At the recent ICMA Annual Conference in Phoenix, longtime member Bonnie Svrcek became the second woman ICMA president in the organization’s history.
She has served as the deputy city manager for Lynchburg, Virginia, since 1999. In this position, Svrcek oversees the city assessor, communications and marketing, community development, financial services, fleet services, libraries and museums, and information technology departments. Simultaneously, she recently served as the acting director of community development, which included oversight of engineering, planning, zoning, neighborhood services, inspections, and GIS.
Svrcek graduated from the University of Maryland with a B.S. in housing and applied design, and received her MPA from the University of Southern California’s Washington Public Affairs Center. Most recently, Svrcek completed the State and Local Government Excellence Executive Education Program at the Harvard Kennedy School.
She began her career in local government as a staff assistant for the city of Los Angeles’ Washington office, and then worked for Fairfax County, Virginia, as a budget analyst. Prior to her current position, she served as the assistant town manager for Blacksburg, Virginia.
Svrcek has been a member of ICMA since her career began. Prior to being elected president, she served ICMA as a non-CEO southeast region vice president, 2008-10. She has also served as the president of the Virginia Local Government Management Association, the United Way of Montgomery County, and Big Brothers/Big Sisters of Central Virginia, as well as serving on many other local nonprofit boards.
“ICMA members are faced with new challenges every day,” says Svrcek. “I think today’s challenges are more complex than in the past. As leaders and innovators, we are required to think differently. Shrinking financial and human resources require us to be more collaborative and develop partnerships that we may not have thought of in the past.”
“Public service at the local level is indeed a calling, and is not for the faint of heart,” she adds. “Recruiting and retaining excellent public service employees who have the passion and drive to make our communities better places to live, work, play and visit is a challenge that requires adaptive, enthusiastic, and creative leadership.”
How does Svrcek feel about her new role as president of ICMA? “I am incredibly honored, privileged, humbled, and proud to be the 99th president of ICMA,” she says. “In this closing chapter of our first century of ICMA, there are a few things that I am hoping will be reflective of my leadership. Advancing the next generation of local government managers through the expansion of ICMA Student Chapters; exploring the barriers that women in the profession face in becoming a city/town/county manager through the creation of the Task Force on Women in the Profession; and engaging our members in ICMA with the challenge to do "Just One Thing" during this next year that strengthens the value of ICMA membership…these are cornerstones of the legacy that I hope to leave as president of ICMA.”
For Svrcek, “ICMA is a professional family that provides a worldwide network of colleagues that can be accessed either virtually or personally for support, leading practices, brainstorming, and problem-solving.”
For the next generation of managers, “ICMA is an opportunity. Inspiring them to be engaged in ICMA is an unspoken responsibility of ‘more seasoned’ members like me. ICMA has a great portfolio of opportunities for ‘less seasoned’ members to engage in as they develop in their local government management careers.”
Svrcek encourages early and mid-career professionals to “explore the ICMA website, schedule a conversation with a more experienced manager on what ICMA has meant to him or her, volunteer for a Task Force or Committee, participate in the Assistant's Exchange prior to the annual conference, or contribute to the Knowledge Network, among numerous other things.”