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ICMA Conference a Valuable Experience for Scholarship Winners
William Emerson
I felt truly privileged to attend the ICMA Annual Conference in Richmond this September. I am deeply grateful to ACMA and ICMA for sponsoring my attendance.

There was a good cross-section of the profession, from credentialed managers with 35 years experience to students still pursuing their MPA's, from department directors thinking of making a change to freshman managers like me. In the presentations I attended, I also observed diversity among the presenters, including academics (like our own Dr. Svara), practitioners (like Eric Levitt and Cathy Gorham), and consultants (like Willdan, Granicus, and TischlerBise).

There were several programmed tracks available: the ones most relevant to Dewey-Humboldt were the Small Communities track and the Performance Management track (D-H joined the Arizona Consortium and the Center for Performance Management in July). I also took time to sneak into classes on infrastructure challenges and sessions on the future of cities and their management. I even learned how to drive a Segway using only my knees (in response to my question about how police could draw while using the silly, remarkably fun and fast conveyances).

Richmond, at the fall of the James, the Capital of Virginia, with a Capital building designed by the third president, and the steel capital of the South until the War Between the States, was a city of contrasts. The former Capital of the Confederacy continues to have an African-American majority, with an Arthur Ashe statue added to the group of Confederate heroes on Monument Avenue in 1996. There was poverty adjacent to the bright, new Convention Center: the priest of the former cathedral of the Diocese of Richmond described his parish, about two blocks from the Center, as the "Soup Kitchen Church of Richmond." For the past 20 years, the city has been reinventing itself, a piece at a time: the flood wall enabled the Shockoe Bottom businesses to flourish, which created political capital for the Canal Walk project, which opened up the Riverside and Farmer's Market areas to structural investment, and the flywheel is still turning. Karen and I made our way out to the University of Richmond to take in some modern dance and to enjoy the beautifully verdant and arboreal campus. A month later and we would have seen the amazing spectacle of a deciduous autumn, but then the river would have been too cold to swim.

The Conference was a celebration of the Council-Manager form of government and chock full of evidence about the effectiveness thereof. As much as I appreciate what I learned, I appreciated the comfort of being among those who share my beliefs about the future of urban life. I feel a professional obligation to attend whenever I can and to participate fully, since we have an inherently fragile governance scheme: citizens are used to elected executives (e.g., governor, president), and it is difficult for mayors and Council to resist the push to maximize the political power of their offices absent a strong culture and commitment to a professional executive, with full and frequent evidence to reinforce the wisdom of this path. When the conference comes to Arizona in 2012, I hope that we can facilitate participation of every manager in the state, especially those who have not yet fully embraced ACMA or ICMA.

Again, I am deeply grateful.
William Emerson
Town Manager
Dewey-Humboldt

Katie Gregory
I would like to thank the ACMA Board for selecting me as one of the recipients for the 2008 ICMA Conference Scholarship. It was truly an excellent experience to participate at the conference in Richmond, VA this year. As a first time attendee, I was quite awestruck by the size of the conference, the caliber of the speakers, and the many opportunities to meet and network with people from all over the country and the world.

I was particularly impressed with the number of sessions dedicated to Building Sustainable Communities and New Urbanism including the Alliance for Innovation Luncheon which highlighted some incredible work on sustainability initiatives and provided attendees with the inaugural issue of the "IDEAS Quarterly Report". In addition there were a number of sessions devoted to enhancing and utilizing performance management in local governance, which has become even more important in managing during these economic times. Of course, I was also able to fit in a few sessions related to early career professionals, balancing work and family and managing Council relations. As a special note, I am a member of the ICMA Emerging Leaders Development Program, which is an excellent program that helps early career professional build on their management skills through a mentor facilitated series of tele-conference calls and monthly readings. As a part of the conference, I attended the Emerging Leaders "Meet and Greet" social and was able to connect face to face with some of my fellow students and mentors from across the country.

All in all, I was more than pleased with the session offerings, the abundance of opportunities to network, and the excellent social activities offered throughout out the conference. I am truly grateful for the opportunity afforded to me through ACMA, and I hope that many others will also have the same opportunity in the future.

Again, thank you ACMA.
Katie Gregory
Development Agreement Coordinator
City of Peoria Budget Office
Arizona City/County Management Association
1820 W. Washington Street, Phoenix, AZ 85007   •   Phone: (602) 258-5786   •   Fax: (602) 253-3874   •   www.azmanagement.org