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A conversation with Pam Davis: CivicPRIDE, innovation, being a local government evangelist

Pam Davis is a member of the Alliance for Innovation Board of Directors, an employee of the City of Boulder, Colorado, and heads up the organization CivicPRIDE, which all feeds into her self-described status as a “local government evangelist.”

Davis sat down with Municipal World CEO Susan Gardner during the 2019 Transforming Local Government Conference (TLG) in Reno, Nevada. Davis shared her thoughts on a variety of topics, including where she first gained her appreciation for local government.

Early experience with government policy

Davis came out in high school and was working to establish a gay-straight alliance club when she was given her first glimpse into the power of local government. When she “ran into some trouble” starting the club in her school, Davis began researching what protections existed for LGBTQ students. As it turns out, the Equal Access Act (1984) – a U.S. federal policy that says extra-curricular activities in schools can’t be discriminated against based on what the nature of the club happens to be – provided the support she needed.

“That was really a pivotal moment for me in all kinds of ways. Here I was this 16-year-old in Arizona with some friends and because this law was on the books, we were able to do something we wanted to do,” she said. “It struck me how if we work together collectively, we all thrive more than when we isolate ourselves and we don’t work together. It was really what sparked my interest in being involved in government more generally.”

CivicPRIDE, local government: changing people’s lives

Since then, Davis has graduated from Arizona State University with a Masters’ degree in public administration, moved from an internship with the Alliance for Innovation (which annually puts on TLG) to being a member of the board, and taking the lead at CivicPRIDE, which is a networking organization for LGBTQ government professionals and their straight allies.

Although CivicPRIDE was “born between 2014 and 2015,” the organization has made significant strides toward becoming a fixture of the local government scene.

“When I started to think about the natural evolution (of CivicPRIDE), what really struck me was the need for the organization to come out of the closet a bit. The difference in five years from being almost invisible to where we are now … it’s just really special and sort of mind blowing,” Davis said. “We have a line I heard quite a bit … you cannot be what you cannot see. Just this notion of by stepping out and being visible, you can really change people’s lives.”  MW

✯ Municipal World Insider and Executive Members: You might also be interested in the article: Activating diversity and inclusion in Vernon, B.C. Note that you can now access the complete collection of past articles (and more) from your membership dashboard.


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