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Aug 08

President Kelly's Message - August 2018

Posted on August 8, 2018 at 10:17 AM by Denice Cox

My how time flies! It is difficult to believe it has been 60-plus days since we departed the lovely City of Norfolk where Alan Bull, MMC, and our Region II Hosts continuously sought to remind us of the 2018 nautical conference theme “All Hands-on Deck…Global Networking for Shared Success.” It was truly an outstanding conference. There were so many highlights; one hardly knows where to start - from the pre-conference academies, the Athenian Dialogues, the music and food at the All-Conference Event to the roving young musicians at the Annual Banquet, not to mention the General Sessions and the numerous educational sessions; the naval theme emphasis reminded us why we came together for this conference: network, collaborate and communicate. We were encouraged to soak in the knowledge to help us stay on top of the waves and/or weather and the rough seas on our individual voyage. If you have not taken time to look at the conference photos, I recommend a peek by visiting The pictures offer a mere glimpse into the Norfolk conference experience.

On a personal note, I extend my sincere gratitude to members who took the time to offer words of encouragement and showed their support of me in various ways during the conference. Preparation for and attending the Norfolk conference was bittersweet in the wake of my husband’s sudden passing in January. He was looking forward to attending Norfolk, would have enjoyed every moment and likely have talked to everyone in his path. I know he was there in spirit, which strengthened me immensely.

Since Norfolk, there has been no lull in activity centered on IIMC. To begin with, shortly upon returning home, we had an unprecedented resignation of two Region Directors within the same week. We express our appreciation to former Region II Director Heidi Brunt, MMC, New Jersey and former Region VI Director Dan Buchholtz, MMC, Minnesota for their service to IIMC. Both Heidi and Dan were dedicated members of the Board during their tenures. We regret the circumstances that led to their individual decisions but wish them well in all their future endeavors. Following the process for filling Board vacancies outlined in the Constitution, the new Region II Director is Diane Pflugfelder, MMC, Municipal Clerk/Administrator of Liberty, NJ. The new Region VI Director is Audra Etzel, MMC, Deputy Clerk of Rockford, MN. The oath of office will be administered to both during the October Mid-Year Meeting in Little Rock, Arkansas. We extend a hearty welcome to our new Directors.

One conference no more ends than it is time to begin planning for the next. Having said that, there’s Magic in the air in Birmingham, Alabama, the host city for the 2019 Annual Conference. I, along with Executive Director Chris Shalby, Assistant Director of Professional Development Ashley DiBlasi and Event Planner Sharon Ozimek recently visited with the Birmingham Host Committee for an exhaustive site visit. The Host Committee plans to lay out the red-carpet and showcase their amazing southern hospitality. You should start planning now to attend IIMC’s 73rd Annual Conference. The Host Hotel is adjacent to the Birmingham Convention Center. Unless we completely fill the Host Hotel, all conference attendees will be in the same hotel. If, however, we exceed the capacity, the overflow Hotel is just across from the host hotel. Based on initial plans, Birmingham will be a memorable experience in educational sessions and more! You do not want to miss the magic that is in store.

My theme for the year is “Together, WE can!” The word “together” is seemly a simple word; frequently used, but sometimes misinterpreted. According to Webster’s Dictionary, the word “together” is an adverb, meaning “with each other”: “in or into one place, group, mixture, piece, etc.”: “in a close relationship”: “in or into association or relationship”: “by combined action.” In addition, the word “together” can be used as an adjective; defined as “appropriately prepared, organized or balanced”.

When thinking of the word “together” in the context of organizational structure, some may think all members ought to be of like minds; when actually nothing is farther from the truth. There are countless wonderful ideas and suggestions within the hearts and minds of our members that have yet to come forward. Please explore opportunities to share them. Our best future depends on building upon the great accomplishments of our past. Author and historian Edward Hale once said, “Coming together is a beginning; keeping together is progress; working together is success.” Togetherness leads toward unity, mutual respect, cooperation and growth. Remember, “Together, WE can!”
Aug 08

President Kelly's Message - July 2018

Posted on August 8, 2018 at 10:12 AM by Denice Cox

Editor’s Note: This is President Stephanie Carouthers Kelly’s speech from the Annual Business Meeting on Wednesday, May 23, 2018, Norfolk, Virginia.

Good morning!

A man came in late for work one day for the second time that week. His boss called him into her office and said, “What’s your excuse this time?” He shrugged and said, “My clock didn’t go off and I overslept.” She replied, “You could at least tell me something I haven’t heard before.” He replied, “You look lovely today.” But seriously, you do look lovely this morning.

First, I give honor to God, without whom I wouldn’t even be here today. I want to recognize a few special people right off --- I thank my Deputy Clerk Emily Kunze, my Office Manager Jeannine Crump, my mother who has been and continues to be the ROCK in my life; my City Manager Marcus Jones, who promised me he’d be here, no matter what --- and he is. I want to thank IIMC Past President, Jean Bailey, for administering my oath. I thought it only fitting to ask Jean to do the honor as she is the second North Carolina Clerk elected as IIMC President and now, I have the distinct honor of being the third. How amazing is that? I want to thank retired Institute Director Fleming Bell, North Carolina League of Municipalities representatives Athena Banks and John Phelps, and all my fellow North Carolina Clerks who traveled to Norfolk, some of whom are retired and others attending their first IIMC Conference, to show their love and support. You have no idea how your presence in such a large number strengthens me. Tina Turner asked ---“What’s Love Got to Do With It?” Well, I say, EVERYTHING!

I’ve thought about this moment for two years. And I was always sure that my husband Charles Kelly would be here with me, supporting my dreams and my goals for this Organization like he always did. However, on January 12, he went to be with the Lord. So, it’s just me up here, although I know he’s here in spirit, and has been by side the entire trip helping me do my very best, making him proud. Thank you, Mr. Kelly!

In May of 1998, I was on a tram at Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport, totally nervous and excited, thinking I may not make it to my departure gate for the plane to Mobile, Alabama to attend my first IIMC Annual Conference. But, I made it! Me and several other North Carolina Clerks converged upon this Gulf city eager and ready to enjoy all the Conference had to offer.

My goosebumps still get goosebumps remembering the parade of flags for the first time and listening to the national anthems from all of our member countries. I recall being spellbound by the hordes of accomplished Clerks---EVERYWHERE.

And, in the educational sessions, I felt I couldn’t write fast enough to get all the notes from the presenters to take back home in hopes of implementing everything I learned at the Conference.

I can still hear the toe-tapping music and can almost taste those spectacular colossal shrimp, straight from the Gulf of Mexico. I, and a few others, tried our best to outdo one another in eating as many as we could hold! Remember Eva?

At some point during the Conference, I introduced myself to Host Clerk Glenda Morgan. She graciously took me by the hand, looked me straight in the eyes and said, “I hope this won’t be your last (conference).” It sure wasn’t!

I remember meeting new colleagues from larger and smaller municipalities, whose jobs were completely different from mine, yet we had a common goal. We still do. They are: To share, network, learn and lead.

Now, it’s 20 years later, and by Grace, here I am, here WE are---bigger, stronger, smarter and ready to make a difference.

Members of the International Institute of Municipal Clerks: as your new President, I pledge to stand by IIMC’s primary purpose to provide education and professional development programs and opportunities for its members. As your President, IIMC’s purpose will remain front and center as will the fact that each Board decision made impacts all of us individually and collectively. I also pledge to do my best to meet as many of you as possible. If the members cannot come to IIMC, I hope that I can bring the face of IIMC to them.

My focus or theme during my presidency, and, hopefully, long after, is “Together, WE can!”

Will you say it with me? “Together, WE can!”

Excellent! Hold that in your hearts. Okay?

Although our Organization has been through some dark days, it’s a new day! The sun shines brightly upon our Organization today. We are 14,500 members strong and as the Budget Chairperson shared earlier, fiscally strong as well. While I believe it is not beneficial to dwell on the past, we have to occasionally remind ourselves where we came from in order to guarantee we continue marching forward. There are now policies in place to safeguard the Organization from anything not deemed in the Organization’s best interest. However, we should not become lax but always mindful of the fact that we are a membership-driven Organization. All decisions and policies tie right back into the members ---- that’s the “WE.” The following statements were followed by President Kelly saying Together, and the audience responding with WE can (TWC):

1. TWC - Always look toward the future of IIMC. Our continued success as an organization demands this.

2. TWC - Strengthen and grow a more diverse and inclusive IIMC; it’s leadership, membership and committees. When we intentionally bring together individuals from different backgrounds, with different experiences and perspectives, we all succeed in achieving our shared goals.

3. TWC - Remove any barriers whether actual or perceived, that may discourage members from becoming involved in their organization. This makes for a healthier and more vibrant organization where everyone feels welcome and valued.

4. TWC - Encourage effective communication amongst members and regions. Intentional and deliberate communication are good. Members feel well informed on important issues and are able to process facts rather fiction and/or assumptions.

5. TWC - Assess the Organization’s current policies and practices. This should be ongoing as a proactive approach to managing the Organization.

6. TWC - Explore opportunities to work with associations to encourage and develop members within our regions that they may consider moving into leadership within their states, regions and IIMC.

7. TWC - Strengthen IIMC’s partnership with the IIMC Foundation.

8. TWC - Encourage the IIMC Foundation to approve policies that align with IIMC’s efforts concerning diversity and inclusivity of its members.

We, as members of IIMC, are a team. We work together. We excel together. We succeed together. We can bring about change, together. We might not always agree nor readily understand one another. But, as professional Clerks who share a love for IIMC, we belong together. And, as has been said time and time again --- “United we stand, divided we fall.” In thinking about this most famous quote, the relevance to IIMC is best demonstrated in one of Aesop’s Greek stories entitled, “The Bundle of Sticks.” This short fable tells of a man whose sons often quarrel among themselves. To show them the benefit of working together, he brings them a bundle of sticks. He asks them to break the bundle of sticks. As expected, the brothers cannot break the sticks when they are bundled together. However, they can easily be broken individually. The moral of this story is written:

“My sons, if you are of one mind, and unite to assist each other, you will be as the bundle, uninjured by all the attempts of your enemies; but if you are divided among yourselves, you will be broken as easily as these sticks.”

Even though this story dates back to 6th Century B.C., during the days of Aesop, we can very easily see its relevance for us today; not only within the confines of these walls, but very much in our daily lives and certainly within our communities as well. Not to lose focus on my theme this morning but wouldn’t it be nice if we approached the prickly situations and relationships with this simple yet powerful phrase in mind? “United we stand…”

Sometime in the near future, you should expect to receive a membership satisfaction survey from IIMC. I’m making a special request -- Would you each take approximately five minutes, to answer the five to eight questions? We don’t presume we’re getting it right 365 days of the year. And, since this is a membership driven Organization---our Organization --- You should be given the opportunity to let the Board of Directors know what IIMC is doing right. Likewise, it’s even more important for them to know if we’re missing the mark. This will be an opportunity for you to offer your opinion, to provide input. The information gleaned from the survey will be compiled and presented to the Board of Directors for use in developing IIMC’s new three-year strategic plan during its October midyear Board Meeting.

This year, I want all of us to go home inspired, educated, and passionate about our jobs as professional Clerks. How can we be better role models for people inside and outside our organizations? How can we rise above the negativity and divisiveness that we see and hear all around us? Do we have to be a part of that? Or, can we be agents of change? Can we, as professional Clerks, do as all good parents do---model the good behavior we want to see in others?

We’re linked together – like a new chain-linked fence. We bring our hearts and souls with us and go home from each Conference feeling full. Feeling inspired. Feeling positive, ready to make a difference. One-on-one. Day-by-day. Heart-to-heart. No matter what else is happening in the world, together, we are bigger and stronger than all of that. Our goal as members of this premier Organization and as citizens of the communities we serve is to first visualize a better day, and then do all within our power to make a difference wherever we can. We know there’s strength in numbers, so Together, WE can. We can effect positive change ---in IIMC, in our jobs, in our communities, and within ourselves.

In conclusion, I’m deeply honored to serve as your President. I pledge to do my absolute best. Please contact me with your questions, issues or concerns because this is your Organization---I’m here to serve you. And, Together, WE can!
Stephanie Carouthers Kelly, MMC
IIMC President 2018-2019
Jul 06

President Kayser's Message - May 2018

Posted on July 6, 2018 at 3:01 PM by Denice Cox

May 2018 has finally arrived, and the 2018 Conference in Norfolk is just weeks away. Staff and the Host Committee have been working tirelessly to ensure that we all have a great Conference. Let me encourage you to download the IIMC Conference App for it is an awesome tool -- everything Conference is in the palm of your hands. It will save you time and enhance your Conference experience.

When you are planning your time at the Conference, along with the education sessions, be sure to plan on attending all the activities: Opening Ceremonies, the All-Conference event, the Annual Business meeting and Annual Banquet and your Region meeting and dinner. The networking opportunities at these events coupled with the education sessions will enhance your experience and expand your network of contacts. There is a new activity at the Conference this year – Conference Bingo. This is an opportunity to meet new people and, perhaps, win a complimentary registration to the 2019 Conference in Birmingham, Alabama. Of course, we couldn’t put on the Conference without the support of our sponsors and vendors. Please take a moment to thank them. Stop by the exhibit hall and visit the vendors. You may already be using some of their products; however, there could always be new innovation or service that could improve and make your city more efficient.

In the Exhibit Hall, be sure to visit the International Relations booth to hear about what is going on in Regions X and XI. They will have information about the 2019 Study Abroad Program and Symposium that will be held in June in the United Kingdom. That is something you will want to participate in if you can. The Symposium and Study Abroad Program are outstanding opportunities to learn and network with your international colleagues.

Let’s not forget the IIMC Foundation. There will be plenty of opportunities to support the Foundation at the Conference – the silent auction, 50/50 drawings and the Hawaii Fundraiser. The silent auction has two ways to participate - bring an item to donate or to bid on. All the funds raised go right back into Clerk education, in ways of scholarships and grants.

We are happy to announce that IIMC Gives Back returns. This year we are partnering with the Ronald McDonald House Charities of Norfolk, Virginia. On the IIMC App you will find a wish list of items, some of which you could bring with you or, perhaps, pick up locally. The Charity will have a booth in the exhibit hall to drop off your items and to discover more about the good work they do. And, IIMC is excited to help facilitate this great cause.

It is going to be a great Conference, and I look forward to seeing everyone there.

In April I travelled to the Alberta Municipal Clerks Conference in beautiful Canmore, Alberta. The snow was on the mountains and the sky was a perfect blue, and the Alberta Clerks were warm and welcoming. We had great session on policy writing, stopping gossip in the workplace and a great session on leadership with Drew Dudley. We also heard from the Alberta Ombudsman’s Office, an interesting office in the Provincial Government that has recently been given some oversight in the municipal realm. It was an inspiring conference and this Texas girl took away some excellent tips and strategies, new friends and some gorgeous mountain pictures.

As I have travelled this year as your President, I have learned something new or heard a unique idea at every conference I’ve attended that I could take home to Fort Worth. We all have different jobs and titles for certain, but we are truly more alike than we are different, and we are all truly public servants.

That thought brings me back to the Conference. Come ready to learn, ready to meet new people who will become new friends and be ready to expand your horizons. You never know what you may discover.

See you in Norfolk.

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