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The National League of Cities speaks
for more than 18,000 US communities

By Josh Fecht, US Editor

The National League of Cities (NLC) is the oldest and largest organization representing municipal governments throughout the United States. Its mission is to strengthen and promote cities as centers of opportunity, leadership, and governance.

Working in partnership with 49 state municipal leagues, NLC serves as a national resource to and an advocate for the more than 18,000 cities, villages, and towns it represents. NLC was founded in December 1924 by 10 state municipal leagues that saw the need for a national organization to strengthen local government through research, information sharing, and advocacy on behalf of hometown America. It was initially an organization of state municipal leagues. In the 1960s and 1970s, membership was gradually opened to cities of all sizes giving local elected leaders a more direct opportunity to shape the priorities, policies, and advocacy positions of the organization.

Today, the unique partnership among NLC, the 49 state municipal leagues, and the elected leaders of the 1,700 member cities and 18,000 state league cities provides a powerful network for information sharing and for speaking on behalf of America's cities in Washington, DC and all state capitols.

The NLC staff is organized into an executive office that oversees organizational operations, five centers that provide services to members, and six offices that provide internal administrative support and special programming.

Executive Office
The Executive Office provides overall leadership and direction to NLC programs and services, working closely with the NLC Officers and Board of Directors.

Center for Communications
The Center for Communications is responsible for developing and carrying out a comprehensive communications program that enhances the image and stature of NLC and the municipalities it represents. In addition to working with external resources to communicate about NLC programs, the center is responsible for planning, producing, and distributing 50 issues per year of Nation's Cities Weekly, which has a weekly circulation of more than 33,000.

Center for Policy and Federal Relations
The Center for Policy and Federal Relations is responsible for NLC's policy development and advocacy programs on behalf of local governments.

Center For Member Programs
This center is responsible for developing and managing a broad range of both general and specialized service programs for NLC member municipalities and member state municipal leagues including recruiting and retaining member cities and Associate Members in NLC and for working with other centers to develop and maintain NLC-state league partnerships.

Center for Research and Municipal Programs
The Center for Research and Municipal Programs provides knowledge, assistance, opportunities for constructive engagement, and new ideas in order to help city and town officials serve their communities and to promote understanding and discussion about municipal issues and concerns. The center's primary functions are to develop, conduct, and report research on programs and issues of importance to cities and towns; to provide library reference and other information about cities and municipal programs; to staff the Advisory Council's Futures Process; to staff the Municipalities in Transition Program Panels; and to seek funding for and to manage and implement programs and services for NLC members.

Institute for Youth, Education, and Families
The Institute for Youth, Education, and Families was established early in 2000 as a special entity within NLC to help municipal leaders take action on behalf of the children, youth, and families in their communities. Responsive to municipal officials on a wide range of issues, the Institute focuses on the following core program areas: education, youth development, childcare and early childhood development, the safety of children and youth, and family economic security. Its work is guided by the Council on Youth, Education, and Families.

Office of Conference and Seminar Management
The Office of Conference and Seminar Management is responsible for managing all aspects of NLC's two annual conferences and Leadership Training programs. The Congressional City Conference, which is conducted in Washington, DC, is NLC's major legislative conference and represents the start of NLC's governance year. It annually draws 2,800 paid delegates who participate in meetings and discussions over three days before going to Capitol Hill to meet their Congressional delegations to communicate NLC's legislative priorities for the year. The Congress of Cities, which is conducted in November or December in a different city each year, concludes NLC's governance year.

Office of Corporate Programs
The Office of Corporate Programs was established in January 2003 and is responsible for developing and managing relationships between NLC and private industry in order to support and enhance NLC programs and services. The primary objective of this new office is to implement and manage the new NLC Corporate Partners Program. The Office of Corporate Programs also oversees the Associate Member Program, the Totally Web Government Program, the US Communities Government Purchasing Alliance, and the management of the NLC website.

World Mayor 2023