By Laura Lanford
Councilmember Todd Kinsey of League City, Texas, learned the importance of education, family, and community at an early age. Growing up in a fatherless home, his mother relied on government and community assistance to help supplement the modest income she received from working two low wage jobs. His mother struggled to support his family since she did not have the education needed to advance in her career, and this instilled in Kinsey "a sense of service and the importance of giving back to the community that was always there to support us when we needed it." His mother's career limitations also inspired a solid work ethic and a deep appreciation for the value of education.
Kinsey served in the U.S. Army for five years after completing high school in order to pay for college. His military career included service during the Gulf War, which helped him develop leadership skills that would eventually benefit him in his role as a city councilmember. Upon his return to the U.S. after his time overseas, Kinsey began coaching baseball. In his youth, Kinsey's male role models were baseball coaches. It was during his time as a baseball coach that Kinsey was first approached to run for public office by a group of parents who were impressed by the positive influence that he had on their sons. Kinsey did not pursue running for public office then since he was involved in a host of service activities and athletic competitions. Not only was he a baseball coach, he was also an Ironman triathlete.
In a twist of fate, Kinsey's active lifestyle came to a screeching halt in 2007. While cycling, he was hit by a car and broke his back. He underwent three surgeries, had a titanium rod fitted in his spine, and now requires the use of a cane. Although he bounced back in many ways, he was no longer able to compete or coach baseball. Kinsey's desire to remain involved in the community led him to accept the mayor's nomination to the city's Parks and Recreation Board. This in turn led to involvement in other city committees and initiatives. Throughout this process, he learned the ins and outs of how city government works. It was at this point that Kinsey decided he was ready to run for a seat on the city council.
As a newly elected city official, Councilmember Kinsey attended the National League of Cities' (NLC) Congressional City Conference this March for the first time. It was at this conference that he was introduced to NLC's leadership training programs for local elected officials and city staff. The conference left him "motivated and armed with a tremendous amount of knowledge" that he has been "applying daily" in his role as a city leader. After taking the training class Building Public Private Partnerships, he has started applying the knowledge he gained to help bring a desalinization plant to the Texas Gulf Coast. As he states, "The technology we are exploring could save our city millions of dollars per day meeting our future water needs."
Councilmember Kinsey hopes to continue attending trainings through NLC in order to gain as much useful information as possible. As he notes in his scholarship application, "The lessons I have been able to apply after attending one NLC conference have been amazing. More importantly, the relationships that were established and the ideas that were shared with my fellow NLC members have proven to be invaluable. I can only imagine the treasure trove of ideas that I will be exposed to at the Leadership Summit in Savannah."
Councilmember Kinsey is deeply committed to preparing himself for better service to his community through education, which reflects the values demonstrated in the political career and aspirations of Councilmember Michael Lynch, namesake of the Michael H.T. Lynch Scholarship.
Michael Lynch, a former city councilmember from Kirkwood, Missouri, was fatally shot at a council meeting in February of 2008. Councilmember Lynch was a tireless advocate for newly elected officials, encouraging them to get involved in organizations in their community as well as their state municipal leagues, and to take advantage of the educational opportunities offered by NLC. He made sure they knew of opportunities to attend leadership training programs and were aware of scholarship programs that could help them along the way.
Following Lynch's death, the Leadership Training Council at the NLC established the Michael H.T. Lynch Memorial Scholarship in his memory. The scholarship provides funding for a city official to attend NLC's annual Leadership Summit.
Councilmember Todd Kinsey was selected to receive the scholarship from a large number of essays and applications submitted by local leaders across the country. Upon notification that he had been awarded the Lynch Scholarship, Kinsey stated, "Wow! What an honor, I'm thrilled to receive this award." Kinsey's passion for education, coupled with his enthusiasm for encouraging success within others, exemplifies the determination to make a difference and the eagerness for learning for which Michael Lynch is remembered.
In addition to his service as a Councilmember for the City of League City, Texas, Todd Kinsey serves on the board of the Bay Area Houston Economic Partnership (PPP), the Bay Area Transportation Board, and the board of the Helen Hall Library. He also serves as a mentor for the Clear Creek, ISD Leaders are Readers Program, and is a Book Reviewer for the Georgetown University Press.
For more information about the Michael H.T. Lynch Memorial Scholarship or the 21st Annual Leadership Summit to be held in Savannah this September, please visit:
http://www.nlc.org/build-skills-and-networks/education-and-training/leadership-training or contact the Laura Lanford at (202) 626-3187 or firstname.lastname@example.org.