Commissioner Valerie Lemmie, Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO), a leading scholar on the subject of public management in enhancing democracy, was inaugurated recently as the second Inclusive Management Fellow of the Coast-to-Coast Inclusive Management Initiative within the Center for Public Administration and Policy (CPAP) and the School for Public and International Affairs (SPIA) at Virginia Tech, National Capital Region.

The announcement was made during the center’s annual Summer Roundtable on Leadership and Administration, co-convened by Anne Khademian, associate program chair, and Colleen Woodard, visiting assistant professor, CPAP, Alexandria.

The CPAP Roundtable series brings together leading scholars, practitioners, students, members of academia, public managers, and participants from the nonprofit and private sectors, stimulates insightful and thoughtful conversation, focuses on the exchange of ideas, and advances the knowledge and understanding of leadership in public administration through the sharing of research and experiences. Roundtable participants have an opportunity to explore the links between theory and practice in an intimate setting of conversation.

As an Inclusive Management Fellow, Lemmie will participate in the Inclusive Management Initiative’s research efforts through interviews and field observation conducted by Khademian and Martha Feldman, professor, University of California, Irvine, as well as doctoral students, and in events sponsored by the initiative, including future roundtables, conferences, forums, and other programs.

“We are honored to have Commissioner Lemmie hold the Inclusive Management Fellowship,” said Khademian. ” Valerie has taken the courageous steps of inclusive leadership throughout her remarkable career of public service. Democracy, as Commissioner Lemmie notes, does not stop at the ballot box. She has devoted her service and scholarship to bringing democracy to the management of the public sector, as well.”

Invited to address the group at the CPAP Roundtable, Lemmie said that an inclusive manager is focused on being inclusive both internally and externally. From an internal perspective, “it’s important to groom leaders who aren’t part of ‘the club,’” she said. This involves engaging with staff members who “aspire to be” leaders and who otherwise might not be selected for leadership development efforts. She described creating mandatory training programs for staff in order to develop skills and orient them toward managing for performance and emphasized the importance of having “space to reflect,” where staff can take a break away from their day-to-day work and learn.

For example, at PUCO, Lemmie has created a small group lunchtime learning program where “anybody who wants to meet with me over lunch can do that.” She often has diverse participants from across the organization participate in these lunches. Lemmie is also an advocate for creating opportunities for staff to grow and learn new skills through internships, fellowship programs, and other initiatives designed to retain valuable staff members.

Lemmie stressed that inclusive managers should be dedicated to creating meaningful interactions internally with colleagues and externally with members of the public. She said that an inclusive manager seeks to develop a “relentless patience” for listening and engaging with others about understanding “the elusive nature of what the public good is,” which “has multiple answers.” This, she said, means making room for the public to participate in the organization’s governance efforts.

As an example, Lemmie cited how Cincinnati police reached out to African-American residents to learn more about police procedures as part of mending frayed relationships following a period of race riots and race-based tensions in the city. She described such efforts as “an art,” noting that “we are learning about democracy every day” in doing such work. These inclusive-based efforts are critical to keeping residents engaged in sustaining viable communities, she said.

Prior to assuming the position of public utilities commissioner, Lemmie was a scholar-in-residence at the Kettering Foundation, a research organization focused on democracy and the strengthening of public life. She has taught at the University of Dayton and Howard University and was a senior fellow at the Center for Excellence in Municipal Management at George Washington University.

She is the immediate past president of the National Academy of Public Administration and, in February 2008, was appointed to serve on the National Civic League Council of Advisors. A published author and speaker on public policy and state regulatory issues, Lemmie earned a bachelor's degree in Political Science and Urban Sociology from the University of Missouri and a master's degree in Urban Affairs and Public Policy Planning from Washington University.

Valerie Lemmie joins Captain Suzanne Englebert, U.S. Coast Guard Commander of Sector Seattle, as the recipient of the Inclusive Management Fellowship.

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