Executive Interview: Carla Hansen of MMANC

Carla Hansen has been involved with MMANC for almost eight years, holding a slew of positions including her current role as president. We asked her to talk some more about how local government has influenced her life, and tell us some more about her time with MMANC. 

What got you involved in local government?

 I took a local government and management class while getting my Masters in Public Policy from Mills College. It was the first time I was exposed to how cities are run and the power they have to effect change in communities. I was hooked. I interned for the City of Berkeley and after grad school, I was City Hall Fellow for the City and County of San Francisco. I knew local government was my calling.

Why did you get involved in MMANC?

I was working for the City of Novato eight years ago and a fellow analyst asked me if I wanted to get involved with this  “really cool” organization. He was stepping off the board and they were looking to fill his seat. Walking into my first Board meeting, I knew I had found my people. 

 What were your goals as president of the MMANC? How much progress did you make on those goals?

We are an organization run primarily by volunteers and we have doubled in size in three years. From 300 members to over 600. We have done this through providing excellent programming, showing our members how valuable our network is and being innovative. However, there was burnout. Every year we set lofty work plans in January and felt burnt out by June. One of my goals was to strategically sustain our growth and energy into the future. In January 2019, our Board approved a five year strategic plan and built a realistic work plan for the year. My goal was to make us feel successful by achieving a few goals in one year while feeling energized and proud of the work by the end of December. We have made significant progress on evaluating whether or not to hire an executive director, professionalizing our organizational processes and held the largest Women’s Leadership Summit.

 You are about to transition out of the role as president. What are some of the biggest challenges you faced during your time as president? What work are you most proud of?

I think the biggest challenge I have faced as President is time management. This role can be a full-time job at times and I have suffered from that feeling of “I’m not doing enough.” Keeping the Board motivated and engaged while maintaining a work-life balance has been difficult but a great leadership lesson for my career. I’m most proud of the care and time that our Board members give to this organization. Our Women’s Leadership Summit co-chairs executed a flawless, inclusive and inspiring event with over 350 attendees, our Finance Director completely revamped our internal structures and we represented our organization at the highest levels of the local government profession. The folks who volunteer for this organization are what I’m most proud of.

You’ve been involved with the MMANC for almost eight years. What are some of the biggest accomplishments you’ve seen the organization complete in your time there? How has the organization grown?

 It’s hard to point to just one accomplishment. In the last eight years, I have seen the organization double in size. We have become more professional, more innovative, more inclusive and more representative of the folks working in the local government profession.  We continue to be the most respected local government membership organization in the State. The folks who have been connected to this organization are growing into the next City Managers, Assistant City Managers and Department Directors and cite MMANC as a factor in their success. It has been a privilege to be part of this success.

You’re also assistant to the city manager for the City of Walnut Creek. Can you tell me more about your roll there?

I do a little bit of everything as Assistant to the City Manager. I manage the City’s $8.5 million Downtown Parking Enterprise and Enhancement fund and a cross departmental team of 10 managers. I am the staff liaison to our Youth Leadership Commission, oversee all internal communications, the City’s legislative advocacy program, emergency management and risk management and major organizational initiatives. I thrive in roles where I’m constantly challenged and exposed to different subject matters. This role checks both of those boxes!

 How does that position help you in being a successful leader at MMANC?

Relationships are my professional currency. In order to be successful in my role, I have to build and sustain good relationships with the City Council, Department Directors and Senior Managers. MMANC is no different. We are an organization run by high achieving volunteers and in order to successfully serve our members, having the trust of our Board, our Corporate Partners and members is key.

 How does your involvement with MMANC benefit Walnut Creek?

I am able to connect Walnut Creek employees with professional development opportunities and training that MMANC offers. I also frequently tap the awesome MMANC network when the City is hiring, looking for best practices for policies and processes and share the innovative things Walnut Creek is doing to better serve the community.