conference — and that’s 100% because of Danielle. I know she also recently spoke at the Iowa League of Cities conference and can only imagine she blew it out of the park.

Danielle is getting very creative with tourism marketing and promotion of her community and working with IEDA and other communities to promote Iowa as a place to live, work and play through #ThisIsIowa and other campaigns.

She is know in the metro as being a resource for others in local government; using social media to not only tell Newton’s story but the story of local government.

Danielle embodies the Traeger spirit, her energy and commitment to improving local government is truly inspiring.

Danielle is a rare talent for a community like Newton, Iowa. Like so many other communities, Newton has stories, and challenges, and opportunities, and it’s own quirky personalities that truly shape what it is. Danielle has her finger on the pulse of ALL of it. And not just because her job is to market the community, but also because she is a part of every heartbeat of the city.

New craft beer pub targets Newton for their expansion? There’s Danielle behind the bar offering a pint and a smile. Need a volunteer for community fundraiser? You don’t have to look far to see Danielle leading the pack, volunteering above and beyond to ensure the event runs smoothly and goals are achieved. Urgent communication and coordinator needed in a time of crisis?

Danielle is the first to stand up ask what is needed to be done, picking up additional responsibilities and roles to benefit a community in time of need. She is passionate, she is committed, and she is always at the forefront of our evolving means of communication and engagement.

I don’t know that I have met Danielle with anything LESS than enthusiasm for the day, the question, or the challenge in front of her. If you wanted to find somewhere to wear the colors of your community and do so with an eagerness and enthusiasm.

When I need a co-presenter to talk about all things communications and social media, there’s one person I can rely on to lend a helping hand. (at least she hasn’t told me no yet.. ) Danielle goes above and beyond her community to make sure her residents are informed about everything that is happening.

During the derecho that hit in 2020, the city’s social media accounts were the only source of communication to residents. Danielle constantly updated them and made to respond to every question that came in. In addition to her job with the city, she helped her local emergency operations center during the pandemic. She is the true embodiment of a public servant, always there for her community by sharing her wealth of communications and social media knowledge and stepping up during challenging times.


The 2021 Top 100 Influencers List is made possible by ELGL’s partnership with CivicPlus.

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Sarah George

Sarah George

Athens-Clarke County Unified Government

Assistant to the Manager

LinkedIn


Positive, Energetic, Dedicated

Sarah works tirelessly for the citizens and employees of Athens-Clarke County, going way above and beyond expectations. She works long hours and never complains. She eagerly embraces new tasks and projects and sees everything through to completion. Even though her own work load is very heavy, she is always willing to help other employees and departments complete projects when they need help. Sarah is a true team player.

Sarah has served in a variety of roles across Athens-Clarke County Unified Government (ACCGov). She started working in local government as a part time employee at Athens Ben-Epps Airport. She spent time in ACCGov’s Organizational Development office and is now in the Manager’s Office. Each step of the way, Sarah has exemplified a love of localgov and the value of service to residents and fellow employees. She is an inspiration and shining example of what it mean to be a Traeger Award winner. Sarah supervises a few ACCGov Departments, tackles a variety of special projects, and is heavily involved in the agenda process. Sarah is a problem solver and integral leader in not only the Manager’s Office, but the entire organization. When you work with Sarah on a project you remember why you love LocalGov. She is ACCGov’s Chris Traeger no doubt.

She serves not only the manager’s office, but she cares about people from all walks of life. She gives of your time to help and assist in the community. She mentors executive leadership and advocates for education and empathy as a pattern of every day behavior. She deserves recognition for your hard work and dedication.

Sarah has a knack for spotting what needs to be done and making it her responsibility to see things through. She came into her current position at a time of transition for our government, had little precedent for the duties of said position, embraced it, ran with it, and made it her own. She routinely tackles varied and complex jobs for which no standard procedure exists, and always succeeds, frequently in the face of tight deadlines.

I wish we could infuse all of our 1,700 employees with a Shot o’ Sarah, or make ’em drink a Tincture of George.


The 2021 Top 100 Influencers List is made possible by ELGL’s partnership with CivicPlus.

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Jenny Halsey

Jenny Halsey

Triangle J Council of Government

Strategy & Operations Manager

LinkedIn


Hopeful, Collaborative, Witty

Jenny is instrumental in bringing about regional collaboration of our strategy, performance and innovation professionals in the seven-county TJCOG region in Central North Carolina. TJCOG is a local government entity that carries out regional services and fosters collaboration and dialogue amongst member local governments.

Jenny is always relentlessly positive and looking for ways to grow learning and collaboration via our TJCOG Regional Strategy and Innovation Network. Through the network, she has also been instrumental in supporting and guiding a TJCOG Innovation Academy for local government employees throughout the seven-county region. Jenny is humble and dedicated, and she works hard everyday to improve our region.

Jenny doesn’t have a Twitter presence. She is very low-key but she’s the type of leader that needs to be recognized and applauded in this community.

I can think of so many more words to describe Jenny: adaptable, steadfast, diligent, creative, responsive, thoughtful, friendly… Jenny works in a regional Council of Governments (COG) that supports around 50 government members. She coordinates and supports outreach initiatives in the area of strategy and innovation, providing participants the chance to grow and expand skillsets, and network with peer communities. I know that her role within the COG is much larger than supporting these initiatives, but she makes each one of them feel like the priority.

As the role of the COG may transform from one organization to the next, Jenny is the go-to contact for many of us. Working with her on the TJCOG Strategy & Innovation Cohort the last few years has been smooth and seamless, no doubt due to her coordinated efforts. Her kind and friendly demeanor shine through in every interaction, and I know I can’t be the only one to recognize it.


The 2021 Top 100 Influencers List is made possible by ELGL’s partnership with CivicPlus.

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Sabrina McLeod

Sabrina McLeod

Port Saint Lucie, FL

Strategic Initiatives and Grants Project Coordinator

LinkedIn


Driven, Tenacious, Innovative

Sabrina is a total rock star in Government Transformation. Over the last two years, Sabrina led multiple transformation initiatives throughout the office. During the height of the pandemic, Sabrina worked with multiple agencies to help reduce storm water calls and enhance the work in the field for the storm water team. She is able to cross walk with executive staff and line staff without missing a step. Because of her work, the PSL team reduced call volume during a hurricane by 50%. Sabrina helped develop new web information, videos, handouts and even helped document line level SOPs. Her biggest Innovation and transformation included emailing and texting residents before the storm on what to expect to during a heavy rain event.

Currently, Sabrina is running two major projects within the organization including a large scale multi department project within the 311 team. She facilitates all the meetings, follows up with every participant and doesn’t allow people an excuse to not perform. It’s magical to watch!

I was hesitant to suggest Sabrina’s age…however, it should be noted that Sabrina is 25. I’ve worked in government for more than 20 years…I have never seen someone take project management, process improvement, innovation and transformation to the level she is able to perform at such a young age. Sabrina is proof that the kids are alright. 🙂 She makes me believe that the local government community will thrive in the future.

Sabrina McLeod started with the City of Port St. Lucie as a summer intern while completing her graduate program and had always done an amazing job with any given assignment. The pandemic led Sabrina to return to Port St. Lucie unexpectedly to complete her last semester of graduate school and she reached out to the City to intern again.

Sabrina’s latest internship turned into a contract position supporting the City Manager’s Office Strategic Initiatives program. When the City decided to launch our first virtual innovation academy and innovation project, Sabrina was assigned as the project manager. Sabrina quickly absorbed the innovation academy curriculum and began managing complex projects with the ease and ability of a seasoned manager. She has become a driving force for innovation citywide and has managed innovation projects ranging from improving 1PSL (the City’s 311 call center), to helping staff improve customer service and drainage improvements and more.

Sabrina quickly jumps in with the needed analysis, follow up and drive to deliver on innovation projects, training countless staff and always identifying opportunities to improve. In addition to innovation projects, Sabrina has assisted the City with obtaining grants, supporting performance management and supporting implementation of the City’s strategic plan.

Sabrina has an incredibly bright future and we are so fortunate that she decided to return to the site of her first local government internship and plant roots – we can’t wait to see how she continues to grow.


The 2021 Top 100 Influencers List is made possible by ELGL’s partnership with CivicPlus.

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Juan Carlos Gonzalez

Juan Carlos Gonzalez

Metro Regional Government, OR

Metro Councilor

LinkedIn | Twitter


Conviction, Spirited, Empathetic

Over the span of his nearly three years as the youngest Metro councilor, he has established a footing as a well respected and admired voice in the region. His convictions on climate justice and racial equity is the foundation into his policy decisions and engagement on all things effecting Greater Portland including our transportation system, land use, preservation of natural areas, solid waste and recycling system and support for our most vulnerable with supportive housing services.

His ability to build bridges across communities and foster productive dialogue when conflicts on pathways to meet regional goals arise is well known, as he is constantly sought after to assist. His role as a service provider to our most vulnerable engages with his role as an elected ensuring the voice of rural Washington Co. and other underserved communities are heard and given action.

Juan Carlos is a bundle of energy which is exactly what we need in local government. He’s willing to step up and work with anyone. And that good naturedness is infectious and creates better work environments for everyone as well as better policy.

He is a great communicator! One thing I appreciate is his willingness to be open and sharing about his work and the work of our agency. A lot of people talk about transparency but he actually lives it.


The 2021 Top 100 Influencers List is made possible by ELGL’s partnership with CivicPlus.

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Tanya Ange

Tanya Ange

Washington County, Oregon

County Administrator

LinkedIn


Dedicated, Focused, Visionary

Tanya is transforming Washington County – professionalizing the organization; navigating implications of a full-time Board; and putting together an amazing team to serve the County.

Tanya is an exemplary leader who is taking Washington County to the next level! She is a force – for the very best in professional local government management.

In the middle of a pandemic, Tanya moved states, changed from city to county, and went from Deputy to CAO. Did all those transitions slow her down? Heck no! In her first 14 months on the job, she created the first Equity Officer position in Washington County and announced a complete restructuring of the county’s leadership team.

But it’s not just about what she’s done… it’s also how she’s done it. She mounted a massive informational campaign to inform all staff about the changes she was making, including why they were necessary, what they were based on, and what they meant.


The 2021 Top 100 Influencers List is made possible by ELGL’s partnership with CivicPlus.

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John Metro

John Metro

City of Jersey City, NJ

Business Administrator

LinkedIn | Twitter


Knowledgeable, Innovative, Efficient

John Metro deserves to be on the 2021 Traeger list not only due to the office he holds in one of the State’s largest municipalities, but his commitment to the improvement of the lives of all Jersey City residents. John has been a lifelong Civil Servant, and with his experience and passion has created a standard throughout the City that is proudly upheld throughout the workforce he oversees. His influence can be seen quite clearly when traveling through Jersey City, whether it be the expansion of Affordable Housing, implementation of the Vision Zero Initiative, and continued development of the Pedestrian Plaza.

John can be compared to Chris Traeger in many ways, he is an avid runner, a dedicated City Manager, and a committed friend and coworker. The major difference between them though would have to be their diets. Chris Traeger followed an extremely strict diet focusing on nutrients to help fuel his never ending battle with age, while John is a vegetarian who has never been seen eating a vegetable. John’s accomplishments are even more impressive when you factor in that his main source of sustenance is Mozzarella cheese and energy drinks.

John is at the helm of one of the 100 largest cities in the United States, masterfully navigating a challenging political environment and building a more sustainable community for all people in what is often also ranked one of the most diverse cities in the country. John has been able to weather the COVID-19 storm thanks to a strong foundation of fiscal prudence and creative budgeting, while also delivering a variety of new initiatives to help improve infrastructure, operations, and quality of life.
John is a local government visionary with a solid foundation in organizational development and leadership. Recognized as a proven thought leader, he provides tangible solutions to community concerns.

From creating a Department of Finance to becoming the city’s youngest Administrator, he has worked literally around the clock (if we didn’t know any better, we’d think he lives in City Hall) to revamp local government operations, community engagement and navigate the city through a pandemic-related fiscal crisis.

In his spare time away from the office, John “enjoys” running long distances while raising funds for local charities and non-profit partners.


The 2021 Top 100 Influencers List is made possible by ELGL’s partnership with CivicPlus.

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Melissa Cantarero Weiss

Melissa Cantarero Weiss

City of Wauwatosa, WI

Director of Administrative Services

LinkedIn | Twitter


Intelligent, Resourceful, Courageous

Melissa is a devoted local gov public servant who is always on the list of people who can come up with solutions. In the past year, she’s been tasked with overseeing the success of elections through COVID, managing multiple public engagement sessions with sensitive topics, helping guide our tourism rebounding efforts, supporting crisis communications throughout police incidents and severe weather, and supervising multiple teams through all of this change. Melissa has done all of this with grace, and it’s led us to successful community relations, updates to city policies, and employee engagement in a challenging time.

Melissa balances so much – work, family, and is a great friend too. I’m always in awe of what she accomplishes and her willingness to help out anyone. She is a role model to so many people and this recognition would be wonderful for her.


The 2021 Top 100 Influencers List is made possible by ELGL’s partnership with CivicPlus.

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Day nine

Michael Halford

Michael Halford

Guilford County, NC

County Manager

LinkedIn | Twitter


Resilient, Thoughtful, Collaborative

Michael Halford is, and has been for many years, a dedicated and compassionate change leader for North Carolina local government. Michael does not shy away from difficult or complex conversations but instead embraces them because he understands that it is a necessary part of the discomfort that comes with positive change and growth. Michael cares deeply about his colleagues in other jurisdictions and within the organization he is working for.

I won’t list the many awards and accomplishments but I will say he has had a decorated and trailblazing career. In his new role as County Manager for Guilford County he has already helped to reestablish priorities for the community, set clear values for the organization, and thoughtfully craft a community engagement strategy around the historical Federal investment we have received to help counteract historical inequities. Michael is working to build a team of leaders that is ready to face many new challenges and he is doing it with same care and compassion that he has demonstrated for his entire career.

For these reasons and many others I believe Michael Halford deserves a top place on the list of top local government influencers. For those looking for positive influential leadership that they can aspire to, he is a great example of rising to face many challenges while not compromising personal integrity.

A well deserved honor for a humble and kind person. A personal mantra I have heard communicated many times is “help others, help others” and I think that pretty much sums it up. Thanks for your time and consideration.

Michael has launched so many local government careers. You’d be hard pressed to find someone else who has provided training, leadership, and guidance to as many people as he has.


The 2021 Top 100 Influencers List is made possible by ELGL’s partnership with CivicPlus.

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Molly Fox

Molly Fox

City of Bedford, Texas

Director of Communications

LinkedIn


Connecting, Informative, Personable

Molly Fox has accomplished amazing things for the City of Bedford in the short period that she has been with us. Our City was always challenged in communicating with the residents. Truthfully, we were awful at it. Resident has become to expect little from the City. Molly came to us and it was like a breath of fresh air.

She has built a communications department that everyone has noticed. Daily I get compliments about the work that she has done to tell our story to the masses. The City of Bedford has made a cultural change in how it approaches governing. This would not have been possible without Molly engaging with our residents. These words cannot come close to explaining the impact that she has had in Bedford. There is no better person qualified for this recognition than Molly Fox.

Molly Fox has been a game changer for our City.


The 2021 Top 100 Influencers List is made possible by ELGL’s partnership with CivicPlus.

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Cassidy Mutnansky

Cassidy Mutnansky

City of St. Petersburg -Healthy St.Pete

Health in All Policies Planner

LinkedIn


Innovative, Creative, Collaborative

Cassidy is the first Health Planner in the City of St. Petersburg and has taken on this novel role by collaborating with departments across the city to help implement a health lens when planning new policies, procedures and programs. She has taken this role to a new level by serving as the lead on the social and health equity committee tasked with distributing and best utilizing American Rescue Plan Act funds.

Cassidy eloquently delivered messaging in town hall style meetings throughout the city along with managers and directors of other city departments. She has navigated through unknown territory to figure out how to meet the needs of the community while using the funds appropriately.

Cassidy is an innovator who does a phenomenal job assessing a situation, analyzing what has been done in the past, and implementing a strategic plan to help the organization reach their goals in the future. The City of St. Petersburg and the Healthy St. Pete initiative are fortunate to have this creative and innovative leader on their team.


The 2021 Top 100 Influencers List is made possible by ELGL’s partnership with CivicPlus.

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Nadia Hasan

Nadia Hasan

City of Beaverton, OR

City Councilor

LInkedIn | Twitter


Courageous, Equitable, Compassionate

Nadia is the first Muslim and first woman of color on Beaverton’s City Council. She passionately pursues equity, and does not slow down. She believes in the work, and she gives it her all. She’s tired. Yet nevertheless she has persisted.

Nadia is the absolute best. She is a hero for our city, and yet she is so humble. She is inspiring a new wave of leadership.

Nadia spoke with ELGL and CivicPulse at the 2021 ICMA conference, offering her perspective on why it is important to measure and report on diversity in local government leadership. With candor and grace she shared her own perspectives on how diversity strengthens an organization and why representation matters.


The 2021 Top 100 Influencers List is made possible by ELGL’s partnership with CivicPlus.

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Sarah Huntley

Sarah Huntley

City of Boulder, CO

Director of Communication and Engagement

LinkedIn


Curious, Courageous, Inclusive

Sarah is an incredible asset to the City of Boulder. She embodies the city’s values and always prioritizes sharing information with our community. Her work has been critical to keeping the community informed about anything from public safety to engagement opportunities, with an eye on making sure our outreach is equitable. She leads her team with grace, compassion and poise and it is a pleasure to work with her every day.

Sarah Huntley is leading an organizational culture change toward transparent and inclusive public engagement in Boulder, Colorado. Sarah’s brave and innovative leadership has created a new relationship between city staff, elected officials, and the community we serve. Recognized by the International Association of Public Participation (IAP2) as Organization of the Year in 2019, the City of Boulder under Sarah’s guidance continues to find ways to bring more voices to the table, co-create more inclusive spaces to listen and learn from community members, and report back on how feedback was heard and used. As a frequent presenter at national conferences and the President of the Colorado IAP2 chapter, Sarah is as invested in the broader field as she is in the local community. She looks to other communities to learn about best practices, and when she can’t find what she is looking for, she draws on colleagues to create something new. She is a fearless, smart and empathetic leader who is carving pathways for Boulder and other communities to follow.

Sarah’s leadership was truly on display during the mass casualty shooting that Boulder experienced in March, 2021. She held her team and the community in her arms while leading more than 25 communication and engagement professionals from our own staff and from nearby communities who showed up to help. She made sure each victim’s family was resourced as the national media descended and supported the Mayor, Chief of Police, and other city spokespeople in sharing and receiving messages of support and grief. She modelled self-care while maintaining flows of communication. She inspired and empowered the engagement team to listen to the community and find ways to respond. Already and impressive leader, she stepped into this new and extremely difficult role with calm, grace and a nurturing spirit for all.

Sarah is a natural relationship builder who is tirelessly dedicated to increasing trust between local government and the community. Her dedication to inclusive engagement has paved the way for more meaningful decision-making – that engages underrepresented community members – throughout the City of Boulder and across the region.

Sarah is a patient, wise, and profound mentor to countless staff, community partners, and local government professionals. Her drive to share situationally-effective practices, advance the field, and increase accountability is unmatched.


The 2021 Top 100 Influencers List is made possible by ELGL’s partnership with CivicPlus.

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Brittany Spanos

Brittany Spanos

Municipality of Princeton, NJ

Administrative Coordinator

LinkedIn


Visionary, Diligent, Proactive

Brittany joined Princeton Municipality as a Building Department secretary and within short two years she showed her value and was hired as Confidential Assistant to Administration. In addition to going above and beyond her expected job duties, Brittany found time to continue her Master studies and use that knowledge to start Princeton Employee Engagement Team (PEET) – a united staff action team that creates safe space for ALL municipal staff so that everyone has say in how the work environment is managed.

Brittany continues to work extremely well with all staff members and demonstrates leadership skills everyday.

She is a single mother of three beautiful daughters who are growing up to become part of the bright future generation.She is very devoted to what she does every day and is authentic in her actions and words.


The 2021 Top 100 Influencers List is made possible by ELGL’s partnership with CivicPlus.

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Ashley Graff

Ashley Graff

City of Gresham, OR

Assistant to the City Manager

LinkedIn


Thoughtful, Innovative, Connector

Ashley is so much more than her job title of Assistant to the City Manager. She is the person in the organization who people turn to, share info with, bounce ideas off of and collaborate with because she is a fabulous listener, enjoys and is skilled at collaborating and problem-solving together, always has thoughts on how we could connect with someone else or another organization to make something we’re doing stronger and brings innovation to the table in all we do.

She is the force behind innovative programs like Pathways to Employment and our public safety CTE program with our local school districts and she is leading our new Strategic Plan for the whole organization. She makes things happen in a way that everyone can get onboard and share in the success!


The 2021 Top 100 Influencers List is made possible by ELGL’s partnership with CivicPlus.

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Imara Gabe Diaz

Imara Diaz

Hampton, VA Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion

Interim Executive Director

LinkedIn


Phenomenal, Inclusive, Determined

Imara is an invaluable asset to the citizenry of Hampton and serves as the LGBTQ liaison to the City Manager’s Office. In the short time that he has been the Interim ED for the department, Imara has reignited the Hampton Diversity College platform within the city. This is an interactive discussion based series for residents to learn the values of diversity, race, culture, disability awareness, social justice and societal change.

Since its inception in 2004, the program had been only available in person; however, now being offered as a free online course. Imara manages 2 citizen based commissions and a Youth Advisory Group to help plan, promote, and execute programs to increase unity and cultural competency and a sense of belonging within the city. He has also been very instrumental in providing access to residents in underserved communities for better health outcomes, amid the pandemic, offering P.P.E., health screenings and access to vaccinations.

Imara most recently petitioned Hampton City Council for a departmental name change (to better align the work of the office), The Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion: The Home of the Citizens’ Unity Commission


The 2021 Top 100 Influencers List is made possible by ELGL’s partnership with CivicPlus.

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Adriana Trujillo-Villa

Adriana Trujillo-Villa

City of Haines City, FL

Operations Manager

LinkedIn


Energetic, Collaborative, Inclusive

Adriana is committed to bringing along other leaders and supporting diverse leadership styles. She is an engaged learner and continues to support those around her.

Adriana has more than fifteen years of combined experience in public and private sectors including positions in county, city, and tribal government; business and local media. She is experienced in municipal public works management and operations, as well as Florida Growth Management regulations. I am nominating her because of her proven excellent background in project management, economic development and capital improvement projects. She is also a clear communicator with the ability to work with staff, community, civic leaders, business owners, volunteers, and elected officials. She deserves a spot on the Traeger List!


The 2021 Top 100 Influencers List is made possible by ELGL’s partnership with CivicPlus.

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Brendan Babb

Brendan Babb

Municipality of Anchorage

i-team Director/Chief Innovation Officer

LinkedIn | Twitter


Collaborative, Innovative, Connector

Brendan is excited to share and cheer on great projects from other cities and share amazing work from Anchorage. Brendan is interested in how cities can replicate strong projects. Private sector and academia discourage sharing trade secrets or unpublished research with others, while government is thrilled if something from their city can help other people in other cities. Brendan works to encourage the sharing and collaboration of the private sector, non-profits, cities, counties, states and the federal government.

Brendan is lucky to be a member of very strong peer networks including ELGL, Bloomberg Cities, What Works Cities, i-teams, Cities of Service and Code for America. Thanks to these networks and the generosity of peers, Brendan has helped people think about Anchorage for innovation opportunities and helped make people have to drastically expand their US maps to include Anchorage and Alaska.


The 2021 Top 100 Influencers List is made possible by ELGL’s partnership with CivicPlus.

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Day eight traeger

Mercury Payton

Mercury Payton

Town of Vienna, VA

Town Manager

Website  | Twitter | Headline


Champion, Innovator, Convener

Mercury has a long and successful history as a servant-leader for local governments and Virginia. His actions this year in creating, leading, and supporting the town’s Liberty Amendments Month celebration in June and July are what necessitated this nomination.

The Town of Vienna initiated Liberty Amendments month in 2021 after Juneteenth was declared a state holiday. The events are the brainchild of Town Manager Mercury Paton. He wanted to bring the community together to foster mutual respect and understanding and to celebrate the Constitutional Amendments that give all citizens a say in how they are governed, regardless of their culture or station in life. The month commemorates the passage of the 13th, 14th, 15th and 19th Amendments, which granted full rights to citizens who were previously excluded from the U.S. Constitution.

The idea for the month-long celebration quickly mushroomed, and 21,000 people attended dozens of educational and commemorative events in the inaugural celebration from Juneteenth to Liberty Amendments Day, a Town holiday. Please see this video for a summary of the events.


The 2021 Top 100 Influencers List is made possible by ELGL’s partnership with CivicPlus.

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Stephanie Deitrick

Dr. Stephanie Deitrick

City of Tempe

Enterprise GIS & Data Analytics Manager

LinkedIn | Twitter


Dedicated, Innovative, Enthusiastic

Stephanie has been with the City of Tempe for over seven years, promoting innovation in data, performance management and data focused training. She has changed the culture within the city, leading efforts to create tools, processes and training that make data more accessible and usable to support decision making at all levels of the organization and in the community. In her work, Stephanie demonstrates a genuine enthusiasm and excitement for helping people integrate data into their work and decisions.

Stephanie also teaches graduate courses at Arizona State University. In her classes, she shares her passion for public service, demonstrating the importance of data and analysis in local government and how they can make a difference in peoples’ lives. Outside of the classroom, she brings on several interns each year to work on projects and initiatives that highlight the importance of data in local government.


The 2021 Top 100 Influencers List is made possible by ELGL’s partnership with CivicPlus.

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Greg Stopka

Greg Stopka

Park District of Oak Park, IL

Strategy and Innovation Manager

LinkedIn | Twitter


Insightful, Innovative, Visionary

I have only known Greg a short while but right off the bat knew he was making (and will make) a major impact in the local government community. While he serves as the Strategy and Innovation Manager for the Park District of Oak Park, he organized a regional benchmarking group to facilitate the sharing of best practices in order to learn and drive improvement.

Now, he has taken that vision and is expanding it to a national level working with key partners like ELGL and us to help execute. It is exciting to see his vision unfold and to follow his lead. Meanwhile, he has taken his own organization’s strategic planning efforts to an all new level.

Recently, Greg wrote a blog for ELGL called Purpose-Driven Strategic Plans: How the “Great Resignation” is an Opportunity for Local Government to Create Purpose for Employees. I found it incredibly insightful particularly at this time and an important addition to ELGL’s body of knowledge.

I believe Greg is one to watch in the world of local government. He has all the makings of a visionary leader and I look forward to following his career to see where it takes him!


The 2021 Top 100 Influencers List is made possible by ELGL’s partnership with CivicPlus.

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Brianna Sunryd

Brianna Sunryd

Amherst, MA

Communications Manager & Community Participation Officer

LinkedIn | Twitter


Helpful, Kind, Smart

Brianna is a rock star! Everything she touches becomes better because of her experience and perspective. She is focused on community engagement and finding new ways to bring all voices into community conversations. She is gifted user of communications platforms, and thinks strategically about communications for the agency.

Brianna is also the first to step up and say “let’s try it” and this drives innovation. Thanks to her work, we have seen the organization’s business process improvement efforts implemented. Lastly, we need more creative brains in local government and Brianna is one of the best.


The 2021 Top 100 Influencers List is made possible by ELGL’s partnership with CivicPlus.

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Frank Scott Jr

Frank Scott Jr

City of Little Rock, AR

Mayor

LinkedIn | Twitter


Innovative, Courageous, Charismatic

Mayor Scott Jr. has breathed new life into the City of Little Rock. With great opposition, he continues to reach all the goals he set forth in his platform to get elected and much more. Mayor Scott Jr. promised innovation to be a welcomed function of the New Little Rock and he has pressed the Department Directors at every turn. He has ensured we are operating in a fiscally sound manner, reaching the underserved, offering new opportunities for health and wellness internally for City employees and for residents alike. He is on fire, passionate about his City and opening doors for underutilized vendors and suppliers and is making sound decisions based upon data and the voters’ needs.

As the first African American elected Mayor of Little Rock, Mayor Frank Scott Jr. is focused on improving Little Rock and bringing all residents together in peace. He had a daunting task when he was elected, and he has remained steadfast and moving forward despite threats of violence. I admire his gumption, knowledge, patience, maturity and love for the City of Little Rock. I pray he can win again so more of his influence will be embedded into the City functions, policies and procedures-change was needed and is happening with him at the helm.


The 2021 Top 100 Influencers List is made possible by ELGL’s partnership with CivicPlus.

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Laura Chandler

Laura Chandler

ClearPoint Strategy

Director of Community

LinkedIn


Energetic, Enthusiastic, Gregarious

Laura Chandler can light up a room with her incredible energy. She has a positive, can do attitude that is felt by those around her. Even if you thought you couldn’t do something, a short conversation with Laura would completely flip your perspective into ‘yes, I can do that!’ Her glass is not only half full, it’s more like there is an amazing meniscus on top that should be spilling over and for some reason, it stays in the glass! Laura is a catalyst for positivity that is heartfelt and sincere.

Laura is enthusiastic, encouraging, professional, inclusive, a great listener, knowledgeable, communicates well in both verbal and written form, and her passion for bringing people together is contagious. Laura loves to create a space for collaboration sharing both challenges and celebrations.

Every team could benefit by having someone like Laura on their team!


The 2021 Top 100 Influencers List is made possible by ELGL’s partnership with CivicPlus.

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Selah Gardiner

Selah Gardiner

Athens-Clarke County Unified Government

Community Education Analyst

LinkedIn


Mission-Focused, Engaged, Kind

Selah is the first person hired to work in a newly created inclusion office and there’s no one better for the job. She always has her eye on the mission and centers her work around what’s best for the community. She is also keenly aware of how critical it is for the organization to weave diversity, equity, and inclusion into all aspects of operations and service. As a side note, her background in animal services and with the Humane Society make her a natural empath, always able to connect with people. She is a natural leader and deserves a spot on the Traeger list!


The 2021 Top 100 Influencers List is made possible by ELGL’s partnership with CivicPlus.

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Kristen Camareno

Kristen Camareno

Tarrant County, TX

Assistant County Administrator

LinkedIn | Twitter


Problem-solver, Task-master, Collaborator

Kristen has held a number of roles at Tarrant County over the years – from Mobility Coordinator to Interim Community Development Director and now she’s an awesome Assistant County Administrator. In every single one of these roles, she’s been a true collaborative, and supportive leader, bringing people closest to the problem together in order to solve it. Most importantly, she has continued to be kind and humble throughout, supporting her team, and fostering positive culture change along the way.

There is not a single problem that Kristen Camareno can’t solve. Her collaborative spirit, enthusiasm, and grit continue to shine through, no matter the task at hand. Tarrant County is so lucky to have her!


The 2021 Top 100 Influencers List is made possible by ELGL’s partnership with CivicPlus.

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Tanisha Briley

Tanisha Briley

Gaithersburg, Maryland

City Manager

LinkedIn


Thoughtful, Superstar, Trailblazer

Tanisha is a significant contributor to local government. She provides calm, thoughtful leadership and is working hard to bring new ideas and honor the existing culture.

She stayed in Cleveland Heights, Ohio after they changed their Charter to Mayor-Council and then pursued her current position in Gaithersburg. I have tremendous respect for Tanisha and believe she is deserving of this recognition.


The 2021 Top 100 Influencers List is made possible by ELGL’s partnership with CivicPlus.

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Matt McKirahan

Matthew McKirahan

Village of Pinehurst, NC

Organizational Performance Director

LinkedIn


Innovative, Effective, Curious

Matt recently transitioned from the City of Raleigh to the Village of Pinehurst where he is serving as their Organizational Performance Director. We first began working with Matt when he was fellow at the City of Fort Lauderdale, FL. and, at all times and in each role with consistency, Matt is always stepping outside of his day-to-day to contribute and learn from the wider local government community. Matt even worked at the UNC School of Government alongside Dr. Dale Roenigk on the North Carolina Benchmarking Project, which is a leading organization in the space.

Matt is a willing collaborator and sharer with other local government community. He will gladly share information and ideas with other organizations and seeks genuine opportunities to connect with others. Matt has served on our advisory board and as an ELGL Strategy cohort mentor for two years in a row. This year, he actually mentored two cohort members all the while moving into a new job opportunity. He didn’t skip a beat and made sure that we knew he would maintain his support of the cohort even through the transition.

Matt works with other local government leaders and the Triangle J Council of Governments on their Innovation Academy Task Force, which aims to offer local government leaders from communities of every size the opportunity to develop new skills, collaborate with peers, and learn data-driven approaches for creating efficient, future-ready public-sector solutions.

While at Fort Lauderdale and the City of Raleigh, Matt helped to drive their strategy planning and performance management efforts. Matt pushes the envelope of what is possible and is creative in doing so. He’s generous with his time, humble with his accomplishments, and regularly makes us laugh especially when he spars with Ingrid. He’s a joy to work with and our cohort members who have been lucky enough to be his mentees are grateful for his commitment to each of them even well past the program. Matt is so deserving on this recognition!


The 2021 Top 100 Influencers List is made possible by ELGL’s partnership with CivicPlus.

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Day seven

Oswaldo Mestre

Oswaldo Mestre, Jr.

City of Buffalo, NY

Director of the Division of Citizen Services

LinkedIn


Inspirational, Change Maker, Innovative

Oswaldo Mestre Jr. is the Chief Service Officer and Director of the Citizen Services for the City of Buffalo and serves as the City’s ombudsman. Appointed by Mayor Byron W. Brown in January 2006, Director Mestre has been tasked with the administration of the Mayor’s Call & Resolution Center and various special programs designed to address the needs of Buffalo’s neighborhoods, such as the implementation of the city’s new 3-1-1 Call & Resolution center recently awarded and designated as a “Citizen–Engaged Community” by the Public Technology Institute, Inc. for 2010-2012 and 2012-2014.

Mr. Mestre has also been charged with the ongoing development, implementation and assessment of neighborhood revitalization and quality-of-life programs such as the Mayor’s Citizens’ Participation Academy; the Save Our Streets Program, and its nationally acclaimed “Clean Sweeps Initiative” from the American City & County Magazine 2007 America’s Crown Communities;

As former director of the Buffalo Weed and Seed program, Mr. Mestre was instrumental in establishing the Buffalo program to be one of only eight Weed and Seed programs in the nation to establish an effective gun abatement program. His work with the Justice Department led the Community Action Organization to honor Mr. Mestre with the “Outstanding Crime Prevention Advocate” award.

Mr. Mestre also directed an AmeriCorps/VISTA program “Buffalo Urban/Suburban Corps”, which offers post-secondary scholarships to those that, are interested in serving their community. Mr. Mestre serves on the executive committee of Buffalo’s Workforce Investment Board and is the chairperson of its Youth Council. He is the former president of the Board of Directors of C.R.U.C.I.A.L Community center, Inc., and current member of Leadership Buffalo, (class of ’97).


The 2021 Top 100 Influencers List is made possible by ELGL’s partnership with CivicPlus.

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Kara Roberson

Kara Roberson

City of Wentzville, MO

Communications and Strategic Engagement Manager

LinkedIn


Optimist, Adaptable, Humble

Kara Roberson is a multi-faceted, award-winning marketing and communications professional. Kara is an extremely loyal leader – both in innovative thought and actions. She has more than 20 years of professional marketing and communications experience, including 13 years in municipal government.

Kara currently serves as the Communications Manager and Public Information Officer for the City of Wentzville, Missouri, where she works behind the scenes to create high-quality design and content for the City’s social media channels, newsletters and more. In her almost-six years with the City of Wentzville, she has worked to increase the City’s Facebook following from 1,500 to more than 12,000. She is also the City’s brand-champion! While implementing a new logo, City seal and City flag Kara has remained ever-conscious of the need to promote and protect the City’s brand. A native Texan, Kara holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Integrated Marketing Communications from Abilene Christian University, in Abilene, Texas.

Kara has wrote for ELGL Morning Buzz, in 2021 presented at ICMA, 3CMA and the Missouri Municipal League. She has done numerous other speaking engagements and volunteers her time to help those in local government. She is a passionate member of the local government community and a huge asset to what we do in local government. She is also a Board Director for Missouri Women Leading Government.


The 2021 Top 100 Influencers List is made possible by ELGL’s partnership with CivicPlus.

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Monique Carter

Monique Carter

City of Fontana

Communications & Marketing Manager

LinkedIn


Inspirational, Passionate, Motivational

Monique hit the ground running when she started with the City of Fontana in the Marketing and Communications Office in 2020. She is an extraordinary leader who brings much patience and passion to our small but mighty office of two as we strategize and implement a comprehensive marketing and communications plan for a city of 214,000 residents.

Monique has completely transformed how we interact with residents and businesses in just a year through new tools and strategies. She views our communication initiatives through a resident lens in that everything our office does aims to strengthen the relationship between residents and local government.

Monique inspires everyone she meets and challenges them to be the best they can be. She is a wonderful mentor, manager, and friend.


The 2021 Top 100 Influencers List is made possible by ELGL’s partnership with CivicPlus.

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Sophie McGinley

Sophie McGinley

City of Eugene

Assistant Planner

LinkedIn | Twitter


Passionate, Inclusive, Humble

Sophie is an incredible person who truly embodies the spirit of local government and public service. She has gone above and beyond in her work with the City of Eugene and helped create the most innovative, inclusive public engagement process I’ve ever seen the city conduct for her current missing middle housing code amendment project.

She helped the city work with Healthy Democracy to create a lottery selected, representative, paid committee for the project as well as a paid equity panel for the engagement process. She also manages the @Eugplanning instagram and Facebook accounts and has been creating content that is understandable and interesting for a broad audience including younger folks. She also worked with university students to engage them in the process.

Sophie champions equity and inclusion in every aspect of her work. On top of this, she serves as the Chair of the Springfield Planning Commission, is involved in a local transportation advocacy nonprofit, and makes time to present at conferences, events, and in classrooms while still being an amazing friend and mentor to the people around her. She does everything she can to work in alignment with her values and isn’t afraid to shake things up and push for what she believes in.


The 2021 Top 100 Influencers List is made possible by ELGL’s partnership with CivicPlus.

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Matthew White

Matthew White

Contra Costa health Services

Innovation Lead + BI Manager

LinkedIn


Innovative, Considerate, Driven

Matt White deserves a place on the 2021 Traeger list because he continually ideates and implements new means of technology to better equip both the Contra Costa County health services staff and the patients they serve. Matt creates collaborations between internal teams and experienced vendors to encourage new projects that will both enhance the community’s healthcare experience and move the public healthcare provided by Contra Costa to a more advanced state.

His encouragement and innovated thinking led his team’s efforts to share needed COVID-19 information, over 156,000 community members have gotten fast and accurate information regarding the latest COVID-19 measures, via conversational AI. With his leadership and encouragement, I truly believe the community’s access to important public health information and healthcare have been positively influenced.


The 2021 Top 100 Influencers List is made possible by ELGL’s partnership with CivicPlus.

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Erin Riley

Erin Riley

City of Scottsdale, AZ

Adult Services Coordinator – Scottsdale Public Library

LinkedIn


Innovative, Collaborative, Thoughtful

Erin is a leader in innovation in Scottsdale, so much so that she will be leading the city’s new I-Team, which will tackle long standing challenges with innovative solutions developed through an engaging process of human centered design. Erin participated in the Bloomberg Cities Innovation Training Program last year, emerging as a leader on a cross-departmental team and was even recognized as the Bloomberg Cities “Innovator of the Week”. https://bloombergcities.jhu.edu/news/librarians-take-innovation

During the pandemic, Erin focused on finding ways to continue delivering the library’s adult programing while maintaining social distancing. Through offering many classes online class enrollment and attendance increased noticeably, even with the libraries in Scottsdale reopening more of the community is engaged than ever!


The 2021 Top 100 Influencers List is made possible by ELGL’s partnership with CivicPlus.

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Alivia Haibach

Alivia Haibach

Erie County Department of Health

Health Equity Coordinator

LinkedIn


Motivated, Quick-thinking, Passionate

Alivia is working to transform our approach to health at our local Public Health Department. She works to apply an equity lens to all aspects of our work. She advocates for training for staff and community members, has established a community advisory board, co-chairs our internal Inclusion, Diversity, Equity and Access (IDEAs) committee.

In response to the COVID19 pandemic, Alivia worked (and continues to work) closely with our community centers. She was one of the first people to work towards translating COVID-19 materials in our state, and worked towards receiving masks to distribute to schools and throughout the community. Alivia is a Health Equity rockstar.


The 2021 Top 100 Influencers List is made possible by ELGL’s partnership with CivicPlus.

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Chaquinta Fisher

Chaquinta Fisher

McLennan County, TX

Desktop Support Manager/Web Accessibility Coordinator

 LinkedIn


Focused, Helpful, Professional

Chaquinta is focused on the citizens in our county. Her work is focused on helping all of us in the county serve the citizens better. She approaches her work with a customer service lens, and is always mindful that not everyone has the same abilities or accesses when it comes to the county web resources. She is also easy to talk to and clearly communicates with those of us who are not tech savvy! 🙂


The 2021 Top 100 Influencers List is made possible by ELGL’s partnership with CivicPlus.

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Nathan Mustafa

Nathan Mustafa

City of Riverside

Deputy Public Works Director

LinkedIn


Forward-thinking, Innovative, Gutsy

Nathan was recently promoted into the Deputy Director role for Public Works at the City of Riverside. Let me tell you why.

  1. He cares about the community and their input. He has actively worked with them on big and small projects
  2. He goes after and receives major grants around transportation
  3. He takes risks to make change. Even when it may not be popular.
  4. Safety of pedestrians, bicyclists and vehicles are always his priority.
  5. His experience and background is in traffic engineering, but he looks at each concern, question and/or issue holistically.
  6. He cares deeply about this community of Riverside

The 2021 Top 100 Influencers List is made possible by ELGL’s partnership with CivicPlus.

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Terri Harding

Terri Harding

City of Eugene

Principal Planner

LinkedIn


Ambitious, optimistic, caring

Although she’s the captain of the long range planning team, Terri largely keeps herself out of the spotlight. she instead showcases her team and their accomplishments. She believes in people and is willing to take a chance so that they feel valued and capable. Want to write an engagement plan as a fresh hire, 24 year old? Go for it! Want to try something new?

Let’s try it! Technical skills in local gov are important, and Terri is an example of the magic that comes from assigning equal value to soft skills and ambition. She is relentlessly positive and absolutely determined to make change. Along with managing the long range planning team she is the project manager for a zoning reform project and championed the use of a lottery-selected panel as part of the outreach plan.

If you ever need to be cheered up, ask Terri for a picture of her dog Mochi.


The 2021 Top 100 Influencers List is made possible by ELGL’s partnership with CivicPlus.

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Day six traegers

arlington county va

Michael-dharma Irwin

Arlington County Government – Department of Human Services

Quality Assurance Manager

LinkedIn


Clever, Persistent, Elevating

Michael-dharma commands an impressive amount of data – over 80 performance measurement plans across a 700 person department. She’s not interested in data for data’s sake though, and constantly asks what to do with it. She spearheaded an initiative to disaggregate our performance data by race to get a better picture of inequities in resident outcomes. She authored a journal article published by John’s Hopkins detailing the County’s COVID response in light of differing racial outcomes with the hope that other jurisdictions could learn about our efforts and improve on them. Michael-dharma has served as the point person on multiple initiatives, including compiling research on police involvement in mental health crises and assessing the impact of a pilot program giving cash with no strings attached to those in need.

It’s an impressive line-up of achievements, but she still always makes time when someone wants to get her advice. She is a confidant and advisor to people across the department. She gives guidance, fills us with determination, and most importantly pushes us to do better. Because that’s what our community deserves.

Michael-dharma is a brilliant thinker and a kind friend. When I think of the platonic ideal of local government bureaucrat, I think of her. She uses the system to make the system better.


The 2021 Top 100 Influencers List is made possible by ELGL’s partnership with CivicPlus.

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Kimiko Gilmore

Kimiko Gilmore

City of Kansas City, MO

Assistant City Manager

LinkedIn


Leader, Change maker, Navigator

Kimiko is the person at City Hall everyone knows, loves, and respects. Kimiko has an incredible ability to simply get things done and convince even the greatest skeptics on how to move something forward. Kimiko demonstrates great poise and she commands respect from all of those in Kansas City and beyond. None of the amazing things going on here in Kansas City happen without Kimiko!


The 2021 Top 100 Influencers List is made possible by ELGL’s partnership with CivicPlus.

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Shayne Kavanagh

Shayne Kavanagh

Government Finance Officers Association

Senior Manager of Research

LinkedIn


Insightful, Prolific, Transformative

Shayne has dedicated his career to improving local government finance. He realizes that local government finance and the role of a finance officer is not just to balance the books or mind the piggy bank. He encourages finance officers to challenge their organizations and themselves to plan better, make smarter decisions, reduce waste, and improve the communities they serve. As the pandemic unleashed unprecedented uncertainty and fear over government budgets, Shayne led GFOA’s efforts to produce resources that finance officers all across North America could rely on to apply “Fiscal First Aid” to the situation. Over the past two years, Shayne has authored or co-authored more than 17 research reports for GFOA on topics including diagnosing the financial condition of your government, balancing the budget, leadership under financial distress, cash flow, and COVID. Each paper was converted to training seminars and information was relied on by thousands to help steer their governments through the fiscal crisis.

Throughout his career, Shayne has worked to improve government by elevating leading practices and providing relevant research, advocacy, and leadership to help finance officers create more sustainable organizations. Shayne led efforts to re-write GFOA’s code of ethics creating doctrine that code focuses on how the finance officer can build and maintain public trust. Rather than a list of “dos and don’ts,” the new code is built on five key values: 1) integrity and honesty, 2) producing results for the community, 3) treating people fairly, 4) diversity and inclusion, and 5) reliability and consistency.

Shayne has also authored leading publications on technology transformation, long-term financial planning, financial policies, forecasting, and IT budgeting. More recently, Shayne authored “Financial Foundations for Thriving Communities,” GFOA’s featured publications that converts leading economic theory on common pool resource theory and applies the situation to the public sector budget process. Using proven principles for sustainable asset management the publication provides a new way to think about local government budgeting as a collaborative process that relies on stakeholders from across the organization. Since the original publication, these principles have been used to provide context to innovative research on use of imposed fees and fines, police budgeting, capital planning, pension reform, building trust and transparency, and more.

Currently, Shayne is leading two significant research initiatives for GFOA, Rethinking Budgeting and Rethinking Revenue. As governments now focus extra attention on the budget amid the global recession and COVID19 pandemic, improving the quality of budgeting is important to not only long-term financial sustainability, but also trust in government.

Shayne regularly consults directly with local governments as part of GFOA’s Research and Consulting Center. Over his 20+ year career with GFOA, Shayne has been active in helping local governments with ERP transformation, long-term financial planning, financial policy development, and recently leads GFOA’s efforts to infuse probability management with government decision making related to risk and uncertainty. Shayne has worked to develop several probabilistic models that provide for more informed decisions making that can be applied to reserve levels, debt capacity, pricing strategies and more.


The 2021 Top 100 Influencers List is made possible by ELGL’s partnership with CivicPlus.

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Jordan Gilgenbach

Jordan Gilgenbach

City of Minneapolis

Social Media Officer

LinkedIn | Twitter


Creative, Dedicated, Hilarious

Because he is a Tik Tok genius and has cut the path for government use of Tik Tok. He also kicked some major ass during the difficulties his city experienced over the past year in addition to working through COVID.

I do refer to him as my BFF and ever since I met him I could tell he was special in ever sense of the word. He shares his talents with others, and takes no prisoners!


The 2021 Top 100 Influencers List is made possible by ELGL’s partnership with CivicPlus.

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Angela Wilson

Angela Wilson

Town of Frederick, CO

Communications & Engagement Manager

LinkedIn


Passionate, Dedicated, Exuberant

In Angela’s four years at the Town of Frederick, she has shaped the tone and personality of the Town’s communications through her relentless efforts. Wearing her heart on her sleeve, Angela diligently shows up every day to do her best in her work and effort in managing her team. Angela is a contagious beacon of positivity and energy.

She walks into the office each morning singing, bringing laughter and happiness to the office. Angela is committed to exemplifying the culture principles of the Town of Frederick: Family, Respect, Empowerment, and Dedicated. She treats every resident, employee and person with the same level of attention and is willing to go the extra mile to find the answers to the random questions she receives. Angela is dedicated to her job and shares an equal dedication to personal growth and learning by attending training. She continually demonstrates a commitment to empowering the team she manages and people she works alongside.

Angela is not only a great boss and coworker but a great leader and influencer. The world would certainly be a better place if there were more people like Angela in it!


The 2021 Top 100 Influencers List is made possible by ELGL’s partnership with CivicPlus.

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Anjanie Ramnarine

Tarrant County, TX

Compensation Coordinator

LinkedIn


Synergetic, Responsive, Funny!

Anj has come to our Department’s rescue many, many times. From reviewing job descriptions, salaries, reorganizing our Department and Divisions, and everything in between, Anj has been our guide. She’s also answered our relentless questions along the way. I’ve lost count of how many times Anj has helped us out with big things that she made easy things and am so grateful for that!

Anj brings this great sense of calm and humor to everything she does, something that is often lost in the world of HR. Thank you, Anj, for bringing joy to the sticky stuff.


The 2021 Top 100 Influencers List is made possible by ELGL’s partnership with CivicPlus.

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Jessica Chernich

Jessica Chernich

Village of Beach Park, IL

Management Analyst

LinkedIn | Twitter


Innovative, Critical thinker, Aspirational

Jessica has recently entered the local government sector and she is already proving to be innovative and engaging; Jessica has become very involved in Illinois with the ILCMA and IAMMA; she has also participated in a few great initiatives such as mug exchange, writing articles for ELGL, and overall promotion of the local government sector. In the past, Jessica held several events in Round Lake Beach to engage the community including holding their first Children’s Day and Touch-A-Truck. In both situations she fundraised for the events and the events served over 200 families.


The 2021 Top 100 Influencers List is made possible by ELGL’s partnership with CivicPlus.

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Kate Kigongo

Francisco Contreras

Francisco Contreras & Kate Kigongo

City of West Hollywood,

Innovation Team

Kate LinkedIn | Francisco LinkedIn


Forward-thinking, Creative, Determined

The Innovation Team in WeHo (Francisco and Kate) are amazing champions of new and better technologies of all types for the City. They advocate for departments and residents and are creative in how they put forward new solutions for the City.

Team nomination for Francisco and Kate together as the Innovation Team!!


The 2021 Top 100 Influencers List is made possible by ELGL’s partnership with CivicPlus.

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Robyn Afrik

Robyn Afrik

Ottawa County

Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Director

LinkedIn | Twitter


Resilient, Courageous, Compassionate

I am nominating Robyn Afrik because she is the epitome of positive influence on a community. As Ottawa County’s first DEI Director, Robyn is in charge of implementing the County’s DEI strategic plan, operationalizing DEI efforts, reducing implicit bias from decision-making processes, and collaborating with other local municipalities in the community to make Ottawa County a place where everyone belongs. In the DEI Office’s first year, Robyn helped to establish over 50 multi-sector partnerships and responded to over 90 requests for service in the first 60 days of the DEI Office’s implementation.

The disruptive events that have unrolled in the past couple of years have truly changed the way we all operate. Instead of waiting for answers to these enduring problems, Robyn has viewed crisis as an opportunity to innovate and grow, and brought equity to the forefront of many crucial conversations. For instance, the DEI Office partnered with other departments and community organizations to address disparities in Ottawa County that were amplified by COVID-19. Robyn also facilitated vital and courageous conversations among leaders, employees and the community following the aftermath of George Floyd’s death. The ongoing conversations and focus on these issues resulted in health equity and policing equity being the main topics at Ottawa County’s 6th Annual Diversity Forum (https://www.miottawa.org/CI/diversity-forum.htm).

During a time where DEI efforts have been increasingly central in organizational planning and public debate, Robyn never shies away from difficult conversations and always jumps at an opportunity to help and guide others to take action to create more diverse, equitable, and inclusive practices. Robyn always strives to build up the people around her and is incredibly thoughtful with her listening, guidance, and advice. Even on the harder days, Robyn leads with energy, passion, and encouragement. She often goes out of her way to share a new resource or check-in with how a colleague is doing, and I think that speaks volumes about her character because she is at the office working until midnight on some days! I have no doubt that Robyn will do many more amazing things and create positive ripples in her community, and I cannot wait to see the impact she continues to have.

Outside of the government world, Robyn is an adjunct professor at Hope College, a national speaker, consultant, and author on issues related to diversity, equity and inclusion. She co-authored Becoming Like Creoles Living and Leading at the Intersections of Injustice, Culture and Religion (Fortress Press), and designed national partnerships and projects through Afrik Advantage LLC, a minority woman owned business, building cross sectors of communities, businesses and faith-based organizations, while developing inclusive leaders and key strategic DEI priorities.


The 2021 Top 100 Influencers List is made possible by ELGL’s partnership with CivicPlus.

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Burnett Walz

Burnett Walz

Buncombe County, NC

Strategy and Innovation Management Analyst

LinkedIn


Knowledgeable, Problem-solver, Hard-working

Burnett Walz is an Innovation Management Analyst at Buncombe County, NC. Burnett is a self-motivated and driven business intelligence professional with a diverse work background. He has demonstrated ability to effectively communicate with all levels of at Buncombe County while building strong cross functional partnerships.

Over the past few months, Burnett has push the importance of strategic planning and performance management at the County. He has supported departments as they work to create Goals, Measures, and Initiatives that align with the County key Focus Areas. Burnett is also helping to push transparency at the County through sharing data with citizens.


The 2021 Top 100 Influencers List is made possible by ELGL’s partnership with CivicPlus.

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Day five

Dan Bagley

Daniel Bagley

City of Raleigh, NC

Community Relations Analyst

LinkedIn


Innovative, Compassionate, Forward-thinking

Dan Bagley has devoted the last 15 years in service to the City of Raleigh (North Carolina). When he first joined the City, he was a Community Center Director and managed 3 parks and 2 indoor facilities. In addition to planning programming and welcoming citizens, Dan created an atmosphere that was welcoming to children who needed a safe place to grow, develop and feel valued. He fused his love of programing with his love of people to ensure that the environment was reflective of the diverse citizenry it was designed to serve.

In his current role, Dan serves as a Community Relations Analyst and oversees several programs in the Housing & Neighborhoods department’s Neighborhood Enrichment Services division. One of his flagship programs is the Citizens Leadership Academy. Citizens Leadership Academy is a series of classes offered each spring and fall to help Raleigh residents develop skills as neighborhood or community leaders. He develops and updates curricula, identifies guest speakers, and delivers world-class training to attendees. Instead of allowing the pandemic to interrupt the academy, Dan quickly took the program online, which equipped more citizens with the tools needed to serve and lead. Some of his students have used his training to take on leadership roles within City boards and commissions.

During the pandemic, he came up with the idea and helped develop self-guided tours of amazing Raleigh sites to help people get out of their houses while remaining safe. Dan worked hand in hand with the city’s Raleigh Digital Connectors, a youth group within the cities Digital Inclusion Division, and the Greater Raleigh Convention and Visitors Bureau who created the maps. The self-guided tours showcase some of Downtown Raleigh’s most visited attractions, historic sites, and beautiful parks; each tour was narrated by the Digital Connectors. The program was so well received that it won the City of Raleigh’s Big Ideas Challenge in September.

As a colleague, Dan has developed a reputation as a team member who will step in to help anyone. He recently helped a colleague pivot an event to a virtual format by assembling an entire team to test and support the program in advance of its live debut. He has also stepped up to take over initiatives that have a direct benefit to citizens but did not have dedicated staff to keep them operational. One such initiative is the Connect Raleigh Series. The program features local and nationally known experts who speak about innovative topics and trends happening in Raleigh. Current topics that are in development are on Food Insecurities, Changing Behaviors in Transportation, and Closing the Digital Divide.

Whether he is at a community event passing out information, talking with leaders in local neighborhoods, or building relationships with outside organizations, he’s a perfect representation of what local government is doing right. His hard work, creative thinking, and unparalleled humor make him a pleasure to work with daily.

I am appreciate having Dan as a colleague. He will always stop what he is doing to help. He also brings the “funny” to stressful situations and helps us to push through challenges.


The 2021 Top 100 Influencers List is made possible by ELGL’s partnership with CivicPlus.

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Toni Cook

Toni Cook

City of Little Rock, AR

Assistant Procurement Manager

LinkedIn


Innovative, Tenacious, Detail-Oriented

Toni has taken on so much of the data and results driven contracting work for our City in the realm of procurement. She has also lead several successful randomized control trials on engaging with more minority and women owned businesses. She is a one woman powerhouse and does so much work which is making our processes better, our data cleaner and our education higher amongst employees and vendors. Most of her work goes unrecognized in our organization and that needs to change. She is awesome!


The 2021 Top 100 Influencers List is made possible by ELGL’s partnership with CivicPlus.

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Bud Harris

Bud Harris

Kitsap County, WA

Director of Information Services

LinkedIn


Adaptable, Problem Solver, Innovative

I enjoy working and collaborating with Bud because he always has his eye on the future and is an adept thinker and planner before taking action. It’s that thoughtfulness that makes me nominate him for this award, which I think would be a great addition to his career in public service. He is also very encouraging to others in their careers so I would like to pay this forward and be appreciative to him.


The 2021 Top 100 Influencers List is made possible by ELGL’s partnership with CivicPlus.

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Rebecca Hascall

Rebecca Hascall

Jefferson County, CO

Chief Information Officer

LinkedIn


Strategic, Innovative, Transformative

Rebecca is a change maker. She is collaborative and never shies away from solving tricky challenges. She understands that IT is not a technology issue it’s a people issue. I also appreciate that she is data focused, using data to tell a story to improve processes and business practices.


The 2021 Top 100 Influencers List is made possible by ELGL’s partnership with CivicPlus.

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Samantha Holland Wagner

Samantha Holland

Town of Yountville

Director, Parks and Recreation

LinkedIn


Dedicated, Resourceful, Positive

Sam is the Leslie Knope of our small town. She quietly is behind the scenes of many great programs here in the Napa Valley. She is well respected and leads by example. Creating programs for all ages. She volunteers for community organizations as well. Taking leadership roles. She connects our Town to schools, Service organizations, Veterans Groups and organizations like the Boys and Girls Club. Her license plate is “PARKREC”.


The 2021 Top 100 Influencers List is made possible by ELGL’s partnership with CivicPlus.

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Kate Parmelee

Kate Parmelee

City of Port St Lucie

Director of Strategic Initiatives & Innovations

LinkedIn


Innovator, Advocator, Kind

Kate is Traeger come to life. Not to brag, but she’s kind of a big deal. She has only been here for four years and has accomplished so much.
She’s formalized the City’s Strategic Plan process. Every project the city has now ties back to the city’s strategic plan. Her next step: better utilizing our budget process to also connect more with our strategic plan.

We are working to be a more data-driven organization, in part because of her. The City now consistently issues the National Community Survey to our residents to collect scientifically valid data and feedback. We have a dashboard that shows said data and tracks our performance for our residents.

She has led innovations in the city. We now have InnovationPSL, a multi-departmental team focused on creating innovations and process improvements in our city. With her help, we can offer innovation training to all city employees. From her connections, we’ve hired behavioral scientists to look at city issues regarding solid waste. Her creativity knows no bounds and she’s always willing to help a department find a solution.

I would say her biggest accomplishment to date are the improvements she has made to the city’s grants process. The City went from an informal grant process, to having a grants and advocacy team where we strategically think about which grants we should apply for and how to get our legislation better involved. She is already working on her next step: inputting and managing grants in one area for the City rather than differing by departments.

Finally, Kate is the kindest person I know. She does so much not only for the City, but for her community. She volunteers her expertise to other organizations on her rare off time. She’s dedicated to her family and always encouraging her son to make the world a better place. She’s a wonderful mentor and the best hype person for her mentees. The City of Port St. Lucie is grateful to have her and her dedicated commitment to improving our local government.

Being jealous that you haven’t worked with Kate is a completely normal feeling. The only way to overcome the jealousy is to meet her — reach out on her LinkedIn. She’s the best!


The 2021 Top 100 Influencers List is made possible by ELGL’s partnership with CivicPlus.

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Janet Schafer

Janet Schafer

Gaston county government

Budget director

LinkedIn


Energetic, Inquisitive, Genuine

Janet is a leader among department directors in Gaston County. She goes out of her way to improve services for residents, builds lasting relationships with colleagues across the entire organization, and embodies public service leadership every day. She is not only a standout government leader in the county—she also is involved on the executive board of the North Carolina Local Government Budget Association, and has shared her knowledge with colleagues by presenting at conferences. She also volunteers her time to speak with students at UNC Charlotte and UNC Pembroke, helping to develop the next generation of civil servants.


The 2021 Top 100 Influencers List is made possible by ELGL’s partnership with CivicPlus.

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Shelby Teufel

Shelby Teufel

City of Pleasant Hill, MO

City Administrator

LinkedIn


Knowledgable, Devoted, Adaptable

Shelby gives her heart and soul to the community of Pleasant Hill. In addition to effectively leading the organization and day-to-day operations, she is genuinely invested in the community. She has a depth of knowledge beyond most city administrators. I am always amazed at her ability to recall specific details about the development code, pipe sizes and actions taken by the city council from years ago. She noticed a depressed area of the roadway on her way into work, and staff subsequently found an underground water leak that they repaired before further damage. Her knowledge and attention to detail make her exceptional at her work.

Shelby really cares about her staff. She maintains high standards and holds her team accountable, yet has a reputation for being fair and supportive


The 2021 Top 100 Influencers List is made possible by ELGL’s partnership with CivicPlus.

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Kayleigh Vocca

Kayleigh Vocca

City of Lone Tree, CO

Management Fellow

LinkedIn


Persistent, Insightful, Team Builder

Kayleigh is a rising star on the local government scene. A recent MPPA grad from the University of Massachusetts Amherst, Kayligh landed in Lone Tree, CO as a Management Assistant Fellow. Her graduate work revolved around police department organizational structures, the findings of which she presented at the 2021 ICMA conference. Her research findings have struck a nerve and offer much needed diligence in how police departments can be structred for better community outcomes.

During her time in Lone Tree she has become a respected voice on the staff and has contributed to the greater local gov community in Colorado through participation with the Colorado City/Couty Manger’s Association (CCCMA) and the Colorado Municipal League (CML). Kayleigh has become a go-to member of the team, taking on grant management, strategic planning, and organizational planning along with organizing the first ever Lone Tree Day of Service to engage community members in giving back. Her thoughtful aproach, regional respect, and fresh ideas absolutley earn her a spot on this year’s #ELGLTraeger list.


The 2021 Top 100 Influencers List is made possible by ELGL’s partnership with CivicPlus.

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Jason Horton

Jason Horton

Wake County, NC

Strategic Performance Director

LinkedIn


Data-driven, Leader, Collaborative

Jason Horton is the Strategic Performance Director at Wake County, NC. Jason is a detail-oriented local government director with experience managing complex organizations and partnering with others to achieve desired outcomes. He has skills in Performance Management, Strategic Business Planning, Project Management, Data Analysis, Customer Satisfaction Research, and Budgeting/Finance. With Jason’s support, Wake County is focusing on creating strategic alignment across departments that support the County Goals. Through this work, the County has been able to focus on the importance of data and making data driven decisions.

Jason is one of the nicest individuals you will ever meet.  He is so approachable, generous with his time, and is always willing to show his roadmap to his local government peers.


The 2021 Top 100 Influencers List is made possible by ELGL’s partnership with CivicPlus.

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Day four traeger

Karen Connelley

Karen Connelley

Maricopa County, AZ

Deputy Chief Information Officer

LinkedIn


Visionary, Results-oriented, Focused

Karen is amazing! She is a highly motivated IT visionary with broad expertise and perspective. She manages teams effectively and is always willing to help out anyone in the County with their needs. She is able to keep a big picture perspective while still focusing on the details that are important in a project. Working with Karen is always exciting and I always learn something new.


The 2021 Top 100 Influencers List is made possible by ELGL’s partnership with CivicPlus.

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Paula DeBoles-Johnson

Paula DeBoles-Johnson

Leon County Government

Employee Engagement & Performance Director

LinkedIn


Collaborative, Catalyst, Inspirational-Influencer

Paula DeBoles-Johnson serves in dual roles. She works for Leon County Government and Capital City Youth Development, a nonprofit she established almost 20 years ago. She lives by the motto, “Nothing that ever do for children is wasted.” She strives daily to make the world a better place through her dedication to youth and young adults throughout our state. She has demonstrated her love and support of youth for more than 30 years in both her personal and professional life. Whether it’s fundraising for activities, hosting events for organizations, serving on committees and boards that advocate on behalf of children and families or founding a nonprofit because a gap needed to be filled, she is all about making the community better for the children.

In her role with Leon County Government, she is responsible for fueling the engagement of more than 700 employees through education, training and professional development. While she’s been with the organization for less than 4 years, she’s already been selected for many awards and recognition for her work. She is very passionate about her work and her colleagues and gives EVERY BIT of her experience, wisdom and talent to her team members every day. If you ask, her first comment is that she LOVES HER WORK!

Paula took the national stage in early 2005, sharing the message of healthy relationships and the need for specialized training for minority youth. Her trainings were so popular that she was invited to present at the National Board of Governors. In 2006, Paula joined the staff of Volunteer Florida, where she shared her passion for empowering families through education and service across the state. She challenges herself, to grow and create. She single-handedly created two unique programs at Volunteer Florida; the Leader Guides for Program Directors and the first ever LeaderCorps Initiative in the state of Florida. She finds ways to tap into the very best of each individual and challenges members to be the catalyst to change their communities.

Paula has selflessly devoted more than 60 hours a month for the last 13 years, volunteering on numerous community boards including the Human Relations Council, Airport Advisory Committee and the TPD Community Advisory Committee. It is no surprise that she was selected, unanimously, as the Chair for Tallahassee Leon County Commission on the Status of Women and Girls. Her innovative #YearoftheGirl initiative, the summits hosted and their first ever Status of Girls Report are just a few of the reasons she is called upon for her leadership.

Paula is an inspirational leader, always reaching back to lift up others, giving them opportunities to grow and to share the spotlight. She has recently been selected to lead Club 25, and she continues to give back to her community through service. Throughout Florida she is affectionately regarded as a “grower of greatness” and these are just a few of the reasons that I believe that she should be awarded your highest honor. As you can see, I’m a fan!! Thank you for your consideration.


The 2021 Top 100 Influencers List is made possible by ELGL’s partnership with CivicPlus.

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Erika Eddy

Erika Eddy

City of Albuquerque Dept. of Technology & Innovation, NM

Digital Content Coordinator

LinkedIn


Eagle-eyed, Fierce, Unstoppable

Erika has been invaluable to the City of Albuquerque since starting in 2018. She has an uncanny ability to see through bureaucratic and logistical challenges that mire most municipal governments in order to come to a simple, straightforward solution that benefits our community. As a mother of three, Erika brings a family-focused perspective that has been missing in our organization.

She is a vital member of the One Albuquerque: Youth Connect initiative, focused on making it easy for parents to discover and register their kids in recreational and educational opportunities for their kids. Erika is also tireless advocate for low-income housing initiatives, all while overseeing a website of 6,000+ pages across 26 departments. We are so proud to work with Erika and cannot think of a better individual in Albuquerque who deserves recognition for her tireless efforts, careful attention to detail, and willingness to speak up for individuals who most need a voice. She absolutely plays an outsized role for her contributions to our community and embodies what a top influencer in local government is all about.

Erika doesn’t just advocate for families and low-income households because it is the right thing to do, she has also lived experience in this area. She brings first-hand knowledge of the challenges facing our community to the table and uses it to advance solutions that actually make a difference. Erika might not be a traditional person for an award like this, but her combination of technical skills in managing a large and complex website, along with her unending focus on families and public housing, make her standout in any room.


The 2021 Top 100 Influencers List is made possible by ELGL’s partnership with CivicPlus.

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Danielle Gonzalez

Danielle Gonzalez

Marion County Community Services Department, OR

Economic Development

LinkedIn


Committed, Energized, Trusted

Danielle Gonzalez deserves a place on the 2021 Traeger list, because of all that she has done for the Santiam Canyon. Her dedication, along with her endless energy and devotion to the communities of Mill City, Gates, Detroit, and Idanha. I know Danielle has many projects other than the Canyon. Thank you Danielle for your time and effort. The only reason why the Sewer system project is this far along, is because of her development experience.


The 2021 Top 100 Influencers List is made possible by ELGL’s partnership with CivicPlus.

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Greg Kajszo

Greg Kajszo

City of Glendale, CA

Innovation Project Manager

LinkedIn | Twitter


Resourceful, Empathetic, Intelligent

Greg is a multi-disciplinary project manager. He has excelled in a variety of assignments including building data dashboards, developing a staff report writing guide, designing user-friendly website to name a few. He is well respected and can work with anyone. He has this disarming way where he gets people to open up to him easily, which allows him to learn quickly and get to work. He’s a big part of why our innovation work in Glendale is successful. I hope he is selected for the Traeger award. He’s a big fan of Parks and Rec show and a big supporter of ELGL.


The 2021 Top 100 Influencers List is made possible by ELGL’s partnership with CivicPlus.

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Emily Kaster

Emily Kaster

Cumberland County (ME) Emergency Management Agency

Deputy Director

LinkedIn | Twitter


Innovative, Brilliant, Energized

Emily is a go-getter who is always looking to improve the industry of emergency management. She’s had ample opportunities in the last year+ with the pandemic and she harnessed the circumstances at every turn. She applied this drive for innovation to her graduate studies at NPS, evaluating innovative opportunities with each project and how to make efficiencies for emergency managers in Maine. Emily is definitely one to watch — she’s brilliant, quick, and ready to make the world better!


The 2021 Top 100 Influencers List is made possible by ELGL’s partnership with CivicPlus.

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Greg LeBlanc

Greg LeBlanc

City of Grand Junction, CO

Sr. Asst. to the City Manager

LinkedIn


Innovative, Humorous, Visionary

Simply put, Greg *gets* local government. He works hard to help his community and fellow government leaders understand complex issues. Greg has a way of using existing technology in innovative ways and leverages resources to deliver the best experience to the people he serves.

Greg has a passion for local government that permeates among his colleagues and drives them to perform to their highest ability. Greg leads by example – practicing what he preaches. His colleagues from partner agencies and across the state of Colorado look to Greg for advice on a wide range of topics.

Greg is an absolute hoot! It is a pleasure working with Greg and I hope to see him be recognized for the work that he does. We want to keep our nomination anonymous because we don’t want Greg to ever find out who did it.

 


The 2021 Top 100 Influencers List is made possible by ELGL’s partnership with CivicPlus.

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Ashley O'Brien

Ashley O’Brien

City of Saint Paul, MN

User Experience Designer

LinkedIn | Twitter


Innovative, Empathetic, Creative

Ashley works tirelessly as a team of one to help others. She spends her time managing ambiguity, helping decision makers in the organization conceptualize, test, and iterate their visions. She is currently working with her colleagues to consider user experience at the onset of a project, rather than at the end. Ashley volunteers at every opportunity to help shape practices of inclusivity in the organization. And, she gives back to the community in the form of career development and coaching through her alma matter and as a mentor to youth and newcomers to the field of UX who reach out for guidance.


The 2021 Top 100 Influencers List is made possible by ELGL’s partnership with CivicPlus.

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riverside ca

Gema Ramirez

City of Riverside, CA

Project Manager

LinkedIn


Innovative, Community-focused, Dedicated

Gema has stepped up and out for our community, our organization and our residents since the pandemic started Gema is currently working in two almost three special assignments at this time not including her regular job duties, which some have been modified. She is currently the Community & Emotional Support Lead for funding, Office of Sustainability lead for Social change and now the ARPA Funding Lead. She has stepped up every time she has been asked. She has done her work with dedication to the community, a commitment to the City and doing what is right and just everyday since she started here at the City but specifically speaking since March of 2019. She is truly a good person, a good staff member and a good leader.


The 2021 Top 100 Influencers List is made possible by ELGL’s partnership with CivicPlus.

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Tiffany Stewart

Tiffany Stewart

City of Newark, NJ

Human Resources Director

LinkedIn | Twitter


Visionary, Strong, Professional

Tiffany exhibits quality community leadership and admirable tenacity. She has garnered the respect of co-workers and peers, often being asked for her trusted guidance and support from managers and supervisors at weekly meetings. She is instrumental in instituting new procedures, contributing to a positive workplace culture change, and rebranding the Department of Water & Sewer Utilities of the City of Newark to connect the local government to the people it serves.

As a visionary, Tiffany is the founder of the Newark Watershed Science and Leadership Academy, providing applicable leadership skills and valuable science lessons to over 1,300 elementary, middle, and high school students during the launch of the pilot program. With workforce development and preserving water resources in mind, she enables a young generation of students to learn about future careers in the water and wastewater industry where challenges of recruiting employees exist nationwide. She partners with the local and regional schools’ science programs as she recognizes the importance of empowering young citizens to become civically engaged stewards of our critical water resources and grow into STEM careers.

Tiffany is a member of American Water Works Association, sits on the nonprofit board of NJ SHARES, Inc., co-chairs the state of New Jersey Taskforce on Lead, and serves on the steering committee of New Jersey Water Works, advocating for improved policy on water and wastewater. Her civic involvement is an inspiration not only to the students who participate in the Newark Watershed Science and Leadership Academy, but also to those she works alongside and for. 

Tiffany is a powerful advocate in support of her community and has a strong commitment to public resources. She has a genuine interest in uplifting the people of the community in which she was raised. As a member of the board of directors for New Jersey SHARES, she works toward helping low- and moderate-income families pay for energy and utility bills, offering hope for those in financial crisis.


The 2021 Top 100 Influencers List is made possible by ELGL’s partnership with CivicPlus.

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Day three traeger pictures

Allison Bell

Allison Bell

Bellwether Consulting

President

LinkedIn | Twitter


Connection, Courage, Creativity

Allison has done this work from different angles: as a government employee, university researcher, nonprofit leader, and now, consultant. Allison has been interviewing local gov leaders to understand how they bring connection, courage and creativity to local government and community work. Herocrats are government employees who risk their livelihoods to fight systemic injustice. In 2022, Allison will release her first book, Herocrats, which shares stories and strategies of government employees who are fighting systemic injustice.

I went to grad school with her at Carnegie Mellon University and have enjoyed watching her career!


The 2021 Top 100 Influencers List is made possible by ELGL’s partnership with CivicPlus.

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Gail Sumi

Gail Sumi

League of Wisconsin Municipalities

Member Engagement and Communications Director

LinkedIn | Twitter


Tireless, Supportive, Passionate

As Member Engagement and Communications Director for the League of Wisconsin Municipalities, Gail tirelessly advocates for Wisconsin’s municipalities and juggles many tasks to ensure municipal employees are educated, informed, and connected to one another and to the legislative actions that impact them and their residents.

Beyond her regular duties, Gail started a collaborative group of municipal communications professionals – the Platespinners, so named because it seems all municipal communications professionals also wear many hats and juggle a lot of plates, as she does – who meet periodically to idea share, commiserate, and help one another through their communications challenges and opportunities. This invaluable group helps all involved work smarter to better inform and engage their residents. Gail is a compassionate, passionate communications professionals who genuinely loves her work and creates opportunities for others in the industry to connect, learn, and grow.

Not only is Gail a leader in the government communications sphere here in Wisconsin, she is a great supporter of new or younger professionals. She seeks to give us opportunities to be heard (such as through the Platespinner group or contributing to conference/webinar presentations) and opportunities to build their resumes (such as contributing content to the League’s print magazine). She inspires communications professionals throughout the state to keep learning, persevere, and love public service. She freely shares opportunities and her own experiences to help others be their best. Thank you, Gail!


The 2021 Top 100 Influencers List is made possible by ELGL’s partnership with CivicPlus.

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Sharon Edmundson

Sharon Edmundson

North Carolina Local Government Commission

Deputy Treasurer, State and Local Government Finance Division

LinkedIn


Knowledgeable, Clear, Patient

In a state that’s well known for professional local government, the North Carolina Local Government Commission is as responsible as any other agency for helping make the state that way. The LGC is a well-known state agency that keeps NC municipalities from getting into trouble with their finances. I think it was the first agency of its kind and it’s a model for other agencies across the nation.

Ms. Edmundson is the Secretary of the LGC, and oversees the Local Government Finance division of the NC State Treasurer’s Department. As that agency’s representative to the state’s local governments, she’s an important figure just by virtue of her office.

But it’s her abilities that make he deserving of this recognition. She’s got a knack for translating complex concepts into layman’s terms. She uses that talent to help folks understand and execute the nuances of the legislation that governs local government finance in North Carolina. She’s prompt and responsive, no small feat for an agency with over 1,300 constituents. And she’s as patient with small units of government working on the basics as she is with the big cities with teams full of CPAs.

I think she’s the third most important person in state government for NC municipalities behind the governor and the NCGA’s speaker of the house.


The 2021 Top 100 Influencers List is made possible by ELGL’s partnership with CivicPlus.

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Steve Timmer

Steve Timmer

Hamilton Parks Conservancy

Executive Director

LinkedIn


Imaginative, Unstoppable, Doer

Steve Timmer is the definition of public service. After 30 plus years as a Firefighter/Paramedic, Fire Lieutenant, and Fire Captain, Steve took on the role as Executive Director of the Hamilton Parks Conservancy since its inception. Upon taking control of all Park areas in the City of Hamilton through a unique agreement with the City, Steve and the organization have transformed the Hamilton Parks.

After updating each and every park space, as well as reactivating multiple neighborhood parks, Steve and the Hamilton Parks Conservancy were asked to take over the operating of the two City owned golf courses and run the day to day operations. And BOTH courses have experienced transformational change in their playability, appearance, and professionalism. Steve’s organizational leadership is unparalleled in the Hamilton Community and as a former Hamilton Citizen of the Year, his work with the Parks is just another example of the phenomenal public service in his life.

Steve is a true public servant. After his retirement from the Hamilton Fire Department, Steve volunteered as a Master Gardener to maintain the upkeep of various City medians and pocket parks. Steve’s vision often goes unnoticed as he is one of the most intense doers you will ever see. As Executive Director, you may think you’ll find Steve behind his desk most days. Absolutely not! Steve is often out in the parks doing anything from picking up trash to putting on roofs.


The 2021 Top 100 Influencers List is made possible by ELGL’s partnership with CivicPlus.

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Laurel Loftin

Laurie Loftin

Athens-Clarke County Unified Government

Water Conservation Coordinator

LinkedIn


Creative, Champion, Committed

Out of the almost 2,000 Athens-Clarke County Unified Government employees, Laurie Loftin is the first person to come to mind when thinking of influencers in our government and community. Her creativity is unlike any other, she is champion for local government services and the employees that deliver them, and her commitment to raising the awareness of water is unparalleled.

I reached out to a few of her colleagues and together we think she deserves a place on the 2021 Traeger list because:

1. Creative – Creative unlike any other. Laurie has a way of coming up with the most creative activities off the top of her head. She spearheaded Athens participation in the 2021 ELGL Knope Award for best water facility in the nation. She hosted a meet and greet for community members to meet Li’l Sheepastian at the water reclamation facility. In Laurie’s own words, “Li’l Sheepastian is a goodwill ambassador for Athens water reclamation operators. This little lamb is a future champion chewer, helping to remove pesky weeds and clover that grow beneath the solar panels at Cedar Creek WRF.”

She is continually pushing the creative limits. Who else, but Laurie would think to paint rocks with poop emojis and hide them around town for people learn about World Toilet Day. These are just two of the hundreds of examples of her creativity.

2. Champion – She is the number 1 Champion and Cheerleader for local government services and the employees that deliver them. We jokingly call her the Leslie Knope of Athens. Whenever she speaks, she is always sharing about the people doing the work behind the scenes who no one ever sees. She is able to boil down the “what” of the Public Utilities Department and connect with all residents on the value they receive from their local government. She is a great “communicator” and represents #TeamACCGov well.

She doesn’t stop at the Athens-Clarke County line though, she is extremely involved in the Georgia Association of Water Professionals chairing and participating in several committees. She also participates in national organizations and recently presented THREE times in one day at the national WaterSmart Innovations Conference. The EPA WaterSense team specifically asked her to fill in for them to present at the conference when they could no longer attend. She is the ultimate water champion.

3. Committed – Laurie does not have an “off” button! She is walking, talking, living and breathing water conservation and education 24 hours a day and seven days a week. Whether it is planning an event or coming up with the next public awareness campaign, Laurie literally does not stop thinking about ways to make the “thing” fun, unique, and attention-grabbing. She also (seemingly) never stops working or stops thinking about work. I have not met anyone more committed to their job. She is determined to change the perception of the “silent” water industry. She is also deeply committed to advocating for Public Utilities employees and others in the water industry.

Please include Laurie Loftin on your list of Top 100 Government Influencers!


The 2021 Top 100 Influencers List is made possible by ELGL’s partnership with CivicPlus.

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Greg Bestgen

Greg Bestgen

City of Scottsdale

Human Services Director

LinkedIn


Compassionate, Persevering, Enthusiastic

Greg has reformed how Scottsdale, Arizona interacts with our homeless population. Prior to his tenure, Scottsdale did not have a focused or robust program for our unhoused. Generally, they were given a card with numbers of social services agencies to call or perhaps some limited help from our community centers.

Greg has championed the Brick by Brick program which is now providing materials to some Scottsdale Capital Improvement Projects, he’s reformed outreach, temporary housing options and more. Most importantly, he has noticeably changed the tenor of the conversation around homelessness inside and outside of city hall. He has been impactful by leading with this infectious empathy that truly has spread across the organization and into the community. He works very hard for the community and for his staff in Human Services, and he leads with his heart at all times. He is inspiring. His warmth and generosity of spirit have touched so many of us and made us want to be better public servants.

Fun fact: Greg originally went to seminary with intentions of becoming a priest. He changed his mind and became a social worker, and Scottsdale is much better for it.


The 2021 Top 100 Influencers List is made possible by ELGL’s partnership with CivicPlus.

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Daniel Jones

Daniel Jones

City of Portsmouth, VA

Chief Information Officer

LinkedIn


Experienced, Leader, innovative

Daniel is a strong IT professional and manages the city’s IT systems. His background in the private sector has benefited the public sector. He is skilled in strategic planning and capital planning – both helpful skills when running the city’s technology architecture. He is also a keen follower of local government IT trends and topics, so it’s always interesting to talk with him about what’s on the horizon. Anyone with an interest in gov tech and civic tech should connect with Daniel!


The 2021 Top 100 Influencers List is made possible by ELGL’s partnership with CivicPlus.

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Peggy

Peggy Harstvedt

City of Little Rock, AR

Software Engineer

Award


Hardworking, Problem Solver, Team Player

Peggy is a Software Engineer in our IT Department at the City. She is in charge of our SharePoint pages, but she also serves on our Data Governance Committee and has helped to create automation scripts and processes to load and update data to our Open Data and Performance website. This work has made the process of sharing open data with our residents and other departments much easier and faster for everyone involved. Peggy took on this task and has become an essential part of our team to share information openly with our city.


The 2021 Top 100 Influencers List is made possible by ELGL’s partnership with CivicPlus.

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Susan Sodek

Susan Sodek

Tarrant County, TX

Community Resource Coordinator

LinkedIn | Twitter


Creative, Inclusive, Fun

Susan Sodek coordinates a TON of cool stuff for Tarrant County employees – so much the rest of y’all should be jealous! She has arranged everything from fundraising auctions, pen pal letters, employee recognition, discount tickets, shopping coupons, community events – and more. Life in #localgov can be hard some days and her work provides an extra jolt of fun, excitement, and giving back to keep us moving forward. Susan is also an amazingly delightful, kind, and generous human being!


The 2021 Top 100 Influencers List is made possible by ELGL’s partnership with CivicPlus.

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Kelley McBride-Hartman

Kelley McBride-Hartman

City of Arvada, CO

Innovation and Performance Manager

LinkedIn


Determined, Knowledgeable, Innovative

Kelley Hartman is the Innovation and Performance Manager at the City of Arvada and has been at the city for over seven years. During this time Kelley has pushed performance management to the forefront of the City, always asking what can we do to innovate and differentiate the City from others. She has helped to bring the City Council’s FOCUS Arvada strategic plan to live through citizen engagement and full transparency with their City public facing dashboard.

While doing all of this at the City, Kelley still manages time to work with other municipalities to share best practices and lessons she has learned along the way. Kelley, who is always giving back in some way to the local government community, has served in an advisory role to ClearPoint, participated in a number of virtual events sharing her experience with others, and served as a mentor to two organizations as part of the ELGL Strategy Cohort.


The 2021 Top 100 Influencers List is made possible by ELGL’s partnership with CivicPlus.

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Gladys Larson

Gladys Larson

Tompkins County, NY

Senior Probation Officer

LinkedIn


Inspirational, Energizing, Fun

Gladys brings empathy and kindness to everything she does. As a probation officer she treats her clients with respect and demands the same from them. She is always learning and growing. In 2020 and much of 2021 she stepped up to assist with COVID response. She took the lead on organizing our contact tracing program and continues to inspire out health department nurses with her challenges, messages, and reminders of the good in the world.

The 2021 Top 100 Influencers List is made possible by ELGL’s partnership with CivicPlus.

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Mike Giansanti

Mike Giansanti

City of Boulder, CO

Innovation & Technology Deputy Director – Business Intelligence & Applications

LinkedIn


Visionary, Strategic, Thoughtful

Mike has an incredible vision not only for what technology can do, but also for the impact it can have on local government. He is leading initiatives for Workday implementation, a new CRM, the City of Boulder’s first data warehouse, and is also a key part of projects driving Boulder to being a Smart City, such as fiber and 5G.

Mike is strategic, and drives progress on important work, such as his role on a Policy team working to ensure safe and welcoming spaces in Boulder, and supporting a police application that will aggregate many data sources to allow better informed officers and for BPD leadership to make data-informed decisions. Mike is an incredible leader, and the City of Boulder is lucky to have him driving our IT department forward.


The 2021 Top 100 Influencers List is made possible by ELGL’s partnership with CivicPlus.

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Larissa Johnson

Larissa Johnson

Montgomery County Department of Environmental Protection

Residential Energy Program Manager

LinkedIn


Energetic, Inclusive, Creative

Larissa Johnson deserves a place on the 2021 Traeger list because she can figure out a way to partner with just about every organization, business, or person she meets. Through the Montgomery Energy Connection platform, she has created innovative programming that focuses on energy efficiency and meets people where they are – such as Brews and Bulbs at breweries, Books and Bulbs at libraries, LEDs and Libations at our County run liquor stores.

Without any new funding, personnel, or resources, she has created a video series called Home Energy Hacks that is produced at no additional cost to the Department. Outside of her regular work responsibilities, she has also become the lead for our Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion group within our department, leading the entire County government in that work group effort, and is our LiveWell champion to encourage our department to be active with fun and engaging events. Larissa is a dynamic, energetic, and innovative person who literally breaks the mold on what’s considered a “government employee.”

Larissa has grown and managed the Montgomery Energy Connection, a comprehensive energy efficiency education and partnership program. This program goes beyond the department we’re in and spans County-wide including multiple government departments, private businesses, and residents of Montgomery County.


The 2021 Top 100 Influencers List is made possible by ELGL’s partnership with CivicPlus.

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Samantha Hillson

Samantha Hilson

Tompkins County, NY Health Department

Director of Health Promotion

LinkedIn


Smart, Kind, Caring

Samantha is a committed health professional who cares for our community. She has worked with her other members of the community to ensure that everyone is provided infomation where they are. if it means through community navigators, translated materials, or in other ways.


The 2021 Top 100 Influencers List is made possible by ELGL’s partnership with CivicPlus.

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EA Hoppe

E.A. Hoppe

City of Kerrville

City Manager

LinkedIn


Inspirational, Supportive, Encouraging

Mr. Hoppe was recently promoted from Deputy City Manager to City Manager here in Kerrville. The transition was not only smooth, but encouraging to the city staff. EA has created a solid momentum for staff to bring up and support city projects. He encourages the city staff and community leaders to share the great work that we work on.

His positivity is contagious and his drive is easily recognized by everyone around him. EA’s attitude and encouragement has significantly softened the impacts and improved the community attitude around coming out of the pandemic. Through sharing good news and keeping a strong momentum on local projects, there has been very little focus on the negative impacts of the pandemic. Most of the conversations around the community still remain positive.

During staff meetings, EA’s attitude is equally as uplifting and encouraging as it is when in a public setting. This consistency just reinforces the strong influence EA has on the community. He focuses on individual employee growth as well as succession planning for the organization.


The 2021 Top 100 Influencers List is made possible by ELGL’s partnership with CivicPlus.

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derek Konofalski

Derek Konofalski

City of Gilbert, AZ

Data and Technology Analyst- Gilbert, AZ

LinkedIn | Twitter


Creative, Dedicated, Innovative

Derek is a self proclaimed “nerd” and is always on the cutting edge of local government technology. He manages Gilbert’s Open Data Initiative, and also has transformed the Gilbert 311 program. He also produces the “Government Gone Digital” podcast and does web and app development. He’s easy to work with and someone who is making a huge difference because of his work style and creativity.


The 2021 Top 100 Influencers List is made possible by ELGL’s partnership with CivicPlus.

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Shane

Shane McDaniel

City of Seguin, TX

Director of IT

LinkedIn | Twitter


Accountable, Communicative, Driven

Since his hiring in 2018 as the City of Seguin’s first Director of IT, Shane has led a technology evolution for one of the oldest cities in Texas. Over the following three years several miles of high strand count single mode fiber has been added to the city owned fiber ring allowing for twelve city facilities to be connected via fiber alongside a three-year capital project to refresh and rebuild the entire flat network adding dynamic routing for full redundancy across the city’s data centers. All but one of the nearly thirty city owned facilities are now connected via fiber, with plans underway to connect the last remaining facility. High availability internet access was incorporated as part of the effort for SAAS (software as a service) platforms through competing vendor circuits. Along with enhanced perimeter security and virtual private network access, the new infrastructure paid off handsomely for virtual enablement through the Covid-19 pandemic and Texas winter storm of 2021.

In FY18-19 a new document management platform was implemented along with an upgraded video management system (VMS), the number of security cameras in the city having nearly tripled since 2018. A two-year capital effort was completed in 2021 to overhaul the dated systems architecture to a hyperconverged platform allowing plenty of storage and processing growth for the fast-growing Texas city. A new public safety CAD was brought online in 2019, with Seguin being the first city in the state to connect to a regional hub for real time data sharing with neighboring agencies earning the department its first state recognition. Bodycams were deployed in 2019 followed by a full renovation of Dispatch 911 in 2020. A two year two-million-dollar effort to upgrade the end of life radio infrastructure to a P25 system interconnected with neighboring agencies impacting the lives of 160k citizens across the region was completed in 2020.

Seguin IT initiated the “Seguin Cyber Champion” program to advocate for cybersecurity awareness within the organization and beyond. Proclamations are given every October to help raise awareness beyond the city’s internal staff. Multiple cybersecurity layers have been added to the city’s enterprise through advancements. These advancements aided the city in meeting new federal American Water Infrastructure Act mandates for the two water systems his department supports. Three new and/or renovation facilities projects were brought online with three more currently in progress, one of which being the largest and most expensive initiative in the history of the city to upgrade the city’s wastewater needs through the year 2075.

Leveraging technology to aid in managing the strong commercial and residential growth a wholesale upgrade to the city’s planning and development software took place in 2021. Trail cams were built in house and deployed in the city’s parks system leveraging IoT (Internet of Things) technology in conjunction with a major cellular provider. The wireless infrastructure was upgraded. On the docket for FY21-22 is an upgrade to the telecom infrastructure, the last major piece of technology infrastructure yet to be overhauled, along with publicly accessible Wi-Fi in public gathering places.

In addition to his work as a technology executive for the city, Shane serves on the Board of Directors and as chair of the conference committee for the state’s local government technology organization TAGITM. He also serves as co-chair of the cybersecurity committee for the Texas Public Power Association (TPPA), advocating in the education and transformation of respective technology environments for member agencies. Shane was awarded the 2021 TAGITM President’s Award for his exemplary and lasting contribution to Texas local government and a 2020 Government Technology Magazine “Best of Texas” award.

In 2021 Shane served as a featured contributor for GovLoop, publishing a series of twelve articles for the government employee based online network. He gives back to the government technology community by speaking on technology panels and leading educational sessions on behalf of cybersecurity, technology, and innovation for multiple organizations. He has been featured in podcasts and magazines and his department has been recognized on the state and national level eight times since 2018. His department most recently won StateScoop Magazine’s 2020 IT Innovation of the Year and the 2021 GMIS International Government to Citizen (G2C) award for their efforts. In his spare time Shane also runs countryexec.com, his personal website dedicated to leadership and development derived via the constructs of his rural upbringing and professional experience.


The 2021 Top 100 Influencers List is made possible by ELGL’s partnership with CivicPlus.

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Chris Sharrock

Chris Sharrock

City of Pataskala, OH

Utility Director

LinkedIn


Adaptable, Dedicated, Knowledgable

Chris deserves to be considered for this award for multiple reasons. Primarily, he works constantly to maintain and improve the relationship between the City of Pataskala Utility Department and the community that he serves. In the last year alone, he led three significant projects.

The City of Pataskala underwent a significant upgrade to its Water Reclamation Facility. This meant that the old lagoon system would be used over the summer. As one might imagine, this temporary shift resulted in a series of odor related complaints from citizens that reside close to the plant. Not only did Chris stay in contact with every member of the public that had concerns, he wrote regular website updates throughout the summer. He also took the initiative to implement a temporary solution to the problem. This is typical of Chris: using his technical expertise to solve a problem AND addressing citizens’ concerns at the same time.

Chris’s second project was a redesign of the Utility Department logo. While this may seem minor, it was his initiative to suggest a “water bottle giveaway” highlighting the new logo that was such a success. He designed the project so that it was funded through a public/private initiative meaning absolutely no money was spent from the water and sewer rates paid by the citizens. It is this kind of forethought that Chris shows on a regular basis. The water bottles were primarily distributed to the public for free, at the local summer street fair and it was an absolute success, once again demonstrating Chris’s ability to utilize his professional experience to positively influence our community.

Finally, the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency in conjunction with the Ohio Department of Health established a program to test various wastewater plants in an attempt to gather more accurate numbers in regard to the COVID-19 infection rates. Chris lobbied for Pataskala’s inclusion in this program realizing that it was another avenue to assist with tracing the spread of the disease in his community. Pataskala was included in the program and was the smallest community in the state thanks to his initiative.

Chris Sharrock, like Chris Traeger himself, has the best intentions of serving his community and supporting his staff and colleagues. When City Council identified a need for a utility rate increase, Chris spent countless hours comparing surrounding community rates all the while being cognizant of the strain that a rate increase could put on our citizens. Eventually he was able to provide council with a path for a series of three smaller increases phased in over 5 years. Additionally, there are many instances of how Chris mentors his staff. He confronts problems directly and fairly but constantly looks for ways to professionally develop the employees of the Utility Department.

Chris’s dedication to Pataskala has a long history; after serving in the U.S. Army, Chris started at the city in 2004 in the lowest position in the water department. His work ethic and experience eventually led to his promotion through the ranks to his current position of Director of Utilities. He has a Class 2 Wastewater Operator license and a Class 3 Water Supply Operator license from the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency. He is also a member of the American Water Works Association, the Water Environment Federation and the Ohio Water Environment Association. Under his leadership, the Pataskala Utility has been awarded the 2020 OWEA Safety Award and the 2017 Ohio Water Environment Association Outstanding Operator Award. Chris is quite literally a water warrior for his local government.


The 2021 Top 100 Influencers List is made possible by ELGL’s partnership with CivicPlus.

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Lisa Sierra

Lisa Sierra

City of Calgary, CA

Innovation Manager

LinkedIn


Passionate, Connected, Resourceful

Lisa goes out of her way to help others in the innovation network. She is kind and always wants to help. She is proactive in reaching out to help new members. She generously shares the work that she does in hopes of helping others in our network. She is worthy of this recognition and I hope you select her.


The 2021 Top 100 Influencers List is made possible by ELGL’s partnership with CivicPlus.

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suki tabor

Suki Tabor

Ithaca, NY Youth Bureau

Deputy Director

LinkedIn


Collaborator, Caring, Catalyst

Suki is committed to youth and families throughout Tompkins County. She makes sure that all people feel welcome at the Ithaca Youth Bureau and continues to push the City and community to engage in difficult conversations to implement equitable systems.


The 2021 Top 100 Influencers List is made possible by ELGL’s partnership with CivicPlus.

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Day one

Jessie Brown

Jessie Brown

Iowa Department of Natural Resources

Social Media Specialist

LinkedInTwitter


Empathetic, Loyal, Inventive

While Jessie is a state government employee, she is a significant influence in the lives of social media professionals at all levels of government. In her role as vice president of the Government Social Media Membership Council, Jessie is instrumental in helping to elevate the profession by openly discussing the relationship between self care and social media management, and how to prioritize your own well-being while serving as your agency’s liaison to the often rough-and-tumble digital space.

Her goal is to ensure government social media professionals are feeling — and functioning — their best when our communities need us the most. Jessie is always open to sharing guidance, ideas, and lessons learned from throughout the government social media profession, and is all around a great person to know.


The 2021 Top 100 Influencers List is made possible by ELGL’s partnership with CivicPlus.

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Joe Dougherty

Joe Dougherty

Utah Department of Public Safety

Director of Public Affairs

LinkedIn | Twitter


Motivational, Engaged, Dedicated

Joe Dougherty is probably the most well-known public information officer (PIO) in the entire state. He trains new PIOs and has been a critical part of the Utah PIO Association. He has always made himself available to help others who are facing a communications crisis and he makes a regular effort to meet new people and engage with them. If something big happened and you needed help or guidance, Joe is the one you would want to contact.

Joe spent nearly ten years as the PIO for the Utah Division of Emergency Management. During that time, he provided public information support and coordination for a wide variety of incidents – fires, floods, and earthquakes, as well as funeral coordination for first responder funerals. A magnitude 5.7 earthquake hit in his last month on the job, bringing even more focus to the annual Great Utah Shakeout event held the following month. His efforts in preparing for earthquakes helped many to be ready for when this event happened.

In April 2020, Joe became the Director of Public Affairs for the Utah Department of Public Safety. Almost immediately he was temporarily reassigned to work directly with the Governor’s Office to coordinate messaging for the COVID-19 pandemic. That included planning for and writing the governor’s talking points for weekly press briefings, conducting weekly briefings for cabinet level communication directors, and crisis communication planning for the pandemic. He led the team undertaking a massive language interpretation effort. In the midst of all that, Joe also provided disaster recovery information for an earthquake, civil unrest, and a hurricane-force wind storm.

At the 2021 Utah PIO Association’s annual conference, Joe gave a presentation on “”communicating in a wicked environment.”” This detailed what was going on behind the scenes of the state’s COVID-19 task force and the many lessons learned. It was just the most recent of the many trainings and workshops he has given over the past decade.

A Funeral Response Guide for the Public Information Officer was created by Joe after providing support during several funerals for officers killed in the line of duty. This document and the support of the Utah PIO Association during these high profile events has made these types of crises more manageable.” Joe has been impressive in his constant desire to keep learning. He regularly attends training locally and nationally. Meeting him at a national government social media convention absolutely changed my life and helped me to see that I wanted to keep working in local government. Several of us have threatened to create a PIO Joe fan club.


The 2021 Top 100 Influencers List is made possible by ELGL’s partnership with CivicPlus.

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Judy Drake

Judy Drake

Town of Ithaca, NY

Human Resources Manager

LinkedIn


Smart, Empathetic, Amazing

Judy is the go-to HR professional in our region. She is smart and committed to serving the people of the Town of Ithaca and the Greater Municipal Health Insurance Consortium. She is caring and works for not only our employees but also for the community at large.


The 2021 Top 100 Influencers List is made possible by ELGL’s partnership with CivicPlus.

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Nathan Gregory

Nathan Gregory

Deputy Director of Human Resources – City of Fort Worth

Kind, Caring, Committed

Nathan is a Human Resources leader. He is committed to bringing HR leaders together across the DFW metroplex come together to share information and ideas about the latest Human Resources issues/topics. They also help drive the operational efforts of the North Texas LEAD organization.


The 2021 Top 100 Influencers List is made possible by ELGL’s partnership with CivicPlus.

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Jimmy Stathatos

Jimmy Stathatos

City of Bedford, Texas

City Manager


Leader, Professional, Fearless

After an extensive interview process over 8 months, Jimmy Stathatos was selected as the Bedford City Manager effective 13 months ago. For years the City has been vertical stepping stone for wannabe City Managers without experience. From day one, Jimmy was the most experienced City Manager the City had ever hired. He took a chance to come over to Bedford from a bigger city with more economic resources than ours.

He came on board with a determination to help us turn around the fortunes of Bedford and was fearless in making the hard choices necessary in order to change the culture of City Hall. In his 13 months on the job, he has found millions of dollars in savings, brought in people from the outside at all levels of the organization, steered the organization towards a customer service centric approach, worked with Council better than anyone before him, and embraced a complete overhaul to how the City is going to repair streets and get control of it economic development future. He has not only met my expectations as City Manager, but has exceeded it immensely.

Jimmy Stathatos is a man of character and compassion and is the type of City Manager that everyone wants to follow. Jimmy Stathatos has brought trust back to the City of Bedford organization. No one has a bad thing to say about him, and I am proud to have him as my City Manager. You would be fool to not give him the Traeger award. lol. He is Chris Traeger except for the health consciousness thing and the good looks and he will not live to be 150.


The 2021 Top 100 Influencers List is made possible by ELGL’s partnership with CivicPlus.

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Ozzy Arce

Ozzy Arce

City of Walnut Creek, CA

Associate Planner

LinkedIn


Inventive, Agile, Campaigner

As a Transportation Associate Planner, Ozzy Arce realizes forward-thinking approaches to keep the City of Walnut moving and its environment protected. His work as Project Manager for the City’s five-year transportation and parking demand management plan called Rethinking Mobility showed a mid-size City can adopt the visionary approaches of larger urban areas.

The Rethinking Mobility Transportation Strategic was adopted by the Walnut Creek City Council. The plan provides implementation strategies to reduce automobile trips, manage parking demand, and enhance access for those walking, biking, and using public transit.


The 2021 Top 100 Influencers List is made possible by ELGL’s partnership with CivicPlus.

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Jorge Barrera

Jorge Barrera

Eagle Pass Water Works, Texas

General Manager

Website


Proactive, Uniter, Humble

Jorge wears a lot of hats and is involved everywhere. In addition to his position as General Manager of Eagle Pass Water Works, he serves as President of the Eagle Pass School Board and Vice President of the Chamber of Commerce. He is always working hard for the benefit of the community and yet he is very humble. He is not out to get the credit. One can respect this!

In Eagle Pass, there is the city and also the county, two governmental entities that sometimes butt heads. Jorge is the gel that brings everyone to the table. Even though people have differences, he unites people to come up with solutions. Jorge is also proactive and forward-thinking. He started working for Eagle Pass Water Works System as a process engineer in 2006 and in three months became the operations manager. Now, as the General Manager, he is looking 50 years into the future to make sure the growing community has a water supply. He’s out there trying to find new sources of water. As another example, the community is growing, needs more educational institutions, and is trying to attract a 4-year university. He’s out there talking to state policy makers about our needs. Finally, Jorge looks for ways to improve and connect with others on best practices. He recently set up a meeting with leaders of the City of McAllen to pick their brains on best practices — If it wasn’t for him, no one would have put the time and effort into organizing this.

Jorge hold a B.S in Electrical Engineering from Texas A&M University. He also serves on the Rio Grande Watermaster Advisory Committee. And has served on the Southwest Texas Junior College Engineering Advisory Committee, Member where he has helped provide role models and access to mentoring to interested engineering students.


The 2021 Top 100 Influencers List is made possible by ELGL’s partnership with CivicPlus.

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Lacy Lewis, MPA

Lacy Lewis

City of Irving

Management Analyst II

LinkedIn | Twitter


Passionate Strategic Determined

Lacy is so passionate! She is able to inspire both her peers near and far. She is Traeger in the since the she is always ready to jump into action and help those around her using positive approaches. She is passionate about her work and it is easy to see why, she is making a big difference in her community using strategic planning and performance measures.

Her work has a positive impact on both the staff and residents in her community because it utilizes data as a communication tool. Her research brings people together and serves as a model for other organizations. Lacy is sooo supportive and was a incredibly helpful when I was going through my graduate program. I am so proud of her and her determination to make a difference. I also love that she has been so involved in ELGL. I know that her involvement has helped me stay connected. In conclusion, she is wonderful!


The 2021 Top 100 Influencers List is made possible by ELGL’s partnership with CivicPlus.

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Adam Owczarzak, MPA

Adam Owczarzak

City of Madison Heights, MI

Assistant to the City Manager

LinkedIn | Twitter


Enthusiastic, Dedicated, Innovative

A year ago Adam joined our City Management team as a Graduate Management Fellow. Almost immediately it became apparent that he had a calling for the local government profession. Five months later Adam was hired as the Assistant to the City Manager and he hasn’t looked back. He brings positive energy to the office everyday and has been responsible for the implementation of several major grant projects. He is responsible for stating the City’s MSHDA Neighborhood Enhancement Program and has been recognized as a high performer resulting in additional funding for the City’s residents. Adam constantly has new ideas and develops those ideas into beneficial programs. No matter how busy he is he is always willing to take on new tasks and responses to residents in a timely manner for their questions or complaints. Adam is a positive influence on our organization as a whole and has a bright future in local government! I can’t wait to see where is passion for local government takes him!!


The 2021 Top 100 Influencers List is made possible by ELGL’s partnership with CivicPlus.

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paul russo

Paul Russo

Jersey City, NJ

City Engineer

LinkedIn | Twitter


Creative, Enthusiastic, Well groomed

Paul finds a way to turn ideas and visions into thoughtful and creative new projects. He is overseeing millions of dollars of community improvements but finding ways to do it all with both the highest quality and with limited funds. He’s the kind of leader that elected officials dream about having on the team – he just gets stuff done!


The 2021 Top 100 Influencers List is made possible by ELGL’s partnership with CivicPlus.

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FAQs

Why do I have to submit my name and contact information?

Nominations must be made by a real person so we ask you to share your contact information with us (this information will not be shared publicly).

I respect my coworker so much. Can I nominate her 50 times?

Nominators may nominate multiple people, but not make multiple nominations for the same person (e.g. Chris can nominate Leslie, and Chris can nominate Ron, but Chris cannot nominate Leslie twice).

My network isn't very big (yet) but I'd like to be considered for the list. Can I nominate myself?

Yes!

So much information... do I have to look up the person I'm nominating's LinkedIn and Twitter?

Please complete the nomination as fully as possible so if your nomination is selected, the shared information on the list fully describes why the person was included on the list and how ELGL members can connect with them on social media.

Who's sponsoring this year's award? Why does ELGL have a sponsor?

This year, we're working with our friends at ProudCity on the Traeger award program. We're using the hashtag #ELGLTraeger to share nominations and awards - please use the hashtag help us celebrate this year's list. ELGL works with sponsors and partners to sustain the organization and also to support great programs like #ELGLTraeger that require a substantial amount of work and focus to properly recognize the amazing nominees.

Is there anyone who isn't eligible for the #ELGLTraeger list?

ELGL staff and board members aren't included on the list. We also want to use the list as a way to recognize talent and introduce you to new people, so the Top Ten Traegers from 2018 won't be included in the Top Ten for 2019.

Will the Top Ten Traegers be invited to speak at #ELGL22?

Yes! Our event feedback affirmed the Traeger speakers were a great addition to the annual conference agenda.

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