Sunday, June 27, 2021

8:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.

Special Pre-Conference Workshop:

So, You Want to Be a General Manager?

Scott Carroll, CSDM, Costa Mesa Sanitary District

This is a practical career development workshop for senior executives and emerging leaders in special districts. This action-oriented workshop includes group and panel discussions on the journey, roles, and skill sets of a general manager; identifying general manager opportunities; developing positive relations with the board, staff, and peer agency executives; and leadership best practices.

Separate registration and payment are required for Pre-Conference Workshops.

9:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.

Special Pre-Conference Workshop II:

Strategic Conversations: A New Way of Strategic Planning

Michael Grabow, CPS HR Consulting

Developing your leadership ability for strategic thinking and planning, coupled with the skills to engage in strategic conversations significantly improves your value as a leader. The days of hiring an outside agency to create a strategic plan for your organization are over. Organizations poised for growth and success have leaders who are adopting strategic thinking as an on-going way of doing business and strategic planning that engages employees across the whole organization as well as external stakeholders. They engage everyone in developing agile plans; cycles of experimentation and learning, innovation; and measuring actions against relevant metrics.

Separate registration and payment are required for Pre-Conference Workshops.

5:30 – 7:00 p.m.

Registration and Opening Reception

Monday, June 28, 2021

8:00 a.m.

Conference Registration Opens 

8:00 – 8:30 a.m.

Continental Breakfast with Exhibitors 

8:30 – 10:00 a.m.

Opening Keynote 

It’s OK to be the Boss

Bruce Tulgan, Founder and CEO, RainmakerThinking, Inc.

Most managers spend a lot of time communicating with their direct-reports, but their communication is too often lacking in structure and substance. As a result, problems hide below the surface, until they blow up, and then everyone has to jump into firefighting mode.  That’s why so many managers are stuck in a vicious cycle of undermanagement. The solution: Highly engaged management.

  • What is managing on autopilot and how can you avoid it?
  • What are the three most common questions managers ask their direct reports?
  • What are the questions YOU should be asking?
  • What is management by interruption?
  • How can you put more structure and substance into your management communication?

In this program, Bruce Tulgan answers these questions and more! With a blend of humor, insight, and concrete best practices, Bruce helps managers confront their own bad habits and teaches leaders a step-by-step approach back to the fundamentals of highly engaged management that anyone can put into action.

10:00 – 10:30 a.m.

Break and Networking with the Exhibitors 

10:45 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.

General Session 

The Past, Present, and Future of COVID-19

Laura Izon, Atkinson, Andelson, Loya, Ruud & Romo

Remember when everyone was saying “two weeks to slow the curve”? It’s been a long two weeks! As a public employer performing essential functions, it is extremely important that both the needs of your employees and the service to your community are balanced appropriately. This informative session will take a look back at the stages of COVID-19, the lessons we learned, the continuing impact on and challenges for special districts, and where we think we’ll be in the upcoming months

12:15 – 1:15 p.m.

Networking Lunch with Exhibitors

1:30 – 3:00 p.m.  

Breakout Sessions

  • How to Influence Peak Performance Management 

    Frances Trant, Koff & Associates 

    In this age of social media influencers, it has always been clear that the art of influence is key to Peak Performance Management. The goal of a Performance Optimization Program is to create a workplace that focuses on employee development and sustaining a culture where year-round feedback is welcomed and not perceived as a threat. Performance optimization doesn’t need to be a one-size-fits-all approach, in fact it can look different for every agency or even departments within organizations. In this session, you will learn how to overcome your own obstacles to become a Performance Optimization Influencer. You will walk away with strategies on how to overcome the fears in delivering and receiving feedback and establish a welcoming culture of continuous communication that inspires peak performance.
  • Cultivating a Workplace Culture of Respect in a Polarized Society

    Michael Willihnganz, Placer County Water Agency

    The divisiveness which permeates our country today has not surprisingly, been accompanied by a deterioration of civility, common courtesy and respect within society. This should be concerning to the leadership in special districts. Without a strong, positive workplace culture of respect, our special districts run the risk of becoming just as polarized as society at large. A divided workplace, in which disrespectful behaviors are ignored or tolerated, is unacceptable. This presentation will define the concept of workplace culture and will discuss the eight interconnected elements that work in concert to create and sustain a positive workplace culture.
  • A Leader’s Guide to Building & Keeping Trust with Your Board 

    Brent Ives, BHI Consulting

    This session discusses the variety conditions where distrust between the board, board members and/or general manager may occur. The session allows for situational discussion and both proactive and situational remedies.

3:00 – 3:30 p.m.

Break and Networking with Exhibitors

3:30 – 5:00 p.m.

Breakout Sessions

  • Four Steps to Successful Succession Planning

    Nancy Hetrick and Christine Butterfield, Management Partners   

    Between retiring Boomers and job-hopping Millennials, it can be a challenge to keep a local government fully staffed these days. That makes succession planning more important than ever, to ensure that your organization is prepared for change.
  • How To Lead Just About Any Internal Project – Successfully

    Maria Lara, Streamline  

    If you have a hard time getting buy-in for projects you want to tackle at your district, this talk will help! Whether it’s cranky board members, reluctant staff, or members of the public that are getting in the way of tackling and completing your dream project, the tricks we’ve learned from our robust, inclusive “discovery” process can help you lead conversations that will get everyone on board and pulling in the same direction.
  • Trends in Municipal Financing: What Special Districts Should Know 

    Jeff Land, Brandis Tallman; Julio Morales, Urban Futures, Inc.; Bill Morton, Municipal Finance Corporation

    From pension obligation bonds to energy efficiency financing to short-term bridge loans, special districts have more financing options to meet their specific needs. In this session, consultants from CSDA Finance Corporation are joined by a pension funding expert to discuss the latest in financing trends, changes in the market, and what it means to your district.

5:15 – 6:45 p.m.

Food & Wine Experience Reception

Join your fellow attendees and exhibitors for more networking while enjoying food, wine, and beer sampling.

Tuesday, June 29, 2021

8:30 – 9:00 a.m.

Continental Breakfast with Exhibitors

9:00 - 10:30 a.m.

General Session with Keynote

Master Your World: 10 Leadership Strategies to Improve Productivity and Communication

Dr. Mary Kelly, Best-selling author

We hear the word leadership a lot around the office. But, do we understand what it means to be a leader – regardless of our job title or our place on the ladder? Leadership isn’t just a plan for the supervisors and CEOs. Leadership is a set of principles that affects every employee, every team member, and every consumer. Leadership is what differentiates the ordinary from the amazing.

Would you like to know if your employees are searching LinkedIn for their next job? Or, if your boss has your back at the board meeting? Dr. Mary Kelly has some surprising insight into these questions as she guides you through a session that is a true investment in yourself and your career.

  • Understand how leadership creates a productive and constructive team
  • Learn how loyalty and relationships affect your bottom line
  • Realize what most employees say they are not getting from their supervisors and leaders that causes them to leave
  • Create a culture of dynamic communication

10:30 – 11:00 a.m. 

Break and Networking with Exhibitors

11:00 a.m. – 12:15 p.m. 

Breakout Sessions

  • Social Media and the 1st Amendment

    Margaret Rosequist, Meyers Nave

    Elected officials and government entities are becoming more accessible and connected to constituents through social media. Key questions the session will address include:

    • May government entities and elected officials block or regulate public participation on their social media accounts?
    • May elected officials unfriend, deny or not respond to friend requests?
    • May people be blocked, muted or unfollowed on Twitter?
    • How should policies be drafted and enforced regarding the public’s use of these social media accounts?
  • GM Performance Evaluations and Contracts

    Shelline Bennett, Liebert Cassidy Whitmore; Martin Rauch, Rauch Communications

    Every board has a responsibility to evaluate their manager effectively, and every manager should insist on a quality process that identifies good performance and problem areas, as well as opportunities for feedback.  This session outlines a proven process that gives each board member and the manager an opportunity to hear from each other. It will cover emerging trends in performance evaluations and topics, including how to: incorporate both subjective and objectives metrics; recognize what is legally sound when looking at manager contracts; provide an opportunity for the manager to lay out his or her accomplishments for the past year; ensure there is policy level direction to clarify the managers goals for the coming year, and more.
  • Authentic Public Engagement: Strategies & Tools for Managers 

    Institute for Local Government; Adam Probolsky, Probolsky Research; Ryder Todd Smith, Tripepi Smith

    Communications is a critical element of ever public agencies operations. Effectively connecting with the communities we serve, understanding their concerns, educating them on the roll of your agency or limits on budgets are critical to fulfilling our public service missions. Social media and general digital communications have only complicated the picture, raised expectations from our constituents and complicated our channels for communicating. This presentation will focus on how our residents are acquiring information, discuss their trust in societal institutions, and identify tools and methods used by public agencies to be more effective communicators with their constituencies.

12:30 – 2:30 p.m.  (Lunch included)

2021 and Beyond: Economic and Legislative Outlook

Dr. Christopher Thornberg, Beacon Economics

During this extended closing lunch, you’ll hear from two experts about what the future might hold for you and your district. Dr. Christopher Thornberg of Beacon Economics, an expert in economic and revenue forecasting, regional economics, economic policy, and labor and real estate markets, will present on the 2021 economic forecast. Dr. Thornberg has consulted for private industry, cities, counties, and public agencies. He became nationally known for forecasting the subprime mortgage market crash that began in 2007 and was one of the few economists on record to predict the global economic recession that followed.

Advocacy and Public Affairs Issues

Kyle Packham, CSDA

This presentation will be a mid-year, executive-level update on the most significant advocacy and public affairs issues facing special districts in and around the State Capitol. Learn about the challenges facing special districts, including the opportunities ahead and the threats lurking from behind.

2:30 p.m.

Event Concludes

Certified Special District Manager (CSDM) is a voluntary designation sought by individuals who strive to be the best in their field. Administrators with various academic and professional backgrounds can be candidates for the program.

The certification examination and study guide were developed through the participation of over 100 volunteer subject matter experts who know about special district management. Guided by the SDLF Board, Certification and Audit Advisory Committee, and under direction by a professional examination development firm, this certification gives successful candidates recognition unmatched by any other program.

The two-hour exam covers all key aspects of special district management including governance, legal requirements, policy development, ethics in public service, strategic planning,
public finance, and more.

To find out the requirements for taking the CSDM examination visit or call 916-231-2939.

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