2017 Navigator Awards Finalists: Next GenerationStart
As we continue to roll out our 50 Route Fifty Navigator Awards finalists, we're ready to announce finalists 31-40, which are from the Next Generation category.
Click through this presentation to learn more about the finalists from this category.
- Laying the Groundwork for Improving Diversity in Local Government
- A Young Mayor Empowering His Community
- Successfully Building a New City Website in a Matter of Months, Not Years
- Creating a Fellowship to Steer Military Vets Into Local Government Careers
- A Novel Idea to Improve an Agency’s Image With the Public
- Building an Interagency Mapping Platform in the Nation’s Largest City
- Adapting Federal Innovations for Use in City Government
- Harnessing the Power of GIS for Parks and Recreation
- Boosting Community Engagement Beyond the Usual Civic Players
- Building a ‘School of Innovation’ and Finding Ways to Improve Local Government
Laying the Groundwork for Improving Diversity in Local Government
Boosting diversity in the ranks local government leadership is a challenge facing many cities and counties. Increasing the numbers of women and persons of color in administrator or assistant administrator roles has been one of the areas of focus for the group Engaging Local Government Leaders, an energetic and collaborative non-profit group for professionals working in local government across the U.S.
That includes Stacy Schweikhart, the community relations director for the city of Kettering, Ohio, near Dayton. Schweikert, an ELGL board member and committee member for the Ohio City Management Association, has been mentoring a nationwide team studying diversity in local government leadership.
The biggest challenge, first and foremost, is data collection. There isn’t that much information on diversity in local government leadership already compiled. So the team led by Schweikhart has devised a methodology and is collecting the data more or less from scratch.
As Route Fifty profiled earlier this year, a group of public administration students at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill worked with ELGL to look at diversity and women in local government leadership in the Tar Heel State.
The work has expanded to include 10 states. The data collection is an ongoing project and is aimed to create a robust database and a publically available Diversity Dashboard that, according to a Navigator Awards submission, “will tell the real story about the face of local government leadership.”
It’s important work that will shine an important light on this challenge in local government and, hopefully, help foster more diverse leadership. We’re pleased to name Schweikhart as one of our 10 Navigator Award Finalists in the Next Generation category.
- NextSuccessfully Building a New City Website in a Matter of Months, Not YearsNext:Successfully Building a New City Website in a Matter of Months, Not YearsPreviousLaying the Groundwork for Improving Diversity in Local GovernmentPrevious:Laying the Groundwork for Improving Diversity in Local Government
A Young Mayor Empowering His Community
Michael Tubbs was elected mayor of Stockton, California last year at the age of 26. Upon his inauguration, he became the youngest mayor of a large city in the United States and the first African-American mayor of the city of Stockton. He also inherited a city that had exited bankruptcy just a year prior, creating unique fiscal restrictions over the long-term.
Tubbs is on a mission to shed the stigma of the bankruptcy through empowering those within his community through new opportunities for success.
That journey started quite some time ago, though. When Tubbs was a student at Stanford University, he started the Stockton Summer Success and Leadership Academy, aimed at giving Stockton’s youth mentoring, guidance and other resources that helped them seize opportunities for educational advancement.
He was drawn back to Stockton after graduation to make a difference in his community. At age 22, he successfully ran for city council—his passion, optimism and dedication to his home town helped him draw support from both the community and the likes of national stars like Oprah Winfrey (who decided to cut him a $10,000 check at the time).
Since then, he has focused on his theme of #ReinventStockton—attempting to “flip the script” for a city that was better known for fiscal trouble and violence toward one that is building from the community outwards.
When Tubbs spoke earlier this month at Route Fifty’s Sacramento Navigator Awards event, he explained that he found the best results come from listening closely to the needs of the individuals in a community.
“When we think of innovations and big change it always starts at the very micro level and it starts with listening. There’s something that a community … can tell you that a spreadsheet cannot.”
For his dedication to his community and proof that service is not something you must wait your turn to engage in, Route Fifty is pleased to recognize Mayor Michael Tubbs as one of our 10 Navigator Award finalists in the Next Generation category.
Successfully Building a New City Website in a Matter of Months, Not Years
Creating a new website for a local government isn’t an easy task. There’s plenty to consider and a lot of input needed from various stakeholders before pressing forward. For some cities or counties, this process can move at a glacial pace. So it’s nice to highlight examples of local governments that were able to revamp their digital portals in a matter of months.
The city of San Rafael, California, near San Francisco, is one of those local governments.
Last year, the city established a cross-departmental team responsible for creating content and building out the new website. The group working on the new website included a cross-section of San Rafael employees from mid-managers to administrative assistants. Each week, the team met, assigned tasks and worked through a sprint.
To break down interdepartmental barriers, team members were not assigned to their own department and teams of two interviewed departmental staff to plot out ways to build department-specific content and developing a survey for beta testing, which involved the public.
After being pulled together in August of last year, a beta site was ready by October and replaced the former site in December. The team at San Rafael embraced open-source platforms to build its new website, including working with ProudCity, an Oakland, California-based startup that offers digital solutions for online forms, payments and third-party services and worked to develop a local services tool with real-time location-based data.
The San Rafael city government’s point person on the new website is Rebecca Woodbury, a senior management analyst, who worked with Proud City and colleagues across the city government.
We’re pleased to honor Woodbury and the rest of San Rafael’s website implementation team as a Navigator Award finalist in the Next Generation category.
Creating a Fellowship to Steer Military Vets Into Local Government Careers
For veterans looking at their post-military career, there are many opportunities in local government where their skills and training can be incredibly valuable for building strong teams and leadership.
In Colorado, Darrin Tangeman, a U.S. Army veteran and chief administrative officer for the Pueblo West Metropolitan District, is the co-founder of the Veterans Local Government Fellowship, which aims to transition those with military experience into public service positions in local government.
It’s a program that Tangeman has built largely on his own. But it’s something that is laying the foundation for something bigger. The International City / County Management Association has taken an interest in the program and is looking to replicate it in other states.
The results won’t necessarily be felt immediately, but the VLGF program’s impacts, according to a Navigator Award nomination, “will be seen for years as new managers take the helm in local government and serve the public with the high standard of professionalism and ethics, which will have lasting impact on the lasting innovation and viability of our communities.”
Route Fifty is pleased to honor Darrin Tangeman as one of our 10 Navigator Award finalists in the Next Generation category.
- NextBuilding an Interagency Mapping Platform in the Nation’s Largest CityNext:Building an Interagency Mapping Platform in the Nation’s Largest CityPreviousCreating a Fellowship to Steer Military Vets Into Local Government CareersPrevious:Creating a Fellowship to Steer Military Vets Into Local Government Careers
A Novel Idea to Improve an Agency’s Image With the Public
As a former broadcast news reporter, Brendan Conway understands the power of video as a tool for effective communications and message development. The Milwaukee County Transit System’s chief marketing and communications officer leads of team of 14 people, which pushed through a major effort to revamp the agency’s website and build tools for customers, including an e-ticketing app.
While that work is impressive, Route Fifty wants to spotlight a project Conway undertook that utilizes something that most agencies would overlook for communications purposes: surveillance cameras on buses.
The MCTS Excellence program is meant to highlight “the many ways, big and small, that MCTS bus drivers and other staff make a difference every day” and Conway has enhanced that program by taking commendations of bus drivers that passengers submit to the agency and pairing those with the corresponding high-definition video of the specific interaction captured by the security cameras.
According to a Navigator Award nomination submission: “Each video has to tell a story in no more than a minute. The final product is made up of video and audio from on-board the bus, music and titles that are put over the video. Each video requires between one and three hours of work from start to finish. The finished videos are posted on the MCTS Facebook, Twitter and YouTube pages and the MCTS Excellence webpage.”
MCTS bus drivers, the submission continues, “admit they are even more aware of their surroundings than in the past because they saw what their colleagues did and the positive attention the received.”
That’s a win-win for employee morale, the agency overall and its transit passengers. We’re pleased to honor Conway as one of our 10 Navigator Award finalists in the Next Generation category.
Building an Interagency Mapping Platform in the Nation’s Largest City
As the nation’s largest municipal government, it’s not necessarily surprising that New York City’s various agencies will be spending billions of dollars on its infrastructure and public buildings in the coming decade. More precisely, the projected price tag is $96 billion.
The Department of City Planning is responsible for shaping how New York City of tomorrow will evolve and grow and within that agency is the Capital Planning Division, a team led by director Danny Fuchs, established in 2014 to build new data products, disseminating data-driven planning analytics, and reforming and developing interagency capital investment programs.
One of the products that the division helped create is the Capital Planning Platform, an interagency mapping platform where city data is married with various data visualizations meant to accelerate the adoption of collaborative and data-driven planning and decision-making across New York City’s municipal government.
The Capital Planning Platform was something that was able to attract top-tier professional talent—planners, engineers, former management consultants, geographers and technologists—to join the team, fueled by enthusiasm by staffers across many agencies and utilized open-source technology that minimized the need for development resources.
The mapping tool has been so popular that nearly every New York City agency signed up to use it within a few months of its launch. With data resources available in one place, city employees are saving days worth of time while improving the quality of their planning.
The long-term impacts of the platform’s introduction will not be known for sometime, but the short-term results are already evident.
According to a Navigator Award nomination submission: “In at least a few known cases, the availability of the platform in a meeting obviated the need for a long list of research follow-ups—the answers were largely available at the click of a button.”
Being able to make smarter and more informed decisions with easier-to-access information is a powerful story to tell and one that can inspire other municipal governments, even if they aren’t as large as New York City. Route Fifty is pleased to include the team from New York City’s Capital Planning Division as Navigator Award finalists in the Next Generation category.
Adapting Federal Innovations for Use in City Government
Tech innovations driven by the federal government are not always applicable at the local level, but Ben Guhin, who previously worked a senior fellow for design and technology at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, wanted to adapt some of what he saw in Washington, D.C. and bring it to the city of Austin, Texas, where he’s now the senior adviser for design and technology.
Inspired by the design and technology successes at CFPB, 18F, the U.S. Digital Service, Guhin approached Austin’s chief innovation officer, Kerry O’Connor, in early 2014 about the opportunity to adapt those lessons and ideas at the local level.
What emerged was Austin’s Design, Technology, and Innovation Fellows program in February 2016, which has hired more than 25 designers, developers, and other specialists from the private sector to serve tours of duty to improve residential permitting, increase recycling rates, notify residents of low-water crossings during flash floods, and develop practices, training, and infrastructure for more effective digital services.
The fellows program is guided by the following interdependent goals:
- Work directly with departments to deliver the best possible services
- Introduce and refine practices for user-centered design
- Introduce and refine practices for iterative, open-source development
- Establish a creative culture that inspires more people to join the city
The program began work on a new program this summer with the Bloomberg Philanthropies to improve services for residents experiencing homelessness; a project to track the status of open government projects as part of Austin’s international commitments to the Open Government Partnership; and additional projects focused on improving permitting, hiring, organizational culture and digital services infrastructure.
Route Fifty is pleased to include Guhin as one of our 10 Navigator Award finalists in the Next Generation category.
Harnessing the Power of GIS for Parks and Recreation
When Mickey Rogers, the chief of grants and trails at Arizona State Parks and Trails, was interviewing geographic information service intern candidates, he was having trouble deciding which one to hire out of three finalists since they were all impressive. Executive Director Sue Black said to hire all three.
That decision has proven to have been a wise one.
While the use of GIS in government is certainly not new, its applications in parks and recreation have been somewhat limited to date. Rogers and his team, which includes Jeff Schmidt, Japheth Hurlbut, and Dean Arnold, have been working to transform the use of GIS by ASPT to benefit all outdoor users.
According to a Navigator Awards nomination submission: “The team’s goal was to create a GIS mobile app from a specialized database to develop efficient routing plans and promote accessibility to records in the field. Now, a site inspection trip to communities several hours away from the central office takes one day to complete, rather than two.”
That project was completed in six months. The next project was creating a comprehensive, system-wide trail assessment program. “By collecting spatial data for every trail in the system and transferring the data to the agency’s GIS database, the information will be available to allow the public to make informed decisions about trail use based on their skill levels and timelines.”
That information can be valuable for hikers and other adventure seekers who often live by the words “Know Before You Go.”
We’re pleased to include the team from Arizona State Parks and Trails as one of our 10 Navigator Award finalists in the Next Generation category.
Boosting Community Engagement Beyond the Usual Civic Players
Seattle, like other growing and economically thriving cities, faces challenges when it comes to community engagement. Although there are plenty of new faces in the city, they are largely not involved in important civic dialogue, meetings and other gatherings where pressing policy challenges, ideas and proposals are discussed. Also left out are people who may not have time to be involved due to work, family or school commitments.
Kathy Nyland, a one-time neighborhood activist who is now the director of the Seattle Department of Neighborhoods, has been an important player in changing that dynamic. As directed through an executive order from the mayor last year, the Department of Neighborhoods created the Community Involvement Commission, a group of residents appointed by the mayor, city council and other CIC members meant to expand the footprint of engagement and community involvement in Seattle. The CIC stands in contrast to the City Neighborhood Council, a long-standing body appointed by various neighborhood boards whose members, primarily homeowners, don’t necessarily represent the changing face of Seattle.
“The CIC is the way to bring more voices to the table. It broadens the reach beyond those who are already engaged,” according to a Navigator Award nomination submission, which describes Nyland as “an eternal optimist with a commitment to equity who leads with a childlike laugh, a diehard work ethic, a compassion for others and a drive to do good for the greatest number of people.”
With more people from different walks of life now involved, Seattle is on its way to being more inclusive when it comes to community engagement. And we’re pleased to include Nyland as one of our 10 Navigator Award finalists in the Next Generation category.
- Start Over
Building a ‘School of Innovation’ and Finding Ways to Improve Local Government
When it comes to municipal innovation, the Mile High City stands out because of the Denver Peak Academy, an in-house organization that trains employees to improve the way city government works, save money and make services more efficient and accessible to the public.
In the five-year history of the Denver Peak Academy—dubbed the “School of Innovation” by Fast Company magazine—the city has saved $22.5 million thanks to innovations and ideas driven by city employees.
According to a Navigator Awards nomination submission, the Peak Academy “offers partnerships with city agencies whereby a Peak analyst becomes imbedded within the agency for six to 12 months to help their employees identify key performance metrics, train them on process improvement, and work with them on two or three main goals. By spending regular time with specific teams, Peak analysts can spend more time studying what may be causing a process to take too long or fail and help those agencies determine strategies to achieve better results. They are essentially acting as internal consultants, a unique practice within municipal government.”
One partnership was with the division of Public Health Inspections, where a Peak analyst worked with the Residential Housing team to improve their team’s case load and customer service. The average time to close active cases went from 172 days to 133, a 23 percent reduction; the total open cases went from 320 to 178, a 45 percent reduction; the number of cases lasting longer than 120 days went from 140 to 60, a 58 percent reduction; and, the number of cases lasting longer than 90 days went from 164 to 77, a 54 percent reduction.
Those are impressive results and the Peak Academy has plenty of other examples. Route Fifty is pleased to include the team from the Denver Peak Academy, including its director, Brian Elms, as Navigator Award finalists in the Next Generation category.