GARDEN CITY — City Manager Matt Allen was named the recipient of the Buford Watson Jr. Award for Excellence in Public Management by the Kansas Association of City/County Management (KACM) during the association’s annual conference held in Pittsburg on November 14-16.
Allen has been the City Manager of Garden City since 2008, first serving as the Assistant City Manager for six years. Allen’s municipal government team has received state and national recognition for innovation in areas of public participation, local government social media, fiscal transparency, embracing diversity and healthy community design for rural communities.
Assistant City Manager Jennifer Cunningham said the Buford Watson Jr. Award is the most prestigious award a city manager in Kansas can receive.
“From the moment I first learned about the award three years ago, I couldn’t imagine another manager in the state more deserving,” Cunningham said. “Matt is everything the award represents. We are lucky as staff to have him as our leader and lucky as a community to have someone that cares and is so deeply connected.”
John Deardoff, City Manager of Hutchinson, nominated Allen for the award.
“Matt has been a strong voice for southwest Kansas through his work on major regional transportation issues involving Essential Air Service, Amtrak and highways,” Deardoff wrote in his nomination letter.
Deardoff wrote that he has known Allen for 25 years and has worked closely with him, seeing firsthand the leadership that Allen brought to Garden City and the southwest Kansas region.
“Allen’s devotion to the profession of public management is evident in his involvement in the League of Kansas Municipalities, International City/County Management (ICMA) and KACM, as well as mentoring young professionals in the city management field,” Deardoff wrote. “He is always willing to give advice or share experiences with young managers.”
Mayor Roy Cessna said he was proud to see Allen honored with the award.
“Matt is very deserving of this recognition,” Cessna said. “He provides outstanding leadership to the City of Garden City. He shares his knowledge that helps develop City staff and others in the community and region.”
Allen was raised in Garden City and holds a Bachelor of Arts Degree from Bethany College as well as a Master of Public Administration from the University of Kansas. His first career opportunity in city management was as a part-time intern with Saline County in 1994. Allen has also worked for the Lenexa, Salina, Joplin, Mo., and Oakley before settling back in Garden City.