About LGA

An independent, non-profit, non-partisan organization, promoting excellence in local government.

Each year, Local Government Academy offers approximately 30 educational programs, including day and evening classroom-style programs, round-table discussions and webinars.

We support and promote a strong and responsive local government system, develop effective local leaders, educate public officials, public employees and citizens, and build collaborations and partnerships.

Establishing Pillars of Good Government For Over 20 Years

Made possible through the generous support of the Claude Worthington Benedum Foundation.

The "Pillars of Good Government" project followed a collaborative process to identify policies and practices of well-governed and managed communities. The “Pillars” established research-proven standards by which elected officials, staff and the public can gain a better understanding of local government service obligations and best practices. The following Pillars of Good Government provide for the objective evaluation of the value and performance of local government services and serve as the foundation for LGA programs:

Our Board of Directors


Ruthann L. Omer, P.E.
Omer Advisors, Inc.

Vice Chair

Andy Waple, AICP
Southwestern Pennsylvania Commission

Cindy Bahn
Bellevue Borough

Jenn Beer
President & CEO,
Leadership Pittsburgh

Bracken Burns
South Strabane Township,
Washington County

Eric Chandler
Canonsburg Borough

Suzanne Chybrzynski
HDH/HUB International

Lauren Connelly
Greater Pittsburgh Chamber of Commerce

Patrick Conners, II
Quaker Valley Council of Governments

Darla J. Cravotta
Allegheny County, Office of the Executive

Jason Davidek
Allegheny League of Municipalities

Lisa Franklin-Robinson
North Braddock Borough

Mark Gordon
Butler County Economic Development and Planning

Ryan L. Hayes
Pennsylvania American Water

Charles M. Jones
City of Beaver Falls

Paul Klein
Allegheny County Council

An Lewis
Steel Rivers Council of Governments

Karen Lightman
Metro21: Smart Cities Institute, Carnegie Mellon University

Carrie Machuga, AICP
McCormick Taylor

Mark Mansfield
Upper St. Clair Township

Michael McCaig
Raymond James

Lori Mizgorski
State Representative
Commonwealth of Pennsylvania

Dan Santoro
Cranberry Township

Catherine Sapp
Penn Hills

Brian Schimmel
PA Department of
Environmental Protection

Art Tintori
Green Tree Borough

Sue Trout
Mockenhaupt Benefits Group

Shon Worner
Campbell Durrant Beatty
Palombo & Miller, P.C.

Corey Young
Center for Energy Policy & Management,
Washington & Jefferson College

Our Team

Joy M. Ruff, AICP

Executive Director

Joy has more than 23 years of experience in municipal planning, community development, and public involvement that spans public, private, and non-profit sectors. She holds a B.A. in Political Science from the University of Pittsburgh and a M.A. in Communication Studies from California University of Pennsylvania. She is a member of the American Institute of Certified Planners and has led planning and community engagement efforts across Pennsylvania focusing on issues of importance to local governments.

Conner Plunkett

Program Manager

Conner comes to Local Government Academy as program manager from several years working in immigration law, focusing on professional and employment-based immigration. He holds an M.A. in philosophy from the University of Warwick in the United Kingdom and a B.A. in philosophy from Hampshire College. In his position as program manager, Conner plays a key role in facilitating our programming including the Municipal Intern Program and Newly Elected Officials course. In his free time, Conner is an avid cyclist and enthusiastic gardener.

Alison Wuensch

Community Engagement Coordinator

Alison comes to Local Government Academy via the Municipal Intern Program. She interned at and subsequently worked for the Borough of Churchill, where she focused on both budget and community engagement topics. She holds an M.S. in Public Policy and Management from Carnegie Mellon University and a B.A. in International Studies from the University of San Francisco. In her inter-organizational position as community engagement coordinator for Local Government Academy and Allegheny League of Municipalities, Alison provides support for community partnership programming.

Stephanie Edwards

Project Coordinator

Stephanie is a graduate student (24’) earning her Master’s of Public Administration at GSPIA. She majors in Public and Nonprofit Management, where she works on different projects, such as a program evaluation of Lead Safe Homes Allegheny. She has earned her B.S in Public Policy from the University of Pittsburgh, along with a certificate in Qualitative Research Collection Methods. Her experience includes local government, public goods, and social science research. She has worked for both Armstrong and Westmoreland Counties, and most recently comes from the Community Library of Allegheny Valley.