Taking the Conversation From Head to Heart

municipal clerks group photo

Contributor: Ashley Di Blasi, Project Coordinator for JustFOIA

Municipal Clerks are the heartbeat of our communities.

Closing my eyes, I clearly remember my first interaction with a Municipal Clerk. While onboarding with the International Institute of Municipal Clerks (IIMC) in 2010, my colleague asked me to pick up the phone and call my first Clerk to discuss the status of their certification documentation. I remember being dumbfounded at the thought of “just picking up the phone and calling the government?” 

More than a decade later, I can’t help but chuckle at that recall, and I still find myself as enamored with the profession as I was then. The Clerk that answered on the other end of that phone call changed my life forever. Over my career with IIMC, I spent thousands of hours getting to know the Clerk profession in general and the individual clerk titles and job descriptions held on a global level by the people who wear those titles with pride. Not many of us are exposed to the profession as we grow up, and I doubt that many children today dream of growing up to be Municipal Clerk. In fact, not many people know that the profession even exists even though it was the first profession in local government.

When the incredible JustFOIA Marketing Team asked me to contribute to this blog post, they wanted to highlight and celebrate the many hats Municipal Clerks wear and enlighten our readers about the many vital services they provide for their communities.

While the hats themselves and their specific duties are at the forefront of this topic, I feel that taking the conversation from head to heart helps our readers understand the profession and the individuals that choose to serve in this capacity.

I want you to see the Clerk as more than a list of duties; more than a hat rack. 

I want you to see the heart of these individuals. 

Their dedication.  

The human underneath the hats they wear.

The title “Municipal Clerk” is an umbrella term encompassing global titles such as:

Many titles, many duties, and one common thread: Clerks are dedicated to serving their communities.

Clerks are the ones that step up in an emergency, whether man-made or natural disaster, to begin the road to recovery. I’ve heard firsthand about clerks’ impact following hurricanes, tornados, floods, and even shootings. From coordinating the FEMA emergency management recovery plan, contacting food shelters, to fostering stray animals until their owners are located (yes – a chubby, orange tabby cat to be exact), Clerks show up when their community needs them, at whatever time, with no questions asked.

I could share stories of small-town clerks in New Jersey that are not only one man/woman shows at Town Hall but also hop on the town fire truck when it drives by because they also serve as a volunteer firefighter for their community.

We have Clerks in this country working to preserve the profession’s future and empower younger generations to step up and get involved in public service. These Clerks dedicate their personal hours to high school career days, public administration university programs, and even the Girl Scout and Boy Scout organizations.

Clerks are the historians of the municipality and preserve the legacy of leaders that came before them. They preserve the work done by those public servants who came well before the current councils and mayors. They preserve the heart of the City, the Town, the Village, or the District. The Clerks are the heartbeat of the municipality.

And yes, it is important to note the actual duties that Clerks perform daily, such as:

Here at JustFOIA, records management and public-facing communication services are two of our favorite functions performed by Clerks as front-line workers!

Clerks are the silent superheroes that often live in the shadows and keep all aspects of a municipality or a special district running. These caped crusaders are some of the most hardworking, humble, and unassuming individuals I have ever had the privilege to meet.

For those unfamiliar with the profession, I hope this insight sheds a sliver of light on who these incredible individuals are. I hope you take the time to get to know your Clerk and to show them gratitude.

To all the Municipal Clerks out there, with whatever title you hold, under whatever hat you are currently wearing, please know that we at JustFOIA see you – not just for the meeting minutes you are taking or the elections that you are running. But we truly see YOU as your dedicated, kind, selfless, compassionate, servant leader.

We see YOU, respect YOU, and are honored to have the opportunity to interact and work with YOU.

Learn more about how we serve state and local governments and why they choose to say “No Prob-llama” to records requests.