Congratulations to the winter 2023 awardees of the Local Government Early Career Service Certificate. This certificate, launched in May 2019, is for graduating MPA/MPP students who have completed extensive projects for local governments. It also recognizes graduating students in good academic standing who have gone above and beyond the requirements of their degree programs and displayed a commitment to local government service. Students receive the certificate based on nominations submitted by their ICMA Student Chapter faculty advisors at the end of each academic semester.  


patty ham

Patricia  Ham  | Northern Illinois University 

Originally from Detroit, Michigan, Patty has called Illinois her home since 2004. After completing an undergraduate degree in kinesiology from the University of Illinois, she remained in Urbana until moving to the northwest suburbs in 2016. There, she began working in local government and pursued an advanced degree. Recently, she graduated from Northern Illinois University with her master's in public administration. Her capstone project encompassed a comprehensive review of McHenry County's Veterinary Service Division's animal control staff, kennel operations, community outreach operations, and adoption services. The review examined the program for inefficiencies and the potential for outscoring animal adoptions. 

Patty looks forward to the challenges of more responsibility, working with internal and external stakeholders, and positively impacting a community to increase the quality of life for residents.  




Wahid Ishrar  | Syracuse University

Wahid is originally from Dhaka, Bangladesh, and completed his high school education in Maryland. He earned his bachelor's degree in international development studies and political science from UCLA. Wahid worked as a policy advisor at a global public health research institute before pursuing his master's in public administration, concentrating on state and local government financial analysis and management from the Maxwell School at Syracuse University. He completed a graduate fellowship with the Montgomery County, Maryland, Office of Management and Budget. Wahid worked on two significant projects: developing escalation and contingency rates for the county's Capital Improvement Plan. He also conducted a comparative analysis of the energy services contracting mechanism utilized by surrounding jurisdictions and an internal analysis of the county itself to provide recommendations on how Montgomery County could improve its own approach. 

Wahid intends to merge his passion for social justice advocacy with local government by combining his policy knowledge and financial analysis skills. 



Danny Malik | Northern Illinois University

Danny is originally from Schaumburg, Illinois. He joined the U.S. Marine Corps, dedicating four years to it, including an overseas deployment after high school. Post-military, he transitioned into law enforcement, serving as a police officer for eight years, and is currently specializing as a school resource officer. Danny obtained his bachelor's degree in 2019 from Eastern Illinois University. Recently, he graduated from Northern Illinois University's MPA program in December 2023. He focused on developing a long-term financial spend-down plan in his capstone project, undertaken for the West Central Cable Agency (WCCA). It addressed challenges faced by the WCCA, including declining primary revenue from public educational and government fees and a need for a strategy for managing its $1.42 million fund balance. Key tasks included analyzing stakeholder needs, reviewing relevant literature, and considering alternatives like a streaming service tax or agency dissolution. The project culminated in recommendations for a fund balance assignment policy and a spend-down plan, emphasizing fiscal responsibility and transparency. 

Danny is committed to furthering his professional growth in school safety and security. 


ethan sowl

Ethan Sowl | Northern Illinois University 

Ethan is from Wheaton, Illinois. He received his undergraduate degree in political science from St. Norbert College and his master's degree in public administration from Northern Illinois University. Ethan's capstone project was completed for the West Central Cable Agency (WCCA), which is an intergovernmental body composed of the Villages of Indian Head Park, LaGrange, LaGrange Park, Riverside, and Western Springs, all of which are in Western Cook County, Illinois. The project created a fund balance assignment policy for the WCCA to spend down its $1.42 million fund balance. This policy will be utilized when considering grant reimbursements from each community for capital purchases and personnel or services costs. The project will also consider alternate revenue sources as PEG fees continue to decrease due to increased streaming services vs. cable TV usage.

After graduation, he will continue working for the Village of Riverside, Illinois, as a special assistant to administration and finance and village clerk.



Other Recipients:

Jonathon Larson | Northern Illinois University 

William Luchsinger | Northern Illinois University 

Lora Oberg | Northern Illinois University 

Holly Sammons | Northern Illinois University