Reflections from Executive Director Don Borut

December 14, 2012

By Don Borut

As I begin my retirement, I want to express my deep appreciation to you, the NLC family, for the opportunity to serve as your Executive Director for the past 22 years.

When I was hired, I told the Board and the membership that I was a passionate advocate for local government and those who served. That passion is even stronger today as I see local elected officials addressing the brutal economic realities with a sense of pragmatic optimism. Moreover, they are modeling the ideals of representative democratic government; engaging in a civil manner, making the tough but essential decisions and not putting them off into the future.

I believe that NLC itself has operated in the same manner, promoting this set of values in contrast to the hyper- partisanship that has been growing over the last decade here in Washington.

Equally important to me has been the role NLC has played in reaching out to other organizations, building alliances (not necessarily marriages), finding shared interests and leveraging our interests with and through others. I like to believe that NLC has been the collaborative adult in our engagements with others without compromising our fundamental program and policy goals and objectives.

Ours is a very diverse membership that shares critical and basic fundamental values relating to the role of local government. At the same time our membership is truly diverse in terms of specific issues and interests. I have been committed to the big tent theory, valuing these differences and working to find homes within NLC through policy committees, councils, constituency groups and substantive program activities and resources. I fear this approach is being questioned by some as the partisan polarization at the federal level increases and trickles down to some local elections and city councils.

At the same time, we have built a talented staff of professionals committed to the interests and needs of our members and responsive to the changing and evolving priorities. This is reflected in our advocacy and substantive programs, including aggressive advocacy against unfunded mandates and federal pre-emptions, economic development initiatives, the Institute for Youth, Education and Family programs, media relations and communications and the provision of reliable data on local government and their economies.

Over the years, we have recognized that the business model for NLC must change. To address that, we have created new long-term revenue sources including the Corporate Partners program and joint public-private enterprise activities.

These initiatives anticipated the importance of addressing the changing expectations and needs of our members to insure that NLC remains the go-to organization for those interested and involved in local government.

Moving forward, NLC is fortunate to have identified and selected Clarence Anthony as my successor. He is a politically astute visionary, experienced manager and executive with great wisdom, a long history and commitment to NLC and a wonderful sense of humor.

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. Working for the NLC membership and family has been a gift to me for which I am deeply appreciative.