From Kalamazoo to Ann Arbor and Beyond!

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By Christian Wuerth

2017 was the first full year in which the Professional Development Committee (PDC) took the lead on planning the Winter Institute and Summer Workshop. A little over a year ago, as part of the discussions related to planning for 2017, Amanda Opalewski, Risk Management Coordinator for Sterling Heights, suggested using a series of upcoming conferences to build upon several topics and skills – in addition to the opportunity to share stories from members about their communities’ successes.

The 2017 Winter Institute in Kalamazoo, and its theme of “Back to Foundations,” was used as an opportunity to take a big picture view of topics that serve as the foundation for much of the work we do as professionals – highlighted by a series of thought-provoking discussions led by Chuck Marohn from Strong Towns. The 2017 Summer Workshop in Muskegon,“Building Better Municipal Executives,” then served as the first in a series of three events focusing on strengthening skills and sharing information to help our members better lead in their communities.Topics ranged from communication and community engagement to OPEB. We also had the opportunity to see some of the great work being done under the leadership of Frank Peterson and his team in Muskegon.

The second event in this series is the upcoming 2018 Winter Institute in Ann Arbor, with the theme of “Building Better Organizations: Meeting the Challenges of the Changing Landscape of Municipal Management”. As I write this, the planning committee is putting the final pieces together on an outstanding program that will focus on ways our members can strengthen their organization through talent development, mitigating risks, and preparing for future financial and infrastructure needs. Registration is now live for this event, and hotel registrations can be made at the discounted rate through Jan. 16 (or until sold out). Visit for details and registration.

The series will close out with the 2018 Summer Workshop in Charlevoix (Save the dates: July 17 20) with the theme of “Building Better Communities.” This workshop is already in the early planning stages and is going to be a fantastic event in a beautiful setting. Stay tuned for more details in early 2018.

As a final note for 2017, I would like to once again thank Jim Ritsema in Kalamazoo and Frank Peterson in Muskegon for serving as incredible and gracious hosts for our conferences in 2017. Their hospitality and passion for the communities they serve has set the bar high for future conference destinations. Also, thank you to those who served on planning committees, submitted proposals for sessions, or sponsored these events. 2017 was a great year for MME Professional Development events and many of these same individuals, sponsors, and partners are stepping up to make sure 2018 builds upon this success.

Christian Wuerth 
Village Manager, Milford

Christian Wuerth has served as the village manager of Milford since 2014. He began his career in local government as a management intern with the City of Birmingham, Michigan. Over the next 14 years, he moved up to other positions within the city, including management analyst and assistant to the city manager. You may reach him at 248-684-1515 or