By Amy Elsbree
Friends, family and long-time colleagues gathered in Washington, DC last week to pay tribute to NLC Executive Director Don Borut's long career in public service. The celebration came just a few weeks before Borut's official retirement date at the end of the year.
President Obama joined in the accolades for Borut by sending a letter which was presented by David Agnew, Director of the White House Office of Intergovernmental Affairs. The President wrote, "It is a pleasure to join your family, friends, and colleagues in offering congratulations as you retire after more than 35 years of service and leadership. Strong partnerships between local and Federal government are vital to making our country grow, and I hope you take tremendous pride in your many accomplishments as Executive Director of the National League of Cities."
Colleagues from all stages of Borut's career attended the event, along with many former and current NLC staff. Remarks were shared by Larry Naake, former Executive Director of the National Association of Counties; Elizabeth Kellar, Deputy Executive Director of the International City/County Management Association (ICMA)and President and CEO of the Center for State and Local Government Excellence; and Tom Downs, a long-time friend of Borut's and Chairman of the Board of Advisors for Veolia Transportation of North America.
In addition, Past NLC President Anthony Williams, former Mayor of Washington, DC and NLC First Vice President Chris Coleman, Mayor of St. Paul, MN, both gave remarks thanking Borut for his tenure at NLC and his service to cities.
The common theme among the tributes was Borut's inexhaustible passion for local government and his natural talent for forming strong and lasting relationships. Together these two qualities enabled him to have a meaningful impact on communities across the country and their residents, and a lasting impact on the many staff and colleagues he worked with over the years.
"I am truly grateful for the privilege of working with a membership of individuals who are not only committed to public service and improving the quality of life for their citizens but also engaging with NLC to strengthen and protect the collective values, resources and programs fundamental to effective democratic local government," said Borut. "Working for the NLC membership and family has been a gift to me for which I am deeply appreciative."
Borut served 22 years as Executive Director of NLC. Prior to that he served as Deputy Executive Director at ICMA and began working in city government in 1964 as a staff assistant in the Office of the City Administrator in Ann Arbor, MI.
He has served on numerous advisory boards, editorial boards, and other committees in the public interest sector, including the Boards of the State and Local Legal Center, the National Academy of Public Administration, the Center for State and Local Government Excellence, the Association Mutual Health Insurance Company, and the steering committee of the State of the USA initiative.
Borut's replacement, Clarence E. Anthony, was named during the NLC Board of Directors meeting that took place in Boston, MA during the Congress of Cities on November 30. Anthony will assume the Executive Director role at NLC on January 2.
To read Borut''s reflections on his NLC career please click here.