ICMA’s Next Generation Initiatives were launched in 2003 to attract a new generation into the local government management profession, including students, early and mid-career professionals, and individuals from other fields, and to introduce them to pathways to develop their careers through ICMA's network. These initiatives also were created with a focus on expanding the diversity of ICMA's member base to prepare or transition more women and people of color into senior leadership roles. ICMA's activities supporting these initiatives fall under four strategies:

  • Promoting awareness of the local government management profession and encouraging individuals to consider careers in the field.
  • Helping new and early careerists land their first jobs in local government. 
  • Engaging local government management professionals in ICMA early in their careers.
  • Building the leadership pipeline by engaging and developing promising individuals so that they are prepared to step into leadership roles, both in their local governments and in ICMA.

What's the big deal?

Quiet crisis. Retirement tidal wave. Workforce retention and recruitment. Next generation. Succession planning, pipeline, coaching. These aren't new terms. The local government management profession is in the midst of an anticipated crossroads as baby boomers that composed the majority of local government managers have retired at a quickening pace. Statistics indicate that the greatest numbers of retirees come from the managerial ranks, creating an opportunity within the profession. 

The first problem? A much smaller group of young and career-changing professionals are in line and prepared to fill their shoes. There just aren't enough people.

The second major issue is many career candidates are unaware of or choose to ignore the potential career satisfaction that can come from leading a local government through times of innovation and change. At the same time, not enough current public managers consider that they are also responsible for the critical job of developing young and mid-career talent.

What is ICMA doing?

ICMA has developed programs to help local governments educate, attract, develop, and retain individuals of all ages, from school-age children to mid-career assistants and department heads, to professionals from other disciplines.

What can I do? Well, lots!

You might ask: What can I do as a member of ICMA to help sustain and grow the profession? Explore the links and news items here, and contact us if you have any questions, comments or ideas.

  • Host a summer intern.
  • Greet student workers (i.e., lifeguards, park and recreation coordinators, etc.) with a welcome message, encouraging them to consider a career in local government.
  • Hire a management fellow, or create your own program to identify and help build tomorrow’s managers; share a fellow with a neighboring community.
  • Identify promising professionals in your organization to participate in ICMA or other professional growth opportunities such as the Mid-career Manager's Institute, the Emerging Leaders Development Program or Leadership ICMA.
  • Be a guest speaker at universities, K-12 schools, and career fairs and talk about how local government professionals make a difference in the lives of citizens every day.
  • Share ICMA's coloring book with early learners to explore how local government builds community.
  • Engage with a current ICMA Student Chapter, or work with your local MPA program to start a Student Chapter
  • Teach a course in local government at a local high school, college or university.
  • Create a succession plan for your organization.
  • Engage your team and early-career staff in the ICMA Coaching Program. Sign up to be a coach with CoachConnect.
  • Talk to your colleagues at your next area, regional or state meeting about this issue. Is it a crisis? Are there any new faces attending these meetings? Are new managers in the area engaging in the manager's networks? Collaboration helps everyone; help newcomers get engaged.

Contact Information

Rob Carty, rcarty@icma.org, 202-962-3560
Erika Cooper, ecooper@Icma.org
General questions about ICMA career programs: careers@icma.org
Job Center advertising and customer service: advertising@icma.org

Learn more about these initiatives by exploring the Careers & Learning section of icma.org.