WIMG Meets in Chicago to Address the Power of Women as Leaders

May 28, 2013

By Mary Gordon

From left, First Deputy Superintendent Alfonza Wyzinger, Orlando Commissioner Daisy W. Lynum, Indiana University Northwest Police Chief Patricia Nowak, NLC Program Director Neil Bomberg and WIMG Board member Madelyn Scales-Harris, Councilwoman, Murfreesboro, Tenn.
From left, First Deputy Superintendent Alfonza Wyzinger, Orlando Commissioner Daisy W. Lynum, Indiana University Northwest Police Chief Patricia Nowak, NLC Program Director Neil Bomberg and WIMG Board member Madelyn Scales-Harris, Councilwoman, Murfreesboro, Tenn.

Under the conference theme backdrop of "Rise of the Rustbelt - Rebuilding Our Cities through Strong Leadership," leaders and members of NLC's Women in Municipal Government (WIMG) constituency group gathered for their Annual Summer Conference May 16-18 in Chicago, Illinois. The conference was convened by WIMG President Mary Brown, Councilwoman, Gary, Indiana. A half day of the conference was held in the neighboring city of Gary, about 50 minutes from downtown Chicago.

WIMG President Brown said, "I am proud and honored to serve as president and since the onset of my membership in WIMG, I have been fortunate to have met and be mentored by some very strong, influential women with wonderful ideas about the roles we play as elected leaders in our communities throughout the country." President Brown, Gary Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson and the Gary Common Council colleagues welcomed conference attendees to Gary.

NLC President Marie Lopez Rogers, Mayor, Avondale, Arizona, spoke as a keynote luncheon speaker during the group's trip to Gary, Indiana. Regarding NLC she stated, "At the National League of Cities, we are working to be responsive in how we engage our members. We want to reflect the core values of our organization and our cities are doing amazing things because of our leadership and involvement."

Participants attended in-depth workshops and discussion forums that focused on a wide range of topics. The workshop themes included: the impact of gun violence and its related issues; financial literacy for women presented by Freddie Mac; and women's wellness that centered on how women leaders can live healthier lives.

Gary Mayor Karen Wilson-Freeman speaks as NLC President Marie Lopez Rogers looks on
Gary Mayor Karen Wilson-Freeman speaks as NLC President Marie Lopez Rogers looks on.

Additional sessions included: the three R's for recruitment of WIMG members; the creation of extraordinary career networks by Cigna; the role of local officials in education and nontraditional jobs for women.

Gary Mayor Freeman-Wilson, also a member of the WIMG Board of Directors, remarked that she was excited that participants had the opportunity to visit her city and spend time in Northwest Indiana. Conference attendees participated in an economic development tour of Gary which featured a visit to the West Side Theatre Guild which included performances and films highlighting its educational efforts in the performing arts. Attendees also had the opportunity to visit the city's baseball stadium, the U.S. Steelyard, home to the Gary Southshore Rail Cats, as well as the Chicago/Gary International Airport.

Two members of the Chicago City Council also participated in this year's meeting. Alderman Michelle Harris served as a keynote luncheon speaker at the conference's Welcome to Chicago Magnificent Mile Luncheon and Alderman Latasha Thomas participated in the education panel, "The Role of City Officials in Education."

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel sent greetings to attendees. Mayor Emanuel said, "I recognize Women in Municipal Government and the National League of Cities for inspiring work that ensures safer places to live, work and raise our families."

In addition, an NLC briefing was held to help participants focus on NLC's federal lobbying priorities during the meeting of the WIMG Board of Directors. WIMG Board members are considering policy development on the topic of women veterans and the challenges municipalities face in dealing with some of the economic and health challenges these veterans face after serving in the military and in war zones.

Other conference keynote speakers at the luncheon included Minister Montia Gardner, Associate Minister, Trinity Missionary Baptist Church, and Maria Wynne, CEO, Girls Scouts of Greater Chicago and Northwest Indiana.

Details: For more information about WIMG and how to join, log on to www.nlc.org/wimg or email constituencygroups@nlc.org.