Ron Carlee is chief operating officer/executive in residence of ICMA. Prior to joining the organization in November 2009, he served more than 30 years in local government, holding a number of diverse, senior executive positions, including manager of Arlington County, Virginia, which is located directly across the Potomac River from Washington D.C.
Carlee began his career in Arlington in 1980 as a budget analyst. During his tenure, he headed up the county’s Y2K efforts; served as director of Parks and Recreation; and served as the longtime director of the Department of Human Services. He was named Arlington county manager in 2001 and oversaw intense redevelopment in Arlington, resulting in the community’s international reputation for smart growth, an economy that is considered one of the best places to be during the recession, and triple, triple-A bond ratings.
As ICMA’s chief operating officer, Carlee provides day-to-day oversight of ICMA’s operations and leads efforts to provide research and implementation tools to professional local government executives. He leads a wide range of partnership relationships with foundations, federal agencies, universities, and private businesses that support local government.
Carlee is widely recognized within the local government management profession for his leadership in Arlington’s response to the 9-11 terrorist attack on the Pentagon. He has spoken widely on the topic of emergency management and the importance of a team approach. Current work focuses on leadership, interorganizational relations, social equity, civic engagement, and sustainability.
Carlee is an adjunct professor with the Trachtenberg School of Public Policy and Public Administration at The George Washington University, where he teaches local government and leadership.
Carlee is originally from Birmingham, Alabama, where he began his career in local government as assistant to the Mayor in 1975. He earned a doctorate in public administration from The George Mason University in 1995; a master’s in urban studies from the University of Alabama in 1979; and a bachelor’s degree in English from the University of Montevallo, Alabama, in 1975. Carlee was inducted as a fellow of the National Academy of Public Administration in 2006.