Australian recipient of the LG Professionals Australia International Professional Exchange Program
Wow! What can I say? I’m so excited to have been selected for this incredible opportunity!
My first impression was one of awe. I clicked the link to the LG Professionals Australia Resource Hub, and saw an article introducing us to the American recipient, Dr Marie Peoples, Chief Health Officer for Coconino County. Marie is responsible for 125 staff. That's WAY more staff than are even employed at Dorset Council – visiting an organisation of that size is going to be an enormous contrast.
The first thing that jumped out was that the county manages the Sheriff’s Office, and has considerable involvement in community development, services and recreation. I checked out Marie’s area, and realised public health services managed by the Coconino County far surpass anything we offer locally. Local government in the US seems to provide numerous community services either managed by other organisations in Australia or, in some cases, not offered at all. It will be interesting to find out more.
Getting there is going to be a bit of a mission – 6:30 am departure from Launceston on Thursday 22 September (via Melbourne), to arrive in Los Angeles at 6:35 am on Thursday 22 September. Kind of strange to realise I’ll be in the air for nearly 16 hours, but will arrive in the US only 5 minutes after originally departing Tasmania! I was excited to be gaining a whole day until I realised it would take me three days of travelling to get home again. There’ll be exactly 12 hours and 5 minutes to kill in LA (ideas anyone??), before flying on to Kansas City for the first part of the exchange – the ICMA Annual Conference, which kicks off on Saturday 24 September.
The ICMA Annual Conference looks really impressive – they sure know how to put on an event in the US, with plenty of sessions to choose from and loads of social opportunities. I will meet up with Marie there, before travelling on to Coconino County. I have chatted to Marie via Skype and discovered they host 2-3 professionals each year, although this is the first time they’ve hosted anyone from Australia. Marie’s put together an action-packed itinerary with tours of public works and facilities, meetings with the Board of Supervisors and various departments, and potentially a trip to the Grand Canyon! I hope to absorb as much as I can to share when I get home, and be able to offer Marie an equivalent experience when she visits us next year!
Now . . . what to pack? The weather should be in the mid-20s and mostly sunny. What a welcome change from the freezing, cold wind and rain currently rattling against the windows here. Bliss!!