Lessons in leadership: Six former mayors share advice for leading in challenging times

Jan 1, 2023

City leaders have weathered nonstop crises over the last few years. International economic challenges, increased income inequality, natural disasters made worse by climate change, a global pandemic, and a rise in disruptive, sometimes anti-democratic behavior has made the hard job harder. 

However, many leaders have also risen to the occasion and reaffirmed the fundamental tenants of good governance: Empathy, listening, and integrity help build effective city halls and thriving communities. City leaders cannot choose their disaster, but they can choose how to prepare and respond. 

As in previous yearsWestern City interviewed former mayors — from Cheryl Viegas-Walker in the border city of El Centro to Libby Schaaf in Oakland — about the leadership lessons they have learned and their favorite local projects. With nearly 90 years of experience between them, these six city leaders have developed a wealth of knowledge about leadership. Their insight will be invaluable for new council members or those seeking to take their leadership to the next level. 

To watch their interviews, read the full story in the January issue of Western City magazine.

The Cal Cities #LocalWorks initiative shines the spotlight on examples of local actions that are making a difference to their communities. Show how #LocalWorks in your community by contacting communications@calcities.org.