2019 Emerging Leader Award – Kyle Michel
excerpted from award nomination
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.
Kyle entered the profession of municipal management in 2016 as a Management Intern for the City of Windsor Heights, Iowa (4,953). Employed in the City Administrator’s office, Kyle was exposed to a variety of projects that would provide developmental opportunities in local government budgeting, personnel policies and employee relations, and nuisance abatement and Code enforcement procedures. During his time with Windsor Heights, Kyle completed a budget analysis project that was crucial to the City’s budgeting procedures. This analysis served as a summary of the proposed budget for public review and dissemination.
From Windsor Heights, Kyle transition to the City of Van Meter, Iowa (1,131) where he again served as a Management Intern within the City Administrator’s office. While serving in this position, Kyle assisted with a slum and blight survey of the City. This survey enabled the City to amend its tax abatement program, thus increasing the average number of new residential construction permits per year from 8 to 25. This position also exposed Kyle to a higher level of responsibility, showing his ability to be flexible and take on challenging tasks with little direction or oversight. Throughout this internship, Kyle regularly staffed City Hall by himself and conducted the daily clerical responsibilities of the City. This experience would set Kyle apart from his peer group and pave the way to immediate success upon graduating with his Master of Public Administration and transitioning into his first full-time role within the profession.
After completing his Masters, Kyle began working for the City of Elkhart, Iowa (812) as the City Clerk and only full-time employee of the City. Kyle was offered this position as a recent graduate with the necessary skill set, experience, and education to help transition the City to a council-manager form of government. During his tenure he identified and addressed numerous projects for the betterment of the City of Elkhart, the region, and the profession as a whole.
Upon starting in Elkhart, Kyle immediately identified a need for more efficient and effective communication originating from City Hall. To address this problem, Kyle personally updated the City’s website to a more user-friendly site allowing him to better communicate with residents but also allows residents to have more immediate access to necessary information. Furthermore, Kyle improved upon communication between his office and his elected officials by transitioning to paperless packets. This allowed Kyle to get information in front of his elected officials sooner while also reducing paper waste and printing costs. These efficiency efforts resulted in a 66% reduction in printing costs over the first year of implementation and helped the City receive grant funding from the Metro Waste Authority to provide tablets to elected officials and staff.
Kyle also understands the importance of continued investment in further education as it relates to the profession. In 2017, Kyle secured scholarships and funding to attend IMMI, IMFOA Spring Conference, Iowa SMART Conference, IaCMA Summer Conference, Iowa League of Cities Conference as well as the ICMA Annual Conference in San Antonio. Additionally, he has stressed the importance of education to his staff and elected officials, allowing for both to attend numerous trainings and conferences throughout 2017. He was also able to send two councilmembers to the Iowa Municipal Leadership Academy with one of those councilmembers being newly elected and determined to receive his certification. Kyle would continue his professional development in 2018 by being selected to speak on the topic of small-town budget constraints at the ICMA Annual Conference in Baltimore.
Kyle would continue to implement successful programs and procedures in Elkhart through a variety of utility projects. With limited staff and contracted affidavit utility operators, Kyle wanted to ensure his water utility was operating in an efficient manner. As such, he created a monthly tracker that enabled him to monitor his water production data and compare it to his utility billing data. This allowed Kyle to identify instances of water loss within the utility system and kept the City accountable for system loss, enabling the reduction of average loss from over 20% to below 10%. He also facilitated the analysis of the City’s water sources by partnering with the Iowa Rural Water Association. This analysis provided education to both elected officials, City staff, and residents and resulted in the creation of a Source Water Protection Plan. As a result of this project, the City received the 2018 Program of the Year Award from the Iowa City and County Managers Association.
From Elkhart, Kyle transitioned back to Van Meter to take up the mantel of City Administrator in July 2018. This position would expose him to his first fiscal year audit. Through this process, Kyle addressed auditor comments from prior audits and created policies to ensure the segregation of fiscal duties within City Hall and other departments of the City. He also would address and oversee the implementation of Payment Card Industry Data Security Standards for the City, an audit comment that was present throughout multiple fiscal cycles.
Through the City’s economic development programs and efforts, Kyle developed a standard incentive package and community profile to include with the City’s first-in-State Certified Site marketing efforts. These efforts helped with conveying the City’s economic development goals and increased the average number of site visits per year. This collaborative approach to large development incentives helped bolster relationships between the City, the Van Meter school district, and Dallas County and helped to ensure that all impacted parties benefit from potential development projects within the City.
During his first budget cycle with the City of Van Meter, Kyle implemented professional development with his department heads by providing them with budget training and the necessary tools to analyze expenditures and plan their budgets. This would be the first time Van Meter department heads played an active role in reviewing past performances and accurately forecasting budget expenditures as a team. This professional development continued with the City’s Finance Committee and City Council by actively including elected officials in the planning and review process. Providing education increased the overall understanding of the budget process by the elected officials. This all-in approach to budgeting promoted teamwork and efficiency which ultimately resulted in a 2% reduction in budgeted expenditures as well as an overall levy rate reduction of $0.14.
In addition to the time Kyle dedicates to this profession, he still maintains an active role within his community as a volunteer. Kyle served as the Athletic Director for the Des Moines Chapter of Team Red, White and Blue from 2015 to 2018. Team RWB seeks to connect veterans to their communities through physical and social activity. In his role, Kyle coordinated athletic events all over the greater Des Moines metropolitan area. These events ranged anywhere from free to attend workouts and volunteer support operations for large running events like the Des Moines Marathon to charity focused competitive events. Kyle still maintains an active role in the organization but has passed the leadership mantel on to allow other leaders to develop.
He currently helps to mentor the new Chapter Captain and Athletic Director as they seek to develop their own events and activities. Kyle also actively participates in the veteran’s nonprofit, Alpha Nerds Guild, an organization that helps connect veterans through video games. Their efforts help fight social stigmas by providing veterans with access to online gaming outlets where they can connect to other veterans while promoting healthy communication and camaraderie.
Kyle also continues to serve his community and nation as an officer in the Army Reserves. He currently serves as a Medical Services Officer attached to the 103rd ESC out of Fort Des Moines, Iowa. He has served in the Army, Iowa Army National Guard, and Army Reserves through multiple periods of service starting in 2005.
Please join in recognizing our 2019 Emerging Leader Award winner, Kyle Michel.
Emerging Leader past recipients
2010 Doug Boldt- Tipton
2011 Josh Heggen- Windsor Heights
2012 Larry Burks- Onawa
2013 Matt McQuillen- Clive
2014 Chelsea Huisman- Center Point
2015 Laura Graham- Des Moines
2016 Amanda Kaufman- Marion
2017 Angie Charipar- Cedar Rapids
2018 Nicholas MacGregor – Burlington
2019 Kyle Michel – Van Meter