Stirring the pot

Ann Daniels
Director of Technical Services
APWA Kansas City Office

"The Baker's Dozen," "The Baker's Menu" and now "The Baker's Potluck." What's up with the Leadership and Management Committee? Don't they know this is a public works organization and not a made-for-reading cooking show?

The answer is definitely "Yes." But they have managed to grab your attention with the titles and lists of Core Competencies for Public Works Leaders and Managers and now they are stirring in some spice to help you use them. Hopefully you noticed the first article in "The Baker's Potluck" in last month's issue of the APWA Reporter. This series of articles will address a wide range of issues, many suggested by our members, that are designed to aid in strengthening your skills as you lead or manage your agency, department, or division. Check them out. They will appear on the committee web page, along with both series of the Core Competencies. The committee hopes you will find them useful.

Members of the Leadership and Management Committee include Bill Sterling, Chair; Sue Hann, Richard Coates, John Ostrowski, George Haines and Gary Strack. Diane Linderman serves as the At-Large Director for Leadership and Management. Each is a proven leader, as well as a manager. Not only that, they are authors with their publication released at Congress, titled Core Competencies for Public Works Managers. This is a compilation of all the articles in the first two series, along with essays and presentations made by Top Ten Leaders and Managers of the Year. Compiled by outgoing committee member Patty Hilderbrand and Gary Strack, the book is available through the APWA Bookstore, so check it out and then add it to your library of "very useful tools."

This year's committee has several projects underway. As mentors and speakers for the Emerging Public Works Leaders Forum at Congress in September, they are seeking ways to enhance this program and hoping to encourage chapters to sponsor members' participation for future years. A major focus will be the development of a mentoring program for our members who would like to share their questions about projects, career development, or issues they are addressing. Watch for more news about this program and begin thinking about what role you might like to play in this online mentoring program.

Another new project for the committee is the compilation of a new publication (working title: Public Works Administration) to replace the outdated and out-of-print ICMA "Green Book." This is a major undertaking and many of our members will be asked to participate in writing portions of each chapter. The intent is for the publication to be the "go to" place for anyone seeking a thorough introduction to the workings of a public works department, anyone charged with the responsibility of forming a new public works department, and to provide a thorough description of public works to elected officials, city/county managers, and others who are uncertain about the role of the department. You may see requests for contributing authors, reviewers, or editors posted on the various infoNOW Communities. If you're interested in participating, respond to one of the postings or contact any member of the committee.

A seemingly well-kept secret about this committee is the location of their web page. You can find it on the APWA website at If you are curious about what the committee actually does at their monthly conference calls, check out the Meeting Minutes link. Who's on the committee and how can you contact them? That information is on the Committee Roster link. Where can you find the Core Competencies brochures and articles? Links are there. Please visit the site frequently. Let committee members know what topics of interest you would like to see addressed. The members are eager to provide the resources and information you need to help you in your leadership or management role so your suggestions are always welcomed.

Did you know there are two PowerPoint presentations available for you to download and present at a chapter or staff meeting? Well, there are. A link to the presentation on the work of the committee and another link to a description of the Core Competencies for Leaders is available for both at the web page. If your chapter is looking for a fifteen minute program or you are searching for something to share at a staff meeting, either or both of these presentations would be useful. They are there for your benefit. We hope you will take advantage of these tools.

And, by the way, are you subscribed to the community? Each month a committee member is posting topics or links to articles that would be of interest to those in leadership and/or management roles. If you are not subscribed, you need to join. It's free! It's easy! It's a great way to ask your question and get a number of great responses and ideas. One recent query asked for questions that might be appropriate to ask a candidate for the Public Works Director position. Within two hours, more than 60 potential questions were received and forwarded to the agency seeking the information. Pretty good return for your money, isn't it? Particularly when it's part of your member benefits. Check it out and make it a regular part of your online library.

I've asked you to "Check it out" several times throughout this article. I've done that on purpose. The committee provides lots of good information. They spend a great amount of time preparing articles, writing books, developing presentations, and answering questions. They are always looking for better ways to communicate that information to you. Here's where you come in. You have to make the effort to "Check it out." Who knows—you might find exactly what you've been searching for. Or, you might even find a recipe for spicy public works dishes that will heat up your palate and your department!

Ann Daniels can be reached at (816) 595-5223 or