National League of Cities, founded in Lawrence, celebrates 100th anniversary with city leaders

photo by: Austin Hornbostel/Journal-World

Clarence Anthony, CEO and executive director of the National League of Cities, reads from a plaque presented to Lawrence leaders in honor of the organization's centennial anniversary Thursday, Feb. 29, 2024. Anthony is joined by David Sander, the president of the NLC’s Board of Directors and the mayor of Rancho Cordova, California.

Leaders with the National League of Cities on Thursday were in the city where their organization was founded to celebrate a century of connecting and providing services to municipal officials across the U.S.

As the Journal-World has reported, a delegation from the NLC is in Lawrence this week as part of a cross-country roadshow celebrating the organization’s centennial. Lawrence, the first stop on the tour, is where the NLC was founded in 1924 on the University of Kansas campus.

Clarence Anthony, the CEO and executive director of the NLC, is one of the leaders with the visiting delegation, and he presented a commemorative plaque to three members of the Lawrence City Commission — Mayor Bart Littlejohn and commissioners Amber Sellers and Brad Finkeldei — who were present for the group’s visit to City Hall Thursday afternoon.

photo by: Austin Hornbostel/Journal-World

National League of Cities CEO and Executive Director Clarence Anthony, left, and Lawrence Mayor Bart Littlejohn, right, chat during the NLC delegation’s visit to Lawrence Thursday, Feb. 29, 2024.

The plaque recognizes Lawrence as the birthplace of the NLC and celebrates a century of “strengthening cities all over America.”

Anthony said 100 years ago, the municipal leaders who convened in Lawrence as founding members of the NLC were “planting a seed” for bettering their communities, engaging their residents, training their municipal officials to make effective decisions and creating systems that would allow everyone the opportunity to serve in leadership roles for a city government.

“That’s what was born here — that was the seed that was planted almost 100 years ago,” Anthony said. “… Just imagine, 100 years ago in Lawrence, Kansas. Look what we’ve done; look what your community has sprouted.”

photo by: Austin Hornbostel/Journal-World

Lawrence leaders and members of a traveling delegation with the National League of Cities visit on the fourth floor of City Hall Thursday, Feb. 29, 2024.

Anthony also offered a “heartfelt, emotional thank you” to the city and KU for their hospitality during the group’s visit. The delegation included David Sander, the president of the NLC’s Board of Directors and the mayor of Rancho Cordova, California, and Henry Cisneros, who served as U.S. Secretary of Housing and Urban Development under the Clinton administration.

The city’s recognition, read by Littlejohn during a short program, designates Feb. 29, 2024, as “National League of Cities Centennial Roadshow Day.” The recognition also acknowledges the 10 “visionaries” who joined with John Stutz — who in 1924 was the executive director of the Kansas Municipal League — to create an organization providing services to the nation’s city officials.

“… We recognize not only the legacy of leadership development but the bright horizon for this vital, vibrant organization that remains an invaluable resource connecting local leaders and amplifying their voices on the national stage,” the recognition reads.

photo by: Austin Hornbostel/Journal-World

Members of the Lawrence City Commission and a delegation with the National League of Cities celebrated the organization’s 100th anniversary at City Hall Thursday, Feb. 29, 2024.


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