Executive Director Emphasizes Connections in Annual Conference Remarks

Dave Unmacht, League executive director, discussed fostering strong connections among cities in his June 22 speech at the Annual Conference in St. Cloud. Unmacht delivered his remarks during the conference’s business luncheon.

Unmacht said the dedication of the League to serve its members is a way valuable connections are made. “Trust is earned every day,” he said. “I come to work with the understanding that you can trust me—and my team—to do our job. That is our pledge; we’re not perfect, but we will not compromise our integrity, ethics, and values.”

From traveling around the state and country, Unmacht has seen Minnesota local government to be the “best in the business.” This understanding inspires him to continually serve those promoting good governance in the state.

In thinking about building relationships with member cities, Unmacht reflected on something former General Counsel Tom Grundhoefer, who passed away in 2017, would often say: “We must earn our relevancy with our members every day.”

This simple yet profound idea provided the foundation of an effort in which League staff visited various cities throughout the state and met with officials over the past year.

To date, Unmacht says the League has met with dozens of city officials. The meetings have been informative in understanding where the League provides value to member cities, and has affirmed the value that member cities see in the League. To keep the effort growing, Unmacht said the League will be hiring a member engagement manager. This role will connect cities with affiliates and business partners, and identify new ways the League can offer assistance.

Considering new services for members

A final way Unmacht said connections can be made is by being responsive to the changing trends and needs of the League’s members. Unmacht noted two areas of emphasis: race equity and finance.

Within finance, Unmacht announced the League’s finance department will move to a member services model to provide a broader array of advice and guidance to our cities. Unmacht said once the finance department completes this transition, “we’ll be one of very few if not the only league in the country with every department doing internal and external membership work.”

In terms of race equity, Unmacht said the League is working to develop a model program to be applicable for small cities. However, Unmacht acknowledged issues of race equity are complex and uniquely nuanced and said the League’s approach to these issues will reflect this. “These are not one size fits all issues,” Unmacht said. “We must flexible and respectful.”

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