In the 1980s, the tenure of California City Managers began to dramatically shrink, from typically over ten years in the 1960s and 1970s to terms as short as just a few years, with the average term quickly dropping into the five-year range.

The California City Management Foundation was founded in 1985 with a three-fold mission:

  • Strengthen the City Manager profession
  • Improve City Management education
  • Promote the Council-Manager form of local government

In service of this mission, the Foundation focused substantial effort on education for and about City Managers. By 1995, CCMF had published a number of groundbreaking documents for the profession as well as the first version of the CCMF Model Employment Contract.

In the 1990s, the Foundation began an outreach program for City Managers who had left their city employment and were seeking a new position with another city. This formalized “Managers In Transition” (MIT) program included an extensive information packet with counseling and legal service referrals, as well as the provision of general advice on appropriate lines of action. The MIT program, along with the Model Employment Contract, met a critical need for the profession that had previously been ignored.

As the organization grew, so did its expenses. In 1996, in order to create a stable funding source, CCMF decided to become a membership-based organization. The modest dues paid by members, as well as the income generated by the organization’s new Golf Tournament fundraiser, allowed CCMF to further expand its efforts.

In 2000, CCMF launched www.cacitymanagers.org to more easily facilitate the dissemination of information to its members. Shortly thereafter, Bill Garrett was hired as Executive Director.

Since then, CCMF has begun hosting the New & Future City Manager Seminar to help train and support new generations of City Managers. The Model Employment Contract has become the standard in the industry, the MIT Program provides City Managers with a network of support during challenging times, and the Wes McClure Scholarship (established in 2011) gives funds annually to promising young leaders.

In 2013, CCMF hosted its first career development webinar for members. Working with industry professionals, we continue to build new online educational opportunities through our growing series of webinar presentations.

In 2014, CCMF’s Executive Director, with the support of the Board of Trustees, launched the organization’s Professional Resumé Review service: an exclusive, member-only resource for the CCMF community. Working with recruitment professionals in the local government sector, individuals can update their resumés with confidence, whether they are an Assistant City Manager looking to make the jump to City Manager, or a long-time professional looking to change cities. This is just one of many ways in which CCMF continues to support California’s City Managers at all stages of their careers.

In 2015, CCMF continued to build bridges and connections with sister organizations in order to further support the City Manager profession, especially the future generation of city managers. The Foundation published a Member Resource titled “Women In Leadership: the #13Percent Movement” — building on the findings of the 2013 survey performed by the International City/County Management Association (ICMA) Task Force on Women in the Profession, coupled with first hand advice and insights from female CCMF members from across the state. CCMF also spoke to future public servants at the University of Southern California’s Sol Price School of Public Policy “State of the City” luncheon, and also led sessions focused on helping the next generation of city managers at the annual MMANC and MMASC conferences.

In 2016, CCMF delivered eight new exclusive resources to members, including two guides on improving organizational efficacy for managers and a resource on working with recruiters. The organization also teamed up with Saddleback College and Muniservices to provide a municipal financial management certification program. 

In 2017, CCMF partnered with MMASC and MMANC to offer two $1,500 scholarships to the 2017 ICMA Annual Conference. CCMF also provided three new member resources: guidance on balancing online professional and personal lives as a manager, sample evaluation forms and tips for a successful City Manager-PIO relationship. Additionally, the organization began offering the Job Board service, which has helped dozens of cities identify candidates for managerial roles.

In 2018, then-CCMF President Wade Kinney authored an article on the importance of diversity for Western City Magazine. CCMF again offered scholarships to assist with attendance fees for the ICMA annual conference and published a member resource about the various pathways to city management careers. That fall, CCMF leadership and members joined forces to support cities impacted by the Woolsey Fire. In September, CCMF hosted a panel session at the League of CA Cities Annual Conference on the “Benefits of Diversity in Municipal Management.”

In 2019, CCMF published or updated four member resources, including a guide for managing the shift to district council elections. In June 2019, Wade McKinney retired from his position as City Manager in Indian Wells and passed the CCMF President reins to then-Vice President Ken Striplin. Justin Hess was appointed as the new CCMF Vice President. CCMF also organized a luncheon for local government officials in the Coachella Valley area in August. Throughout the year, CCMF hosted and moderated several panel discussions at League events: the City Managers’ Department Meeting, the Mayor & Council Member Executive Forum, and the Annual Conference.

In 2020, CCMF launched a redesigned website to make it easier for members and potential members to find benefits, resources and services. CCMF also launched the Judy L. Kelsey Memorial Fund program in 2020, which offers $5,000 grants to two California cities or towns to fund summer internships. The grants are partially funded from the estate of July L. Kelsey, a longtime city manager and public servant in California. Additionally, CCMF expanded the number of $1,500 Wes McClure Scholarship awards from two to five. Once again, CCMF hosted and moderated panel discussions at the League City Managers’ Department Meeting in February and at the virtual League Annual Conference in October.