The John J. DeBolske Professional Excellence Award was created in 1997 to recognize City/County Managers who demonstrate the
highest level of professional excellence in local government and who have made life contributions in serving the profession. This
award is the highest honor that ACMA may bestow upon a member. The namesake of the award, Jack DeBolske, was the Executive
Director of the League of Arizona Cities and Towns for 40 years.
This year, ACMA recognizes Cynthia Seelhammer, ACMA Retired Member and current Interim Assistant Manager for the City of Maricopa,
as the recipient of the 2012 John J. DeBolske Professional Excellence Award for her exemplary service to several Arizona local
governments, the profession and our association. Cynthia is the first woman to receive this prestigious award.
Cynthia Seelhammer's career in local government spans almost 30 years, beginning in 1984 with the city of Mesa as a Public
Information Specialist. Since that time, her contributions to the field of local government are almost too numerous to
list. Her experience includes work as a Management Assistant in the Department of Finance in St. Paul, MN; Sr. Management Analyst
for the La Mesa, CA; Town Manager of Queen Creek, and Deputy City Manager of Phoenix.
As the first Town Manager of Queen Creek, there were many hats awaiting Cynthia when she accepted the position in 1994. At the
time of her hire, the Town was comprised of one building, one park, one full-time Town Clerk/Treasurer and two part-time
secretaries. Cynthia set up and staffed all the committee and Town Council meetings, turned the sprinklers on and off and pulled
weeds in the flower gardens. Her personal pickup truck was the Town's only vehicle, other than a couple of riding lawn mowers.
Over Cynthia's tenure, she molded and grew the organization based on needs of the community. Upon her departure in 2006, the staff
had grown to more than 180 FTE employees. Cynthia managed one of the largest growth periods of the town and saw the municipal
budget increase from approximately $2 million in 1994 to $157 million in 2006.
After leaving Queen Creek, Cynthia was hired as Deputy City Manager of Phoenix in 2006. Her immediate responsibilities included
oversight of several departments, such as: Information Technology, Solid Waste and Recycling, Finance, Budget and Research,
Facilities Maintenance, and Historic Preservation. She later took on the assignments of Chief of Staff for the entire 9-member
council, including oversight of HR and was a key member of the executive policy-making team. Cynthia's last two years in Phoenix
included managing the Water Services Department of 1,500 employees who provide much of the water and wastewater services to not
only Phoenix, but much of the entire Phoenix region. She retired from this post in 2010.
Since "retiring" from Phoenix, Cynthia has served in interim capacities for the Town of Tusayan and the City of Maricopa. She
currently serves as Interim Assistant Manager for Maricopa.
Cynthia has been an active member of ACMA since 1994, and has served three terms on the Board of Directors. She was one of the
first 600 local government managers worldwide to be credentialed through ICMA's program. Cynthia continues her service with the
2012 ICMA Host Committee. She is also a member of ICMA's International Committee and sits on the World Affairs Council of
Arizona. Cynthia's local government leadership extends well beyond her breadth of experience as a manager. Her state and
national memberships demonstrate Cynthia's quest to not only educate herself and share knowledge, but to be actively involved in
shaping the future of local government.
Cynthia exemplifies the characteristics of a great local government leader. Her commitment to public service, city management
and the long-term sustainability of our communities is demonstrated in her both her personal and professional life.