City Leaders Explore Innovation In Silicon Valley
Elected officials and city staff from across the country gathered in Santa Clara, Calif., last month for a retreat-style training program aimed at strengthening and enhancing their work as local leaders. This year's NLC University Annual Leadership Summit -- designed specifically with local government officials in mind -- focused on leading through innovation.
Clarence Anthony, Executive Director of the National League of Cities, opened the first general session and welcomed participants upon their arrival. Stephen Goldsmith of Harvard's Kennedy School and Neil Kleiman of NYU's Innovation Labs, spoke to the group about new ways of identifying local challenges, how to create a structure and culture within city government that supports innovative solutions and how to engage residents in the innovation process utilizing both in-person and civic technology solutions.
Their presentation included insights from Doug McGowen, Director of the Mayors Innovation Delivery Team, City of Memphis, Tenn. The conference also featured trainings by Amy Holloway of Avalanche Consulting and Patrick Ibarra of the Mejorando Group, who was this year's summit facilitator.
The conference was peppered with interesting luncheon speakers, including Alison Dorsey of LinkedIn, Wendy Spencer of the Corporation for National and Commonity Service, Raph Becker, Mayor of Salt Lake City, and Carl Guardino of the Silicon Valley Leadership Group. Seth Shostak beguiled the group during his luncheon discussion with fascinating stories from his experience working at SETI (Search for Extra Terrestrial Intelligence) Institute.
In addition to regular programming, participants were exposed to many attractions unique to Silicon Valley. Councilmember Michael Kasperzak, City of Mountain View, Calif., collaborated with NLC to bring attendees an unforgettable summit experience. On Thursday evening, summit participants enjoyed an evening reception funded by local area sponsors, which was the first private event to be held on the rooftop of Levi's Stadium.
Another highlight of the program was a tour of the Google Campus. During this tour, summit participants explored the Google facilities, and saw the new Google Driverless cars. Several lucky attendees were selected via lottery for a ride in these futuristic vehicles. Following the tour, participants attended a presentation covering Google Glass and Google Fiber.
Upon conclusion of the presentation, attendees informally networked and socialized during a reception in the courtyard of the Google Campus. During this reception, Julie Bosland, former Director of NLC University, was recognized for over a decade of service to the National League of Cities and for her part in launching the new NLC University. Julie left NLC to start at the DeBruce Foundation's Accelerate Opportunity Institute on August 18.
Summit participants walked away with useful tools and experiences to better serve their home communities. "The sessions were great and I learned so much," said Stephanie Woods Miller from Macon, Georgia. "I also found the atmosphere to be dynamic in that the participants were genuinely interested in innovation. The Google tour was Amazing! Everywhere I go someone is asking me about Google and I am excited to be able to talk to them about my experience and how some of their innovations could affect our community."
The NLC University Leadership Summit features presentations by noteworthy leadership scholars and provides opportunities for engaged learning and networking with influential individuals from across the country. The program's goal is to showcase leadership skills and topics valuable to local leaders at every level. Additionally, each city that hosts the Annual Leadership Summit has the opportunity to use the program as a platform to discuss issues of particular importance to their community.
For more information, visit the NLC University webpages.