A Fond Farewell to GMA Family
Jim Higdon, GMA Executive Director
October 5, 2011
Looking back on the past 10 years, the decade I spent at GMA has been one of the best times of my life. As I prepare to retire at the end of this year, I want to thank all of you for permitting me to serve as executive director of your association and say how much I appreciate the trust you have placed in me to help find the next director.
I have had a close working relationship with local elected officials most of my career, first at the Department of Community Affairs and then at GMA. I have great admiration for the men and women who serve their communities unselfishly and tirelessly. So many of you run for office for all the right reasons, and I have been blessed to have the opportunity to work with you and for you for many years.
It is at the local level where we see so clearly government “of, by and for the people.” I have found that to be one of my biggest frustrations: the attitude we’ve seen from some state officials that local government officials don’t understand or care what is going on in their communities. If there is any group that understands the wants and needs of the local community, it is the city officials who live and serve among its people. We’ve made some progress in changing that mindset, and I encourage all of you to continue your efforts to educate legislators and make stronger connections between cities and state.
We’ve celebrated many accomplishments over the past 10 years, but the one I am most proud of is the strength of our organization. There is no one person who gets credit for this; it has been a group effort and achievement. City officials are engaged in our activities – from lobbying to training to using GMA services – and supportive of GMA’s efforts on their behalf. GMA’s strong, active membership has made this a strong, active association.
The GMA staff also deserves credit for the association’s achievements. I can assure you that the people working on your behalf are dedicated to the cause and bring a wealth of creativity, knowledge and passion to the work they do. It is my hope that the next executive director builds on the strength we already have and resists any temptation to rebuild.
One of my greatest joys has been seeing the changes that have taken place within our GMA family over the years. Each year at the annual Kids’ Christmas Party, we see the children of the employees growing and maturing. There have been marriages and births and sorrows that we share in like all families do. Through it all, we have supported, nurtured and celebrated together. I hope that continues after I leave and that the new director, whoever he or she is, recognizes that the rewards reaped in cultivating the GMA “family” will come back ten-fold.
I have enjoyed my career, my years in public service and the wonderful people I’ve met along the way, but it’s time for me to begin the next chapter of my life. I go knowing that GMA is strong and will be in good hands.
I will always treasure my time at GMA. Thank you, and God bless.