We asked our colleagues from across the nation to share their musings about their mothers. It is clear from the response that most everyone learned important life lessons that translate to our day-to-day work in local government! Happy Mother’s Day!

Lori Sassoon, Assistant City Manager, Rancho Cucamonga, CA

My mom encouraged me to go to college and be whatever I wanted to be. Her parents wouldn’t send her to college because they were planning to send her brother because he was the boy. She was successful anyway. I remember she read me a book called “Girls Can Be Anything”, and I believed it. And still do.

Julia Novak, President, The Novak Consulting Group

My Mom, Carmen Dyson, puts everyone else first, she is opening and welcoming to everyone and always my biggest fan. You see, my Mom taught me about Leadership.  We are night and day, and I appreciate and admire people who are different from me because I really just want to be like her. I am so lucky to have her. This picture was taken April 29 at my son’s  College Graduation. She is always cheering others on! That’s what leaders do!

 Wally Bobkiewicz, City Manager, Evanston, IL

My Mom taught me I could accomplish anything. She was supportive of every crazy idea, student government project and going to a college we could never afford to study something called public administration. She always just assumed my success. Only later in life did I realize how special unconditional love and support truly is.

Ted Staton, City Manager, Upper Arlington, OH

My mom was from a small rural town in Western Ohio and was one of five children.  She studied nursing and became a Registered Nurse about the end of WWII.  A few years later she married my father and they immediately started a family that would grow to include seven children – four girls and three boys.  She raised four strong and independent daughters who grew up to represent their gender well.  Of equal importance was the fact that she raised three sons who were taught to value and respect women and who married strong women themselves.  Clearly my father helped but he would frequently admit that he “married up.”

She was clearly a role model – not only for her children and grandchildren-but also for all those who crossed her path.

Leisha Dehart Davis, Professor of Public Administration and Government, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill

This is me and my amazing mother, Peggy Herlong DeHart. She taught me to love learning, to keep an open mind, and to continually seek self-improvement. She is a major part of who I am today. Happy Mother’s Day, Mom!

Heather Geyer, Assistant City Manager, Wheat Ridge, CO

My mother, Karen Vaeth Geyer, taught me many things. She taught me resiliency before we really used that word in local government. She taught me that family is everything. Most important of all, she taught me how to love. And for that I am forever grateful.  This year is my first mother’s day without her and I miss her dearly.

Jan Perkins, ICMA Senior Advisor & Retired City Manager

Betty Perkins was always helping people. She took delight in solving problems and making the world a better place for those around her.  She worked until she was 80 and was constantly thinking about how she could do one more thing for others. She delighted in playing the piano with her family singing next to her, and cooking a meal and inviting everyone over.  When someone accomplished something she was the first to say “hurray!” She was the energizer bunny.  Mom was an amazing role model and I miss her every day.

Bill Fraser, City Manager, Montpellier, VT

My dad died when I was 9 so I grew up as the only child of a single mother.  My mom was an elementary school teacher for 37 years.  In addition to all the usual things one learns from a parent, I learned the importance of being a professional woman and the value of public service as a career.

Pam Weir, Assistant to the City Manager, Goodyear, AZ

My mom, Sandy, demonstrates that like fine wine, women leaders keep getting better with age. I admire her for her dedication to community organizing, love of life-long learning and music, and willingness to extend a helping hand wherever it is needed. She taught me that it is as important to be strong and independent as it is to be silly, and that any day that ends with dessert is a good day.

Tammy Letourneau, Assistant City Manager, Costa Mesa, CA

My wonderful Mom taught me how to be a strong independent woman.  She has always provided me with unconditional love and support in everything that I have done in my life.  She is now doing the same for my children.  She is the best Mom & Grandma there is.

Christine Burns, Village Manager, Spring Lake, MI

My mama.  Where do I start?  My mom is a good ol’ corn-fed farm girl that taught me there is no substitute for hard work.  She lives on the family’s centennial farm in northern Michigan and still works full-time as a beautician, at 72 years of age. She taught me how to balance a checkbook and how to live within my means. She taught me independence…never depend on anybody else to change your tire or your oil; you should know how to do it yourself. She taught me the importance of knowing how to drive a stick-shift.  Never over-promise and under-deliver. Trust your gut; if something doesn’t feel right…it probably isn’t. I hope I’ve passed those same qualities on to my own daughter.

Christa Johnson, Assistant City Manager, Laguna Beach, CA

This is a photo of me and my parents from a few years ago when they visited me for my 70s themed chorus concert. My mom passed away last summer at the youthful age of 78. This photo was from her last visit to Laguna Beach. My mom was a complicated person however I learned from her the value of making people feel welcomed and special. Although she left college early to get married as many women of her generation did, she went back to school as a mother of four young children to finish her degree. And lastly, she worked for several non profits on the Monterey Peninsula and I learned from her the challenges they face and their ability to make a difference in that community.

Julia Burrows, Director, Governing Institute

My mother, Judith Fitzell Heinlein, taught me that anything is possible if you combine hard work and love for others. She worked her way through nursing school in Denver and as a U.S. Air Force officer’s wife, she worked at local hospitals, moved to six states in 10 years, and had four children, each born in a different state. She worked nights for 20 years at Stanford Medical Center, our final “home base,” so she could drive us to school and be with us in the afternoons.  She took care of the first AIDS patients in the 1980s, mentored dozens of nurses and medical students, and worked to make sure all four of us graduated from college debt free. Her service to others with love for her 58 years set the standard for her children and grandchildren to follow. 

Dana Berchman, Chief Digital Officer, Gilbert, AZ

My mom, Marybeth Mason, taught me to be a strong, brave and independent woman, mother and leader. She instilled in me the importance of getting an education and that I must always have the means to take care of myself and have a room and career of my own.

Frank Benest, ICMA Liaison, Next Generation Initiative & Retired City Manager

My mom Rosy was the most influential person in my life. Rosy was a single mom from Lebanon who raised my brother and me without many resources. Rosy was a life-long school teacher who taught me about the value and joy of service to others. She also modeled courage in the pursuit of justice.  I was blessed to have Rosy as my mom.

Donna M. Gayden, City Administrator, Fairbun, GA

My Mom instilled in me that it was our duty to assist others in need. Her lessons throughout the years have position me to be the best City Administrator I can be.

Kari Kent, Assistant City Manager, Mesa, AZ

Picture of my mom, Barbara Molmod and me. Mom, you are a strong woman and a powerful mother. You taught me that one can have a quiet strength that builds people up rather than tearing them down. I have followed in your footsteps to inspire those around me to live life with love, compassion and optimism. By example, you showed me to love my own daughter more than life itself. Happy Mother’s Day!

Jacolyn Thiel, City Engineer, Upper Arlington, OH

These are my daughters from the recent bring your child to work day. My Mom passed away when I was in college, but she pushed me to become the first engineer in my family. In return, I’m exposing my girls to the engineering and construction world to show them the value of their education and the excitement that can come from math and science.

Kendra Davis, Management Analyst, Manhattan Beach, CA

This a pic of me and my mama (Linda) taking a City Hall Selfie in NY, NY! She is always so gracious and generous. More than anything, she taught me (and continues to teach me!) that you eat an elephant one bite at a time. No matter how huge something seems, just do what you can as you can do it, and you’ll make it through.

Lilyan Villarreal, Internal Auditor, Ontario, CA

My mother taught me that it doesn’t matter what society thinks you “should be” doing, you always follow your heart and do what makes you happiest! When she first came from Nicaragua to the US equipped with a degree in tourism obtained from a university in Spain, she was told she would never own a house and would always work in a factory, because that’s what Latinos do here. She went from making $3 an hour as a receptionist to managing a successful travel agency, owning her business, owning several houses and being a proud Meemaw of 3!

Lee Feldman, City Manager, Ft. Lauderdale, FL

I learned that the only one who can tell you “no” is your mom.

Alison Zelms. Deputy City Manager, Mankato, MN

My mom, Alison (Kie) Zelms taught me to be courageous, to do the right thing – not just the easy thing, to treat all people with respect, that being called a “tough cookie” is an honor, and more than anything to be myself…no matter what others think.