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Ann Schneider

Title: Council Member

Municipality: Town of Oak Ridge

Position Interested In: District Representative - District 9 or Elected Official At-Large

Tell us why you would like to serve in a leadership position at the League. In particular, specify goals you would like to accomplish as an officer or board member and indicate how, if attained, they will help to achieve Vision 2030 – the League’s future vision of how cities and towns will operate in 2030.

My desire to serve on the League’s board grows out of the value and vitality I’ve found in its programs, and the relevance I see in its Vision 2030 goals for strengthening our state’s towns and cities. 

Many of the key challenges listed in Vision 2030 have been validated by my experience as a councilmember and mayor in Oak Ridge.  For example, despite Oak Ridge’s successes, many citizens don’t understand the roles and responsibilities of our local government and increasingly oppose our already low tax rate of .08 per $100 valuation (Challenge #1). I’ve also witnessed the “Local Preemption, Bite by Bite” described by NCLM President William Harris in a recent issue of the League magazine, reflecting state legislators’ continuing appetite for restricting local authority and zoning (Challenge #2). To counter this trend, I’ve relied heavily on the League’s legislative updates to inform outreach to area leaders as well as advocacy to state legislators regarding new bills that threaten the future of our towns and cities. My work in northwest Guilford County barely touches the surface, however, since there is clearly more to done to connect our common interests, particularly given the increasing rural/urban divide in Guilford County (Challenges #3 & #7). 

With regard to state-wide challenges (#3 and #4), my experience in Oak Ridge offers a valuable perspective, since we’re experiencing many of the difficulties faced by other towns: strong population growth in urban areas with declines in rural areas, demographic changes, economic uncertainty in rural towns, infrastructure demands, as well as housing challenges. Similarly, despite the state and county support Oak Ridge has recently received, we are concerned about the availability of future funding, particularly at the federal level (Challenge #8 & #9), to support ongoing infrastructure improvements related to our new water system. Based on my involvement in the NCLM Mayors Association and on its board, I’m aware that most towns with existing systems currently face overwhelming costs for repairs and updates (Challenge #9). Like many other towns, Oak Ridge is also facing technology challenges, even as it has successes to share regarding citizen engagement (Challenge #10).   

I believe I can help the NCLM board address these challenges. For example, my experience as a nonprofit consultant specializing in strategic planning could be helpful as the board continues to develop strategies to implement Vision 2030 and track its successes. My grantmaking experience, combined with fundraising successes in Oak Ridge, may be helpful to other towns interested in increasing revenues and operational controls (Challenges #4 & 5; Principle #1). I’m familiar with the League’s current ARPA-funded grant assistance programs and would like to help refine those programs to function beyond ARPA deadlines. I also believe the League’s conferences, plus possible workshops, can offer professional development to town leaders seeking to address these challenges. 

As a board member, I want to be involved in helping towns and cities demonstrate, both to residents and state legislators, the value they add to their communities (Challenges #1 & #2; Principles #2 & 4). I would like to help craft strategies to foster citizen and legislator engagement in local government, and to build regional partnerships – particularly between small/large and rural/urban towns (Principle #5). More broadly, I want to help elected officials and legislators gain a better understanding of the range of issues affecting our towns and cities, so that we can work together to navigate those challenges. 

I trust that my long experience would be an asset to the League in developing programs, policies, and plans to strengthen our state’s municipal landscape and make Vision 2030 a reality.

Tell us about your experience as a municipal official. You may want to include information on your service on the municipal governing body, other related boards and special areas of interest.

I’ve served 6 years on the Oak Ridge Town Council, including 4 years as mayor (2019-2023); I’m now midway through my second 4-year term. I ran for Council in 2017 and again in 2021, garnering the highest number of votes in both elections. Despite being one of the newer members of Council, I was elected by Council to serve as its first female mayor in 2019, following the previous mayor’s decision to step down; more recently, I stepped down from the mayorship at the end of 2023.  

My interest in serving on Town Council grew out of my experience as chair of our Historic Preservation Commission, a quasi-judicial body that oversees changes in our town’s Historic District. I later created the Historic Heritage Grant program to draw attention to the value of our district and which continues to fund small-scale, high-impact matching grants to preserve historic properties. I also chaired the town’s Future Land Use Planning Committee, which succeeded in making updates to our Land Use Plan that allow higher densities in our town core. Through this work, I realized that my commitment to fresh ideas, sound policy, and planning for the future might make me an effective councilmember. 

Shortly after being elected to Council, I spearheaded the town’s first strategic plan, which continues to guide our town’s ambitious agenda. I also helped increase communication with residents about our progress. Through my state and county relationships, I built trust in what Oak Ridge could do and succeeded in raising over $11M in funding for key projects, including significant support for the development of our town’s first municipal water system – something the town has been working on for all its 25 years. Critical funding from the state and the county are now making the new system a reality, based on years of planning and persuasion – something that was necessary in a self-reliant community where some are suspicious of change. We also raised significant funding for a new 60-acre park (which will complement our existing 80-acre park), that includes an accessible playground and a site to honor veterans. I also helped lead the development of our Village Core Design Guidelines, intended to guide development in our town core and provide the basis for an economic development plan. 

In short, I have been extremely active and engaged in projects of all kinds in Oak Ridge. I’ve prioritized collaborative relationships with fellow council members and staff, as well as our 12 resident-led committees. Although there have been challenges along the way, my work in Oak Ridge has been incredibly fulfilling and an amazing learning experience. I would welcome the opportunity to put what I’ve learned, both in my town service and in my professional life, to use in assisting other towns and cities across North Carolina.

Tell us about your educational background, professional experience, and/or community or civic activities. 

I hold a BA in English from Lawrence University in Wisconsin and an MA in English from the University of Chicago. I later attended the San Francisco Art Institute for just over a year and worked as an artist for many years. 

My love of art led me to a position at the Getty Foundation, part of the J. Paul Getty Trust in Los Angeles. Within a few years, I rose to a senior staff position, as the Foundation’s budget and staff underwent rapid growth, and it became one of the world’s largest arts funders. The breadth of my responsibilities – including grant management, communications, technology, legal issues, policy development, and budget oversight – eventually prepared me to step out on my own as a management consultant for nonprofits, initially in southern California, and later in North Carolina following our move to Oak Ridge in 2008. I collaborated with other consultants, hired administrative help as needed, and completed a wide range of projects, as detailed on my CV. Many of the projects I’ve taken on have involved strategic planning and complex policy issues, necessitating strong relationships with staff at all levels. 

I found that much of my professional experience with the Getty and other nonprofits was directly transferable to municipal governance. In addition, the knowledge I gained at the Getty of art/architectural conservation and preservation issues became important to my work in Oak Ridge, where preserving our historic and rural roots in the face of development pressures remains a high priority. Most importantly perhaps, my experience in communications, policy development, strategic planning, and budget management have served me well in my work on Town Council. 

Over the years, I’ve always been an active volunteer, taking on major projects through each of the PTA organizations associated with the schools attended by my three children – from school murals and art education to publications of student writing and strategic plans. Currently, I’m an active member of the Merchants of Oak Ridge, Lions Club, and NW Guilford Woman’s Club (a service organization), in addition to being an active participant and Council liaison on several town committees (Special Events, Parks & Rec, and Historic Preservation).

Read resume

Have You Participated in Any NCLM Events or Committees? 

  • CityVision Annual Conference

  • Town & State Dinner or Town Hall Days

  • Legislative Goals Planning Events or Process

  • Regional Meetings

  • Affiliate Organizations: Mayors Association

Please provide any other information you would like the Nominations Committee to consider.

Thank you for your consideration!

Please review my resume and consider my letters of support.

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