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Meredith Roark is a budget and performance measurement manager for the city of Decatur, Georgia, and has been an ICMA member since 2006. She has worked for Decatur for the past seven years, first serving as a graduate intern, then as assistant to the city manager, and now as budget manager. In addition to her budget background, Roark is interested in emergency preparedness and holds a Georgia Certified Emergency Manager certification.

Roark earned a bachelor’s degree in economics from the University of Georgia and received a master’s of science in public administration from the Georgia Institute of Technology. She is currently serving as the city’s primary coordinator with the ICMA Center for Performance Measurement and graduated from the Leadership ICMA program in 2012.

One challenge that many ICMA members face, including Roark, was a lack of entry-level positions. Roark shared, “When I was starting out, I was lucky enough to know a few people in the profession who directed me toward available entry-level positions. But when the economy went south, the entry-level positions dried up and so did many of the opportunities for young professionals. Now that things are getting better, it’s time to bring back the entry-level positions, so that the bright young minds of the future will once again look to the local government management profession. At the same time, mid-level staff may not have the opportunity to move up in your organization just yet. Finding ways to make them feel valued, such as bringing them to the annual conference or allowing them to participate in leadership progams, will allow them to grow in their current positions and allow managers to keep good staff."    

When asked what her ICMA membership meant to her, Roark replied,  “ICMA is more than just a conference convener. It’s as an access point for and a filter of ideas that are important to the profession and beyond. Since none of our communities operate in a vacuum, it’s nice to have a place to gather, whether virtually or in person, to discuss the topic of the day. Because ICMA continues to evolve technically to meet the needs of its members, you can access it via the Knowledge Network or by participating in a webinar one day and then the very next day when you’re ready to network or simply need someone to talk to, you have the option to personally connect with members and staff via the phone or at a conference. It’s this type of approach that has allowed the organization to remain relevant year after year.”