Engaging Local Government Leaders (ELGL)

GovLove is a podcast about the people, policies and profession of local government. From Mayors and City Managers to interns and everyone in between, we interview the people making a difference in their communities to learn about the great work being done at the local level.

All Episodes

Open innovation for all. Three guests joined the podcast to talk about The Opportunity Project, or TOP, which is a framework for agencies to facilitate collaboration between technologists and community advocates. Haley Ashcom is a Communications Strategist for the US Census Open Innovation Labs. Katya Abazajian is a Fellow at Beeck Center for Social Impact + Innovation. Rebecca Ierardo is a Senior Associate at Centre for Public Impact. Host: Kirsten Wyatt

Dec 1

58 min 34 sec

Holistic wellness. Cameron Marlin, the General Manager of the Clear Creek Metropolitan Recreation District, joined the podcast to talk about how they offered new recreation programming to meet the community's mental health needs during the COVID-19 pandemic. She shared how they identified instructors, partnered with Clear Creek County to use CARES Act funding, and are measuring success. She also talked about how this wellness programming has changed CCMRD and their plans for this programming in the future. Host: Lauren Palmer

Nov 23

32 min 59 sec

Building a foundation. Two guests joined the podcast to talk about strategies for affordable housing. Jerrah Crowder is a Manager for the Office of Affordability and Sustainable Housing for the City of Newark, New Jersey, and Namon Freeman is a Manager for Housing Affordability at Bloomberg Associates. They discussed housing goals in Newark, the effects of COVID-19 on affordable housing, and what other cities can do to get started to address the issue. Host: Alyssa Dinberg

Nov 19

48 min 51 sec

Mandate to be great. Dr. Rob Graham, the Founder & CEO of, joined the podcast to talk about his book, Mandate to be Great: The 5 Traits of Techno-Resilient People and Organizations. He shared the definition of Techno-Resiliency and how it relates to organizations.  He discussed pockets of resiliency and how to find them.  Lastly, he provided in-depth information on the five traits of techno-resiliency. Host: Kirsten Wyatt

Nov 17

1 hr

Housing for all. Jake Seid, a Senior Planner with the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning, joined the podcast to talk about zoning reform.  He shares why zoning reform is needed and why there is an increased interest in the topic. Jake discussed the limitations of traditional single-family zoning and exclusionary zoning.  Lastly, he shared four solutions local governments can implement for more equitable zoning. Host: Dan Bolin

Nov 12

54 min 13 sec

Honest and inclusive ecosystems. Nick Lyell, the Co-Founder and Chief Impact Officer for CivStart, joined the podcast to talk about connecting startups with local governments. He discussed the programs that CivStart runs including challenge-based procurement and pilot programs. He also talked about the mission of CivStart and how they help local governments and startups solve challenges.  Host: Kirsten Wyatt

Nov 10

36 min 6 sec

Urban air mobility. Two guests joined the podcast to talk about advanced air mobility and how it could change the transportation landscape for cities. Robert Pearce is the Associate Administrator for NASA's Aeronautics Research Mission Directorate and Davis Hackenberg is the Integration Manager for Advanced Air Mobility at NASA. They discussed the types of aircraft this sort of travel would involve, how it might be used, and the impact on local governments. Host: Lauren Palmer

Nov 5

40 min 19 sec

Urban design and sustainability. Adam Freed, Principal with Bloomberg Associates, joined the podcast to talk about how the City of Milan, Italy is working to plant 3,000,000 trees by 2030. He shared how the City is accelerating planting, changing process, and partnering to fund the tree initiative. He also talked about the importance of trees in controlling temperature in a city and how cities can do similar work.  This episode was recorded live at the #ELGL21 Annual Conference. Host: Alyssa Dinberg

Nov 3

50 min 9 sec

Improving internships. Eliza Edwards, a Policy Analyst for the State of North Carolina Office of Strategic Partnerships, and Joy Ruff, the Executive Director of the Local Government Academy, joined the podcast to talk about strategies for recruiting people into government. They discussed the talent needs of government during the pandemic along with innovative talent interventions that have taken place. They also shared important strategies for interns and internships. This episode was recorded live at the #ELGL21 Annual Conference. Host: Peter Morrissey

Oct 29

57 min 48 sec

Creative messaging for local governments. Crystal Son, the Healthcare Analytics Director at Civis Analytics, joined the podcast to talk about COVID-19 vaccination messaging for those who are hesitant to receive the vaccination. She outlined the scientific approach to studying vaccine messaging as well as effective and ineffective vaccine messages. She also shared tips for employers on how they can provide the best messages to their employees. Host: Kirsten Wyatt

Oct 26

32 min 24 sec

Connecting people and jobs. John Zeanah, the Director of Planning and Development for the City of Memphis and Shelby County, Tennessee, joined the podcast to talk about providing opportunities for economic mobility. He discussed the City's new comprehensive plan and how they are working to make it easier for residents to get to their workplaces through both land use and the transportation system. Then Denise Linn Riedl, Chief Innovation Officer for the City of South Bend, Indiana, joined to talk about transportation insecurity and their Commuters Trust initiative. This episode was recorded live at the #ELGL21 Annual Conference. Host: Toney Thompson

Oct 22

1 hr 2 min

Attracting talent. Two guests joined the podcast to talk about two different partnerships to measure local government workforce needs and the methods for recruiting talented staff. Greg Wilson, Unit Manager at the University of Georgia, and Charles Goldman, Senior Economist at the RAND Corporation, discuss the “Jobs with Purpose” Initiative in Georgia and a new report studying barriers to a diverse government workforce in Southern California. This episode was recorded live at the #ELGL21 Annual Conference. Host: Lauren Palmer

Oct 20

55 min 28 sec

Putting people in the process. Four guests from the City of Fort Collins, Colorado and the City of Norfolk, Virginia joined the podcast to talk about equity and data in climate action planning. They discussed how the Cities are modifying their climate actions plans to be more equitable and the What Works Cities certifications. John Phelan is the Energy Services Manager in Fort Collins, Molly Saylor is the Senior Sustainability Specialist in Fort Collins, Pete Buryk is the Chief of Staff in Norfolk, and Lori Crouch is the Director of Communications in Norfolk. This episode was recorded live at the #ELGL21 Annual Conference. Host: Alyssa Dinberg

Oct 15

57 min 56 sec

A year to try new things. Graham Stone, the Vice President of Government Relations at Public Input, joined the podcast to talk about citizen engagement. He shared how to simultaneously handle virtual and in-person engagement. Graham discussed the impact of COVID-19 on citizen engagement along with ways to implement successful virtual tools. He also talked about what to do with increased engagement and the importance of making sense of it all. This episode was recorded live at the #ELGL21 Annual Conference. Host: Ben Kittelson

Oct 12

54 min 34 sec

Challenges and lessons learned. Craig Talsma, the Executive Director of the Hoffman Estates Park District in Illinois, joined the podcast to talk about how his organization implemented a COVID-19 vaccine mandate. He shared how he engaged staff and legal resources to design a policy as well as the other pandemic precautions that the District has implemented. He also discussed his career path and the work of the park district. Host: Dan Bolin

Oct 8

46 min 41 sec

Public memory and public art. Three guests joined the podcast to talk about the process the City of Newark, New Jersey went through to replace a Christopher Columbus statue with a monument to Harriet Tubman. The City conducted a national open call for artists to replace the statue and artist Nina Cooke John was selected to begin working on the monument. Fayemi Shakur is the Arts and Cultural Director for the City of Newark and David Andersson and Tracey Knuckles are part of the Arts Team at Bloomberg Associates.  This episode was recorded live at the #ELGL21 Annual Conference. Host: Ashley Copeland

Oct 6

32 min 17 sec

All your ARPA questions answered. Emily Brock, Director of Federal Liasion Center at Government Finance Officers Association (GFOA), and Mehreen Haroon, Federal Policy Associate at GFOA, joined the podcast to discuss the State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds of the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) of 2021. They detailed the four eligible expense categories.  Emily and Mehreen talked about the most common questions and challenges they receive from local governments. They also shared the reporting requirements and highlighted best practices for administering the funds. Host: Toney Thompson

Oct 1

1 hr 12 min

Innovations that work. Linda Gibbs, Principal with Bloomberg Associates, and Tamiru Mammo, Consultant with Bloomberg Associates, joined the podcast to talk about their new book, How Ten Global Cities Take on Homelessness. They shared what led to writing the book, how the issue of homelessness and housing differed between the ten cities, and the common struggles that individuals experiencing homelessness were dealing with. They also discussed the interventions that help address homelessness and the management solutions to administer them. This episode was recorded live at the #ELGL21 Annual Conference. Host: Dan Bolin

Sep 28

1 hr 1 min

Addressing park equity. Danielle Denk, Community Schoolyard Initiative Director for the Trust for Public Land, joined the podcast to discuss the initiative to turn schoolyards into community parks that are more welcoming, sustainable, and accessible. She talked about the problem with current schoolyards that are often not open to the community after school hours and made up of asphalt. She also shared how opening schoolyards can provide public space to more families and how creating greener schoolyards can address heat islands. Host: Kirsten Wyatt

Sep 24

34 min 4 sec

Connecting with Gen Z and underrepresented populations. Sophie McGinley, Assistant Planner for the City of Eugene, OR, and Cody Kleinsmith, Climate Resiliency Analyst with Lane County, OR, joined the podcast to discuss how local governments can engage their entire community. Sophie and Cody shared how they engaged on the topic of middle housing. They talked about how local governments can engage unrepresented populations in their community and especially the Gen Z population. Host: Kirsten Wyatt

Sep 17

1 hr 5 min

Resident-centric government. Tom Spengler, Chief Executive Officer of Rock Solid Technologies, joined the podcast to discuss how local governments use technology to improve access and transparency. He talked about his time leading Granicus and the early days of getting organizations to stream and archive their meetings. He also shared his thoughts on future trends and technology to encourage resident engagement with local government meetings. Host: Kirsten Wyatt

Sep 10

45 min 9 sec

Designing streets for neighborhoods. Charles Marohn, the President and Co-Founder of Strong Towns, joined the podcast to talk about his new book on transportation, Confessions of a Recovering Engineer. He discussed streets, roads, and stroads, as well as the importance of designing streets for the speeds and outcomes communities want to see. He also shared his thoughts on speed design, traffic signals, and departments of transportation. Host: Ben Kittelson

Sep 7

1 hr 15 min

Preparing for growth through thoughtful planning. Julie Karins, City Manager for the City of Goodyear, Arizona, joined the podcast to discuss managing rapid growth. She talked about the strategies for overseeing population expansion in a city that is close to 200 square miles. She also highlighted the background and importance of water rights as well as adapting to growth internally within the organization. Host: Lauren Palmer

Sep 3

45 min 2 sec

Championing equity and inclusion. Aleea Slappy Wilson, Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Officer and LGBTQ Liaison for the City of Norfolk, Virginia, joined the podcast to discuss the City's equity initiative. She shared how the diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts started in Norfolk and the focus areas for the work. She also talked about her background in economic development and the work the City is doing to create a more inclusive economy. Host: Ben Kittelson

Aug 31

48 min 1 sec

Improving animal safety and health. Three guests joined the podcast to discuss a recent article in the State and Local Government Review journal on animal control ordinances and how local governments approach animal services. Laura Reese is a Professor of Urban and Regional Planning at Michigan State University and wrote the article, which focused on animal control in Detroit, Michigan. Casey Smith is the County Manager of Davidson County, North Carolina and he led a revamp of operations at the County's animal shelter. Aimee Wall is a Professor of Public Law and Government at the University of North Carolina and wrote a book on animal services law in North Carolina. Host: Alyssa Dinberg

Aug 27

1 hr 6 min

Strategies to put housing within reach. Shane Phillips, Housing Initiative Project Manager at the UCLA Lewis Center, joined the podcast to discuss his book, The Affordable City. He shared strategies around supply, stability, and subsidy that local governments should pursue to create more affordable housing. He discussed why cities should be pursuing affordable strategies even if affordable housing isn't an issue in their market. Shane also talked about the UCLA Housing Voice Podcast he co-hosts that discusses research on housing topics. Host: Ben Kittelson

Aug 25

1 hr 4 min

Maximizing the curb. Chrissy Mancini Nichols, National Director of Curb Management and New Mobility at Walker Consultants, joined the podcast to discuss curb management policy. She shared the difference between the analog curb and the digital curb. Chrissy talked about how local government can best determine pricing, equity, and access for curb space. She also shared how the pandemic has changed curb management. Host: Toney Thompson

Aug 20

1 hr

Supporting first responders. Matthew Kelly, Captain with Miami County, Kansas Sheriff's Office, and Dan Davis, Lieutenant with the City of Belton, Missouri Police Department joined the podcast to discuss the Mid-America Regional Council's Peer Support Program for command staff. They talked about the stressors that command staff deal with and the importance of having someone to talk to. They also their personal connection to this work and their experience with the peer support program. Host: Lauren Palmer

Aug 18

46 min 1 sec

Supporting first responders. Kristin Boyes, Dispatcher for the City of Lenexa, Kansas, joined on the podcast to discuss the Mid-America Regional Council's 911 Peer Support Program. She shared why it is important for dispatchers to get that support and how 911 calls affect call takers. She also talked about the training that peer supporters receive and how they work with people seeking help. Host: Lauren Palmer

Aug 13

36 min 12 sec

Finding your greatest self. Holly Krejci, Talent Management Partner for the City of Seattle, Washington came on the podcast to discuss her love and support of Kathy Nyland, Assistant City Manager for the City of Tigard, Oregon. She shared her insights on job transitions, work-life balance, and the return to the workplace after the pandemic. Host: Kirsten Wyatt

Aug 10

44 min 58 sec

Making onboarding successful. Benjamin Mead-Harvey, Adjunct Instructor for the University of Illinois School of Information Sciences, came back to the podcast to discuss onboarding. He shared tips on how to improve in three areas: welcome elements, training with the team, and onboarding check-in meetings. He also talked about the outcomes of onboarding that employers should be looking for and the details that matter for employees. Host: Kirsten Wyatt

Aug 6

1 hr 4 min

Making messaging more effective. Brad Dunn, Chief Product Officer at Whispir, joined the podcast to talk about distraction-free messaging. He shared how local governments can better craft messages to members of the public. He also discussed the difference between prediction and engagement in messaging. Host: Kirsten Wyatt

Aug 3

53 min 16 sec

Taking a bite out of big apple bureaucracy. Jeffrey Roth, Deputy Commissioner of the Veterans Services Department for New York City, New York, joined the podcast to talk about his career in local government and his new book Fires, Floods, and Taxicabs. He shared his lessons learned and how he earned trust and buy-in from large organizations. He also discussed his experience going through a mayoral appointment process. Host: Kirsten Wyatt

Jul 30

49 min 21 sec

A celebrity interview. In this special episode we're partnering with Montgomery County, Maryland to share one of their innovation celebrity interviews, part of their open innovation events which are internal learning sessions for staff. Anna Chung, a UX Designer at Massachusetts Bay Transit Authority (MBTA), talked with Michael Baskin, Chief Innovation Officer for Montgomery County, about the work of innovation and design. She shared a project she worked on with the County's 311 team, using plain language, and her career path.

Jul 28

47 min 51 sec

Regional networks of governments and universities. Peter Morrissey, an Associate Director at the Volcker Alliance, joined the podcast to talk about the Government-to-University Initiative, which is an innovative approach to addressing critical governance challenges by building government and university partnerships. He shared how governments can make targeted connections and lasting relationships.  He also discussed the work the Alliance is doing to help students navigate the state and federal government hiring processes and how local governments do a better job recruiting. Host: Lauren Palmer

Jul 23

54 min 58 sec

Improving budget flexibility. Alexandria Zhang, a Research Officer at the Pew Research Center, joined the podcast to talk about her research on local tax limitations. She shared how limits on local government revenue imposed by state governments affect localities. She also makes the case that state governments need to reevaluate limitations they currently have in place. Host: Kirsten Wyatt

Jul 20

31 min 22 sec

Local governance done well. Ian McCormack, the President of Strategic Steps, Inc. a local government consulting firm, joined the podcast to talk about his new book Who's Driving the Grader? He discussed what led to the writing of the book and who he wrote the book for. He also shared his career path and his perspectives on leadership and governing. Host: Alyssa Dinberg

Jul 16

56 min 28 sec

Resilient Queen City. Sarah Hazel, the Chief Sustainability & Resiliency Officer for the City of Charlotte, North Carolina, joined the podcast to talk about how the City is working to be more environmentally sustainable. She discussed the City's Strategic Energy Action Plan, working with Duke Energy, and electrifying the City's fleet. She also shared a workforce training program for sustainability jobs that the City has implemented and her career path into the role. Host: Ben Kittelson

Jul 13

56 min 29 sec

Helping the justice-involved. Three guests joined the podcast to talk about a guaranteed income pilot program in the City of Durham, North Carolina. Amber Wade, Assistant to the Mayor, and City Council Members Mark-Anthony Middleton and Pierce Freelon shared why Durham is doing the pilot and how the pilot will be administered. They also discussed the target population and what they hope to see come from the pilot. Host: Toney Thompson

Jul 9

59 min 9 sec

A renaissance in public service. Kaitlyn Rentala, an author and student at the University of Pennsylvania, joined the podcast to talk about her new book, The Public Sector Pivot: How Gen Z Will Lead a Renaissance in Public Service. She shared strategies for how government agencies can better attract people to public service. Kaitlyn also discussed how government can market its strengths compared to the private sector  and what government can do to retain workers once hired. Host: Kirsten Wyatt

Jul 6

41 min 29 sec

Solutions for social isolation. Oswaldo Mestre, Chief Service Officer & Director of Citizen Services for the City of Buffalo, NY, and Risa Wilkerson, Executive Director of Healthy Places by Design, discussed a new report on creating socially connected communities. They shared why social isolation is an issue that cities need to pay attention to as well as strategies to address it. Oswaldo shared what the City of Buffalo did to create community, even during hard winters, and Risa talked about the work of Healthy Places by Design and the different aspects that contribute to social isolation. Host: Ben Kittelson

Jul 2

55 min 11 sec

Data and public health. Stephanie Deitrick, Enterprise GIS & Analytics Manager for the City of Tempe, Arizona, joined the podcast to talk about monitoring wastewater to understand public health trends. She shared how the City partnered with Arizona State University to begin monitoring for opioid usage, which they then pivoted to use for the response to COVID-19 pandemic. She also discussed how the City set up their open data policy and approach with support from What Works Cities. Host: Kirsten Wyatt

Jun 29

1 hr 14 min

Sharing resources and expertise. Jennifer Jurado, Chief Resilience Officer for Broward County, Florida, joined the podcast to talk about resiliency and climate response. She talked about resiliency and climate response plans as well as the County's resilience and environmental dashboards. She also discussed the Southeast Florida Regional Climate Change Compact. This episode was recorded from the Florida City/County Managers Association (FCCMA) 2021 Annual Conference in Orlando, Florida. Host: Ben Kittelson

Jun 25

54 min 40 sec

Ending economic insecurity. Michael Tubbs, Special Adviser for Economic Mobility and Opportunity to California Governor Gavin Newsom, joined the podcast to talk about guaranteed income. He shared his path to becoming one of the youngest mayors in America and the programs he implemented to try and end poverty in Stockton, California. He also discussed how he helped create Mayors for a Guaranteed Income and their partnership with the Center for Guaranteed Income at the University of Pennsylvania. Host: Toney Thompson

Jun 22

23 min 29 sec

Economy after dark. Sarah Hannah-Spurlock, the Nighttime Economy Manager for the City of Fort Lauderdale, Florida, joined the podcast to talk about how the City manages the nighttime economy. She shared what her job looks like day to day, how she engages with business owners, and the policy changes they have made to help the nighttime economy. She also discussed the goal of building an 18-hour City and why cities around the world have created similar roles. This episode was recorded from the Florida City/County Managers Association (FCCMA) 2021 Annual Conference in Orlando, Florida. Host: Ben Kittelson

Jun 18

43 min 14 sec

Get a little better every week. Benjamin Mead-Harvey, Adjunct Instructor for the University of Illinois School of Information Sciences, joined the podcast to discuss interview processes and reducing bias in hiring. He discussed types of interview questions including behavioral and situational questions. He also shared his career path and passion for management problems, which he writes about on his website Host: Kirsten Wyatt

Jun 16

1 hr 22 min

Making a difference. Cynthia Barber, Deputy City Manager for the City of Tallahassee, Florida, joined the podcast to discuss infrastructure projects and how the City involves the community through their Neighborhood First program. She shared how Tallahassee earned LEED certification and how hurricane plans were used during COVID-19. She also highlighted two youth leadership and development programs, TEMPO and TFLA, that have made an impact on youth in the community. This episode was recorded from the Florida City/County Managers Association (FCCMA) 2021 Annual Conference in Orlando, Florida. Host: Ben Kittelson

Jun 11

53 min 16 sec

A path forward. Gina Peebles, Chief of Staff for Alachua County, Florida, joined the podcast to discuss Alachua County's truth and reconciliation initiative. This work was driven by the Equal Justice Initiative (EJI) museum and memorial for lynching victims. Gina shared how the process was community-driven and how other local governments can start a similar effort. This episode was recorded from the Florida City/County Managers Association (FCCMA) 2021 Annual Conference in Orlando, Florida. Host: Ben Kittelson

Jun 8

23 min 5 sec

Climate action from the heart of America. Lindsey Constance, President of Climate Action KC, and Mike Kelley, Mayor of Roeland Park, KS, joined the podcast to talk about Climate Action KC. They shared the origin story and how local leaders came together to take regional action on climate change. Lindsey and Mike also discussed how they worked across state lines to form the KC Regional Action Climate Plan and key components of the plan. Host: Lauren Palmer

Jun 4

44 min 57 sec

From recruitment to onboarding. Three guests joined the podcast to talk about their research into effective ways that local governments have hired staff in a remote or virtual environment. Lauren Duncan, Mallory Verez, and Sam Cathcart, MPA Candidates at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, highlighted their research methods and the various aspects of the hiring process. They shared their key findings, best practices, and recommendations for local governments who need to attract, recruit, and hire staff virtually. Host: Kirsten Wyatt

May 28

51 min 38 sec