We caught up with Austin City Manager Spencer Cronk just weeks after he introduced his new daughter Lauren to the city. As the leader of what is arguably one of the best run cities in the United States, Cronk has a visible platform for sharing best practices, including his views on being more inclusive as local government leaders.
Before joining the city of Austin, Cronk was Minneapolis city coordinator (city administrator). He directed the management of Minneapolis city government by assisting the mayor and city council in defining city policy and establishing priorities, mobilizing department heads and staff to implement the mayor and council’s priorities, and working to strengthen the management and administrative systems of the city. Here's more on Cronk's background.
1. As the manager of one of the top cities in the country, how important do you think it is to be a role model for others in the LGBTQ community? Do you share your personal story?
I try to live my life ethically; with integrity and honesty. That is how I was taught by my parents. If how I lead my life provides an example to others, I certainly hope it is a positive one. I like sharing my personal story because I've witnessed for myself the power of hearing from others. When you hear from someone who is older, is in a position of influence, or has a public platform, that can be a powerful thing for individuals who might be exploring their own sexuality. I was that person once upon a time and hearing other people's stories steered me in a positive direction.
Austin is a community that embraces its large LGBTQ community, and I'm glad that this is my home.
2. Did Austin celebrate Pride Month?
We have had an all-color inclusive Pride flag hanging in front of City Hall this whole pride month. As an organization, we celebrate Pride every day by striving to be inclusive – as an employer, while engaging the public, and when making decisions that impact our community. I'd like to think these are steps in the right direction.
Our Pride festival in Austin is in August actually, so it's almost like we celebrate twice!
3. What advice do you have for other local government leaders in ensuring that their communities are inclusive?
Have conversations with staff, policy makers, the community, anyone, and everyone. Listen, learn, and, in turn, be willing to change things to create a more inclusive environment.
4. What can ICMA and its members do to be a more inclusive organization?
ICMA is the forefront of government leadership and we should actively build a diverse group of community leaders and create space at the table. As individual members, we can each encourage others with different perspectives, backgrounds, and experiences to not only join, but also participate.