AMES, Iowa – For 38 years, Cindy Kendall has been associated with the Iowa Municipal Professionals Institute and Academy. Beginning as a city clerk in Strawberry Point and Grundy Center, she worked with the Institute and Academy as a student, then as an instructor, progressing to become the city of Marshalltown’s finance director and, in 2010, the Institute and Academy’s director with Iowa State University Extension and Outreach.
As she steps away from the program following seven and a half years as director, Kendall is extremely proud of what she has accomplished and how she has served Iowa’s towns and municipal clerks, secretaries, treasurers, recorders and other local officials.
“It was really a wonderful opportunity for me to share with other cities who didn’t have as much experience and opportunity as I did for training and improve governance in Iowa,” Kendall said. “They were able to do their jobs more efficiently and effortlessly with less stress, and with a good educational background.”
Kendall stepped down as director of the institute and academy on July 31. As she transitions toward retirement, she’ll continue working in the Office of State and Local Government Programs within Iowa State University Extension and Outreach Community and Economic Development. She has worked for the past seven and a half years with ISU Extension and Outreach, and says the position was part of her “natural migration toward extension.”
“It goes back to when I started college,” she said. “I lived next to an extension office and they taught me how to garden, and I became a Master Gardener. It runs deep.”
The Iowa Municipal Professionals Institute and Academy work with Iowa municipal employees who learn compliance with state, federal and local laws and take that knowledge back to their municipalities, where they can share it with others.
“It’s one of the only concentrated training programs for this in the state,” Kendall said. “It’s important that we continue it with as much rigor as we can provide.”
During Kendall’s tenure as director, she has improved the institute’s long-range planning while also increasing programming and the institute and academy’s overall reach.
“We’ve been able to go out into the state,” she said, “and reach small communities that can’t afford to attend. With our outreach benefit, the first year we reached 115 cities. We saw the need and gave opportunities to go out and work with people who, because of full-time jobs or family commitments, haven’t been able to take the training.”
Equally important are relationships Kendall has built with entities like Iowa’s Office of Auditor of State and the Dept. of Management and Revenue.
“We’ve been able to bring in campus and extension people as practitioners, and coach how to do adult training,” she said. “That’s something that extension does all the time and people in their own careers haven’t had the opportunity to (get that training), where we can assist in that. I think that is awesome.”
Another project Kendall has touched, the Iowa Government Finance Initiative, gives all 945 Iowa cities and 99 counties an electronic perspective on local government financial situations and trends, which is helpful for educational purposes and during their budgetary processes. Reports are published through an ISU Extension and Outreach website www.extension.iastate.edu/igfi/ .
Kendall visited numerous Iowa communities and trained them on their local report’s value and how they can use it to improve decisions, budgets and long-term planning.
And even though Kendall is stepping away as director, her contributions to the Iowa Municipal Professionals Institute and Academy likely aren’t over. She’d be interested in returning and teaching classes on budgeting, finance, open meetings and open records as well as other state codes.
“When you work with an organization for 30-plus years, it’s really ingrained in your chemistry,” she said. “You want to be able to help these cities and that’s one way I could do that.”