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Polco News & Knowledge

Voice of the People Award Winners Inspire Through an Unprecedented Year

Voice of the People Awards Inspire

-By Julia Steege-Reimann-

Over the last year, local government leaders faced many unprecedented challenges all while working hard to keep their communities moving forward.

The 2021 Voice of the People Awards (VOP Awards) aims to honor those exceptional local governments that engaged and listened to their residents when making difficult and important decisions this past year. The VOP awards stand alone in honoring local governments based on feedback from residents on a national stage. The awards are presented by Polco / National Research Center (NRC) and the International City & County Management Association (ICMA).

“It seems more important than ever to celebrate those communities that are best at using resident feedback to move forward. We’re in this new trial and error period in post-pandemic planning. Because we are all finding our way together, it’s more important than ever to engage residents and business leaders in any decisions,” said Michelle Kobayashi, Polco's Senior Vice President of Innovation.

How To Win a Voice of the People Award

The VOP Awards cover a variety of categories. Like previous years, Voice of the People Excellence nominees had the highest ratings on The National Community Survey (The NCS), while Transformation nominees made the largest improvements on The NCS. 

After learning about their nomination, jurisdictions are given the opportunity to submit an application. The application asks nominees to explain the actions they took as a result of The NCS results.

“When we are judging applications, we look not only for high or improved rankings on The NCS but also we look for the communities that take the best actions based on this resident feedback,” said Angelica Wedell, Director of Marketing and Communications for Polco.

This year’s categories for Excellence and Transformation Awards include Community Design, Inclusivity/Engagement, Safety, Health and Wellness, and Natural Environment, among others.

To honor Cities’ recent commitment to online engagement, Polco/NRC and ICMA are giving a number of new VOP Awards this year. New categories include Excellence in Equity and Inclusion Engagement, COVID-19 Engagement, Overall Online Engagement, and Online Outreach.

“I’m really excited about these new VOP categories because they recognize communities that are innovating in the online engagement space. These nominees are reaching more residents online than they ever did hosting in-person events. And they are making really intentional decisions by engaging in frequent communication with community members,” said Wedell.

“I was really impressed with the hard work, flexibility, and creativity evident in the VOP applications. I congratulate all the winners and finalists and thank them for doing great things for their residents,” said Heather Locke, Director of Customer Success at Polco.

The 2021 Voice of the People Awards will be announced at the Annual ICMA Conference in Portland, Oregon October 3-6.  After the winners are unveiled at the ICMA Conference, visit Polco online in early October to see the complete list of VOP Awards winners and finalists. Follow us on social media throughout the month to celebrate all the #VOPAwards winners and finalists with us!

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