On March 1, ICMA staff said goodbye to one of our longest tenured and most beloved employees.
For 45-plus years, Beth Payne served as managing editor of ICMA’s award-winning flagship publication, Public Management (PM) magazine. Beth used every resource available to her—from the ideas generated by the members of ICMA’s Conference Planning Committee; to information gleaned from conversations with colleagues, strategic partners, consultants, academics, and other local government experts; to tapping into current affairs—to identify interesting stories that would help ICMA members develop their careers and personal lives, improve their on-the-job performance, and enhance the quality of life in the cities, towns, and counties that they serve.
Overseeing the development of a periodical requires a level of commitment that many of us fail to comprehend or appreciate. It calls for discipline, outstanding time management skills, and an enduring sense of dedication, both to the organization and to the mission it pursues—and Beth tirelessly embodied all of these qualities.
Periodicals are relentless masters. Every month, Beth would think about what her readers cared most about and why and how to share a range of information on everything from the most mundane local government operations to innovative technologies, approaches, and collaborations. Her pursuit of leading local government practices and the experts who could help members understand them improved the lives of the women and men who make our communities great.
Beth wasn’t always editor of PM magazine. She joined ICMA’s Membership & Communications Center in November 1971, and during her early years with the organization, she served in several positions that ultimately informed and enhanced her knowledge of local government.
Beth officially became editor of PM in 1983. In addition to managing the magazine, she initially also produced the biweekly ICMA Newsletter and even spent several years selling ad space in the former. Before the “green” movement and cost constraints rendered a daily conference newsletter unsustainable, Beth also directed the production of four issues of articles and updates on location at each ICMA Annual Conference. Because of her numerous and varied assignments at ICMA, many members know her or know of her, and many have thanked Beth for improving the readability of their ideas and stories. Countless individuals with an interest in the profession view her as an invaluable information resource.
Times have changed, and so have the ways in which ICMA develops and disseminates PM. For many years, in addition to the print edition, Beth also produced a digital blog, a monthly e-newsletter, and a series of social media posts to highlight the contents of the magazine’s monthly issues. Yet despite being solely responsible for feeding an insatiable information beast, Beth maintained her Midwestern charm, curiosity, kindness to colleagues and members alike, and commitment to a job well done.
Beth Payne was truly one of ICMA’s greatest assets, and she will be greatly missed. We wish her all the best as she embarks upon retirement and the next phase of her life.
The ICMA Staff