Omro:  Fourth Class City with First Class Leadership

Omro:  Fourth Class City with First Class Leadership

11th November 2013

Faith Elford / Barbara Van Clake MMC/WCPC

The City of Omro is experiencing a unique opportunity this year with administrative staff in dual leadership roles in their state professional associations. City Administrator/Clerk/Treasurer Linda K. Kutchenriter is the current President of the Wisconsin City/County Managers Association and Deputy Clerk/Treasurer Barbara Van Clake is the current President of the Wisconsin Municipal Clerks Association. Together, they are helping to steer the course of their professional associations as they work through their respective strategic planning processes to achieve the goals, objectives, and action steps necessary to meet the future needs of members.

Just what do these professional associations have in common with municipal management? Both associations are dedicated to providing education, professional skills and guidance, and networking opportunities that enhance the ability to effectively and professionally lead municipal and community operations. There has never been a more important time to take an active role in future planning and leadership. State budget cuts, decreased revenues, and increased service demands have created an unbalanced equation in the effective management of our municipalities. This imbalance makes it a most opportune time to take an in-depth look at our governance models and examine how we provide the necessary services to our communities with their ever changing needs and desire for an increased response time. Local officials know that time restraints, lack of volunteers and civic engagement, as well as technological advances in the speed of communication have placed additional burdens on how associations and municipalities need to operate. Simply maintaining the status quo no longer meets the needs of most residents, especially those that are utilizing progressive communication technology on a daily basis. Where once the quarterly newsletter was an effective and timely means of distributing municipal information, it is now being replaced with up-to-date websites, email blasts, #tweets, and twitters.

The trends in professional association management are indicative of the trends in municipal management. Many new ideas can be garnered from the book Race for Relevance by Harrison Coerver and Mary Byers. Race for Relevance teaches about five radical changes that associations must go through to remain relevant to their members' needs in the future. Reading this book gives a fresh outlook on ways to enhance local government operations and help facilitate the necessary changes to make those enhancements with community buy-in.

Omro is proud of the leadership roles their officials have taken in their professional associations. They understand that the effective governance skills learned will transition well into managing the city in a more progressive manner for the betterment of the residents and surrounding communities. Their leadership tip: Take time to take part in your professional association as you are taking part in your own future success.


Reprinted from The Municipality, a publication of the League of Wisconsin Municipalities  - November 2013, Volume 108, Number 11