IaCMA Newsletter

Iowa City / County Management Association

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Nominations Now Open for Manager of the Year.

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


  • To be considered for the Manager of the Year Award, the chief administrator must be a full (voting) IaCMA member.
  • Candidate must be employed as the chief appointed administrative officer in a municipality.
  • Candidate 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.

Please include a brief, descriptive narrative.  Complete Sections 1 and 2 of the nomination cover sheet and staple it in front of the narrative.  The narrative should demonstrate how the chief administrator has made significant contributions to the governmental entity served as demonstrated by:

Contributions to the municipality that he/she serves

  • Enacted policies or practices that have enhanced the efficiency and effectiveness of their municipality
  • Leadership & Management Skills
  • Personal and Professional Development Activities
  • Professionalism & Integrity
  • Employee Development
  • Community and Civic Service
  • Public Stewardship
  • Self-Management

Contributions to the ICMA/IaCMA

  • Serving as an officer, committee member or volunteer
  • Serving as a workshop presenter or meeting facilitator for training sessions
  • Serving as a mentor
  • Publishing articles
  • Developing survey, studies or reports
  • Achieving professional certifications or designations

The IaCMA Manager of the Year will be awarded during the IaCMA reception at the Iowa League of Cities Conference. The deadline for nomination is August 15, 2018. Nomination forms may be requested from Brent Hinson or from the Iowa League of Cities.

Submitting Your Nomination
Applications of each descriptive narrative with the nomination form stapled on top to be received at the Iowa League of Cities by close of business on August 15th.

Attention: IaCMA Awards Committee
Iowa League of Cities
500 SW 7th Street, Suite 101
Des Moines, IA  50309-4111
Nominations can be e-mailed to:  IaCMA’s Professional Awards Committee at bhinson@washingtoniowa.gov

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
2015       Jessica Kinser – Clinton
2016       Jeff Pomeranz – Cedar Rapids
2017       Aaron Burnett – Keokuk

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50th Anniversary of Home Rule

2018 is HomeRuleLogothe 50th Anniversary of the Home Rule Amendment to the Iowa State Constitution. This transitioned Iowa from a Dillon’s Rule state, where local government powers are derived exclusively from the state legislature, to a Home Rule state where local government powers are derived from the State Constitution.

The League is encouraging each city in Iowa to help celebrate this important milestone. Specifically, the League is asking each city to have a proclamation regarding this anniversary and the significance of Home Rule. Below is more information on this exciting celebration including a sample proclamation. The League would also like a copy of your proclamation sent to mailbox@iowaleague.org.

City Toolkit Including Sample Proclamation
More Information on this Celebration


Steve Diers to become next IaCMA president.

From the Charles City Press
By Thomas Nelson
Used with permission and excerpted from the Charles City Press.

Charles City Administrator Steven Diers is the president-elect of the Iowa City/County Managers Association.

“It’s an honor that I’ve been selected to serve and I’m looking forward to doing that,” Diers said.

Diers was elected in March and will take office in July. “This is our state organization. Each state has its own organization of city managers and city administrators,” Diers said. “I’ve been serving for the last three years now. I was nominated and voted in to be the president-elect.”

The organization helps facilitate mentor-ship programs and serve as a networking hub for others in the profession of city managing and administration.

“We have two conferences that we put on to help build relationships across the state and also build that skill set,” Diers said. “As president, I oversee that group.”

The IaCMA board meets quarterly.

Diers said he made sure before accepting the position that he wouldn’t have a major time commitment. He was told by the current president that it’s only an email or phone call or two extra a month.

“You do get questions and emails from other city managers from across the state,” Diers said.

When Diers was starting out as a city administrator in 2004 he often emailed other association members questions, he said.

“This is a nice spot for me to be able to give back to those people and profession and my colleagues,” Diers said.

“I’ve been a member of IaCMA since I first got into the profession in 2004, so going on about 14 years,” Diers said. He’s been serving on the IaCMA board for a couple of years now as well.

“We each kind of take our turn to take on the role as president and serve a year,” Diers said. “It’s a great resource for city managers, city administrators and even city clerks across the state.”

A lot of what city managers and administrators do is unique, Diers said.

“To have to somebody in another community that experienced those things and how they dealt with them is worth its weight in gold,” he said. “If somebody’s already doing it, then why reinvent the wheel?”

Being associated with the IaCMA gets Diers closer to what’s happening around the state, Diers said.

“You can share your community experiences,” he said. “It’s a nice honor and it’s something I’m looking forward to.”

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IaCMA – April 2018

Kim Downs and Angie Charipar receive “Women of Influence” awards from Corridor Business Journal

Kim Downs of Hiawatha and Angie Charipar of Cedar Rapids are among ten woman being recognized for their influence, leadership, and community involvement by the Corridor Business Journal.

Downs and Charipar will receive recognition at a special reception on April 12, 2018 in Cedar Rapids. The annual Women of Influence award is given to women who have made a difference in their profession and communities in the Corridor. Nominations are sought through a public process and honorees are selected by a panel of the previous year’s recipients. For more information: https://www.corridorbusiness.com/events/women-of-influence/

Downs has worked in the City of Hiawatha since 2005 and has been the city’s administrator since 2013.

Charipar has worked for the City of Cedar Rapids since 2009 and has been the city’s Assistant to the Manager since 2013. Angie was the IaCMA 2017 Emerging Leader of the Year recipient.

Congratulations Kim and Angie on your success.









Nominations are now open for the IaCMA Emerging Leader award and Program of the Year award.

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.

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

Submitting Your Nomination
Mail a copy of the descriptive narrative with the nomination form stapled on top to be received at the Iowa League of Cities by close of business on April 15.

Mail to:
Attention:  IaCMA Awards Committee
500 SW 7th Street, Suite 101
Des Moines, IA  50309-4111

Questions should be e-mailed to:  IaCMA’s Professional Awards Committee at: bhinson@washingtoniowa.gov.

Emerging Leader past recipients
2008 Jason Metten- Hawarden
2009 Luke Nelson- Boone
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
Program of the Year past recipients
2008 Windsor Heights- Colby Park Playground
2009 Not awarded
2010 Windsor Heights- Takin it to the Streets
2011 Not awarded
2012 North Liberty- Paperless Packets
2013 Norwalk- City/School Partnership
2014 Newton’s Future Comprehensive Planning Process
2015 Newton- “Get to Know Newton” Community Outreach Project
2016 Not awarded
2017 Des Moines- Speak Up DSM

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ICMA’s FREE 2018 Coaching Webinars

Upcoming fee webinars and online digital archives are available.

Coaching offers value for people at any stage in their careers. Why? Because everyone can benefit from sharing best practices and gaining perspectives from others who can help them see their situation and opportunities from a fresh perspective. That’s why ICMA organizes the Coaching program webinars to serve as whole team learning experiences, and Speed Coaching and 1-1 Coaching models provide a structure for advice at multiple stages in a career.

Sign up for the ICMA Coaching Newsletter

Learn more by visiting icma.org/coaching. Be sure to visit the digital archives to see past webinar topics.

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IMMI – March 14 – 16

Information from Jeff Schott regarding the Iowa Municipal Management Institute.

The 30th Iowa Municipal Management Institute (IMMI) is scheduled for March 14-16, 2018, at the Hotel Vetro in downtown Iowa City.  We look forward to providing city/county managers, administrators and other key local government staff from Iowa with a top notch professional development program as well as convivial networking opportunities.

Please note critical information:

Conference Program –The theme of the 2018 IMMI is “Leading Through Change”.  The preliminary Conference Program can be found on our website: IMMI Preliminary Program 2018

All conference programs will be the Hotel Vetro, 201 South Linn Street, in downtown Iowa City.

We anticipate that IMMI will be approved for Iowa Municipal Professional Flexible Credits by IMFOA.  Please be sure to request this in advance of the conference. IMMI is also approved for 2.5 hours of Continuing Legal Education (CLE).

Registration – IMMI conference registration will again be handled directly by the University Conference Center. Attendees should register electronically at: https://www.continuetolearn.uiowa.edu/UIConferences/meetings.aspx?cnfcode=18-073-01

(Note:  This link may take several seconds to connect so be patient; or you can cut and paste into your browser.)

You may also register by phone 1-800-551-9029 or 319-335-4141, fax 319-335-4039, or by mail.  The conference registration form and program information is also available at our website at http://www.ipa-uiowa.org/conference.html

Please note that registering for the conference does not reserve you a hotel room.  This must be done separately.

Registration Fee – The conference registration fee for the program and meals is $450.  Student registration is $150.

Registration Deadline – The deadline for conference registration to take advantage of the $450 fee is Friday, February 23.  After February 23, the conference fee is $500.

Hotel Reservations – The conference hotel will be the Hotel Vetro, 201 South Linn Street, in downtown Iowa CityBecause our usual conference hotel, The Sheraton, sold and is currently closed for renovation, a very limited number of rooms are available at Hotel Vetro.  Rooms are also available to IMMI attendees at the new Hilton Garden Inn, 328 South Clinton Street, located just a few minutes walking distance from the Hotel Vetro.

Room rates:
$95.00 per night plus tax for the Hotel Vetro
$95 per night plus tax for the Hilton Garden Inn,

Hotel reservations at the Hotel Vetro can be made starting today by calling 319-337-4961.

Please let them know you are attending IMMI (a/k/a the City Managers’ Conference).

IMPORTANT:  Room reservations at Hotel Vetro must be made by Thursday, March 1, 2018.  We have a block of rooms on reserve but we lose our “hold” and special rate after March 1st.
Hotel reservations at the Hilton Garden Inn can be made starting today by calling 319-248-6100.

IMPORTANT:  Room reservations at Hilton Garden Inn must be made by Friday, February 16th.  We have a block of rooms on reserve but we lose our “hold” and special rate after February 16th.

Attendees will need to make their hotel reservations directly with the hotel.  The Institute will not be involved in making hotel reservations. 

If you would like to share a room with another attendee as in previous years, you need to coordinate with your roommate and arrange for one of you to make the reservation.  If you are looking for a roommate, I recommend posting a notice on the “Grapevine” to that effect and you can team up with somebody else who is looking for a roommate.

Parking:  Off-street parking is available in a ramp adjacent to the hotel. Thanks to the City of Iowa City, parking at this ramp will be available at no cost for attendees (whether staying at the hotel or commuting to the conference).   The conference is taking place during the University’s spring break, so we do not anticipate any problem with parking availability.

IMMI Conference Stipend:  The IaCMA Executive Board annually budgets significant resources for stipends to attend the Iowa Municipal Management Institute (IMMI). Multiple stipends covering all or a portion of registration costs will be awarded. Selection will be based primarily on first time IMMI attendance and financial need. IMMI provides Iowa’s city/county managers and administrators a unique opportunity to participate in a national level management development experience without traveling outside the state. If you are interested in being considered for an IMMI stipend, please send a very brief request with your name, title, city, number of years in the profession and previous IMMI conferences that you have attended. Please send this information to marktomb@iowaleague.org by Noon on Thursday, February 1. If payment has already been sent in for IMMI, the stipend will be sent to your city. The decision will be made shortly after the deadline.

We look forward to seeing you in Iowa City March 14-16.

Jeff Schott
Director, Institute of Public Affairs
The University of Iowa

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Career Compass #60 – “I Don’t Like My Mid-Manager Job!”

113339_Frank's 2016 photo (003)
Sponsored by the ICMA Coaching Program, Career Compass is a monthly column from ICMA focused on career issues for local government professional staff. Dr. Frank Benest is ICMA’s liaison for Next Generation Initiatives and resides in Palo Alto, California. If you have a career question you would like addressed in a future Career Compass, e-mail careers@icma.org or contact Frank directly at frank@frankbenest.com. Read past columns at icma.org/careercompass.

I’m a mid-manager supervising an engineering/capital projects group. I was promoted into this role two years ago. While I am good at overseeing the work plan, pushing out the work, and holding people accountable, I am not enjoying the position.

Our capital projects take a long time to complete. When we are in the midst of one effort or another, my group gets called upon to take on another “priority” project or respond to some demand or challenge from a higher-up. For my team and me, it’s endless and, therefore, difficult to stay motivated.

In addition, there’s a lot of change happening in our organization with respect to new priorities, systems, and ways of doing things. Top management is always leaning on mid-managers to communicate the change and make it happen.

I always seem to be in the middle, with my public works director making constant demands and our group members demanding support and resources. It’s difficult to be caught in the middle. Moreover, I don’t feel that the role of mid-manager gets much respect from top management. And I don’t sense that those below me fully appreciate the role.

To make matters worse, I feel lonely at work. I have a family that I cherish but I spend most of my waking hours on the job. I used to be one of the team members but now that I’m a manager I have no close social relationships with those in my group. I try to provide support but I don’t get any.

Can you help me figure this out?

wavey line

You feel caught in what has been called the “middle-manager vise.” Top management is making demands on you, and your direct reports are making demands on you. Even though you ensure that your group gets the work done, it doesn’t seem fulfilling and you don’t feel much support.

In some ways, the role of mid-manager has changed. It is true that the IT revolution now allows employees to communicate with anyone throughout the organization or outside the organization. Mid-managers are no longer gate-keepers of critical data or financials or general “intelligence,” all of which are now available to all.

However, in my view, mid-managers are more important than ever. With more and more uncertainty and disruption, good mid-managers play a critical role in engaging employees and making positive change happen. More on this role below.

Here are my suggestions to become more self-fulfilled in your position.


Embrace the role
Each of us must determine what kind of work provides meaning and satisfaction. You might decide that management is not for you since the work may not feel sufficiently engaging or joyful.

I personally find the role of manager and leader to be energizing and full of purpose. Why? Because, amidst all the resource constraints and competing demands, a manager serves the team and helps the team make a difference in organizational or community life. Service to others has enriched my life. (See Career Compass No. 41: The Post-Heroic Leader.)

Certainly, serving as mid-manager is one of the toughest roles in local government and is much more complicated than pushing out the work and responding to all the demands from the top and the bottom. In uncertain and volatile times, the governing board, chief executive, and key stakeholders in the community are all making demands. Successful change occurs (or does not occur) in the middle of the organization.

The governing board and top management might make pronouncements about new internal or external initiatives, but that doesn’t make them happen. Real change for the better requires that active and effective mid-managers;
Understand the change.
Communicate the compelling rationale (the “why”) for the change.
Engage employees in shaping the change and making adjustments.
Ensure that progress is made.

Yes, top management needs to envision a better future. However, it’s all about the effectiveness of mid-managers to rally people around the positive change and make it happen in the trenches. Mid-managers are the key levers of change.

You must also understand your role as a boundary-crosser. Any initiative of significance involving your group requires that you exit your silo and cross boundaries. For instance, a community center improvement project requires that you engage the Parks and Recreation Department personnel, budget, and utility staff, along with key user groups in order to successfully complete the project. When you cross a boundary, you must start conversations, convene internal and external stakeholders, facilitate problem-solving, and mobilize action—all in an environment where anyone might be able to block or veto your efforts forward.

Leading by crossing boundaries is a difficult yet stimulating role for mid-managers. Therefore, I urge you to understand that your role as a mid-manager is critical and embrace it.


Explore the meaning of the work
Yes, it often feels to you and your group that the work never ends. There is always more work.

I suggest that you and your team take the time and discuss the meaning behind the work. What is the meaning behind an upgrade to the corporate maintenance yard? What will a new library mean to the community? What will the replacement of sewer lines mean for public safety and health?

Are you sharing stories from those benefitting from your capital projects? Are you occasionally inviting internal or external users or customers to your group meetings to discuss the difference that your team is making. Stories are the most powerful way to communicate meaning (see Career Compass No. 50: Storytelling—A Powerful Way to Lead and Communicate).

Meaning is the great motivator and makes the work worthwhile.


Focus on progress
It is easy for you and your group to get overwhelmed with a large project or effort that continues over several years. Consequently, you must help yourself and your team members focus on progress. In their book The Progress Principle, Teresa Amabile and Steven Kramer suggest that people will stay motivated if they see distinct progress along the way.


As you and your group successfully meet milestones or complete projects, you must help the team celebrate. We in local government are terrible at celebrating success. Upon completing one project, we immediately move to the next effort. Take a time-out, bring some coffee and bagels to a staff meeting, congratulate everyone, help everyone savor success, and celebrate the team. I call this “purposeful partying”—party with a purpose.


Advocate up
While top management makes demands on you and your group, it is important and appropriate for you to represent the needs of your team and “advocate up.” Just as you make demands of direct reports in order to be responsive to top management, you must also make demands of senior managers (for example, requesting that top management provide more resources or prioritize issues).

Your role is to respectfully ask of department heads and other top management

  • What is the vision or direction?
  • Where does this issue fall in terms of our other organizational priorities?
  • Given the “messiness” that is inherent in this new initiative, how realistic is the timeline ?
  • This is what I’m willing to do. What are you willing to do?
  • This is what I think. What do you think?

It might be difficult at first to “talk truth to power,” however, assuming you are respectful yet forthright, you will gain respect in turn. Moreover, it is self-fulfilling knowing that you support your group and represent their valid needs and interests. Finally, it is imperative that you provide strategic input to any new initiative since you operate in the real-world trenches.

As levers of change, effective mid-managers influence those above as well as those below in the organizational hierarchy (see Behnan Tabrizi, “New Research—What Sets Effective Middle Managers Apart“, hbr.org, May 8, 2013).

sixReconceptualize your role
Mid-managers must ask themselves if they are doing the right work. Like you, many mid-managers see their primary responsibility as “pushing out the work” and “overseeing staff” (a nice way of saying “making sure there are no screw-ups”). Certainly, mid-managers do need to ensure that work gets done and people are accountable for their assignments. However, let me suggest that mid-managers have an equally important role as teachers, coaches, and talent developers (see Career Compass No. 46: Leading By Letting Go).

As you engage your direct reports in new projects, are you providing them with opportunities to stretch and grow? Within certain guiderails, are you providing autonomy in how the works is done? As a manager, are you a “multiplier” or “diminisher”? (see Liz Wiseman, Multipliers—How the Best Leaders Make Everyone Smarter). Good leaders ask how every problem can be solved in a way that develops other people’s capacity to handle the problem.

The roles of coach, talent developer, and cheerleader are energizing. You create legacy through new community improvement projects. However, you create a different kind of legacy by developing talent. I believe that the primary role of leaders is to grow more leaders.


Get coaching
Serving as an effective mid-manager is difficult but it can be a very fulfilling job, or better yet, a calling.

To get better in your role, get some formal or informal coaching. If your organization or ICMA state association has a formal 1-to-1 coaching program, secure a coach. Or simply go to icma.org/coachconnect and identify a coach. Or, just ask a respected manager (inside or outside your organization) to go for coffee or lunch and informally pick their brain.

Coaches can help us

  • Better engage staff.
  • Influence others.
  • Advocate up.
  • Cross boundaries and collaborate without any authority.
  • Coach and guide others.

eightAddress your loneliness
Sometimes our management jobs are fairly lonely. As Vivek Murthy states in Harvard Business Review paper “Work and the Loneliness Epidemic” (hbr.org, September 2017), we face an epidemic of loneliness in our jobs. Experiencing loneliness not only makes us less productive, it has negative emotional and physical health consequences (for example, greater risk of cardiovascular disease, dementia, depression, and anxiety, and a reduction in life expectancy).

As the Gallup research suggests, those who feel isolated and do not experience social support are less engaged and energized and do not perform well. (See Career Compass No. 37: Engaging Employees for Success.) To overcome loneliness, I encourage you to seek out other mid-managers in your department or other departments or in other agencies. Over coffee, share your joys and challenges, as well as some of your personal lives, such as family and leisure pursuits. We don’t often share the joys of our management and leadership roles. It also helps to know that you face similar challenges. It’s important to get peer support and advice.

To connect on a personal as well as professional level with your staff, share some vulnerability. Talk about a difficult project or situation and admit that you do not know how to proceed and that you need their assistance. Only strong leaders can share their vulnerability. Staff will become more engaged if they connect with you and vice versa. While some seasoned managers recommend that it is not a good idea to have friends whom you supervise, I don’t agree. This notion that “it is lonely at the top” is true only if you isolate yourself. When I was a department head and then city manager, I went to coffee, shared meals, and went out for drinks after work with colleagues whom I supervised. Some continue to be lifelong friends. I believe that you can have direct reports who are friends and still make the occasional tough decision that affects them. Why be lonely?

In order to enhance social relationships, you might want to try out a few techniques or activities, such as

  • “Take five”—Start each staff meeting with team members sharing something that happened in their non-work lives.
  • “The inside scoop”—At the beginning of a monthly staff meeting, ask team members to share something about themselves with photos.
  • Identify people’s personal or leisure pursuits and inquire about them; share with others who might be interested in your personal hobbies or pursuits.
  • Make a point of walking around and asking people about their day or the past weekend, or how their children are doing; share your day.
  • Demonstrate some small acts of kindness (for example, writing a note or hugging someone when your colleague had to put his dog down).

If you feel uncomfortable sharing yourself with others at work, seek friendships with colleagues in other agencies and/or outside of your professional life. The key is to consciously and proactively reach out and make connections. There is no reason to be lonely.


The Joys of Mid-Management
There are challenges but many potential joys in your role as a mid-manager:

  • Serving the team.
  • Leveraging change for the good of the organization and/or community.
  • Growing more leaders.
  • Forming strong connections in the team.
  • Doing meaningful work together in service to others.

Mid-managers matter greatly. Embrace the role and be the best you can be.