President Lon Pluckhahn onstage at the 2023 ICMA Annual Conference in Austin, Texas.
President Lon Pluckhahn onstage at the 2023 ICMA Annual Conference in Austin, Texas

By the time this article hits PM Magazine, I will be two thirds of the way through my year as ICMA’s president. It has been a fantastic experience, and the time has passed much faster than I expected it to go.

To date, I have had the honor of representing ICMA at nearly a dozen events and state association meetings and have met with hundreds of our members and affiliate members. It’s been a great reminder of the importance of the work our members are doing every day, and the creativity and compassion with which we go about the work. As a firm believer in the power of story to motivate and unite, I have been able to meet some exceptional people and to hear theirs.

I’ve gotten the opportunity to meet Johnny Crowder, the founder of Cope Notes, and learn about the genesis of his personal passion for mental health. I’ve learned about the work that city manager Brian Riblet and his team in Montgomery, Ohio, are doing in the mental health arena and the vision the city has for supporting their employees and community. In North Carolina, I was able to see the announcement of the state association’s partnership with a credit union that will provide up to half a million dollars for professional development and support of their members. And at every opportunity I have engaged with our student members and next generation leaders that will carry the profession into the future.

There have also been numerous reminders of the long-term impact of the foundational work that ICMA and our partners are doing. At the Local Government Hispanic Network (LGHN) conference in Mesa, Arizona, I met the director of the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, who got his start in graduate school due to a scholarship from the precursor to LGHN. I have met some of the giants in our profession, including founding members of the National Forum for Black Public Administrators and LGHN. The passion and dedication these individuals have to excellence in public service is inspiring.

I have also been struck by the commonality of issues faced by our communities around the world. Concerns about the recruitment and retention of employees, lack of civility and distrust in government, inadequate resources in contrast to growing demand, and others are universal. Our peers everywhere are grappling with the same sticky problems regardless of location. The work that ICMA is doing to support our members with best practices and innovative ways to solve these difficult problems is more critical than ever.

We have also been advancing the work of the organization. The task force on governance has been engaged with our member states and regions, learning from their perspective what should be considered as we seek to modernize the way we do business. Our global work is also ongoing as ICMA is moving toward a continuum of partnerships rather than the traditional affiliation agreement. ICMA’s regions just wrapped up the interview process for the next cohort of candidates for the executive board that are seeking to join us in September. And finally, we are celebrating the 100th anniversary of the ICMA Code of Ethics throughout the year.

It has truly been a gratifying and humbling ride so far. I am proud to be part of an organization that has so many dedicated members that are leaning into some of the greatest challenges our communities have ever faced.

Over the next few months, I will have more opportunities to meet our members where they are, and I look forward to seeing you all at the 2024 ICMA Annual Conference in Pittsburgh in September.

Headshot of Lon Pluckhahn


LON PLUCKHAHN, ICMA-CM, is the 2023–2024 ICMA president and deputy city manager of Vancouver, Washington, USA.


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