Get Involved! Spotlight on NLC’s Member Councils

October 15, 2013

By John Pionke

NLC’s member councils are an effective way to get involved in the organization and make an impact.  NLC's member councils serve as a vehicle for similar types of cities to come together in smaller groups to address their unique needs and challenges. Currently, there are five member councils:

  • Small Cities Council
  • Large Cities Council
  • First Tier Suburbs Council
  • University Communities Council
  • Military Communities Council (NLC’s newest council)  

In general, each of the member councils meets at the Congress of Cities & Exposition in the fall (held in Seattle this November!) and the Congressional City Conference in the spring.  Each council has a chair and vice chair (or two), and some are led by a steering committee.

Most of the councils are also active outside of the conferences through their MyNLC group online and conference calls about important issues of interest to the members. Some have annual onsite meetings as well. 

While the councils do not create NLC policy – this is handled through the Policy Committees and voted on by the full membership – member councils can draft their own positions and submit them to Policy Committees for consideration.  In this way, they are able to have a collective voice on specific topics within the organization.

Small Cities Council

NLC’s Small Cities Council was created to ensure that the interests and concerns of small communities are part of NLC’s overall policies and programs.  Its membership is made up of elected officials from municipalities with populations of 50,000 or less.  The council is led by a steering committee that holds an annual summer meeting in addition to the meetings held during the Congressional City Conference and the Congress of Cities, when the full council meets to discuss common issues and successes while establishing future items of interest to the council. 

This year at the Congress of Cities the council will discuss policy such as include local government strategies for maximizing the economic development potential of small businesses, federal policy trends impacting local community development efforts, rural development programs, and federal grants available to enhance smaller communities. 

Large Cities Council

The Large Cities Council (LCC) provides a place where large community leaders can gather to share ideas and help each other solve problems.  For the purposes of the council, a large city is one with population 200,000 or above, or the central city in a particular region.  At the Congress of Cities this year, the LCC meeting will open with a presentation on the growing need for housing for the nation’s homeless veterans, and will spotlight the successful programs of Salt Lake City and Phoenix. Following the presentation there will be a discussion of homelessness in general and ways to combat this growing problem in our nation’s larger communities.

All local elected officials of a large city are welcome to attend, whether part of a member of the council or not. 

First Tier Suburbs Council

The First Tier Suburbs (FTS) Council  is an advocate for first tier or inner ring suburbs.  The council identifies and shares innovations and successful approaches to governance and service delivery to address the unique needs of first tier suburbs.  FTS membership is open to any local elected official representing an NLC member city that serves communities outside of central cities.

At this year’s Congress of Cities the FTS council share best practices through the display of posters that highlight projects and initiatives that are taking place in suburban communities.  On Friday, November 15th, council members will be on hand to share ideas and discuss the opportunities and challenges their city faced when implementing these innovative ideas.  Posters will be displayed for the duration of the conference.

University Communities Council

The University Communities Council (UCC) shares issues and opportunities that are unique to university communities, especially in communities where a university is a dominant presence.

Issues of importance to university communities are economic development, housing, neighborhood concerns and partnerships between the university and the city or town.  This year at the Congress of Cities:

  • Members of the UCC will be taken on an exclusive tour of the University of Washington to receive a firsthand look at the city’s higher education partnerships with the community related to neighborhood revitalization, service learning and economic development.
  • The council will jointly conduct a workshop with the University of Oregon’s Sustainable Cities Initiative on new and catalytic ways to use universities to advance their city’s agenda, followed by “best practices speed dating.”
  • UCC members will host a first-ever Networking Happy Hour with UCC potential members to discuss programs and ideas they heard at the Congress of Cities and how to  implement these ideas and programs in their communities.

Military Communities Council

The Military Communities Council is comprised of representatives from NLC member municipalities that host or are in close proximity to a military installation.  The Military Communities Council became an official NLC member council in January 2013 after serving as a peer networking group for two years.  Issues of focus have included establishing a military-community covenant, transportation and infrastructure issues that arise due to a nearby military installation, and the unique needs of veterans and their families on issues such as housing, employment, education and healthcare.

More information on each of the member councils can be found on the Committees and Councils page.  Applications for members to participate on any of the councils are due November 22, 2013.  Appointments will be made by incoming NLC President Chris Coleman, mayor, St. Paul, Minnesota. For more information please contact Member Relations at 202-626-3100 or at memberservices@nlc.org.