Comments submitted by Martina Böhringer and Lisa Krauss, international Interns from Germany
We are in a German degree program to become civil servants. Part of this is the opportunity to participate in a three-month internship abroad to learn more about different ways of administration and to improve our social and language skills.
During this internship we had the chance to attend the Kansas City / County Management Conference 2017 in Lawrence.
The occasion to combine different views on administration helped us to learn more about American government and about “Leading through Change.” After a brief introduction about the election last November, Dr. Mark Funkhouser pointed out seven different statements essential for innovative cities which will help them to realize changes. Following his presentation, there was a great panel discussion about the same matter.
We also learned that communication with citizens is a big part of success. This was touched on during the first panel and was the main topic of a later panel discussion about “In the Absence of (Local) Newspapers,” too. The information exchange between local government and the citizens is a general challenge, and we could learn a lot for our German cities.
The presentation by Dr. Heather Getha-Taylor about “The Balancing Act of Internal and External Community Building” was interactive and showed different models which improve communication inside the administration and create leadership. We have learned multiple models in our German degree program, and through the conference presentation we were able to deepen our knowledge and see a different point of view. Within the panel discussion: “Lessons from the Military: Community Building” we acquired how to communicate in difficult situations.
The Kansas City / County Management Conference 2017 in Lawrence was a great opportunity to combine the German and the American local governments and to expand our knowledge about leadership in different situations.