Attoun Receives Leadership Award

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Michelle Phillips

MIDDLETON–Abby Attoun, Director of Planning and Community Development for the City of Middleton is the 2020 recipient of the Jean B. Tyler Leader of the Future Award, presented by the Wisconsin Policy Forum. The award recognized a leader in city government under 40 years old.

City Administrator Mike Davis nominated Attoun for the award, which was announced last week. 

“He knows my work style and my workload better than anyone at the city, so being nominated by him makes this award even more gratifying,”said Attoun.

“I had seen an announcement from the Wisconsin Policy Forum about the Jean B. Tyler Award for leaders under 40, and Abby immediately sprung to mind. She skillfully has managed and led the city’s sustainability and public arts programs, and she has been an invaluable resource for workforce housing and community development initiatives since she started her employment with the city in 2007. Now as Director of Planning and Community Development, she is leading the city’s comprehensive planning initiative. She is not only an accomplished team player, but she also approaches all of her work with intelligence, thoughtfulness, skill and diplomacy as well,” Davis commented on his nomination of Attoun.

She said that this year has brought added stress due to COVID-19, and that makes the award more special, adding that local government officials are rarely recognized for their work.

“Anyone who knows me well will tell you–I juggle a lot of priorities, projects, and committees, and I always make time for citizen input. This year has been particularly busy with additional night meetings, working on the City’s Comprehensive Plan, not to mention the stressors of the pandemic and having two sons doing virtual 4K and 1st grade,” she explained.

She said she enjoys her job because she gets to work on a variety of projects. 

“It’s rewarding to take a walk around the neighborhood and see big projects (like the Stone Horse Green) and small projects (like the design for the Middleton benches around downtown) that I played a role in. I love that local government can address problems in our community and quickly bring ideas to fruition. As an example, the Bock Community Garden in Middleton was developed in response to a public health nurse who was working with a local family that had food insecurity issues. Because of that single story, our Sustainability Committee and staff planned and established the Bock Community Garden that now offers over 80 families in Middleton a place to garden (not to mention, donates thousands of pounds of organic produce to the local food pantry). Similarly, when downtown business owners pointed out we had no signage welcoming people to downtown Middleton, our Arts Committee and Community Development Authority worked with downtown businesses to develop and fund an eye-catching entryway mural at Parmenter and University. The mural will be painted by OhYa Studio beginning this week,” Attoun said of some of the projects.

The Wisconsin Policy Forum awards are presented annually for the past 28 years. The Salute celebrates the benefits that public sector ingenuity and excellence bring to taxpayers and communities throughout Wisconsin. Award categories recognize local governments and school districts for innovative problem-solving, effective use of technology, partnership, and cooperation, as well as individuals in the public sector for excellence and lifetime achievement.

“We are pleased to honor a very deserving group of governments and public sector leaders for their innovation, collaboration, and excellence, especially during what has been an historically challenging year,” Wisconsin Policy Forum President Rob Henken said.

“I can’t think of a person more worthy of this statewide honor,” Davis said.

Attoun holds a B.S. Community and Regional Planning from Missouri State University, and an M.S. Urban and Regional Planning form the University of Iowa. She has also been the recipient of the In Business Magazine Top 40 Under 40 in 2014, the Wisconsin Water Association Efficiency Award in 2015 and the Wisconsin DNR Recycling Excellence Award in 2015.

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