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Pat Vanini: Marking a career in the evolving local government world

Over the course of her career in the public sector, Pat Vanini has seen a lot of change in the local government world, including the evolving role and perception of municipal councils and the increasing participation of women.

Vanini, executive director of the Association of Municipalities of Ontario (AMO) until her recent retirement, shared her thoughts with Municipal World CEO Susan Gardner during a conversation at the organization’s 2019 conference in Ottawa.

Recognition as a Woman of Influence

Vanini also discussed her recent recognition with the Municipal World Women of Influence in Local Government Award, which was presented by Gardner at the conference.

“I’m thrilled. I was a little flabbergasted, but definitely thrilled and very honoured. In my early days, I’m think, ‘What’s going on,’ and I read Municipal World religiously. I still do,” she said. “I like your little push outs every day. It keeps me sharp; I know what’s going on. And this [award] I really do thank you for this. I know exactly where I’m going to put it in my den.”

Looking back on her time in the local government sphere, Vanini notes in the video that she has seen a lot of changes. For municipal governments, it’s been a good – but ongoing – evolution.

“I think people will comment there should be more women; we just need to keep working on that,” she said. “I hope I can do something around that after I retire, even if it is just cheering from the sidelines.”

Local Government Role Continues to Grow

As for the state of municipal government itself, Vanini said she believes it is being seen today as a mature order of government. That role has grown over the years with the “intricacies and the knowledge” of municipal government having grown exponentially.

She pointed to a number of responsibilities that local governments were required to take on – and the corresponding need for councillors to build upon their knowledge bases as well.

“You need to know things … to read your council packages; you have to understand things. I think the role of councillors, the role of municipal governments, it’s just grown,” she said. “I sort of coined the phrase a while ago, ‘Every member of council is a leader. The head of council is just the leader of leaders.’ I think that’s what communities see in their councils.”  MW

✯ Municipal World Insider and Executive Members: You might also be interested in the Sean Meyer article: FCM president inspires women to shape the future. Note that you can now access the complete collection of past articles (and more) from your membership dashboard.

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