This article appeared in the March 2018 issue of the Georgia's Cities newspaper.
We’re submitting this article on Feb. 15 also known as Singles Awareness Day, National Gumdrop Day, and National I Want Butterscotch Day. This is important because City Hall Selfie Day started in 2016 when Engaging Local Government Leaders (ELGL) member and Routt County Deputy County Manager Dan Weinheimer noted the ridiculousness of holidays like these and wondered why we are not celebrating local government. While butterscotch and gumdrops are important, local government impacts everything we do from the water used in brushing our teeth in the morning to the sidewalks used walking our dog every night.
On Aug. 15, 2016, Dan’s idea become a reality with the first ever City Hall Selfie Day. Local governments were encouraged to embrace the opportunity to show pride in their services and facilities.
The two ELGL members leading the day expected to create a Facebook photo album, upload 50 or so pictures and write a blog post celebrating the beginning of a tradition and promising that this would become a major event.
Instead, the ELGL team of two quadrupled quickly to handle the selfie submissions and media requests. Hundreds of local governments from across the country celebrated, and celebrated in the most creative ways using drones, ghosts, horses, mascots and props. The campaign’s reach and engagement was unbelievable. City Hall Selfie Day 2016 resulted in more than 2,000 selfies, a spot on Twitter’s top trending hashtags and national media coverage. The day also became international with local governments in Australia and England participating.
In 2017, City Hall Selfie Day doubled in size and added an awards component. I’m glad to share that your very own GMA team and many participating cities showed their skills by winning the “Best Promotion of #CityHallSelfie by a Government Entity.”
But, what I find more important than the numbers is that local government took a step forward in showing our “human side” and passion for the work that we do. This day of selfies exposed local government to a new group and quite possibly our next local government leaders.
City Hall Selfie Day will be held this year on Aug. 15, 2018. The celebration has grown beyond just taking pictures. It’s become about showing the faces of our profession which are as diverse as our communities. It’s become about seizing the day as an opportunity to host an open house at your city hall, library, police station, fire station or public works facility. It’s become about introducing the next generation to local government. It’s become about knocking down our bureaucratic walls to have fun.
In addition to City Hall Selfie Day, we worked hard to begin our Diversity Dashboard project. The ELGL Diversity Dashboard project is about so much more than data. The intent is not to define a new percentage number of local government chief administrative officers, but rather to establish a more complete benchmark we’ve never had before. The data collection portion of the Diversity Dashboard is just the beginning—and if things go as planned, ten years from now the data collection will be just a sliver of the project’s impact.
Some project goals include the creation of a more comprehensive benchmark on where we stand now on diversity in local government. The project will focus on an array of diversity, which is valuable because in order to confirm our collective efforts are working, we have to know where we started. The Diversity Dashboard will also focus on identifying cultures that foster diversity and inclusion and create the tools for other organizations to replicate their efforts. We intend to use the Diversity Dashboard to create a searchable index of organizations based on the strength of their diversity data. And then leverage that data to explore the efforts in those regions, those organizations and those leaders to see how they are creating inclusive cultures. We will launch a full scale ELGL style resource sharing effort to highlight wisdom that works.
The dashboard will change the way the best and brightest in local government find organizations that match their values by providing a searchable database when they are deciding their next career move. During conferences around the country the ELGL team consistently share that the way talented, passionate local government leaders are looking for jobs is changing, and if organizations want to attract and retain this talent, they have to change too. The data available in the Diversity Dashboard will be part of this.
We strive for the Diversity Dashboard to engage future leaders and offer unparalleled connections in the field at a very early career stage. We are building, state by state, a team of young leaders that will go out in to organizations with the expectation that they are going to have an impact.
To learn more about Engaging Local Government Leaders and how you can get involved, visit elgl.org.