by Rikka Batulan
NLC's Women in Municipal Government (WIMG) constituency group convened its annual summer conference in Charleston, S.C., May 16 - 19 under the leadership of WIMG President Kathy Maness, councilmember, Lexington, S.C. This year's conference, "Finding the Silver Lining in Your City," focused on enhancing professional presence and best strategies on handling multiple responsibilities as an elected official.
Maness opened the conference by welcoming participants to her great state of South Carolina. "This event is a tremendous opportunity to ignite state spirit and celebrate the ways in which our nation comes together to applaud women leaders in government and business," she said.
The conference boasted a wide array of speakers from the private and public sectors, NLC corporate partners, and all levels of government. NLC First Vice President and WIMG Board member Marie Lopez Rogers, mayor, Avondale, Ariz. and HELO President Karen Avilla, city treasurer, Carson, Calif., were also in attendance.
"It is a pleasure to stand beside this delegation, your mission and WIMG President Kathy Maness, who is my colleague at the Town of Lexington," said Mayor Randy Halfacre while addressing the attendees. "Through her tireless efforts to our community and nation, she has helped ensure constituents are provided the best quality of life, from education to economic development to beautification."
Halfacre continued, "I hope each of you will gain greater knowledge and insights in our elected public servant 'trusted capacity' role at your conference and return home with renewed energy and vigor knowing the real meaning and know how in serving your fellow citizenry."
The opening plenary session, "15 Rules for the Road & How to Deal with the Media," offered participants a wealth of information on what it takes to develop and polish the ability to speak to an audience of any size. The guest speaker for this session was Deb Sofield, Executive Speech & Presentations Coach, who amused WIMG delegates with her energy and life examples.
Guests and keynote speakers for the conference luncheons, "Welcome to Charleston," "The History of Silver with the Charleston Silver Lady," and "Choosing Significance over Success: The ACTS of a Significant Leader" included Joseph P. Riley, Jr., mayor of Charleston; Dawn Evers Corley, the Charleston Silver Lady; and Dorothy Burton, author and Founder, In to Win, LLC.
On two separate special events, Corley led a walking "Historic Tour" of Charleston along with showcasing and appraising pearls and silver from her collection. Many delegates agreed that her knowledge of Charleston and the pearl formation and value were fascinating and a highlight for the WIMG conference.
Other speakers included Laraine Davis, vice president, community development for Wells Fargo Social Responsibility; Anne Marie Day, senior vice president, for Wells Fargo; and Joan Brady, State Representative from the South Carolina House of Representatives who gave her perspective on Women's Leadership roles and the challenges they face in their responsibilities to lead in local government, the private sector, and in service to their communities in a separate plenary session.
The conference also featured a complimentary Leadership Training Institute seminar, "Brand You & Improved: Enhancing Your Professional Presence," led by Jeff Black, President, Black Sheep Reputations which focused on communicating any message effectively with stage presence, the appropriate body language, and good vocal qualities.
Conference attendees had an opportunity to participate in a mobile tour led by City of Charleston urban planning staff, Tim Keane, director of Planning, Preservation & Sustainability and Michael Maher, director of the Civic Design Center. The tour featured a look at Charleston Place, the Francis Marion Hotel, Marion Square, and a new high tech office along with some infill and redevelopment projects including the Flagship, Cool Blow, and the Innovation Center. Following this, WIMG members took a trip to the Charleston Tea Plantation, America's only tea plantation.
"WIMG President Kathy Maness and the conference planning team took this year's conference to new heights," said Mayor Rogers. "The sessions were extremely informative, and the quality of speakers and presenters was outstanding. WIMG is such a wonderful opportunity for leaders to learn from one another. Thank you to the beautiful City of Charleston for hosting this event, and a big thank you as well to the sponsors who helped make this event such a great success."
NLC Corporate Partners CIGNA, Wells Fargo, and Comcast as well as the Town of Lexington, the City of Charleston, the Municipal Association of South Carolina and Howell, Linkous, Nettles, LLC, among many others sponsored the meeting.
In addition to President Maness, WIMG's officers are Mary Brown, Councilwoman, Gary, Indiana (first vice president); Mildred Crump, Councilwoman, Newark, New Jersey (second vice president); Mary McComber, councilwoman, Oak Park Heights, Minnesota (communications officer) and Adrienne Foster, mayor, Roeland Park, Kansas (immediate past president).
Details: NLC members are encouraged to join WIMG and become members as either elected officials or as individuals from a variety of organizations. Contact (202) 626-3169 about becoming a member.