The Next Big Thing: Local Government's Next Century

Join ICMA and the Alliance for Innovation for the free, Leading Ideas Series webcast and look into the future of local government with a panel of public administration experts.

Feb 27, 2015 | ARTICLE

Watch the FREE Webcast, Recorded on March 18!

What will drive the direction of local government during the next decade and beyond? Where will the “next cities”—those places that possess the characteristics and attributes to attract talented individuals—be located? What implications do the global issues we read about every day (technology, climate change, and demographics) hold for communities and the people who serve and lead them?

Look into the future of local government with ICMA Executive Director Bob O’Neill and a panel of local government experts that includes representatives from the Alliance for Innovation (AFI). This live, 90-minute Leading Ideas Series webcast was developed with students, interns, management fellows, and early-career professionals in mind. Presenters will focus on the future drivers of local government and their impact on our communities’ future leaders. You can watch the recorded webinar now.


Topics may include:

  • Local government leadership in an increasingly unsustainable world.
  • Factors that will determine where the “creative class” will work, play, and live.
  • The rise of the digi-class and its impact on local government management service delivery.
  • The connection between authority figures, immigration, language barriers, and trust issues and residents.
  • The new local government workforce, which will examine the impact of reduced or frozen salaries and opportunities on a highly (over) educated, younger workforce.

The discussion will incorporate questions from the audience. Send your questions in advance or the day of the event to #ICMANBT or to


Registration for the ICMA/AFI Next Big Thing webinar is free and open to any student, intern, fellow, or local government early-career professional. There is no limit to the number of individuals from your school or office who may participate in this webinar. All you need in the room is a speaker phone and a computer to view the Web component.

Once you complete the registration information and hit the “Register” button, your registration will be complete. You will use this same link ( to join the webcast at the specified time and date.

Add this event to your calendar



Meet Your Expert Presenters


Bob O’Neill, Executive Director 
ICMA (Moderator and AFI Board Member)
Prior to joining ICMA in November 2002, O'Neill served as president of the National Academy of Public Administration (NAPA). Previously, as Fairfax County executive, he was credited with developing a series of successful community and commercial revitalization strategies. O'Neill’s “reinvention” of Hampton, Virginia, when he was city manager was widely recognized by organizations such as the National League of Cities and Public Technology Institute.


Shannon Flanagan-Watson, Business Ombudsman/Assistant County Manager
Arlington County, Virginia (Board Co-Chair, AFI)
Flanagan-Watson joined Arlington County in 2005, following a five-year stint as ICMA's director of business development. She was recently appointed Arlington County’s first business ombudsman as part of its economic development efforts. In this new capacity, she works in partnership with the business community to help resolve issues and identify improvements to county administrative processes.


John Nalbandian, Professor Emeritus
School of Public Affairs & Administration, University of Kansas
A former councilmember and mayor, Dr. Nalbandian forged a nearly 40-year-long career as a professor of public administration with the University of Kansas in Lawrence. Today, he regularly conducts workshops for the University of Virginia’s Senior Executive Institute (SEI) and the University of North Carolina’s Public Executive Leadership Academy. He has also presented at the University of Texas’ new Public Executive Institute.


Marc Ott, City Manager
Austin, Texas (Board Member, AFI)
Ott began his career in local government management with the city of Southfield, Michigan, and served in a number of progressively responsible positions with the Michigan Municipal League and Jackson, Grand Rapids, Kalamazoo, and Rochester Hills, Michigan. After earning his stripes in the Lone Star State through a six-year stint as assistant city manager with the city of Fort Worth, he was named city manager of Austin in 2008. 

Rebecca Ryan, Founder
Next Generation Consulting
As founder and co-owner of Next Generation Consulting, Ryan leads the team that best-selling author Richard Florida calls, “One of the most reliable sources for leaders who want to attract and retain the next generation of creative workers.” In her new roles as Senior Fellow at CEOs for Cities and Resident Futurist for the Alliance for Innovation, Ryan guides communities in interpreting, predicting, and shaping their futures. 




Funding for this ICMA/AFI Leading Ideas Series webcast is made possible through the generous support of ICMA-RC. The webcast was conceived by the members of ICMA’s Anniversary Task Force as the association kicks off its second centennial and is part of AFI's Next Big Thing in Local Government project.


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