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Membership Guide

Welcome to NACo, the only national organization that represents county governments. The NACo President, the officers, Board of Directors and staff thank you for your support and participation in the association. You have joined an exclusive group of nearly 2,300 county, borough and parish members nationwide. Our mission is to assist America’s counties in pursuing excellence in public service. We are committed to providing you with first class programs and services.

Overview

The National Association of Counties (NACo) assists America’s counties in pursuing excellence in public service by advancing sound public policies, promoting peer learning and accountability, fostering intergovernmental and public-private collaboration and providing value-added services to save counties and taxpayers money.

Founded in 1935, NACo provides the elected and appointed leaders from the nation’s 3,069 counties with the knowledge, skills and tools necessary to advance fiscally responsible, quality-driven and results-oriented policies and services to build healthy, vibrant, safe and fiscally resilient counties. NACo is the only national organization that represents county governments in the United States.

Headquartered on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., NACo is a full-service association offering a wide range of products and services geared to address the needs of elected and appointed county leaders. In August 2006, NACo was named one of nine remarkable associations in the United States by the American Society of Association Executives and The Center for Association Leadership because of our commitment to members and purpose.

NACo's value is priceless. CDBG grants that NACo has lobbied for have brough significant funding to Marion over the last 15 years. The training received from NACo has left me better equipped to serve my people back home. Without NACo, Marion County would be a lot less productive than we are now.

--Calvin Newsome, Supervisor, Marion County, Miss.

NACo’s governance structure includes a Board of Directors, officers and Executive Committee, standing committees, and steering committees. Each body serves important administrative and policy-related functions. The Board of Directors meets four times a year at the Legislative Conference, Western Interstate Region Conference and the Annual Conference: County Solutions and Idea Marketplace, as well as at a Fall meeting. Policy, budget and administrative issues are discussed and decided at these meetings.

There are four NACo regions: West, Central, South and Northeast. Each region has a representative who has a seat on the NACo Board of Directors. Each regional caucus is chaired by the elected regional representative from that region. Each regional representative serves for two years and there are no limits on how many terms he/she may serve, but he/she must be from a NACo member county. Each state is allowed only one vote during each regional representative election.

NACo affiliate organizations represent departments within the county government structure. There are procedures and criteria in place for completing the application process to become an affiliate, which includes a vote of the membership at the NACo Annual Conference: County Solutions and Idea Marketplace and the completion of a Memorandum of Understanding.

NACo has a rich history of successful ventures working in conjunction with our corporate partners, and much of the financial health of our organization is due to our entrepreneurial relationships with the private sector. These partnerships have also delivered value at the county level through enhanced knowledge and unique solutions to problems.

NACo Represents

The NACo Legislative Affairs Department is the center for policy development and advocacy on county issues in Washington, D.C. It also staffs the 10 steering committees which formulate NACo policy positions and our two caucuses, the Large Urban County Caucus and Rural Action Caucus, which help advocate for these positions. The department also provides liaison functions with the Western Interstate Region (WIR).

NACo is the front line of defense for counties, preventing our federal government from creating laws that can cause county governments to provide funding for unfunded mandates. The prescription discount card enables counties to help citizens afford medication at a reduced cost, decreasing health care cost. No requirements, easy access...and the most politically advantageous action I have ever taken...NACo has a plethora of information that is at your fingertips.

--Marc Hamlin, District Clerk, Brazos County, Texas

The members support federal policies and programs that provide the tools, resources and solutions needed to spur job growth, improve quality of life and increase the economic competitiveness of America’s local counties and communities. This includes supporting and maintaining key public infrastructure, transportation and economic development assets; creating and sustaining a skilled workforce to meet the needs of business; promoting public health and public safety to protect our citizens and implementing a broad portfolio of federal, state and local programs in a cost-effective and accountable manner.

NACo’s Board of Directors, 10 Steering Committees, Large Urban County Caucus (LUCC) and Rural Action Caucus (RAC) have adopted key legislative priorities which are consistent with our efforts to hold counties harmless while seeking common ground on fiscal responsibility issues and job creation. We will advocate for these and other priorities throughout the year. The issues are equally important and are not presented in priority order.

NACo Saves

NACo offers valuable programs and services to counties, county residents, county employees and retirees, often through partnerships with state associations. County residents save money on their prescription medication, health services and dental procedures. County employees benefit from retirement savings plans and financial planning services. Additional programs that offer products and services at the best possible pricing include cooperative purchasing, financing for public and private activities, corporate member programs, compliance services and county reinsurance. We also offer counties a robust Grants Clearinghouse to assist with local projects. 

NACo Provides

The NACo County Solutions & Innovation Department provides information, training and assistance to counties on a wide range of issues in order to increase knowledge, build capacity and foster innovative practices in county programs. 

  • Healthy Counties
    NACo’s Healthy Counties Initiative was launched in 2011 to enhance public/private partnerships in county health. The initiative is guided by an advisory board comprising health leaders within the NACo membership along with corporate partners representing various health sectors.
     
  • Smart Justice
    NACo’s robust programming in the justice area includes information, technical assistance and other services that span across the justice spectrum. Current work includes reentry, supportive housing, indigent defense, criminal justice coordinating councils and jail population management resources. 
     
  • Educational Services
    NACo’s Educational Services Division offers education and training opportunities that support county leaders and the county government workforce. This division focuses on skills building and professional development from which all county workers can benefit. 
     
  • NACo Conferences and Events
    NACo holds three major conferences annually. All of our conferences and events give members the opportunity to learn and gather information to help improve the effectiveness of their counties.
NACo Promotes

The Public Affairs Department works with NACo members and staff from other departments to promote NACo and county issues and raise public awareness of the roles and responsibilities of county governments. The goal is to help the Administration and Congress, as well as the American people, to understand what counties do, how they fit in the government structure and “Why Counties Matter.

NACo uses social media, mainstream media, and inhouse publications and methods to deliver the county message. The NACo Facebook, YouTube and Twitter accounts spread the word about counties and NACo events, policies and activities. Here are some of the tools that NACo uses to promote counties and keep its members informed:

  • County News - NACo's printed and online newspaper sent to 38,000 members biweekly covering legislative action in Washington and news from counties across the country.
     
  • National County Government Month - An annual celebration to raise awareness about counties.
     
  • Counties Work - An online game that helps students learn about county government by running their own county.
     
  • Media Relations - Secures media coverage for county issues, officials and NACo.
     
  • Jobs Online - A fee-based job-listing service to allow users to post their job openings quickly.

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