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ACMA's Next Generation Initiatives
By Cynthia Seelhammer, Deputy City Manager, City of Phoenix
and Josh Wright, Assistant to the Town Manager, Town of Marana

It's an amazing statistic: 45% of this nation's workforce, an estimated 84 million baby boomers, are eligible to retire in the next few years. In local government, the trend has been even more pronounced: in 1971, 45% of local government managers were in their 30s, while by 2000, that number had dropped to 16%. Who will replace the local government leaders when they retire? How do we ensure that strong professionals will be here to manage local government? It is clear that developing the next generation of local government leaders is critical to the sustainability of our profession.

Several years ago, ICMA began a series of programs targeted at attracting new leadership to the local government profession and encouraged state associations to do the same. ACMA has responded to ICMA's Next Generation Initiatives and is taking critical steps to address the anticipated shortfall of local government professionals. Soon, you will begin seeing more emphasis on ICMA's Next Generation Initiatives at ACMA conferences and right here in ACMA's monthly newsletter.

At its annual retreat in April, the ACMA board updated its strategic plan with new mission and vision statements and values, all of which reflect the association's commitment to the next generation. In addition, the board established several "Key Results Areas" focusing on broadening knowledge of local government and reaching out to previously untapped sources of future managers. For example, ACMA has set a priority on expanding our partnership with Arizona's three major universities, and is seeking to revamp our committees to include more members and diversify representation.

At the ACMA winter conference, we hosted "speed coaching" sessions in which newer professionals are paired with tenured managers in brief discussions on career advice, mentoring and professional development. Each 10-minute discussion is held one-on-one, after which everyone rotates to a different pairing to continue the conversation. These sessions provide the next generation of ACMA membership with opportunities to make connections with experienced professionals and ask questions about how to succeed in local government. The energy, optimism and commitment of the newer professionals also serve to inspire those acting as coaches. These "speed coaching" sessions will continue to be part of all future ACMA winter conferences.

We are also proud to announce that ACMA and ICMA have partnered to provide a new career advice column for next generation professionals authored by Dr. Frank Benest, ICMA Senior Advisor for Next Generation Initiatives and a former longtime California city manager. Dr. Benest's column, Career Compass, makes its first appearance in this edition of the newsletter. In addition, we are honored to announce Dr. Benest as our keynote speaker at the Winter 2010 conference in Sedona.

If we care about our communities, we must all help attract and retain the next generation of leaders for our profession. Please consider getting involved in ACMA's and ICMA's Next Generation Initiatives to maintain the role of professional management in Arizona government.
Arizona City/County Management Association
1820 W. Washington Street, Phoenix, AZ 85007   •   Phone: (602) 258-5786   •   Fax: (602) 253-3874   •