Pittsfield Honors Inaugural Citizens Academy Class
Executive Assistant Catherine Van Bramer headed the effort to connect local residents more closely with city government. The inaugural class attended weekly seminars throughout the summer, meeting with various departments to get a closer look at the depth and breadth of how the municipal government works.
"This academy opened a new door to connect with the residents," Van Bramer said. "Over 10 weeks, 15 participants dedicated their Thursday evenings to learn about the many aspects of municipal government."
The class started meeting with the mayor to give a broad overview of city operations. They then met with department heads in the Police Department, Community Development, Fire Department, Building, Health, Airport, Cultural Development, Public Services, Library, Veterans, Finance, Personnel, and the City Clerk's office.
The department heads of each prepared presentations of their work.
"We know our department heads very much enjoyed this kind of community engagement," Mayor Linda Tyer said.
Van Bramer crafted the program after hearing about such classes being held elsewhere when she attended a Massachusetts Municipal Association conference. She saw it as a way to help increase participation in government and enhance the community's understanding of how services are provided.
Van Bramer didn't know if there would be interest when she first started but was ultimately glad when 15 spots were filled.
Tyer and Van Bramer presented the first class with certificates to recognize their efforts at the start of Tuesday's City Council meeting.
"We will likely run this citizens academy a second time. It was really well received," Tyer said.
Tags: citizens academy, local government,
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