It has been 20 years since I joined the WCMA, hoping to build a community and network with my peers. Fast forward to today, and I have the honor of serving as your WCMA President. What a journey it has been!
As I shared in my summer conference speech, my story is not the traditional one in our profession. I left my first Assistant City Manager job over worries I would not be able to effectively balance work and new motherhood; I lacked a mentor telling me that I could do it and showing me the way. My goal is that every person coming up in our profession has a mentor or advisor who supports them as they grow. Who are you mentoring?
We had a phenomenal summer conference in Spokane with 160 attendees and a record number of sponsorships. Thank you to everyone who attended, to our fabulous sponsors who made it all possible, and to our speakers including our keynote, Peter Kageyama. Kudos to WCMA Vice President Will Ibershof and his team for planning and executing a fabulous conference, to Tracy Burrows and the MRSC team for their help behind the scenes, and to WCMA Past President Kristi Rowland for her leadership over the past year. We received some terrific feedback on the conference, venue and other details that will help us organize an even better conference in Wenatchee, August 13-16, 2024! I look forward to seeing you there! If you have suggestions for the 2024 conference or are interested in joining the conference planning committee, please contact WCMA Vice President Rich Huebner.
A highlight of the conference for me was the inaugural Past Presidents Pie in the Face Fundraiser. As you can see from the picture, we had a lot of fun – and raised $806 for the WCMA in the process! Thank you to all the past WCMA presidents who were good sports about receiving a pie in the face (I see you, Ray Corpuz, Andrew Neiditz, Adam Lincoln, Derek Matheson, Bob Stowe, Charlie Bush, Dave Scott, and Kristi Rowland!). A big thank you to everyone who contributed including a few past presidents who donated their way out of a pie in the face – genius. Can I say this fundraising experiment was a smashing success?!
As president this year, one of my areas of focus will be financial sustainability. The WCMA hasn’t raised dues in 14 years, and so we will be implementing some dues increases as well as launching new pooled memberships for 2024. I hope every city and county moves to a pooled membership, which will encourage and incentivize each of us to add department heads or other up and coming leaders in our organizations as associate WCMA members. Look for the pooled membership option when you renew your membership in 2024. Who are you developing within your organization? Invite them to join the WCMA and attend next year’s summer conference.
Another focus for me is growing and diversifying our profession through the Northwest Women’s Leadership Academy. I am working with WCMA board member Laura Philpot and others on a proposal to survey the 130+ Academy graduates to help tell the NWWLA success story through data.
I have also formed a board subcommittee to explore a future partnership with the UW Evans School on a certificate program and am looking at ways we can continue to grow sponsorships.
Other priorities of the board include membership and networking, including a proposed new operating policy (board contact is Eric Holmes), membership value (board contact is Will Ibershof), communications (board contact is Mike Rizzitiello), emerging leaders (contact is Rich Huebner), and working closely with the Association of Washington Cities on legislative priorities and other shared goals (board contacts are me and Kristi Rowland). This board photo was taken at the summer conference. You can meet all the WCMA board members and learn more on the WCMA website. You can also keep in touch on our LinkedIn and Google groups.
The WCMA is also supporting the work of the Local Government Hispanic Network (contacts are Bob Harrison and Maritza Davis of Yakima) and the International Network of Asian Public Administrators (contacts are Senior Advisor Ray Corpuz and Bucoda Warren of Tacoma).
We will meet for our fall board retreat on October 25th in Kenmore – I am looking forward to it. I ask for your support of the WCMA board and our work and encourage you to be involved with the WCMA in the year ahead! Contact me any time at email@example.com or 425-866-4749.
Onward to another amazing year for the WCMA!
Congratulations to these individuals who’ve recently been appointed to top manager or administrator positions in the following communities:
Sharon Bounds was appointed as the City Manager for the City of Union Gap in March. She previously served as the city on an Interim basis from October 2022 to March 2023. She has extensive experience as a leader in the Yakima Valley, including serving as the Zillah City Administrator after having been promoted from the position of Zillah Clerk-Treasurer.
Mike Gonzalez was appointed as the Frankin County Administrator in the Spring of 2023. Mike is also a Washington State Commissioner of Hispanic Affairs. He has served as the Economic Development Manager for the City of Pasco and, prior to that, the Government Affairs Director for the Franklin PUD. Mike has a Master’s Degree in Journalism from the University of Missouri and has extensive media relations experience.
Jessica Griess was promoted to the position of Algona City Administrator this October. Jessica rose through the ranks at Algona, starting as the records and evidence specialist in the Police Department. Since January of 2021, Jessica has been Algona’s City Clerk-Treasurer. Jessica has a Bachelor’s degree from the University of Washington Tacoma and has completed the UW Tacoma’s Certified Public Manager program.
Shane Fisher was recently appointed Grandview’s City Administrator. Shane is the former director of public works in Sunnyside where he worked for 18 years in various roles in the city’s public works department. Shane replaces Cus Arteaga, who has been the Grandview city administrator since 2009 and has worked for the city for 50 years. Shane has a master’s degree in public policy and management from the University of Delaware.
Adam Lincoln Earlier this year, the Pasco City Council voted unanimously in favor of hiring Lincoln as the city’s new manager. Prior to his appointment as City Manager, Adam worked for a period of six months as both the deputy city manager and interim city manager. Pasco hired Adam in 2020 as the city’s deputy manager. He has also worked as Pullman’s city administrator and as the assistant to the city manager in Lakewood. Adam is a past President of WCMA. He holds degrees from the University of Washington’s Evans School of Public Policy and Governance and Western Washington University.
Dawn Masko started her new position as the City Manager of Fircrest in June. Dawn has a long and distinguished career serving local governments in Washington, including serving as the North Bend Deputy City Administrator, Dupont City Administrator, University Place Finance Director, and Tacoma Sr. Finance Analyst. Dawn is a former WCMA Board member and membership chair. She holds a bachelor’s degree in business administration and finance from the University of Puget Sound.
Lisa Parks is Tumwater’s new city administrator. Lisa was previously the executive services director at the Port of Olympia, where she worked since July 2021. Before her time at the Port, she was a planner both for public and private practice and was the executive director of the Port of Douglas County in Wenatchee, Washington for nine years. She has a Bachelor of Arts in Urban and Regional Planning, which she earned from Eastern Washington University.
Mark Rentfrow started his new job as the city administrator for the City of Langley in August. Previously, he worked as the program director for the Washington State Public Works Board. He has significant experience in economic development, having served in economic development roles at the City of Olympia and Thurston Economic Development Council. He has Bachelor’s and MBA degrees from Pacific Lutheran University.
Ray Towry started as Ephrata’s new city administrator in July. Ray served as the city manager for Sweet Home, Oregon from 2016 to 2022. The new position in Ephrata is a homecoming for Ray, as he worked as the Ephrata community services director for 13 years. He also has worked as a recreation supervisor for the City of Moses Lake. Ray has a Bachelor’s degree in recreation administration from Washington State University and an Executive MPA from the Evans School of Public Policy and Governance.
Rick Walk was recently promoted to the position of City Manager for the City of Lacey. Rick served as the City’s Director of Community and Economic Development for 15 years before taking on the interim City Manager position last December. Rick has over 28 years of experience in city and rural county planning. He previously worked for Douglas County in the early 1990s before joining the City of Lacey as a project planner in 1999. Rick is a past President of the Washington City Planning Directors Association. He received his Bachelor of Arts in Urban and Regional Planning from Eastern Washington University and has an American Institute of Certified Planners certification.
Sonny Weathers is the City Administrator for Medical Lake. Prior to joining the City of Medical Lake, Sonny served as a City Councilmember in Airway Heights. He worked for Washington Air National Guard as a quality assurance technician at Fairchild Air Force Base for six years and has experience as a school administrator in Spokane. Sonny earned a bachelor’s degree from Eastern Washington University in interdisciplinary studies.
Mark Ziegler was appointed the City Manager of Shelton this summer. Mark is a Shelton native who has worked for the City for 29 years. Prior to being named the City Manager, Mark served as the City Parks, Recreation and Facilities Director. He has also worked as the City’s Community Development Director.
Save the Date for the NW Managers joint WCMA-OCCMA Spring Conference
The NW Regional conference will be help March 26-29 in Seaside, Oregon. The Oregon managers are putting together a great program, so save the date. Registration details to come.
Read this timely and thoughtful article from ICMA's Coaching Program on the importance of being prepared and demonstrating empathy in the face of sometimes withering public criticism.
Senior Advisor Spotlight
This profile of Ray Corpuz, WCMA Senior Advisor, was written by Tu Vo during their high school internship with the Pierce County Council District 5 team. As part of the internship, Tu produced a weekly series featuring Asian-Pacific Islander leaders in Pierce County, including Ray.
Ray Corpuz has seen and experienced different forms of biases and discrimination up close. It is something that he addresses in both his personal and professional life. Corpuz’ father was U.S. Army. When he finished his assignment in Germany and came back to southern parts of the U.S., his family found themselves being denied entrance to restaurants and hotels and, due to their being turned down, often were forced to travel miles for food and lodging.
As a kid, he was denied the right to play with his friends due to his heritage and the discrimination against Asian Americans. At the time, there was a hatred for Japanese Americans, and despite Corpuz not being a Japanese American he would still be discriminated for being Asian and ostracized because many adults assumed him to be Japanese.
As a student, Corpuz studied economics and business. His father heavily influenced him to serve in the public sector, as his father served for 24 years. Through his father’s connections and encouragement, Corpuz eventually got involved with city management, and in time worked as a city manager for 29 years. Throughout these 29 years Corpuz would recall being the only Asian American city manager for a mid-sized city.
Corpuz says that to call out and improve on AAPI issues, you must promote, acknowledge, and recognize different cultures to help uplift the AAPI community. It’s better to address these concerns in a constructive and positive way. Two significant projects that Ray Corpuz has been involved with include:
- Asia Pacific Cultural Center. In 2000, he funded and provided office space for the cultural center.
- Chinese Reconciliation Project. In November 1993, as Tacoma’s City Manager, he approved the Chinese Reconciliation Resolution to make amends for the Tacoma Method expulsion.
Advice for those who want to pursue a similar career path? There are plenty of opportunities. Corpuz has met plenty of AAPI individuals who have served in local or city governments. For anyone who would like to work for their communities, he recommends looking at local governments. He would be glad to talk to others and encourage them.
Keynote Sponsor - FORWARD
This article is provided by FORWARD, the Keynote Sponsor for this year’s summer conference.
Are you struggling with outdated and manual systems to deliver resources to your community quickly and securely? FORWARD partners with governments and organizations to deliver resources and funding to their communities using human-centered technology and custom solutions.
Here in Washington State, FORWARD is helping governments and nonprofits foster lasting partnerships while enhancing the applicant experience. To date, FORWARD has administered over $500M in assistance to more than 130,000 Washington households and small businesses. Our team collaborates with many government agencies and community-based organizations across the nation and acts as a thought partner to design and implement programming at scale.
We recently partnered with the Yakima County Department of Human Services to administer $22M in rent and utility assistance to more than 3,700 households. Many Yakima households face language and technology barriers, and to address these issues, we collaborated with the County and a coalition of local community partners to host three in-person rent fairs to help community members complete their applications and get assistance.
Check out how we helped Yakima County administer its emergency rental assistance funds to underserved communities in our latest case study:https://forwardplatform.com/case-study-yakima-rental-assistance-program/
Kristi Rowland - Past President's Gratitude
Dear WCMA Members,
My term as president of WCMA has come to a close, and I am deeply proud of the work accomplished by the board over the past year in pursuit of our shared goals. I want to express my heartfelt gratitude to each of you.
Goal: Financial Sustainability
As someone with a background in finance, my initial focus naturally gravitated towards ensuring our financial stability. I am delighted to report that our board wholeheartedly embraced this objective, resulting in significant strides towards securing our long-term viability. We not only reinforced our financial policies but also updated our dues structure for the first time in 14 years.
Furthermore, our committee identified an opportunity to enhance the sustainability of our membership. As a result, we will soon introduce new membership types that will allow you to involve staff members at deeper levels within your organizations, expanding our reach in cultivating future city/county management professionals.
I extend my sincere appreciation to the Financial Sustainability Committee, led by Stephanie Lucash (Kenmore), alongside Will Ibershof (MIT), Albert Tripp (Airway Heights), Brent Kirk (Granite Falls), and Rich Huebner (Moses Lake), with invaluable support from the MRSC staff.
Goal: Expanding Membership Value and Network
This goal encompasses various facets, including membership growth, education, networking, and our core purpose. I am delighted to report that our membership has experienced a robust resurgence, reaching a high of over 200 members. This achievement is largely attributed to the success of our conferences and networking opportunities, driven by a dedicated and engaged board. It underscores our commitment to delivering high-quality programs and experiences to our membership.
A prime example of this success is the Summer Conference Planning Committee, which raised an unprecedented $55,000 and hosted one of the highest-attended conferences in our history. Their accomplishments will not only benefit the conference but also contribute to our overall objectives of expanding membership value year-round through innovative programs and learning opportunities.
I extend my heartfelt gratitude to the Education & Conference Planning Committee, led by Will Ibershof (MIT) in collaboration with Stephanie Lucash (Kenmore), Leslie Harris (Bonney Lake), Katie Johnston (Tacoma), Katrina Knutson (Gig Harbor), Tyler Christian (Monroe), Rich Huebner (Moses Lake), Deborah Knight (Monroe), Jeff Swanson and others.
Additionally, our board has carefully considered our fundamental purpose and the value proposition of WCMA membership, resulting in the development of Board Member Responsibilities. This proposal outlines roles and best practices for board members, fostering connection, cohesion, growth, and the grooming of the next generation of leaders. We look forward to discussing this in-depth at our November retreat.
I extend my heartfelt thanks to the Membership and Networking Committee, led by Eric Holmes (Vancouver), alongside Rich Huebner (Moses Lake), Albert Tripp (Airway Heights), Will Ibershof (MIT), and Michael Jones (Island County).
Past Presidents Council
We've established a Past Presidents Council, which has met three times over the past year. This group serves to maintain connections forged during board service among those who continue to serve in the local government profession. The council will convene quarterly, with the Past President taking on the role of organizer. They will meet with the current WCMA President to discuss pressing issues and act as a pipeline for mentorship requests, in partnership with the Senior Advisors.
I express my heartfelt gratitude to David Cline (Tukwila) for initiating this effort, and I am delighted to assume the role for the upcoming year.
Emerging Leaders Focus
We've also introduced an Emerging Leaders Committee, dedicated to nurturing early and mid-career professionals for future leadership roles in local government, spanning traditional and non-traditional career paths. I extend my thanks to the Emerging Leaders Committee, led by Rich Huebner (Moses Lake), alongside Tyler Christian (Monroe), Leslie Harris (Bonney Lake), and Katrina Knudson (Gig Harbor), for connecting with a pre-existing group of Management Analyst professionals statewide. We eagerly anticipate the opportunities this partnership will bring.
Commitment to Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion.
As a board we supported the exploratory and foundational work towards forming a Local Government Hispanic Network (LGHN) WA chapter (led by Robert Harrison and Maritza Davis) and an I-NAPA - International Network of Asian Public Administrators WA chapter (led by Bucoda Warren, MPA and Ray Corpuz) and continued supporting the Northwest Women's Leadership Academy - Washington, on their fifth cohort, (Julie Thuy Underwood, Jessi Bon, Stephanie Lucash, Leslie Harris, and me, too!)
Membership Platform and Website Update
In response to longstanding needs, we are replacing our membership platform with a user-friendly and enhanced system. This upgrade will address key issues such as demographics, contact information, member communication, and the ability to connect with trusted voices on specific topics. Furthermore, the Communications Committee has diligently explored modern website platforms and options, which will be presented in contrast to the optional module available through the membership portal. A refresh of our website is imminent, ensuring a more contemporary and user-friendly experience.
My sincere appreciation goes to the Communications Committee, led by Mike Rizzitiello (College Place), with the support of others and Tracy Burrows and her staff at MRSC for identifying the ideal membership platform for us.
In closing, this list provides a snapshot of the remarkable accomplishments over the past year, achieved by an extraordinary group of individuals. Before I conclude, I want to extend my gratitude to board members who have departed the board: Rob Wyman (MIT), Dawn Masko (Fircrest), and Adam Lincoln (Past President; Pasco). Each of you contributed your unique and invaluable energy to the board, demonstrating dedication and care. Without your years of devoted service, we would not be where we are today, and it was a true pleasure to serve alongside you.
Finally, I offer my heartfelt congratulations and best wishes to our new WCMA President, Stephanie Lucash (Kenmore), and the officers Will Ibershof (MIT) and Rich Huebner (Moses Lake). I also extend my gratitude to ALL our board members, committee chairs, and the entire WCMA community. I am immensely proud of our collective accomplishments, and I am grateful to have played a small part in our journey over the past year. It has truly been an honor of a lifetime.
Sincerely, Kristi Rowland Past President, WCMA