#NCLGBA19 Recap Series: Building Connections to Increase Meaning

Over the next few weeks, we will be featuring reflections on the 2019 Winter Conference. If you would like to share your experience, please email admin@nclgba.org.

Our first #NCLGBA19 Conference Recap comes from Ellenore Holbrook, Budget Analyst, City of Asheville

The 2019 Winter Conference addressed a wide variety of topics throughout its sessions, but I found one dominant theme between them all: connecting with one another.

I am not talking about connecting in the formal, shake hands and talk about the weather sense of networking. Rather, talking about the differences in our experiences, acknowledging them, and learning from one another.

I first noticed this theme during the opening session with Mitchell Silver who discussed how to plan for the 21st century. He spoke about changing demographics at the local, state, and national levels and how they would impact the challenges our communities face over time. What struck me was when he spoke openly about the different generations, their attributes, and how we are able to learn from one another to better support our organizations. As the demographics of NCLGBA change, we continue to learn new ideas from one another and push ourselves to be better.

The theme of connection continued throughout a number of sessions, including the panel on the Recession. As someone who was in high school during the Great Recession, I do not have a clear idea of how it impacted our organizations. By being able to hear from those who experienced it firsthand, we are able to gain an understanding of how we can better address the next recession.

Finally, my favorite session (and I promise it was not because I helped plan it!) was Speed Coaching. Entirely centered on connecting with those in your field, it provided a space for those beginning their budget career to ask questions and listen to those who have a wide breadth of experience. With the time constraint, it pushed participants to ask valuable questions quickly, rather than attempting to make small talk. The best part was after the session officially ended, most individuals remained in the room to continue their conversations and meet others.

Building connections with one another is important but also difficult. It can be hard to get over the awkwardness of meeting new people, asking potentially difficult questions, and making yourself vulnerable in recognizing what you do not know. This conference provided opportunities for everyone to open up, learn about something new, and connect with others in a valuable and mutually beneficial way.