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Dr. Marie Peoples: Embracing innovation to drive greater social good

In her role as Deputy County Manager for Coconino County, Arizona, Dr. Marie Peoples is at the forefront of finding innovative solutions to a wide variety of public policy issues. As such, it makes sense she would be so excited about working with the Alliance for Innovation, a group that puts innovation at the centre of everything.

Peoples talks about how the county uses innovation to drive social good in a conversation with Municipal World CEO Susan Gardner at the Alliance’s 2019 Transforming Local Government conference, in Reno, Nevada.

Problem Solving from an Innovative Focus

“There are so many ways to be innovative,” she said. “The way that it plays out through innovation is getting community members involved and trying to do that creatively. Whether its through technology, using shared space, different platforms, we’re really trying to make sure we’re capturing community members’ voices on whether we’re identifying the problems.”

Innovation, she said in the video, plays out for her in terms of hearing the voices and figuring out how the county can take that information and make sure it is doing the thing community members want done.

Peoples admits there is no “silver bullet” yet for capturing that information in a perfectly effective and cost-efficient way. However, the staff in Coconino County are using a variety of tools, including a variety of different social media platforms. But really, they are just trying to engage the public by making sure staff are present at community events.

“It’s an over-used phrase, but not reinventing the wheel,” she said. “Seeing how we can piggyback, if you will, on things that are already occurring within the community and having some of those grassroots efforts bubble up in an authentic way.”

Providing a Platform for Shared Perspectives

Peoples describes herself as still a fairly new participant with the Alliance. However, she praised it for the inspiration it has provided to so many local government professionals across the U.S.

While all municipalities face many of the same complex issues, they present differently in each community. This, Peoples adds, is where the Alliance comes into play.

“For me, the key part is they have been a convenor of all of these individuals. They have launched the platform for people to bring ideas forth and to have these discussions,” she said. “We’re all subject matter experts in our own way. Being able to bring that knowledge together and put it with a group of people that wouldn’t normally share has been really great.”  MW

✯ Municipal World Insider and Executive Members: You might also be interested in the article: From competition to collaboration: Building communities of practice. Note that you can now access the complete collection of past articles (and more) from your membership dashboard.

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