Recognizing the Making Democracy Work Leadership Institute

Engaging Citizens in Solving Problems

By Felicia Logan | Apr 1, 2021 | ARTICLE

Join us in recognizing the participants and faculty of the inaugural Making Democracy Work Leadership Institute, an 18-month program in partnership with ICMA, the Kettering Foundation, and the National Civic League to create understanding and practice of civic engagement in small communities.

The Making Democracy Work Leadership Institute helps managers strengthen their ability to engage with a public that often feels sidelined and reluctant to get involved in solving wicked community problems.

Specifically, the institute help managers with the following:

• Aligning their professional routines with the way citizens in communities work so that citizens can produce the “things” government needs to be effective and citizens find government more responsive and worthy of their trust.

• Creating civic spaces where public officials and citizens can learn to work in more democratic and complementary ways to produce public goods.

• Encouraging a culture of deliberation and robust civic engagement. Key to the work of the Institute is shared learning and the development of innovative professional practices.

Seth Sumner, city manager of Athens, Tennessee, spoke about his experience with the program in a presentation with the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, which can be seen here.


Susan Arntz, ICMA-CM | City Manager | Mankato, Minnesota

Norton Bonaparte Jr., ICMA-CM | City Manager | Sanford, Florida

Tanisha Briley | City Manager | Gaithersburg, Maryland

Tom Carroll, ICMA-CM | Village Manager | Silverton, Ohio

Bryna Helfer | Assistant County Manager and Director, Communications and Public Engagement | Arlington County, Virginia

Alejandra Lopez | Interim Director, Economic Development Department | San Antonio, Texas

Kristina Nelson-Gross | City Attorney | Sequimwa, Washington

Reina Schwartz, ICMA-CM | City Manager | Clayton, California

Stacy Wall Schweikhart | Director of Strategy & Engagement | Miami Valley Regional Planning Commission

Noah Simon, ICMA-CM | Deputy Town Manager | Westlake, Texas

C. Seth Sumner, ICMA-CM | City Manager | Athens, Tennessee

Justin Weiland, ICMA-CM | City Administrator | Dell Rapids, South Dakota


Martin Carcasson, PhD | Director, Center for Public Deliberation | Colorado State University

Cheryl Hilvert, ICMA-CM | ICMA Midwest Regional Director

Valerie Lemmie | Director, Exploratory Research | Kettering Foundation

Doug Linkhart | President | National Civic League

Felicia Logan | Director, Leadership Development | ICMA

Michael McGrath | Director, Research and Publications | National Civic League

Peggy Merriss, ICMA-CM | Acting City Administrator | Pine Lake, Georgia

Phil Stewart | Senior Associate | Kettering Foundation

Wendy Willis | Executive Director | Deliberative Democracy Consortium


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