Commissioner Gil Ziffer, Tallahassee, Florida
How are you involved in NLC?
I've been serving on the Public Safety and Crime Prevention Committee for the past two years and have recently moved to the Human Development Committee. While I gained a great deal working with the other members of the PSCP Committee, many of the efforts I'm focused on in Tallahassee are more in line with the efforts of the HD Committee.
How has NLC enriched your leadership skills and experiences?
Just as I found by engaging in the Florida League of Cities, learning from my colleagues around the country for best practices has been invaluable. Through relationships I've made I'm in a far better position to have contact with other elected officials and staff members that have had similar issues in their own cities. There's no reason to recreate the wheel when it's not necessary.
A side benefit to attending Florida League of Cities and NLC meetings is a comfort level knowing you're surrounded by others that deal with the same issues back home. As a result, many of my League colleagues are more like family than just friends.
What advice do you have for newly elected officials and/or recently appointed city staff?
Get engaged as quickly as possible with peers in your state or at the NLC. No matter your location, we all experience many of the same issues. For me, having landed in public office in my 50's after running a small business for many years, it's more than just attending meetings. I know sitting to my left and to my right are officials that have similar constituent concerns, experienced successes and setbacks, and have learned solving problems is even more of a team sport in government. Exchanging stories can help build confidence in what you're trying to accomplish back home by knowing you're not alone and others can help.
What three tips can you share with fellow NLC members looking to become more involved and have a greater impact?
1) Join an NLC Committee as soon as you can
2) Develop a relationship with an NLC staff member. Have your go-to person as soon as you can.
3) When attending NLC conferences, attend as many of the large general sessions and breakout sessions as you can. A single bit of information or an idea gained there can help create more successes back home.
If someone were to write a biography about you, what do you think the title should be?
The title should be 'Learning Through Listening'.