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IAMMA SPOTLIGHT: Sharon Tanner, Assistant Village Manager, Village of Glencoe

Sharon Tanner
Assistant Village Manager
Village of Glencoe

Journey into the profession:

It’s a winding one! Steve Jobs once said that you can’t connect the dots looking forward, you can only connect them looking backward. And that’s definitely true for my journey into the profession.

In hindsight, I can clearly see that my dots started connecting a long time ago – when I was in high school, my grandfather taught me to believe that government can do good things, especially at the local level. I went to Saint Louis University for undergraduate, where teaching students to be people for others was part of the University’s mission. I never imagined a career in anything but government and thought that law school would be my path into a government career, but by the time I actually sat for the LSAT my senior year, I was pretty sure that a career in law wasn’t for me. I took some time after undergrad and worked in the private sector where I learned a lot but didn’t feel fulfilled – that compelled me to think more seriously about graduate programs. When I enrolled in NIU’s MPA program, I still didn’t think I’d end up in local government. It was during my internship at the Village of Hoffman Estates where my mentors – Village Manager Jim Norris and Deputy Village Manager Dan O’Malley – truly opened my eyes to the impact that local government has in a community and why it’s a great profession. My internship in Hoffman Estates was my springboard into local government, and from there, I worked in the Village of Glenview, where I had incredible growth opportunities and learned a tremendous amount by holding positions in three different departments (Village Manager’s Office, Human Resources, Public Works). Now, I serve as Assistant Village Manager in Glencoe, where we have an amazing team that’s constantly raising the bar – it’s very exciting and rewarding.

I think it’s important to share that there’s no one single path in local government – when I started in local government, a very tradition path was analyst, to assistant to, to manager. That’s a great path, and there are other great paths, too – I’m energize by seeing more local government professionals move into different roles in the manager’s office and operating departments.

How did you become involved with IAMMA, and overall what did you get out of your experience with IAMMA?:

I became involved with IAMMA as an intern, when NIU required interns to attend a certain number of professional development events each semester. What I got out of that was much more than meeting a school requirement – IAMMA is where many of my lasting professional relationships were formed and where I learned how amazing it is to be able to grow a network of colleagues who truly support and help each other in our jobs.

What committees were you involved with in IAMMA?

I served on IAMMA’s Promote the Profession Committee several years ago, which aimed to increase awareness of local government management as a career path.

Why is local government a good career path?

So many great reasons – being part of good government, shaping communities, doing work that’s tangible in peoples’ day to day lives. I loved my hometown growing up, and what drives me is that I want people to love their hometowns – whatever “hometown” means to them. It’s an amazing honor and responsibility to impact the place people choose as their home.

Fun fact about yourself:

I was on the Bozo Show when I was in kindergarten and got picked for the Grand Prize Game! Four-year-old Sharon missed bucket 3 and didn’t win the Schwinn bike or the brand new $50 bill, but it was such a fun and special memory.

If you could give one piece of advice to future local government leaders it would be….

Get out of your comfort zone. Raise your hand and ask to work on a project that you don’t know much about (and make it your mission to get up to speed!), apply for a position in a different department, seek opportunities to learn from others in local government and in other industries – then use what you’ve learned to make your community and organization better.




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