Meet Arizona City/County Management Association (ACMA) President, Nicole Lance

Please tell us a little about your background.
I'm a river rat born and raised in Lake Havasu City. Thanks to my desert upbringing, I'm pretty much ill-equipped to live anywhere else (and heck, even in the cold parts of AZ!), so I see myself as a "lifer" here in Arizona. I discovered the world of local government back in 2006 and spent five years with the City of Maricopa working on everything from land annexations to strategic planning to a stint as the parks/recreation/library/special events director along with budget and finance. From there I moved to the Town of Gilbert and enjoyed a little more than four years there working in the budget/financial planning division and serving as an assistant to the town manager and also the interim public works director before moving on to my current role as the deputy city manager of Surprise. I love to hike with my dog, Nala, and we even take my husband, Sean, along sometimes, too! I'm also a proud stepmom to a 16-year-old, Myka, who helped me learn to appreciate the value of deep breathing while we were teaching her how to drive.

What prompted you to go into the city manager profession?
I was working for a non-profit after my undergrad, and Senator Harry Mitchell was active where I worked. He approached me one day and said, "Niki, what are you doing with your life?" I told him I was trying to figure it out, and he said he thought I would be good in city management. He put me in touch with Mike Hutchinson, who was the city manager of Mesa at the time, and I went and visited him at city hall to learn more about the profession. From there, I met Jeff Kulaga who was the assistant city manager in Tempe, and Jeff shared that what he loved about local government was that from the time we get up in the morning to when we drive home and go back to bed in the evening, most of what we've touched or interacted with or used all day long was because of local government. I loved - and still love - that idea. I especially thrive off of helping others succeed, and city management is a way to help empower others to do great things that have lasting, beneficial impacts for our communities.

Please tell us about your history and involvement with ACMA.
I joined ACMA when I first started in Maricopa and attended my first conference in February of 2007. I've served on conference planning committees and chaired the winter conference, and I also participated in the ad-hoc ethics committee and also a finance committee review in the last few years. After joining the board last year, the opportunity arose to serve as president, and I have been very humbled and also excited to step into this role. I am grateful to have the support of the Surprise management team and council to serve in this capacity. I have consistently found ACMA to be one of the most welcoming groups of people filled with members who genuinely want to help others succeed, and I appreciate the authentic commitment of our membership to upholding the ethical tenets of our profession as we continue to develop and promote strong leadership at the municipal and county levels.

What do you hope to accomplish in your year as President of ACMA?
There are four key areas I've identified: membership value and growth, financial sustainability, sponsorship cultivation, and active alignment with ICMA initiatives. First and foremost, I want to continue the precedent set by previous administrations of emphasizing value for our members, both current and future. We have an obligation to not only provide the highest return on investment for our existing members but to consistently grow our membership base through new offerings that attract new members and also ensure attraction of next generation and career-transition leaders. Ongoing financial sustainability is also critical for our organization, and I hope to accomplish the completion of financial policies and actions that continue to solidify and establish a strong and sustainable financial infrastructure for the organization. A third area of focus is to work with our sponsors to ensure we are optimizing their investment and continuing to grow our sponsor base. Finally, ICMA President Pat Martel has identified inclusivity and diversity as a key part of her platform, and I hope to continue to align with ICMA initiatives, specifically by promoting the success of the AZ chapter of Women Leading Government (WLG). And of course, I want to get out and meet with as many of our members as possible to find out how we can continue to make ACMA a great organization!

League of Arizona Cities and Towns
1820 W. Washington St.
Phoenix, AZ  85007
Phone: 602-258-5786
Fax: 602-253-3874

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