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Women Leaders Highlight the Stories of Women Leaders

During National Women’s History Month, ICMA will be releasing posts to encourage and inspire women currently in the workforce and the next generation of women leaders. This year’s theme for the month, as designated by the National Women’s History Project, is “Our History Is Our Strength!” The following 4 stories from women local government leaders embrace that sentiment. You’ll find these and other rich personal histories in Mike Conduff and Melissa Byrne Vossmer’s book Democracy at the Doorstep, Too


New Mayor, New Manager—Not Necessarily

Vola T. Lawson, in 1985, was appointed the first female city manager in Alexandria, Virginia, by a popular mayor, but when the mayor lost his reelection bid the city council began a national search for a new city manager. After interviewing 67 men and 1 woman, they selected Vola to become the next city manager, a position she held until 2000. Vola T. Lawson passed away on December 10, 2013, at age 79.



The Value of Public Service

Cheryl A. Hilvert, management and leadership consultant, Montgomery, Ohio, describes how her dad inspired her to work in public service, what it means to be a local government leader, and the value she personally received from the work. 



Looking for Your Lifeboat

Charlene R. Stevens, city administrator, Cottage Grove, Minnesota, describes her experience taking a job in an organization that had multiple warning signs. Stevens describes herself as an optimist who believed she could make the situation better. After two years Stevens had the realization that this job was no longer working out and began exploring other opportunities. Stevens shares the lessons she learned from the strenuous experience.



It’s a Marathon, Not a Sprint: Nine Lessons from the First Year

In 2010 Charmelle Garrett was appointed city manager of Victoria, Texas. Shortly after her appointment, she had the chance to get advice from former ICMA Executive Director Bob O’Neill. Bob told her “you need to remember: it’s a marathon, not a sprint.” Charmelle took that advice and after a year working as a manager, she shared the nine lessons she learned from the first year of the marathon.