Bryan Montgomery began his city management career in 1993, serving in Utah, New Mexico, Idaho and Nevada before becoming the city manager of Oakley, California, in 2005. VEGA named him a Volunteer Service Award Honoree in 2015 for his more than 15 years of pro-bono assistance through International City/County Management Association (ICMA) in Mexico.
Volunteers, Bryan says, get to take what they know and have a passion to make a difference. He provides, through USAID-funded programs, presentations and classes for mayors, one-on-one advice and diagnostic assessments to help elected leaders understand local government functions. When he meets with leaders, he is not just presenting a theory, he has a set of experiences that he can talk about, which helps him easily create relationships and establish trust.
He has found that people welcome volunteers and the insights they can offer. Seeing how municipal government systems work and can change elsewhere gives him renewed energy and enthusiasm for his own work, and helps him see how his city could improve. He values the cultural exchange and the way his volunteer work has shaped his own world view.
Understanding why people choose to leave Mexico and come to the U.S. has increased his interactions with and credibility among Oakley’s Mexican population. He has been able to help the city’s police become more aware of the broader cultural elements at work to improve their interactions with the city’s Hispanic population.
As we see problems around us, we often say, ‘Somebody ought to do something about that.’ And then we realize, we are somebody, and we can make a difference. Certainly volunteering is a huge component of that – not only in our professional lives, but also in our personal lives.
– Bryan Montgomery, volunteer