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Institute Provides Continuing Education for Local Officials

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The Institute for Public Administration's training programs benefit local governments, the public and the state

 
Award recipients pose with their plaques.

Academy for Excellence in Local Government Leadership certification recipients Councilmember Rosemary Hardiman (Town of Bethany Beach), Mayor Polly Sierer (City of Newark), Town Manager Kristy Rogers (Town of Milton) and project coordinator John Collier (Town of Milton) pose with IPA Director Dr. Jerome R. Lewis and OSPC Director Constance Holland at the 2017 Delaware Institute for Local Government Leaders.

Its no surprise that the work of local government officials affects your day-to-day life, but what is it that ensures those officials have the resources and qualifications they need to keep things running smoothly for all Delawareans? The answer is a series of professional development and training opportunities for local government orchestrated by the Institute for Public Administration (IPA).

Principal planner Karen Horton wears many hats through her job at the Delaware State Housing Authority (DSHA). As housing is the largest use of developed land in the State of Delaware, Hortons schedule is riddled with appointments, meetings and consultations focused on housing regulations and smart growth, comprehensive town planning, fair housing initiatives and even disaster recovery, all while working to adhere to Delawares state growth management plan.

Despite her demanding schedule, however, Horton didnt hesitate to make time to lend her expertise to Planning 207, one of the many local government-training programs offered through IPA, a research and public service center in the School of Public Policy and Administration. 

Connecting university resources with local government needs

Spearheaded by IPAs Local Government Training Program and closely aligned with the University of Delawares mission to cultivate both learning and the free exchange of ideas, each certificate program capitalizes on IPAs mission to link the research and resources of UD with the management and informational needs of local, county and state governments in Delaware.

The professional development and training opportunities offered through the Local Government Training Program consist of three separate certificate programs: the Delaware Planning Education Program, the Municipal Clerks Certificate Program and the Academy for Excellence in Local Government Leadership, a 24-credit-hour certificate program that serves as an educational response to the professional needs of Delawares local officials. Upon the successful completion of program requirements, participants are granted certificates, designations and awards tied directly to their line of work and bring new resources, tools and lessons learned to their communities.

IPAs Local Government Training Program is a great resource for small towns and local governments throughout the state to ensure that they are well trained and prepared for the challenges that they encounter in their communities, said IPA Policy Scientist and Local Government Training Program Co-Coordinator Sean ONeill, AICP. Throughout its history, IPA has responded to the professional development needs of Delaware's local governments, which is consistent with the central mission of the University of Delaware.

Planning 207: A focus on housing

This falls first training course was Planning 207, a course in the Delaware Planning Education Program that has been offered before but was brought back with a different angle in mind. Titled The Housing Demographic Realignment: Solving the Millennial Puzzle in Delaware, the workshop explored the changing demographics statewide and how those numbers are impacting the housing market.

DSHAs Horton stressed the importance of the current demographic changes in play ultimately affecting the landscape of housing in the future. Millennials will likely have different preferences than the Boomers before them did, but housing regulations havent changed in response, said Horton. We need to start thinking holistically as communitiesnot only the local officials, but the people who live herethat we need to plan for everyone.

Joining Horton in the Planning 207 line-up was David Edgell, AICP, from the Delaware Office of State Planning Coordination (OSPC). As a principal planner and circuit-rider with OSPC, Edgell is responsible for planning and coordinating new policy and real estate developments between state agencies and local towns within Kent County. Sharing insights on the states strategy for tackling housing needs in the future, Edgell stressed the importance of planning in advance for future housing needs, sharing with attendees that by 2050 an additional 177,146 people are expected to be living in Delaware.

Phil McGinnis, managing broker of McGinnis Commercial Real Estate Company in Dover, rounded out Planning 207s instructor roster and complemented the courses objectives by painting a picture of the current state of the Delaware housing market and what that may mean for the future.

Through open discussion, local officials learn a lot from each other, realize theyre not alone in tackling their problems and have an opportunity to network in the most beneficial of ways, said Edgell. Ultimately, this benefits not only them, but their communities and the people of Delaware as a whole.

Former UD student benefits from IPA trainings

Its not just the course instructors speaking of the benefits of IPAs local government trainings. For AECOM planner Savannah Edwards, M.P.A. 17, workshops like Planning 207 have opened doors.

IPAs planning series allows me to continue my education beyond the formal classroom setting. The workshops are an ideal setting for building upon my experiences in the field, said Edwards. As a new professional, these courses are helping me quickly transition into understanding the several facets of a planning career.

Delaware Institute for Local Government Leaders

In cooperation with the National League of Cities, the Delaware League of Local Governments and the universitys Sustainable Coastal Communities Initiative, IPA also plays host to the long-running Delaware Institute for Local Government Leaders (DILGL), a statewide event that addresses major trends and issues facing local governments in Delaware. The institute also serves as the official launch of IPAs local government training programs, which are primarily held from January to June every year.

The 2017 DILGL theme was The Role of Local Governments in Economic Development. Featured speakers included Clarence Anthony, CEO and executive director of the National League of Cities; Cerron Cade, director of the States Division of Small Business, Development and Tourism; Troy Mix, AICP, policy scientist at UDs Institute for Public Administration; and Bert Scoglietti, director of Policy and External Affairs in the State Office of Management and Budget.

Upcoming trainings

A complete listing of local government training courses included in the 20172018 training series is available on the Institute for Public Administrations events calendar.

Article by Chris Kelley.

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