2018 Distinguished Service Award Recipients

The Distinguished Service Award annually recognizes a retired member who has made an outstanding contribution to the management profession and local government.

Peter Marshall, ICMA-CM

Peter Marshall left full-time local government management in 2003 when he retired as city manager of State College, Pennsylvania, and he now continues his public service as an adviser to localities, local associations, and agencies of the commonwealth of Pennsylvania.

Marshall is known as a champion of innovation. He realized major cost savings and improved service in Newark, Delaware, and State College, Pennsylvania, by transforming their three-person refuse collection systems to one-person with the use of new equipment and reorganization of collection routes.

He reduced costs for a water utility by constructing concrete water tanks rather than steel. Although concrete tanks cost more to build, unlike steel tanks they don’t have to be painted every six to nine years.

Marshall also created an equipment amortization program and replacement fund that eliminated budget spikes caused by the purchase of expensive replacement equipment. All replacements are purchased out of the fund, which is financed by budget allocations equal to the estimated per-year cost of the equipment.

Marshall has taught public administration at both the undergraduate and graduate levels at colleges and universities in the U.S., as well as in Australia and the Republic of Georgia.

A Life Member of ICMA, Marshall has been an ICMA Range Rider and an ICMA Senior Adviser for Association for Pennsylvania Municipal Management members since 2004. As a member of ICMA’s International Committee, Marshall has mentored career public administrators from developing nations through Pennsylvania State University’s Humphrey Program and ICMA’s international exchange program. He received ICMA’s International Award in 1994.

During his career, Marshall has taught and consulted internationally and participated in exchange programs with Christchurch and Bath, England. He also spent three weeks in Japan as a CLAIR (Council of Local Authorities for International Relations) Fellow, working to assist Japanese local jurisdictions.

Joel Valdez

Joel Valdez has been a trailblazer and role model throughout his 52 years in public service. He was the longest-serving city manager of Tucson (1974 to 1990) and the first Mexican-American city manager to hold the post for a city that size in the United States.

Valdez began his career in 1958 as a probation officer with Pima County, Arizona, when there were no Hispanics in local government management to serve as role models. He credits former ICMA Executive Director Mark Keane, then Tucson city manager, with creating a program that put him on the path to management, starting as an administrative assistant.

Known for his signature motto, “When you’ve reached the top, pull someone else up with you,” Valdez has been a tireless advocate for diversity. He was the architect of a federal grant that created the National Hispanic Field Service Program in 1980, raising $2.5 million for financial aid for Hispanic graduate students in public administration at 16 universities. The result: More than 150 Hispanics entered the field, many of whom are still active in local government.

Valdez was a key figure in the establishment of the International Hispanic Network, now the Local Government Hispanic Network (LGHN), in the late 1970s and early 1980s. He also spearheaded the effort for a HUD grant for regional conferences in New York, Miami, Chicago, and Los Angeles, which culminated in a national conference in San Antonio in 1981.

Since his retirement from local government management, Valdez has served as senior vice president of business affairs for the University of Arizona.

A Life Member of ICMA, Valdez has represented the Mountain Plains region on ICMA’s Executive Board (1981 to 1983). He has served on the executive boards of the Arizona City Management Association, the National Academy of Public Administration, and the White House Conference on Balanced National Growth and Economic Development, among others.

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