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Press Release

Over 100 Municipal Officials Graduate from Alabama League of Municipalities’ Core Programs

November 15, 2023

MLI GraduationORANGE BEACH – The Alabama League of Municipalities hosted its annual Municipal Leadership Institute (MLI) and graduation/awards ceremonies on November 8-10, 2023 at Perdido Beach Resort. Each fall, the League hosts MLI to provide municipal officials with an opportunity to learn from national, regional and statewide experts regarding timely issues focused on enhancing the quality of life in their communities. More than 100 municipal officials graduated or received awards from the following League supported programs: Certified Municipal Official (CMO), Certified Municipal Achievement Awards, Economic Development Academy, Alabama Communities of Excellence Star Awards, and DesignAlabama Mayors Design Summit.

The Certified Municipal Official Program was established in 1994 and is the second oldest elected municipal official training program in the country. Officials receive formal classroom training in subjects such as council meeting procedures, parliamentary procedure, the Open Meetings Act, public records, ordinance drafting, conflicts of interest, the state ethics law, duties of the mayor and council, tort liability, the competitive bid law, zoning and planning, annexation, municipal regulatory powers, municipal revenues and expenditures, personnel actions and leadership development. This voluntary training is offered in several formats each year: in-person multiday conferences, one day meetings and smaller regional trainings, and online training with anytime training and webinars. This year, 39 Certified Municipal Officials, 35 Advanced Certified Municipal Officials and 11 CMO Emeriti, earned their respective designations after completing 40, 80 and 120 credit hours of training. As of graduation, more than 5,200 municipal officials have attended the League’s training in municipal government in the past 19 years.

“The League not only aims to advocate on behalf of Alabama’s municipalities, but to train and prepare our new and veteran, local elected officials with the skills and latest resources needed to help serve their communities to the best of their abilities,” Greg Cochran, executive director of the League, said. “I am excited that our education sector continues to grow and am thrilled to have more the 100 officials take part in our core programs in 2023. Often times participation in the CMO, EDA, ACE and DesignAlabama programs can take anywhere from one to five years to complete; so, we are extremely proud to recognize the dedication of those that have obtained these distinguished designations.” The League also presented Certified Municipal Achievement Awards to 13 municipalities, which is the most ever. The CMA Awards were created in 2018 to honor municipalities where the municipality’s mayor and full council obtain at least 40 credit hours individually, if not more, within a year. The awards provide an incentive to get all of a municipality’s elected officials trained.

Furthermore, the League had 10 communities graduate from its second class of the Economic Development Academy (EDA) which included: Brewton, Evergreen, Fairfield, Gardendale, Greensboro, Luverne, Midfield, Priceville, Semmes and Southside. The League, in partnership with the Alabama Community College System, developed EDA in 2021 to educate and engage municipal officials and community leaders on the essential elements and phases of economic development while highlighting their vital role in economic initiatives and projects within their communities. Using a collaborative team approach, participants convene four times throughout the year to complete assignments and develop strategies to enhance economic development in their communities. Ultimately, each municipality selected is required to implement a community project and to report on its progress. EDA graduates receive a certification from the League and ACCS. So far, 37 communities have graduated.

During the graduation, ACCS announced that every graduate of the Alabama League of Municipalities’ Economic Development Academy is eligible to earn three hours of college credit from their area community college. This includes EDA graduates from the previous year.

“The initiative to offer every ALM Economic Development Academy graduate the opportunity to earn college credit is a testament to our commitment to supporting lifelong learning and professional development in economic development across the state,” Jimmy H. Baker, chancellor of the Alabama Community College System, said. “This collaboration strengthens communities, which, in turn, strengthens Alabama."

Additionally, the League is pleased to announce the eight municipalities selected for the third EDA class, which includes: Ashland, Birmingham, Brantley, Clanton, Cordova, Flomaton, Helena and York. Class begins in January and runs through the fall.

The League also presented the Alabama Communities of Excellence Star Awards to recognize individuals who have performed beyond the call of duty within the ACE program. ACE was established in 2002 as a 501(c)(3) organization to provide technical assistance to select communities with populations ranging from 2,000 to 18,000 in an effort to strengthen long-term economic success. Through a comprehensive, three-phase approach, ACE uses the collective expertise of its partner organizations – ranging from state agencies and associations to banks, utilities, universities and others – to foster unique community development programs. The League acquired the ACE program last year and will continue to support its mission. The League presents the ACE Star Awards to acknowledge the advisory board members, ACE Ambassadors, community participants and volunteers for their work assisting the organization and the communities they serve.

ACE Star Award Recipients for 2023:

  • 2023 Outstanding ACE Mayor - Mayor Phil Segraves of Guin
  • 2023 Outstanding ACE Ambassador - Melissa Perault of U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Rural Development Ozark Area
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  • 2023 Outstanding ACE Local Coordinator - Holle Smith of the Ozark Dale County Economic Development Corporation
  • 2023 Outstanding ACE Leadership Award - Mayor Sheldon Day of Thomasville

Lastly, the League recognized five mayors from Alabama’s municipalities who have recently graduated from DesignAlabama’s Philip A. Morris Mayors Design Summit: Mayor Mike Oakley of Centreville, Mayor Rod Northam of Fayette, Mayor Jacqueline Bishop of Fort Deposit, Mayor Brian Baine of Fort Payne and Mayor Richard Phillips of Oneonta. DesignAlabama programs create engagement between civic leaders, citizens and design professionals. Named in honor of the late director emeritus of DesignAlabama, the Philip A. Morris Mayors Design Summit has brought together mayors and Alabama based design professionals to thoughtfully examine the planning and design issues facing their communities in an intimate and collaborative setting for the past 17 years. Since then, 85 mayors have participated in the program.

“The League values the work and opportunities DesignAlabama’s Mayors Design Summit provides to our members as they work to enhance and develop the identity of their municipality,” Kayla Bass, deputy director of the League, said. “As a partner of DesignAlabama, we are excited to invest $5,000 to help more municipalities benefit from this great initiative.”

The Alabama League of Municipalities is a nonpartisan membership association of over 450 incorporated cities and towns. Since 1935, the League has worked to strengthen municipal government through advocacy, training and the advancement of effective local leadership. As the recognized voice of Alabama’s cities and towns, the League’s member municipalities benefit from a variety of member programs, services and activities that are impossible to accomplish alone. Learn more at