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ICMA's Local Government Excellence Awards celebrate the value of professional management and honor creative contributions to professional local government leadership. These awards highlight public awareness of the value of professional management and its impact on the quality of life in our communities. 

Professional Awards are presented to individuals for:

Outstanding Local Government Programs are recognized in these areas:

Nominations are accepted from U.S. and international jurisdictions.

Nominations are open now through Friday, March 29. 

Program nominations are divided by jurisdiction size. Communities with a population of 10,000 or less are strongly encouraged to apply. Students are encouraged to nominate a professor for the academic award. Submit a nomination today! Details and submission process below.

Categories and Eligibility

Professional Awards

Recognize individual achievement that may have been accomplished through tenure with a number of local governments or organizations. Individuals can be nominated in only one Professional Award category per year.

  • Award for Career Excellence in Memory of Mark E. Keane: Recognizes an outstanding chief local government administrator who has fostered representative democracy by enhancing the effectiveness of local elected officials and by consistently initiating creative and successful programs.
    Eligibility: ICMA full membership, a minimum of 10 years of executive, senior-level service to the profession, and endorsement by a past or present elected official. 
  • Award for Career Development in Memory of L. P. Cookingham: Recognizes an outstanding local government administrator who has made a significant contribution to the career development of new talent in professional local government management. 
    Eligibility: ICMA full membership.
  • Assistant Excellence in Leadership Award in Memory of Buford M. Watson Jr:  Recognizes a local government management professional who has made significant contributions toward excellence in leadership while serving as an assistant (regardless of title) to a chief local government administrator or department head. 
    Eligibility: ICMA membership and endorsement of the CAO of nominee's jurisdiction. Must be full-time assistant reporting to a chief local government administrator or department head with significant executive level responsibilities in the areas of staff management (supervising staff development and performance, having direct influential relationship with department heads on program implementation and administration); financial management (preparation and administration of operating budgets, determining program cost effectiveness, and comparing alternative strategies); policy facilitation and implementation (developing and analyzing policy alternatives and implementing policies); and service delivery (ensuring effective organizational performance, having responsibility for diverse major staff and/or line functions) for at least one year (not including internships in conjunction with an academic program).
  • Academic Award in Memory of Stephen B. Sweeney: Recognizes a classroom instructor who has made a significant contribution to the formal education of students pursuing careers in local government.
    Eligibility: Unrestricted.
  • Early Career Leadership Award in Memory of William H. Hansell Jr: Recognizes an outstanding early-career local government professional who has demonstrated leadership, competency and commitment to local government as a profession. 
    Eligibility:  ICMA membership, less than 10 years of service to local government, and endorsement by a past or present local government manager or elected official. 
  • Advocacy for Profession Award in Honor of Martha Perego: Recognizes an outstanding ICMA member who has made a significant contribution to advancing the awareness of the council-manager form of government, the profession, the ICMA Code of Ethics and its published guidelines, or other significant contributions to the growth or awareness of the local government management profession worldwide. This individual must have demonstrated their support of the ICMA Code of Ethics and adhered to the ICMA principles with integrity and respect.
    Eligibility: ICMA Full membership or employed by a state association, a minimum of 10 years of executive, senior-level service to the profession, and 1-3 letters of endorsement from colleagues, mentors, or other individuals who can speak to the nominee’s adherence to and advancement of ethics in the profession.

    Program Awards

    Presented to local governments and their chief administrators in recognition of their innovative and successful programs. Program Excellence Awards can have multiple recipients.

    Awards are presented to local governments for each of three population ranges: less than 10,000, 10,000 to 49,999, and 50,000 and greater. Multi-participant nominations will be classified in the population range that corresponds to the population of the largest participating organization.

    Any local government whose chief administrator is an ICMA full member is eligible to receive a Program Award. (Nonmember CAOs are encouraged to join ICMA and enjoy the many benefits of belonging to this international organization.) Local governments must limit their nominations to one program per category—with a maximum of five Program Award nominations per year. Each nomination must be distinct from the others. Programs must have been fully implemented by January 31, 2023, to be eligible for nomination in 2024. The CAO of the local government must be a full member of ICMA for a program to be eligible for submission, this is in-sync with one of ICMA's core beliefs that professional management is an integral component of effective local government and is also a benefit of membership in your professional association.

    • Community Equity and Inclusion Awards recognize communities for organizational achievements building or celebrating diversity and inclusiveness. The program may be nominated for either work done within the local government organization or the community at-large. This award came to fruition following a recommendation from ICMA's Task Force on Inclusiveness and with approval of the ICMA Executive Board. *As of 12/2020: Award name changed from Community Diversity and Inclusion Award to Community Equity and Inclusion Award. 
    • Community Health and Safety Awards recognize the local government programs or processes that demonstrate innovation, excellence, and success in the community's safety, health, and/or wellness, including enhancement in the quality of life for the disadvantaged. This category is sponsored in part in memory of Carolyn Keane, first wife of former ICMA Executive Director Mark Keane, and in memory of Bill and Alice Hansell, parents of former ICMA Executive Director Bill Hansell.
    • Community Partnership Awards recognize the programs or processes that demonstrate innovation, excellence, and success in multi-participant involvement between or among a local government and other governmental entities, private sector businesses, individuals, or nonprofit agencies to improve the quality of life for residents or provide more efficient and effective services.
    • Community Sustainability Awards recognize the innovative local government programs or processes that demonstrate innovation, excellence, and success in balancing that community's social, economic, environmental, and cultural needs.
    • Strategic Leadership and Governance Awards recognize the innovative and successful local government programs or processes that have significantly affected a local government organization's culture or strategic direction.

    *The implementation date of January 31 of last year allows for the program to show at least a year's worth of success and progress for the awards evaluation panel to review. To be eligible for a 2024 award, the program must have been fully implemented by January 31, 2023.

    Meet the 2023 Winners!

    Submitting a Nomination for ICMA's Local Government Excellence Awards

    1. You must be logged into the ICMA website in order to submit a nomination.
    2. If you do not have an ICMA website account, you will need to set one up here in order to submit the nomination. When setting up an account, use the email address that you want to receive communications from ICMA regarding this submission, 
    3. Once you are logged into the website, go to "my account". You will see "Awards" on the top blue menu bar. Hover over the "awards" tab and select link to nominate either a Professional Excellence or Program Excellence Award. Click on the appropriate tab. 
    Video file

    Questions? Contact Joyce Lee at 202/962-3625 or jlee@icma.org.