top of page




By Elizabeth Steward, Vice President Marketing & Research, Envisio

When I started the Inspirational Women in Local Government series four years ago, it stemmed from a desire to showcase women who were doing truly innovative and transformative work in local government.


I had three goals in mind:


·        To CELEBRATE women doing innovative and transformative work in local government.

·        To ELEVATE more women as role models in local government


·        And to EDUCATE through exploration of individual professional and personal journeys.

It sounds wildly grandiose, I know. But I am a big believer in the importance of having more visible female role models in industries where women are underrepresented in leadership – including local government. Truthfully, my thoughts were nowhere near that organized and lofty in the beginning (inspiration for the series came to me in that well-known and respected ideation space… the shower). But four years of reflection and refinement have given me the clarity to better articulate what I was hoping to achieve.


It's no secret that local government, as a sector, is struggling to reach gender parity at the highest levels of leadership. But in analyzing our own customer base at Envisio, it became clear that women are underrepresented in top city and county management roles and yet are driving a significant amount of the innovation work in local governments.


With that in mind, I wanted to learn from these amazing women and to give others the opportunity to share in those learnings. My goal was to shine a light on their work, explore their personal and professional journeys, and allow for an authentic conversation where others could recognize themselves in the experiences shared.


And so it was, from these humble (and soapy) beginnings, that the Inspirational Women in Local Government series was born in 2021. To see those first three years of the women we selected, and link back to the interviews, click here.


It had a simple premise: Four to five written conversations with women chosen for their transformative work in local government – either in organizational performance, through leading or developing innovative community programs, or inspirational people development.


They would take the form more of a conversation-over-tea than the formal lists of impressive accomplishments that usually accompany a more traditional award.


Are we there yet?


While this series is intended to be a celebratory and joyful learning experience, looking back over the stories of the fourteen women profiled to date, they also touch on loss, pain, and struggle.


I am so grateful to each of them for sharing these deeply personal stories. 


In 2021, as I sat by myself in an otherwise empty office building inviting the first five women to be profiled, we were, as a global community, trying to find our way out of the darkness of the pandemic. 


Just about everyone had their own stories of grief, sacrifice, mental health battles, and other hardships. Many people’s lives are and were irrevocably changed.


But, as I wrote back in 2022, any crisis only magnifies existing inequalities, and women were disproportionately impacted by the pandemic.


It was near-impossible not to acknowledge and reflect on some of those personal experiences and socioeconomic trends in the profile pieces of the series – both during the pandemic and in the tough transitional couple of years that followed.


This year, we wanted to be a little more forward-looking and tie in more closely with the International Women’s Day theme from the UN: Invest in Women: Accelerate Progress.


So, as well as exploring personal journeys and achievements, we are asking our 2024 honorees about formal and informal investments that have been made in them and in their careers. We talk about the people who made investments in them at various points in their careers and the difference it made. Ways in which they have invested in themselves and are investing in others. And, of course, places to find mentorship, education, and support.


A new home for Inspirational Women


Inspirational Women in Local Government started out on the Envisio blog.


And each year, an increasing number of people wrote to me. Usually, they write to tell me that they enjoyed the series, or that they cheered when they recognized one of the women showcased. Upliftingly, many people wanted to know how to nominate someone that inspired them–their boss, colleague, Police Chief, Mayor, and so on.


Of course, a few folks wrote to tell me to get off my soapbox (in a possible misreading of the shower origins story), with lots of exclamations marks and coupled with less wholesome political oration metaphors than I’m suggesting.


But, even so, the series has grown considerably in readership and reach over the years. My team and I knew it was time for a new home with a more open nomination process. And while the series was never intended to promote a product, living on a corporate blog was also limiting.


I am delighted that Barrett & Greene will be that new home going forward. Katherine Barrett and Richard Greene don’t require much of an introduction, and I can’t think of a more capable and appropriate set of hands. They are experienced journalists, gifted writers, and considerate, curious, and empathic interviewers. I am thrilled that they are writing the profiles of our honorees this year. 


This series is also partnered with the Alliance for Innovation. Interim Executive Director, Ron Holifield, has been a key architect and advocate for the 2024 series. If you know Ron, you will be able to perfectly picture the moment when his eyes lit up and he proclaimed: “Let’s do something amazing.”


Well, one of those amazing things was to bring on board Pam Antil and the League of Women in Government. I’m so grateful to Pam for her support and thoughtful approach to the nominations. In a year where we are putting a particular focus on investment in women, the League of Women in Government couldn’t be a better partner and advocate.


The four honorees for 2024 were nominated and selected by our three organizations - Envisio, the Alliance for Innovation, and the League of Women in Government. 


You will meet the four women over the course of the next month – one per week, every Thursday beginning on March 7, the day before International Women’s Day.


The goals of the series remain the same: to celebrate, elevate, and educate.


Research tells us that same-gender role models matter, because they inspire others to follow in their footsteps, instill confidence and courage, and provide future generations with examples of how to get there.


The first National Woman's Day was observed in the United States on this very day 115 years ago – February 28, 1909. It was designated in honor of the previous year’s garment workers' strike in New York, where women protested against their working conditions.


It’s because of early role models and trailblazers like these that we have a path to follow at all.


I hope you find the series joyful and uplifting -- that you read about someone who speaks to you and that you will invest some time to learn and be inspired.


Happy Women’s History Month and International Women’s Day.


#InspirationalWomen #InspirationalWomenInLocalGovernment #WomenInGovernment #Envisio #LeagueofWomenInGovernment #AllianceForInnovation #Barrett&Greene #LocalGovernmentManagement #LocalGovernmentInnovation #WomenAndInnovation #WomenAndGovernmentTransformation #NationalWomen’sDay #InvestingInWomen #FemaleRoleModels #ElizabethSteward #PamAntil #RonHolifield #FirstNationalWoman’sDay



bottom of page