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