Advancing Municipal Leaders

Jack Cassidy, NCLM Communications Associate

A virtual on-demand education program.

Education has been a top-of-the-list priority for the League for decades. For our mayors and council members, we work to provide both foundational understanding of elected leadership and insight into the ever-changing challenges of the role. Towards legal and human resources issues, our staff is out in the field year round conducting trainings and courses on best practices. Clerks, managers, first responders—no group of local government
public servants goes unnoticed or underserved.

Municipal education is a foremost goal. That will never change. What will evolve, though, is ease of access and breadth of offerings. Towards that end, the League is excited to announce the next phase of our municipal education, Advancing Municipal Leaders, or AML.

Consider it an online university. Launching by the end of 2020 and to be in full swing for 2021, AML is an on-demand, one-stop online shop for any number of educational courses our leaders need to be successful. Subjects include risk management, economic development, advocacy, public good, and COVID-19 recovery.

These curriculums are not selected haphazardly. Rather, they’re the product of the AML Advisory Council, comprised of municipal officials from around the state. Thus, this is education for local leaders, by local leaders.

“Being an elected official myself, it is crucial that we continue to build our skillset, and what I like about this program is that it’s member-driven education,” said Sharon Harker, commissioner for the Town of Beaufort and Chair of the AML Advisory Council. “The members, once they start to experience things in their town and roles as leaders, we may find there’s an opportunity to put out new educational offerings that will help us evolve in those roles.”

The pandemic, in restricting the ability to conduct in-person trainings, has allowed the League to pursue an introductory launch of this online university. And the results are astounding. Since the first live webinar on September 10, there have been 976 registrants for nine AML learning events scheduled so far.

“While we had always envisioned an on-demand component, once COVID hit, we realized that being able to offer online, virtual learning was really the key to making education accessible, relevant, and affordable,” said NCLM Director of Business and Membership Development Jennifer Cohen. “We can meet people where they are. It furthers our mission: working as one, advancing all.”

There will always be in-person trainings, Cohen notes. This virtual evolution, however, expands the offerings in a unique way, and allows for in-house experts to contribute in fields ranging from legal ethics to downtown development.

“What has stood out to me through the classes we’ve done thus far is the level of expertise being offered,” said Vickie Miller, NCLM’s Director of Learning and Development. “The delivery method is new, and I knew our experts were good, but the response has been overwhelmingly positive.”

Complete with this education program is a three-level certification program, which will track progress through the accumulation of credits.

“For those who want to really dig in and take ownership of their municipal education, we’ll be offering a level of service that will allow them to take that deep dive,” Miller said. “This properly recognizes the members that do so.”

To learn more about AML, the 10-member advisory committee, and the courses offered, visit