Taylor Lough, MPA, applied to the Emerging Leaders Development Program to continue her professional development and local government education. In this interview, she shares how this program has influenced her approach to leadership and what skills she has gained to tackle a post-pandemic world.

Why did you choose to apply to this program?

I chose to apply to the Emerging Leaders Development Program (ELDP) in 2018 to continue my professional development and local government education. I believe each educational experience, whether in a classroom or through a professional organization like ICMA, builds upon each other, so we learn more about the local government professional as well as ourselves as leaders. In developing my professional development plan, I mentioned the program to Shanna Sims-Bradish, city manager of Richardson, and she shared her positive experience with the program. The future credit toward credentialing was also appealing and a reason I chose to apply to ELDP.

How did this program influence your approach to leadership?

I’ve heard it’s lonely at the top, but this program confirmed for me that there are throughout the country people seeking to make the world a better place, starting with the community in which they serve. These are ICMA members who have a desire to better themselves professionally in order to lead their organizations regardless of the level in which they are currently serving. I know there are leaders in other communities experiencing or experienced similar challenges that I can reach out to and learn from in order to best serve my community.

What was your biggest takeaway from participating in ELDP?

This program provided professional education beyond my graduate studies on how to understand and work with departments that were not under my control. I was able to better understand the basics from a practical perspective that I could bring to cross-department meetings.

Did you enjoy the coaching experience? How did you benefit from it?

I sincerely appreciated the professionals who offered their time and expertise to explain hard skills through textbooks and articles using real world, local government experiences. I also enjoyed the coaching experience through the management application project with Brian Bosshardt of Clear Creek County, Colorado, because I was able to get to know a local Credentialed Manager outside of my network at the time. We knew a lot of the same people as I considered many of his friends my mentors (David Morgan, Georgetown, and Mark Israelson, city manager, Plano, to name just two). Brian was able to fine tune my management application project and assist me with approaches to presentations to the city council and working with new staff members. He provided new ideas and encouragement throughout the project. I am very glad we were paired together as I now consider him a lifelong friend and mentor.

How can you use the skills you have gained during the program in a post-pandemic world?

I honed the ability to make connections between textbook information and real-world experiences and work with others remotely. I believe the design of the program prepared me for the COVID-19 pandemic as it was my first teleseminar style professional development. I had taken webinar classes before, but I was able to form relationships with members of my cohort without ever seeing their face or community. We knew each other’s voices and valued each other’s stories.

Get more information on the ICMA Emerging Leaders Development Program. Application deadline: August 31, 2021.