By Erika Mathieu
Sunny South News
Lethbridge County will be saying goodbye to Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) Ann Mitchell in the new year as she has tendered her resignation and will move on from the organization at the end of January 2023.
Mitchell has served as Lethbridge County CAO since 2018. With over two decades of experience in municipal government, Mitchell said she is excited to continue her career in local government and that she has accepted an offer from the City of Medicine Hat as city manager.
“The community of Medicine Hat is well known as a viable, safe community that those who live there care very deeply about. I am appreciative that city council has trusted me with this role and I plan to contribute to the already great work that is being done there.”
Mitchell previously served as CAO in Sioux Lookout, Ontario, as well as the Townships of Pelee and Prince, Ontario. In 2021, Mitchell was awarded the Women of Influence in Local Government Award by Municipal World for her work with Lethbridge County. That same year, Lethbridge County was also recognized by the Government Finance Officers Association of the United States and Canada (GFOA) with the Triple Crown designation for excellence in financial reporting. The Triple Crown was only awarded to a handful of municipalities across the province and occurred under Mitchell’s leadership.
Mitchell said she has “always been fortunate to work with and develop exceptional talent in the municipal world. Everything that happens at the local level is part of a greater team effort. Sometimes that team is within the municipality, but more often than not it’s part of a greater collaboration of the community and often regionally. While the accolades are nice, I think the majority of people that work in the public sector are really there to serve their community. It is that sense of accomplishment that motivates us.”
Aside from national recognition, Mitchell is personally committed to furthering her scope and knowledge with respect to local government. She earned a Master of Arts in 2021 for completing a thesis focusing on the significant ways in which the success of local government is shaped by the role of the CAO or city manager.
She said of her graduate studies, “I believe that undertaking my Masters in Leadership at a later stage in my career has been extremely beneficial due to the fact that I am bringing real-world experience to the learning environment. My leadership studies examined the unique role of CAO and municipal council and gave me a deeper and greater understanding of the system that we work inside of and how to improve it and what contract contributions I can make moving forward.”
Mitchell is currently a PhD candidate at the University of Victoria, where she plans to further her studies on the interplay and significance of different roles in municipal government. “My current studies will focus on the role of special purpose boards, and how they function inside the bigger system of local government,” she said.
As stated in the County’s announcement Reeve Tory Campbell said, “Lethbridge County council would like to acknowledge the tremendous contributions Ann Mitchell has made to Lethbridge County since taking on the role of CAO in 2018,” He added, Mitchell’s “dedication and unparalleled work ethic have helped propel the County forward.”
The announcement highlighted the exceptional challenges faced by administration beginning in March 2020, noting Mitchell’s extensive education and experience in municipal government “helped navigate Lethbridge County through the uncertainties and challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic and several budget processes.”
She said her time with Lethbridge County has marked “an exceptional chapter in my career.” She noted since 2018, administration has “implemented progressive programs to move forward council’s agenda.” Adding she is confident she is leaving the organization “well poised for future continued success.”
Mitchell’s perspective on local government highlights the importance of proximity to stakeholders and residents. She said, “We often hear the phrase that local government is the ‘government closest to the people.’ What this means to me is that we can affect change because we are accessible to our stakeholders.”
She noted how collaborative efforts between stakeholders and local governments can ignite meaningful change adding, “More importantly, this relationship with our stakeholders is critical as often they are aware of the solutions, so we need to really work collaboratively and at the local government we understand the importance of that.”
“Although I am excited about my new opportunity, I will miss the Lethbridge County team,” said Mitchell.
Reeve Campbell stated the team at Lethbridge County “wishes Ann all the best in her next endeavour.”
Mitchell will continue in her current role as CAO with Lethbridge County until the end of January; the organization will begin their search for a new CAO in early 2023.
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