IaCMA Newsletter

Iowa City / County Management Association

IaCMA Newsletter Information September / October 2015

Leave a comment

2015 Emerging Leader Award – Laura Graham
Excepted from award presentation
photos, Decker Ploehn

The IaCMA’s Emerging Leader Award is presented to a local government and the chief administrator or assistant chief administrator in recognition of his/her innovate and successful programs.

This year’s award recipient has beLaura Gen in local government less than a decade, but has proven to be a leader in many, many ways throughout the seven years she has worked for her City.

Our award winner is presently serving as the Sustainability Coordinator for her City. She is leading efforts in the City Manager’s Office focusing on ways the City’ services can operate in a more sustainable manner environmentally and having a positive impact financially. She organizes numerous events for staff and the public highlighting environmental concerns and needs for municipalities to think differently about how services are delivered to the public. Last year, she headed the city-wide nomination to designate her city as a Star Community. This program required addressing 526 different measurable indicators of economic, environmental and social performance. Her city was announced as a Three Star Award winner in May of 2014 thanks to her efforts.

This past April, she was chosen by Cultural Vistas to participate in the Young Southeast Asian Leaders Initiative’s Generation Earth Workshop in Cambodia. She was a leader/mentor and delivered a session on sustainability and provided mentorship to rising leaders from each of the ten Association of Southeast Asian member nations during virtual exercises.

In addition, this individual recently served as the Interim Director of her city’s Civil and Human Rights Department while recruitment conducted for a new director.

Her commitment to her community and the profession does not end with her work in local government. She and her husband are active members of a coalition seeking the redevelopment and reinvestment of a major corridor in her neighborhood. In addition, she and her husband have been rehabbing their 125 year old home in their historic neighborhood.

Please join me in recognizing our 2015 Emerging Leader Award winner, Laura Graham.

Congratulations Laura!




Jessica Kinser received IaCMA’s Manager of the Year Award
Excepted from award nomination

IaCMA’s Annual Manager of the Year ACity of Clintonward honors chief administrators whose accomplishments and superior work performance represent the best possible application of management principles and whose creative contributions to professional local government management increases public awareness of the value of professional management to the quality of life in our communities.

Jessica began work at the City of Clinton in October of 2011 when she was hired as Finance Director. She served in that position until June, 2013. From January through June, 2013, she also acted in the dual capacities of Interim City Administrator and Finance Director. Jessica was hired as the City Administrator in June of 2013.

Jessica’s first two years with the City were a difficult trying period for the City, as it struggled with numerous financial, economic, budgetary and personnel issues.

Managing a city as large as Clinton (population approximately 26,800) was a challenge when she took over as Administrator in 2013. She was hired for her education and experience in finance, but her managerial experience consisted of serving as administrator for a smaller city in Western Iowa. The City Council selected Jessica over older and much more experienced candidates because of her sophisticated understanding of municipal finance and her people skills.

Jessica quickly fit in and began leading. Jessica moved quickly to address a number of serious financial issues, including fundamental problems with collection of City sewer fees, which had been neglected prior to Jessica’s hire for a myriad of reasons. She and her new finance team rectified these issues and moved several initiatives though the Council to ensure regular and systematic collections.

Jessica took the initiative to serve on the rulemaking advising board established after the Iowa legislature passed new water shut-off legislation assistive to the City of Clinton. This is important because Clinton is reliant on a private water franchise and, until the legislation was passed, the City had no way to hold citizens accountable for unpaid sewer bills. Clinton will very soon have an agreement with the private water utility, and will most likely be the first City in Iowa to have the ability to disconnect water service for non-payment of the sewer utility.

The amount of detailed information flowing to the Council improved immediately when Jessica was originally hired as Finance Director, and it improved more dramatically under Jessica’s supervision as Administrator. In three years’ time the City’s financial position improved markedly, due to vastly improved communication between the Finance staff and the Council. The Council’s new ability to clearly see the specific problems with the budget, coupled with Jessica’s clear recommendations, resulted in critical cost saving measures and elimination of waste and redundancy.

Throughout this time of change, Jessica worked with a brand new Council which included four newly-elected members. Through her resolute professionalism, communication skills, and budgetary advice, the Council came together and passed a number of important initiatives, ranging from a new Sidewalk Café Ordinance, to fundamental changes in how the City’s legal services are provided, to numerous cost-saving measures City-wide.

Within a few months of her hire, Jessica began dealing with a host of complex issues with the City’s new Lincolnway Rail and Air Park, including acquisition of property for the park, working with local economic development entities to bring new business to the Park, and related issues. The Park now has two major businesses operating in it, and the City is moving to hire a commercial property broker to continue to seek new tenants.

Jessica has tirelessly attended conferences, served on boards, and has spoken at professional events in order to stay closely connected with changes in the law, economic trends, and events impacting the City. She consistently brings lessons learned to her staff and the Council, and much of her knowledge has been implemented internally. She is constantly bringing detailed and well-thought out policy suggestions to the Council, many of which have been adopted. The City’s handbook, its whistleblower policy, its service acquisition and bidding policies, and numerous other policies have been revised under Jessica’s direction. As City Administrator, Jessica is easily the most visible and energetic leader in the City of Clinton.

In sum, it has been the observation of her co-workers and many other municipal management professionals that Jessica performs at an extremely high level.

Anita Dalton Finance Director writes:
“Jessica is a leader in every sense of the word – forever optimistic – a true visionary – and a person of action. I am inspired every day by the enthusiasm, dedication, and integrity that Jessica brings to the workplace!”

Jessica is dedicated to self-improvement and improving the City. She is a confident, highly skilled administrator who embraced a very difficult situation in a very difficult place to work. What she has accomplished in her position is nothing less than remarkable.

Please congratulate Jessica Kinser on her work and recognition as the 2015 IaCMA Manager of the Year.

To be considered for the Manager of the Year Award, the chief administrator must be a full (voting) IaCMA member. Candidates must be employed as the chief appointed administrative officer in a municipality. Candidates must have overall management responsibility and be appointed or confirmed by the legislative body, the elected chief executive and/or the chief appointed administrative officer.

The Association’s past award recipients include:
2007 Mike Van Milligen- Dubuque
2008 Jim Prosser- Cedar Rapids
2009 Carol Ann Diekema- Monroe
2010 Jeff Mark- Altoona
2011 Bill Daily- Belle Plaine
2012 Tom Brownlow- Charles City
2013 Jim Ferneau- Burlington
2014 Elizabeth Hansen – Nevada



City of Newton and City Administrator Robert Knabel Recognized for IaCMA’s Program of the Year Award for the second year in a row.
Excepted from www.getotknownewton.com
photos, Decker Ploehn

“Get to Know Newton” named Program of the Year

The City of Newton, Iowa recently received the Program of the Year award for the City’s work on the “Get to Know Newton” community outreach project.

“Get to Know Newton is more than just a new logo,” said Natalie Umsted, City of Newton Management Analyst, “The purpose of the brand is to create a positive identity for Newton citizens to take pride in and to help Newton gain positive regional attention throughout central Iowa.”

The team that has implemented Get to Know Newton has worked to use creative strategies to reach citizens and the region in new and innovative ways. Projects completed in the past year Robert Kinclude: “Newton VS Newton,” which was a contest in which Newton, IA competed with Newton, KS in a variety of community engagement challenges, the “Newton Postcard Project,” during which Newton, IA residents filled out postcards with positive things about Newton that were mailed throughout the central Iowa region, and “Newton Fest,” which was a four day town festival featuring kids activities, live music, and other family-friendly activities.

The Get to Know Newton campaign also has an active social media presence, publishes quarterly magazines, has a weekly radio show, and does local and regional advertising on behalf of the community.

“Creativity has been the key to creating a successful outreach campaign in Newton,” said Nicole Lindstrom, Public Services Librarian, “The team behind Get to Know Newton works to have fun while getting the message out there. It’s been satisfying to see the community have fun with the Get to Know Newton as well by coming out for events and following us on social media.”

Get to Know Newton has been widely supported by the Newton community, with thousands of community members participating by volunteering, attending events, and following the campaign on social media.

To be considered for the Program of the Year Award, the local government’s chief administrator must be a full (voting) IaCMA member. Each program nomination must be independent and cannot be a component of another program. Eligible programs must be:
• Administered under the authority of one or more governmental entities, with only limited outside assistance from experts/consultants
• Currently be in operation and have been fully implemented within the last 3 years.
• Must demonstrate tangible results



The Value of an ICMA Membership

Your local IaCMA Board is very supportive of membership in the International City / County Management Association. The board strongly encourages membership in your professional organization for a variety of reason, below are just a few. Please take a moment to visit the ICMA website and consider the value of an ICMA membership. www.ICMA.org

For over 100 years, ICMA has supported local government professionals worldwide, the communities they serve, and the profession they value.

As an ICMA member, you are part of a worldwide community of over 10,000 who share a commitment to local government excellence and dedication to the highest standards of honesty and integrity, and who help make good communities great, giving us a place we’re proud to call home.

There is no other national organization that focuses their time and efforts on providing local government executives like you the tools you need to effectively do your job – ICMA membership delivers information, support, and connections to help you successfully respond to challenges facing your community, including:
o The ICMA Code of Ethics, one-on-one ethics guidance, and ethics training
o In-person networking events and the online Knowledge Network for real-time connections
o Recognition of education and experience through the Voluntary Credentialing Program
o Professional and leadership development opportunities such as the Senior Executive Institute
o Job leads, career resources, and the Members in Transition program.

The value of ICMA membership doesn’t stop with you as an individual but extends powerfully to the community that you serve – giving you access to the tools, data, resources, and networking you need to sustain excellence and foster innovation in concert with your staff and your elected officials, such as:
o A wide array of leading ideas in local government that make organizations and communities successful
o A manager and staff who are required to adhere to the ICMA Code of Ethics, through which a community can demonstrate its commitment to high standards
o Leading ICMA survey data and research
o A platform for problem solving and information sharing between and among local government communities worldwide.

ICMA is a big network of small communities (the majority of ICMA members work in small and mid-size communities) – through ICMA membership you have affordable access to information, resources, and leading practices to help you strengthen your organization.

Learn more about ICMA membership (or join online) at http://icma.org, contact membership@icma.org to request a membership information packet, or call 800-745-8780 with any questions.



Editor’s Corner

In the never ending search for professional development materials and education, I recently read the book The Way of the Shepherd, by Dr. Kevin Leman and Bill Way of the ShepherdPentak.

This book, while written in a narrative story format with fully developed characters, reads more like an instruction manual or “how-to-guide” for managers continuing to learn new techniques in leadership.

What interested me the most about the book is the way it takes ancient sheep herding strategies and applies them to professional leadership and management styles. The obvious sheep / shepherd allegory is not lost, but it is used subtly to communicate the main points of the authors. The story-within-the-story is of a teacher – student relationship that develops into mentoring of a young professional.

The well written story reviews seven key leadership principals using age old shepherding skills and methods and connects them succinctly to today’s leadership styles and attitudes. Conclusions are well developed and points clearly made as the young professional develops their own styles.

The book reviews the seven lessons of the shepherd as authors Leman and Pentak correlate leadership methods through flock management. Chapters like; Know the condition of your flock, Help your sheep identify with you, Make your pasture a safe place and the Heart of the Shepherd, really resonate with young professionals trying to find their style and place in an organization.

I recommend this book for those looking for new energy in developing leadership skills. I am also going to implement the book in this year’s performance evaluations of my department heads. I really want to encourage them to see how their leadership styles effect their department’s employees and the culture of the entire organization. This read has helped me reassess my skill sets. I encourage you to check it out.

The Way of the Shepherd, by Dr. Kevin Leman and Bill Pentak

-Chad Bird



In Closing…

From the Desk of Jeff Schott
Director, Institute of Public Affairs
The University of Iowa

With the municipal general elections just around the corner, we would like to remind you about some of the services the Institute of Public Affairs can provide cities.

Goal Setting and Strategic Planning – IPA assists cities by facilitating goal setting/strategic planning sessions. This process is beneficial in achieving council effectiveness by assisting policy leaders in developing a future focus, discussing issues and opportunities facing the community, setting strategic directions and determining priorities.

Council/Board/Commission Training – IPA provides training to elected officials and members of boards and commissions on important topics such as open meetings, public records, gift laws, duties and responsibilities and methods for enhancing board effectiveness.

Council/Board Effectiveness Training – IPA works directly with local government leaders to assess needs, evaluate and improve their effectiveness, build teamwork and promote overall organizational performance.

Customer Service Training – IPA provides staff training specifically geared to customer service in the public sector.

Local Government Management Training – IPA offers specialized training sessions for city staff newly promoted or appointed to key positions or for those preparing for such positions. It is also an excellent program for assisting cities with succession planning.

Citizen Surveys – IPA assists local governments in developing, tabulating and analyzing the results of citizen surveys to gauge public sentiment regarding important issues, determine the level of satisfaction with city services, and enhance communication with the public.

Other Public Policy and Organizational Assistance – IPA assists with specific public policy and organizational assistance of various kinds, ranging from capital project prioritization, economic development planning, facilitating community discussions on major issues such as budget and finance, public works, and public safety, and similar issues.

Please feel free to contact me to find out more about any of these services.

Jeff Schott
Director, Institute of Public Affairs
The University of Iowa
124 Grand Avenue Court
Iowa City, IA 52240
Office: 319-335-7586
Cell: 319-329-6207

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s