I have been employed with the Elk River Police Department for 24 years. Chief Cunningham is the third Fire Chief I have worked with. Like his two predecessors, Chief Cunningham is professional, knowledgeable and committed to his department. Chief Cunningham fosters relationships not only with other Fire Departments, but with all of the local, county and State Law Enforcement agencies that fall within his fire district. I have personally worked many scenes with Chief Cunningham, and he is always willing to assist the Police Department in any way he can. I would not hesitate to recommend Chief Cunningham for the position of President of the MSFCA. He will bring a new level of professionalism, service and excellence to the Fire Service!

Dan BlockSergeantElk River Police DepartmentElk River, MN

I have had the pleasure of working with John in his role as a member of the Statewide Emergency Communications Board (SECB) representing the Minnesota Fire Chiefs in Greater Minnesota. John is a natural leader. His enthusiasm rubs off on others and he is always a positive force. If there is a challenge, John will be part of the group that sits down to brainstorm and find a solution. John just does the right thing. Maybe not always the easy thing but the right thing for the right reasons. John was instrumental in assisting the SECB and our division with trialing the new Band 14 dedicated to wireless broadband for public safety in Elk River. This took a great deal of his personal time and attention but he did so willingly because he is interested in the future of emergency communications and how to make it easier for his fellow responders to focus on the emergency yet have multiple resources available to effective response. I wholeheartedly support John’s candidacy!

Jackie MinesDirectorDepartment of Public Safety, Division of Emergency Communication NetworksSt. Paul, MN

To the Board of Directors and members of the MSFCA, my name is Lori Morgan and I have been with the Sherburne Co Sheriff’s Office since 1993 and was promoted to Dispatch Supervisor in 2012. I have known John Cunningham since he came to work for the City of Elk River in 2009. When John first came to work as the Fire Chief, he was not only new to Elk River but also new to us in dispatch – and as you can imagine, that can be a bit of a challenge on both sides. Once we began to build a relationship, I came to rely on John’s advice and knowledge. Because of the relationship we were able to build, it has only enhanced fire dispatching in Sherburne Co. I attend the bi-monthly fire chief’s meetings and when John is there, I know I have an ally. He was key in deciphering much of the rhetoric in the beginning and I know I can call him after a meeting for a “debriefing,” He has worked with me to set up fire training specifically designed for firefighters and dispatchers to come together to gain a better understanding of each other’s jobs and the unique challenges we both face. I have nothing but respect and appreciation for everything he has accomplished while here and I look forward to facing the challenges of our growing community and meeting those needs together. John would be an excellent President of the MSFCA!

Lori MorganDispatch SupervisorSherburne County Sheriff's OfficeElk River, MN

I had the opportunity to hear Chief Cunningham’s memorial speech on the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks. I still have the blue ribbon he shared with us that day. It serves as a visual reminder of the impact of everyday people.
For those of us with family in law enforcement and the fire service, that reminder and public show of appreciation is priceless. Too often, the sacrifices of emergency personnel, and their families, go unnoticed. I am proud of their passion to serve.
Thank you, Chief Cunningham, for your volunteer efforts at Ground Zero. Thank you also for your many years in public service since then. Your challenge to bring the community (and beyond) together is truly a measure of your character and dedication to this community.

Wendy M.Elk River, MN

I have worked with John Cunningham over the past year on a variety of work issues.   I have found John to be a dedicated, intelligent and self-motivated professional with high levels of personal and professional integrity.  In addition to John’s leadership and emergency management skills as Fire Chief, he strives to continually improve work performance.  John takes the initiative to tackle challenges to streamlined department operations, increase performance and improve accountability.  In addition to successfully managing his position responsibilities, John has made significant and positive contributions to many other areas of the city.  John is highly respected and a valued leader

Suzanne FischerCommunity Operations and Development DirectorCity of Elk RiverElk River, MN

John Cunningham gets my highest recommendation. He has consistently shown that he is a leader of high integrity, astute awareness, and possesses a compassion for humanity that goes above and beyond the call of duty. John speaks from his heart, takes inspired action and encourages others to do the same. In my experience, it is rare to meet a man of such high quality.

Barbara WainwrightCEO/FounderWainwright Global Institute of Professional CoachingLaguna Niguel, CA

It is with great honor that I get to work with Fire Chief Cunningham and also call him a mentor and friend. Chief is dedicated and passionate about his career, family, and friends. As a mentor Chief has taught me a lot about communications in crisis, technology in communications, and I even had the opportunity to follow the 2015 Fire Academy and document their journey. His ability to read and be aware of what is going on with the people around him and what their needs may be not only comes in handy for his job but in his home life. Chief Cunningham has opened up his work and personal life through the creation of the Elk River Blue Ribbon Challenge to impact lives of the residents of Elk River and beyond. He has taken risks to share pieces of his life and touching the hearts of many along the way. Chief has shown great bravery in taking these risks to impact lives to make sure that everyone knows that every life matters, that we can live in a culture of appreciation, love, and respect, and that “Who I Am Makes A Difference®” Chief Cunningham is a strong leader, a great mentor, and treasured friend who will always have your back!

RaeAnn GardnerCommunications CoordinatorCity of Elk RiverElk River, MN

I have been asked to submit a letter of recommendation for John Cunningham to be considered for the next President of the Minnesota Fire Chiefs association. I am both honored to have been asked and extremely pleased to do so.

I have worked for and as A City Manger for close to 50 years. During that time I have worked with fire chiefs in cities from 225,000 to 9,000 residents. The types of departments have ranged from full time professional departments, to mixed professional and paid on call to fully volunteer independent departments.   All forms being unique and serving the individual and residents by protecting them and their properties. I currently serve as the President of the Coon Rapids Minnesota Police and Fire Service Civil Service Commission, allowing me to keep current with the fire service and its needs.

I started working with Chief Cunningham when I became Interim City Administrator in Elk River Minnesota in 2011. John and I worked together for a little over six months and during that time we established a strong professional relationship. John was relatively new to the City as Fire Chief, having been appointed by the City Council based on his extensive fire experience in Greenwich, Connecticut. The major issue that John was facing in Elk River was the transition from a more traditional volunteer based department to a more urban fire department that would serve several cities.

He was extremely skilled at articulating the needed changes and transitions as well as maintaining the necessary balance in recognizing many of the traditions and history of the Elk River volunteer department. He was able to not only present the changes needed in a clear and professional manor but also explain the benefits of the changes to the firefighters as well as the elected officials. As a manager I came to have great respect for the chief’s knowledge as well as the demonstrated leadership skills.

From my perspective, The Minnesota Fire Chief Association would be well served by Having John Cunningham as its President.   John is articulate, and skilled at presenting ideas in a clear professional manner. He is extremely knowledgeable in the delivery of fire protection services. He would be an exceptionally polished face for the organization and would provide skill, attention to detail, strong leadership and energy to the organization. I believe the firefighters across the state would be proud to have John represent them and would enhance the public’s current strong perception of the Minnesota Fire Service.

Robert D. ThistleInterim City Administrator

John Cunningham is a great Fire Chief for the City of Elk River. He takes his job very seriously. It is not an eight-hour thing for him, rather a way of life. I was part of a task force put together by John that examined how things were done in the Fire Department. It created some hard feelings among the fire fighters but it was the right thing to do and the end product has helped improve the overall operation of the department. It was a five year vision and so far we are on course to meet that vision.

John attacks problems head on, looking for solutions. He is very prompt with his response to citizens who have concerns about certain issues. He is friendly, dedicated and professional. He is always looking for ways to make things better. He has gone out of his way to get involved in state and national fire related activities. He definitely has a passion for what he does. We are very fortunate to have him working for our city.

John DietzMayorCity of Elk RiverElk River, MN

During 2015 I was part of an LTE Public Safety Broadband Trail Project involving public and private partners. This trial project took place in the City of Elk River. Chief Cunningham provided excellent leadership and passion for this cutting edge technology. Subsequent to this project Chief Cunningham has provided educational outreach at conferences and at other training sessions regarding the national Public Safety Broadband Network, commonly know as FirstNet. Chief Cunningham’s passion for innovation and technology advancement are exceptional. John Cunningham would be an excellent President of the Minnesota State Fire Chiefs Association.

Richard JuthRichard Juth, LLCCoon Rapids, MN