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North Carolina City County Management Association celebrates 50th anniversary 

 The North Carolina City County Management Association celebrated its 50th anniversary with a three-day seminar in Research Triangle Park in February. Photo credit: Jessica Wells
The North Carolina City County Management Association looked back on 50 years as a combined organization at its 53rd Annual Winter Seminar. The seminar welcomed more than 400 managers and nearly 100 vendors to the Sheraton Imperial Hotel in Research Triangle Park on February 5 through 7.

The three-day seminar was filled with concurrent sessions focused on hot topics for local government managers including ethics, collaborating with other agencies to provide services and being your own public information officer. In keeping with the seminar’s theme, “Honoring the Past – Shaping Leadership for the Future,” most sessions were dedicated to reflecting on how the field has grown  and mentoring and coaching Masters of Public Administration students.

The International City County Management Association is also celebrating an anniversary this year. In Charlotte, the association will hold its 100th Annual Conference September 14 through 17 with an emphasis on planning for the profession’s next 100 years.

David Limardi, the International City County Management Association Midwest regional director, delivered the keynote address about the shift in how managers operate. According to him, managers have gone from operating as technicians to being interpersonal leaders who have to bring large groups of people together.

“That’s the future, ladies and gentlemen,” Limardi said. “We have to be technically competent, but that’s not where the rubber hits the road. The rubber hits the road where we have to deal with people, groups and citizens on a day-to-day basis.”

After Limardi’s address, he participated in a panel discussion with University of North Carolina and Arizona State University Professor James Svara, Catawba County Commissioner Tom Lundy, Charlotte Manager Ron Carlee, Rocky Mount Manager Charles Penny and Mattie Sue Stevens, an International City County Management Association Fellow at the City and County of Durham.

The group discussed the continuity of the field, changes they’ve seen and also made predictions for the future, which included an increase in diversity and continued commitment to ethics.

“I think it’s phenomenal to have a form of government to stand the test of time because when you think about it, most institutions can’t hang around for that length of time without some major change,” Penny said. “We have to be nimble because when we started 100 years ago, we weren’t doing the things we do now. It’s because of necessity – cities didn’t always operate electric systems, but when existing electric systems didn’t provide that service, several cities across the state had to step up and do it.”

At the President’s Luncheon, the association honored new Life Members, scholarship recipients and sponsors.

Nine of the 100 Master’s of Public Administration students in attendance were recognized for earning scholarships from the North Carolina City County Management Association. The scholarship winners were as follows:

  • Brian Pahle, Appalachian State University’s Matt W. Williamson Scholarship;
  • Kristian Williams, East Carolina University’s Donald B. Hayman Scholarship;
  • Crystal Brooks, North Carolina Central University’s Gordon Whitaker Scholarship;
  • Johnathon Smith, North Carolina State University’s John “Jack” Vogt Scholarship;
  • Whitney Harris, UNC-Chapel Hill’s John Milton Gold Scholarship;
  • Karen Whichard, UNC-Charlotte Albert and Gladys Coates Scholarship;
  • Donald Scales, UNC-Greensboro Marvin Hoffman Scholarship;
  • Craig Kelly, UNC-Wilmington NCCCMA MPA Scholarship; and
  • Rebecca Garland, Western Carolina University’s Jake Wicker Scholarship.

The association has a tradition of honoring a few individuals each year with Life Membership. The Executive Committee automatically honors managers who have retired after serving 15 to 25 years, depending on age, with Life Membership, but may also award it to those who have made exceptional contributions to the field.

The following were inducted as Life Members: J. Russell Allen of Raleigh, Jim Ball of Laurel Park, Julie Burch of Charlotte, Frank Clifton of Orange County, David Cooke of Wake County, Jim Freeman of Havelock, Jack Horton of Macon County, Arthur (Ed) Jones of Forsyth County, Harry Jones of Mecklenburg County, Albert Matthews of Canton, J. Michael Moore of Surf City, Robert Murphy of Nash County, Julian Prosser of Raleigh, Mike Ruffin of Durham County, Patrick Thomas of Southport, William “Tony” Wilder of Harnett County. Carl Dean of Holly Springs and Mike Dula of Elon, who recently passed away, were also honored with Life Membership.

Former League Executive Director Ellis Hankins was also awarded Honorary Membership by the Association’s Executive Committee. The honor is reserved for those who have made significant contributions to the field but are not members of the Association. Although the award is given sparingly, Sheperd said it is usually given to League, North Carolina Association of County Commissioners and UNC School of Government staff.

Harry Jones, a former Mecklenburg County manager, delivered a reflection on the management profession and recognition of the new Life Members.

“There is a Negro spiritual that I use quite a bit in speeches I give that says ‘If I can help somebody as I pass along, if I can cheer someone with word of song, if I can show someone he is traveling wrong, then my living is not in vain.’ Think about that for a moment in the context of what you do every day and the service you provide every day,” Jones said. “As we stand here today, what you as public administrators do, you are great servants. I think you are here because you understand that you exist for one reason and one reason only – to serve the citizens of your community.”