Mark Watson

Dr. Mark Watson
Mark Watson

Oak Ridge City Manager Dr. Mark Watson will be honored by ICMA, the International City/County Management Association, as the recipient of the organization’s Award for Career Development in Memory of L.P. Cookingham.

ICMA’s Award for Career Development in Memory of L.P. Cookingham recognizes an outstanding local government administrator who has made a significant contribution to the career development of new talent in professional local government management.

As the recipient of the award, he will be honored in various platforms including ICMA’s Annual Conference, Sept. 17-21, 2022.

Watson has positively influenced the career paths of over two dozen interns and assistants since beginning his career in local government in 1981. He has shared his knowledge with students and young professionals from around the world including teaching forty students about local government in Beijing, China, in 2018.

“Receiving this award is a great honor. L.P. Cookingham, who was City Manager of Kansas City, Missouri from 1939-59, laid the foundation for decades of City Managers and leaders to come. Over the years, I’ve mentored dozens of young professionals. This award encapsulates the experiences, lessons learned, career development of those new leaders who are just beginning to learn the ropes of City Management,” Watson said.

Watson is a second-generation city manager and has served as City Manager for the City of Oak Ridge since 2010.

He received a bachelor’s degree in English and a master’s degree in public administration from the University of Kansas. His alma mater recently recognized him with a Lifetime Achievement Award in City Management.

Watson will also be recognized by the International City/County Management Association for 45 years of public service.

In May 2019, he completed his doctorate degree in philosophy from the University of Tennessee. While attending UT’s doctoral program, Watson concentrated in the field of public administration and public policy.

The ICMA Local Government Excellence Awards Program highlights creative contributions to professional local government management while demonstrating the difference that effective and committed management makes to the quality of life in our communities. ICMA’s Professional Awards honor achievements made by outstanding chief administrative officers, assistant administrators, academics, and others accomplished through tenure in local governments or organizations. Nominations are evaluated by an independent, 13-person panel of ICMA members.

Matt Wojnowski, who is currently the assistant city manager of Hutto, Texas, worked with Watson in Temple, Texas, after Wojnowski left graduate school.

“Mark was my first city manager, supervisor, and mentor. He instantly instilled his trust and confidence in me as an employee, encouraging me to work on several important projects,” he said. “Mark Watson continues to be a mentor, a leader, and a friend.”

These recipients set the standard for innovation, effectiveness, and creativity in the cities, towns, counties, and academic institutions they lead. We thank them for their commitment to improving the lives of the constituents they serve every day.

In addition to in-person and virtual conference recognition, the 2022 ICMA award recipients will be highlighted in the October 2022 issue of PM magazine.