Workplace Diversity: ICMA members who are female, a minority, or identify as LGBTQ.
Sophia Rome, MPA
Sophia is a management analyst in the Salinas, California, community development department. She has worked in city and county government for six years and is driven by making positive change in the community through public service and inspiring others to realize their aspirations despite adversity. With a master’s in public administration and bachelor’s in communication, Sophia is a first-year student in a doctor of management program with an emphasis on organizational leadership. Her goal is to use her education and experience to benefit the community and serve as a mentor to others. Sophia was adopted at a young age from Busan, South Korea and grew up in Salinas. She is bilingual in English and Spanish.
Neysa Herrera, MPA
Neysa Herrera serves as assistant to the town manager for Lauderdale-By-The-Sea, Florida. Prior to serving in this role, she worked for Oakland Park as the Community Redevelopment Agency (CRA) coordinator. Neysa has an MPA from Florida Atlantic University and a bachelor of science in communications from the Universidad de Cartagena in Colombia. She is an active member of ICMA, the Local Government Hispanic Network, and Florida City and County Management Association (FCCMA). Neysa has a strong passion for public service and sustainable economic development. As a Latina and aspiring local government manager, she is committed to building better communities and organizations that promote equity, inclusion, and carry out strategies required to address today’s intersecting issues.
Gabrielle Kalea Pauole
Kalea comes from a rich and diverse cultural background with grandparents from both Hawaii and Argentina. She is a student at Arizona State University finishing up her master's of public administration in emergency management and her master's of legal studies in conflict resolution. Kalea holds a bachelor's degree from Southern Virginia University in business administration and leadership. Her ultimate goal is to help bridge the gap between communities and emergency management in cities and counties across the world. She has internship experience working with the cities of Nephi, Utah, and Casa Grande, Arizona.
Kiersten Farmer, Ph. D.
Kiersten Farmer is a data scientist with Henderson, Nevada. Her contributions focus on communicating strategic insight, driving data literacy and maturity, increasing public performance competency, and improving governance. As an alumna of Florida Agricultural & Mechanical University and the University of Maryland, Kiersten is obsessed with discovering and cultivating new ideas and continues her educational journey with the University of Nevada, Las Vegas.
Aishwarya S. Kumar, MPA
Ash serves as the operations analyst for Decatur, Georgia. Before this, Ash worked as Decatur’s Local Government Management Fellow in the city manager’s office and human resources division for over two years. Ash earned a bachelor’s degree in urban planning from the Centre for Environmental Planning and Technology University in India and an MPA from the University of Pittsburgh. While in Pittsburgh, she also interned with the Quaker Valley Council of Governments (QVCOG) through the Local Government Academy. Ash co-founded the first ICMA student chapter at the University of Pittsburgh and served as its president. She has also been actively involved with the exceptional work done by the International Network of Asian Public Administrators (I-NAPA). She is looking forward to collaborating with other ICMA members and utilizing her learnings from the conference to serve the beautiful community she represents.
Heidi Arely Rivera
Heidi is serving as an executive assistant for the assistant chief of the fire chief’s office. She has worked with Fairfax County for three years and is currently with the fire and rescue department. She aspires to work with the fire and rescue department long term and help change their workplace demographics to better serve its diverse community. Heidi's goal in attending this conference is to learn and engage with those from other jurisdictions to find opportunities for open discussion and collaboration.
Sarah Christine Luxton, MPA
Sarah serves as Plano’s sustainability and environmental education division (SEED) supervisor. In recent years, she also served as the sustainability coordinator for Denton and completed her master’s in public administration at the University of North Texas. She serves on the Personal Development Committee for the Urban Management Association of North Texas (UMANT). Sarah is passionate about sustainability and is inspired by resilient communities.
Early Career Professional Category: ICMA members with three years’ or fewer experience as a full-time local government employee
Alex serves as the financial specialist for the parks and recreation department with the city of High Point, North Carolina. He is a second-year student at UNC-Greensboro where he is pursuing his MPA with a concentration in local government management. He serves as the treasurer of the MPA Alliance and was previously the president of the ICMA student chapter at UNC-Greensboro. Alex is passionate about local government finance and budgeting and is excited to continue to grow in his local government career.
Auria Spranger, MPA, MS
Auria is the accreditation manager for the Sarasota County Fire Department located in Sarasota, Florida. She oversees the department’s accreditation, strategic planning, and community risk reduction activities, as well as works on special projects assigned by the fire chief. Prior to this role, Auria was an ICMA Local Government Management Fellow with Sarasota County Government. She attended the University of Central Florida for her undergraduate and graduate studies, focusing on public administration and criminal justice. Auria is passionate about public service, local government management, and strategic planning. She looks forward to tackling 21st century challenges and learning best practices to effect positive change in her community.
From an intern in 2018 to present-day management analyst, Megan’s public service career began in her college town of Fort Collins, Colorado. She now serves Castle Pines, Colorado, through performance excellence program participation, strategic planning, grant administration, and other cross-departmental projects. Megan is thrilled to be involved with ICMA as an emerging manager, supporting her passion for enacting tangible community changes through local government.
Cole Haselip, MPA
Cole Haselip is the management analyst for Veneta, Oregon, where he serves as the lead on economic development, public safety, and emergency preparedness. He previously worked for Aspen, Colorado, the KU Public Management Center, the Dwayne Peaslee Technical Training Center in Lawrence, Kansas, and the Capitol Office of California Assembly member Kansen Chu. A recent graduate of the University of Kansas’ City/County Management MPA Fellowship Program, Cole has a passion for using his expertise to build relationships and make a positive impact in local communities.
Kayleigh Vocca, MPP/A
Kayleigh works in the city manager’s office as a management assistant for Lone Tree, Colorado. She recently graduated from the School of Public Policy at the University of Massachusetts Amherst with her master of public policy and administration. Kayleigh is dedicated to increasing equity, access, efficiency, and good governance in local communities by implementing strategic management practices. By better defining purposes, relationships, and results, she believes there can be an improvement in creating successful outcomes from the services local governments provide.
Small Community Employee ICMA members serving in a small community with limited financial resources.
Jené Nichelle Jess, MPA, SHRM-CP
Jené has been the finance and employee services director for Bondurant, Iowa, since 2018. While the city is considered a small community, it is the second fastest growing city in Iowa. She earned an MPA with an emphasis in human resources from Drake University, and a bachelor of arts degree from Grand View University in political science and pre-law, with an emphasis in accounting. Jené is dedicated to serving Bondurant’s community and employees. In 2021, she is the first person in Iowa to receive the Government Finance Officers Association’s Hero Award. She believes it is important to connect with other leaders across the ICMA membership. By engaging in ICMA’s resources and network, her knowledge and awareness will be expanded.
Mike Gorman, MPA
Mike has spent 16 years in local government and is currently serving as the village administrator for Anna, Ohio. Prior to Anna, he served as a strategic initiatives coordinator for Montgomery County, Ohio, where he led the implementation of a new data tracking software system and the development of the county’s first sustainability plan. Mike has also worked for Hamilton, Sharonville, and Memphis as a firefighter/paramedic. Mike received a bachelor’s degree from University of Memphis and an MPA from Columbia Southern University.
Rachel Friedlander has been city manager of Seldovia, Alaska, since December 2020. Accessible only by plane or boat, Seldovia is home to just over 200 Alaskans that receive essential services from the city including piped water and sewer, harbor and boat haul-out/storage, road maintenance, police, and administration. Many additional services are provided on a volunteer/grant/nonprofit basis including library, fire/EMS, senior meals, the cemetery, trails and parks maintenance, and city beautification. One of Rachel’s main pursuits at the city includes working with the Mayor and Seldovia City Council to ensure the city remains fiscally sustainable for the current and future generations of Alaskans who call Seldovia home. She earned her bachelor’s degree from the University of California, Berkeley and an associate’s degree from Santa Fe College in Gainesville, Florida.
Dawn L. Wucki-Rossbach, BA, MPA
Dawn has spent 34 years in local government management and is now serving as the first village administrator for Maple Park, Illinois. She previously served as business manager for the Lake County Sheriff’s Office, and as assistant village manager of Carpentersville. She has also worked for the villages of Hinsdale, Libertyville, Mount Prospect, and Roselle. Dawn received a bachelor's degree in public administration and political science from Augustana College and an MPA from Northern Illinois University.
Edward O. Stene Scholarship: ICMA members who are graduate students and have little to no local government career experience.
Audrey Ables is a former intern with Alexander City, Alabama, where she worked as part of the city’s community development team and collaborated with the city of Alexander City, the Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs, the Governor’s office, Tallapoosa County, Coosa County, and the Lake Martin Economic Development Alliance to help bring a major graphite production facility to the state of Alabama. Audrey is the Auburn ICMA student chapter vice president, is a certified public manager (from the Alabama City and Count Management Association (ACCMA) and Auburn University Government and Economic Development Institute). She is also an ACCMA Ronnie Dixon scholarship recipient based on her interest in local government and outstanding academic performance. Audrey anticipates receiving her master’s in public administration from Auburn University in spring 2022.
Thanks to ICMA Annual Conference Assistance Scholarship Review Committee, who read and scored each application. Direct all questions about Conference Assistance to firstname.lastname@example.org; 202-962-3551.