BYU ICMA Chapter Wins Best Event Contest

PROVO, Utah – Aug 08, 2022 – The International City/County Management Association (ICMA), the leading organization for current and future local-government professionals, recently named the ICMA chapter at the BYU Marriott School of Business as the second-place winner of the 2022 Student Chapter Best Event Contest. 

The ICMA Student Chapter Best Event Contest is an annual contest hosted by ICMA. The ICMA Student Chapter Best Event Contest submissions are judged on how well the event relates to and promotes local-government management, community and student involvement, and impact. 

For the contest, each student chapter submits a 500-word summation of the students’ favorite chapter event from the previous academic year. This year BYU Marriott's MPA chapter chose to talk about its International Local Government Event, which was held on March 1, 2022, over Zoom.

Many local-government-sector students in the MPA program are international students, so the leaders of the chapter made a goal to hold an event where students could learn more about international local governments. 

The main speaker of this event was Salvador Torres, who is the executive director of ICMA Mexico. MPA students met Torres at the 2021 ICMA conference and were impressed by his experiences establishing a new city government in the city of San Quintin, Mexico. Torres expressed a desire to remain connected to students in the chapter, and a year later, students in the MPA program reached out and invited him to speak at their event. 

Since the event was a webinar, the chapter's students also invited members of chapters across the western United States to join. Additionally, many MPA students convened at a watch party hosted by Rob Christensen, director of the MPA program and a professor of local government. 

Student participants loved the international aspect of the webinar, which was unique to this event. “After joining the ICMA last September, I noticed that the organization’s articles and conferences tended to be American centered,” says Michael Sanders, a second-year BYU Marriott MPA student from Hughson, California. “I loved interacting with an international manager and learning about his story with local-government management from a Mexican perspective. The international component of the ICMA encourages us to look beyond borders and collaborate to help provide the best services to our residents.”

At the webinar, Torres shared his experiences working for a local government in Mexico. He also discussed how he strives to maintain ethical conduct within his organizations, even though he often deals with different forms of corruption. “You can always choose what type of local-government administrator you will become,” he told the students. “Choose to be a good one.” 

His message of integrity resonated with event attendees. “This event was amazing because it combined two things that are the hallmarks of the MPA program: local government and a focus on ethics,” says Christensen. “We heard firsthand how to navigate corrupt environments relative to local governments while still providing a high level of service and innovation.”

The students also appreciated Salvador’s insights about how he protects his integrity as a government leader. “Salvador provided a unique perspective about how to create and maintain a strong ethical culture in an environment that faces frequent unethical behavior,” said Robert Aldous, a 2022 MPA graduate who served as president of BYU Marriott's MPA ICMA chapter last year and helped organize the event.

“These insights were helpful for us as students since many of us may lead a team or organization that previously had elements of an unethical culture,” he continues. “Salvador’s insights elevated my vision for the city management profession and helped me to better understand the challenges and opportunities that local-government professionals face in other countries."

Overall, this event reinforced principles of local government that students learn in the program while also expanding their vision and encouraging them to try new ideas. “I realized how incredibly innovative local-government management is,” says Sanders. “I am grateful to be a part of the MPA program at BYU Marriott which encourages us to be innovative when solving problems. I encourage anyone who wants to make a difference in their community to consider local government as a career path.”

BYU MPA ICMA students chose the webinar,
BYU MPA ICMA students chose the webinar, "How to Create a New Form of Municipal Government & How to Create and Maintain an Ethical Culture," as their favorite event for the ICMA Student Chapter Best Event Contest.
Salvador Torres shared his experiences establishing a new city government in San Quintin, Mexico.
Salvador Torres shared his experiences establishing a new city government in San Quintin, Mexico.

Media Contact: Chad Little (801) 422-1512
Writer: Sarah Calvert