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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
Our second #NCLGBA19 Conference Recap comes from Mimi Clemens, Winter 2019 Conference Scholarship Recipient and MPA Candidate, UNC Chapel Hill
This December, I was able to attend the 2019 NCLGBA Winter Conference in Asheville, North Carolina with a scholarship from NCLGBA. Overall, the conference was a wonderful experience! Each day of the conference there was a general session in the morning followed by concurrent sessions with usually three sessions to choose from. At the end of Wednesday and Thursday, there were networking opportunities with roundtables and a happy hour. The conference concluded with the Economic Update and a raffle. I had a wonderful time meeting local government employees in different stages in their careers, including Budget, Finance, Performance, and Budget and Management Analysts, Senior Analysts, and Directors as well as City, Town, and County Managers. It was great meeting Analysts at the beginning of their careers in local government. This was greatly beneficial to me as a soon-to-be graduate of UNC Chapel Hill’s MPA program this May. It was enlightening hearing from them their experiences and advice after graduating from MPA programs within the state and what ways MPA programs translate well with the local government profession and lessons learned.
Three of my favorite sessions of the Winter Conference were: The Value of Planning in the 21st Century: What’s Next? presented by Mitchell Silver, High Performance Leadership: Connecting to Your Manager, Supervisor, and Your Board presented by Jeff Richardson, and Public Engagement Tools to Reach a 21st Century Audience presented by Ming-Chun Lee and Scott Correll. I was drawn to all three of these sessions due to their innovative nature. In Mitchell Silver’s presentation, the changing demographics of America will create new norms, expectations, and needs from communities for local governments to address. Jeff Richardson’s presentation encouraged self-awareness as public leaders to be able to understand elected officials, residents, and staff’s viewpoints when addressing issues in the community. The test we took during Richardson’s session was eye-opening by showing how the viewpoint and expectations of the community, staff, and elected officials can shape organizational culture and performance of the organization when addressing issues in the community. Lastly, Ming-Chun Lee and Scott Correll’s presentation on public engagement in the 21st century was fascinating. Correll discussed how the City of Charlotte’s Urban Design Center created a board game as a new way to engage with the public. This started a conversation in the community on what city residents would like to see Charlotte become in the next 20 years. With the many different paths Charlotte residents could choose in the game, the city was able to gain insight into what priorities the community values and how the community would like the city to manage growth. And Lee used new geospatial technologies to create an app that would augment reality for users on their smart phone. This app allowed for residents to see what neighborhoods in Charlotte looked like in the past as well as changing demographic trends.
I am grateful to be given this opportunity to attend the 2019 NCLGBA Winter Conference. With the new year, 2020 will bring new challenges and solutions for local governments. It is my hope that I can take what I learned from these sessions and apply it towards future challenges that may arise.