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Credentialed Managers
By: City of Peoria Manager Carl Swenson

A member of my staff asked me recently how I thought city management as a profession had changed over the years. It was a great question, and it caused me to reflect on my 30 years in local government.

I answered that many things have not changed a great deal through the years. For example, tight budgets, difficult personnel issues, and divided councils are as much an issue now as they were then (and probably will be 30 years from now). I mentioned a couple of areas in which I do not believe we have made enough progress, such as increasing diversity and educating the public about the benefits of the council-manager form. Finally, I noted some positive developments, including our focus on performance measurement and the creation of the voluntary credentialing program.

When the credentialing program first started, I, like many managers, was little skeptical. After all, various credentialing programs had been introduced through the years, only to be shelved later. I decided to give it a try, and I am glad I did. The self-assessment is painless and offers some useful insights into your individual strengths and weaknesses. More importantly, it forms the basis of the annual professional development plan, which represents a personal commitment to growth in specific areas. I would like to think that I would have continued to grow and develop as a manager without this plan, but in reality I'm sure I would have been less diligent and focused about my professional development if not for this document.

It has taken some time, but credentialing is starting to manifest itself in the recruitment process for city managers. Increasingly, for example, "credentialed manager" is listed as a desired qualification for applicants. This is good for our profession, as it recognizes that there is a body of knowledge and a specific set of skills that are necessary for success in the demanding positions we hold.

Voluntary credentialing has been a positive step for local government management, and I encourage ACMA members who are not yet credentialed to take the plunge. It will further your career and will help us all raise the professionalism of city/county management.

Carl Swenson
Peoria City Manager
Arizona City/County Management Association
1820 W. Washington Street, Phoenix, AZ 85007   •   Phone: (602) 258-5786   •   Fax: (602) 253-3874   •