#NCLGBA20 Recap Series: Adapting to the New Normal

Over the next few weeks, we will be featuring reflections on the 2020 Virtual Summer Conference. If you would like to share your experience, please email admin@nclgba.org.

Our first #NCLGBA20 Conference Recap comes from Janice Hillanbrand, Budget and Management Analyst, Forsyth County.

Going into the 2020 Summer Conference, while I was hopeful and optimistic, I truly did not know what to expect from the organization’s first virtual conference. I had many questions – will the sessions be as impactful and instructional on a virtual platform? How will the Q&A sessions work on a virtual platform with so many people tuning in? Will the sessions be held on Zoom calls with all of the attendees awkwardly staring at each other on the screen?

The Summer 2020 Conference exceeded all of my expectations. I was deeply impressed with the virtual platform that was created for the conference, as well as the format of the general and concurrent sessions. I know planning a virtual conference in the short time that was available was no easy feat and I have endless respect for Paarth, Brian, and the rest of the NCLGBA Board for being able to do so seamlessly.

As to be expected, the underlying topic in each session was COVID-19 and the various responses we all took. During our legislative update, Chris Nida made a poignant statement when he said that the COVID-19 crisis kicked off at the worst possible time for all of us: in March when most Budget Offices are in the thick of Budget preparation. It left very little time for Budget Offices to get accurate projections of sales tax impacts- a vital revenue source for all local governments in the state. The uncertainty still continues, as Michael Walden pointed out in our first session: Economic Update. There will be continued effects of teleworking and prolonged closure that we are yet to see.

The session that left the most impact on me was the ‘What’s Your New Normal?’ concurrent session. All of the presenters talked about the importance of having adaptable, effective and compassionate leadership during times of crisis. All of the presenters spoke about the importance of listening to and being responsive of different voices, being compassionate towards those in your organization and your community, and trusting those around you to do their job and do it well. The message of this session (and the fantastic speakers) left me motivated and encouraged, despite the continued uncertainty that we all continue to face.

The overall theme of this year’s conference has proven to be the importance of being adaptable and responsive as budget offices and professionals. We work in a profession of the unknown and uncertain, and this year has clearly reminded us of just that. Despite this, it is important to keep effective leadership and work practices and to do them with compassion for the communities you serve. It will be interesting to see how this pandemic continues to effect the state as we continue through this fiscal year, as well as how it will play into planning for the Winter Conference. The NCLGBA leadership team and moderators did a spectacular job planning such a moving conference. I already cannot wait to see what is in store for this year’s upcoming Winter Conference!