Educational Session Descriptions—2018 Annual Conference


Capture ideas at the 2018 Annual Conference!Get ready to discover skills that fit the needs of your role and your city during this year’s annual conference educational sessions. These topics have been carefully selected to provide you with engaging, useful information whether you’re new to your job or have been with your city for years.

Thursday, June 21—11 a.m.-12 p.m.

Session Track: Governing & Leading
Leadership GiANTS: Simple Tools for High-Impact Leadership
Rynell Schock, Senior Consultant, GiANT Worldwide; Scott Wiethoff, Senior Consultant, GiANT Worldwide
How can you help city staff, elected officials, and members of the public connect and collaborate more effectively? Learn about a national leadership model, XCelerate, that is building smart, collaborative leaders in communities across Minnesota and experience some of the practical leadership tools from this program, including the five gears of connectivity and five fundamental voices for communication.

Managing Your City: The Basics
Rural Development Resources & Assistance for Small Cities
Terry Louwagie, Community Programs Director, MN Department of Agriculture—Rural Development
What resources are available to help cities in rural areas with local projects and community development initiatives? Find out about federal grants, loans and other assistance for local infrastructure, public buildings, and other community development work. Learn how your city can tap these resources, including the steps involved in applying for these programs and technical assistance available to cities.

Managing Your City: The Basics
Risk Management 101
Julie Jelen, Loss Control Representative, LMCIT
The League of Minnesota Cities Insurance Trust (LMCIT) places a high priority in helping cities minimize risks and reduce losses. Learn about the fundamentals of risk management and how to be effective at preventing losses in your city. Then, find out about programs LMCIT offers to help you keep city workers and residents safe, including training, consultation, and more.

Managing Your City: Advanced Tools & Practices
Engaging Employees—It’s More than Kale and Crossfit
Teri Erhardt, Faculty Wellbeing & Engagement Consultant, NFP Corporate Benefits
Wellness programs in the workplace are more popular than ever, yet their potential impact on organizational success has been largely undervalued. Studies show that these programs have the potential to not only improve healthy behaviors, but to also create organizations full of happy, healthy, and engaged employees. To achieve this, organizations must take a holistic approach—offering a few wellness challenges and lunch and learn sessions is not enough. Instead, explore how your city can focus on the many dimensions of well-being to support employees in creating and sustaining healthy behaviors, and help them feel valued and purposeful.

Planning & Development
Green Businesses Development
Hanna Klimmek, Community Development Director, City of Big Lake; Katie Stelzner, GreenCorps Member, City of Big Lake; Monte Hilleman, Senior VP of Real Estate Development, St. Paul Port Authority
Cities can promote local economic development by supporting existing local businesses. While this support can take many forms, targeting assistance to help businesses adopt more sustainable practices and produce more sustainable products and services have the potential to offer big returns to businesses, employees, customers, and the community. Gather ideas and inspiration to bring back to your city as you hear from GreenStep Cities participants that are implementing best practices to grow green businesses and jobs as well as connect local businesses to energy assistance providers.

Civic Engagement & Leadership
What’s Your Community Vision and How Do You Get There?
Perry Vetter, Assistant City Manager, City of Minnetonka; Amy Baldwin, Community & Economic Development Director, City of Fergus Falls; Ben Schierer, Mayor, City of Fergus Falls
As a city leader, you have ideas about what you’d like your community to look like 20 years from now, but how should your city move forward? What are your residents and businesses asking for? What trends do you need to be thinking about? Hear from city staff and elected officials from Minnetonka and Fergus Falls who have undertaken community visioning and strategic planning projects about how they approached it, what they learned, and why it’s important.

Return to top of page

Thursday, June 21—1:45-2:45 p.m.

Session Track: Governing & Leading
Multi-Sector Approaches to Wicked Problems
Kris Norman-Major, Director of Public Administration Programs & Center for Public Administration and Leadership, Hamline University
How do the public, private, and nonprofit sectors coordinate to address wicked problems? Why is it important? What might it look like? What are the benefits to all those involved? Get answers to these questions (and more!) when you hear about examples of cross-sector collaboration that have successfully addressed seemingly intractable problems.

Managing Your City: The Basics
What to Do (and NOT Do) to Attract and Keep Great Employees
Joyce Hottinger, Assistant Human Resources Director, League of Minnesota Cities
Getting the right people on your team and managing their performance is one of the key building blocks for excellence in city performance. Through an interactive question and answer format, you will explore best practices for hiring and performance management processes in your city.

Managing Your City: Advanced Tools & Practices
Low-Cost Strategies for Energy Efficient Public Buildings
Kevin Bright, Director of Energy and Sustainability, Destination Medical Center Economic Development Agency; Rita Albrecht, Mayor, City of Bemidji; John Paulson, Project/Environmental Regulatory Manager, City of Hutchinson
Is there a way your city can maintain and improve public facilities without bonding or increasing taxes? During this session, you’ll explore how cities like yours are using Minnesota’s Guaranteed Energy Savings Program (GESP) to finance energy efficiency and renewable energy investments. Your will also learn how to leverage expected maintenance, operations, and utility cost savings upfront to finance improvements that will generate savings over time to cover the initial investment.

Planning & Development
Arts-Based Community Development
Moderator: Sam Buffington, Community Organizer, Springboard for the Arts
Panelists: James Arentson, Architect, Southwest Minnesota Housing Partnership; Patrick Hollister, Active Living Planner, PartnerSHIP 4 Health; Vicki Chepulis, Grants and Program Coordinator, Five Wings Arts Council
Cities across the state are collaborating with artists and arts-based groups to promote the arts as a tool for building stronger neighborhoods and communities. Don’t miss this chance to learn about the economic value of art and creativity, how it brings together everyone in a community, and ways to support your city’s local creative capacity!

Civic Engagement & Leadership
New Engagement Strategies to Build Public Support for Projects
Chris Chromy, Principal Transportation Engineer, Bolton & Menk; Breanne Rothstein, Community Planning & Economic Development Group Manager, WSB & Associates
How did Bolton & Menk and the City of Prior Lake use pipe cleaners, hair curlers, and popsicle sticks to solve an intersection capacity problem that had been lingering for more than a decade? What kinds of collaborative approaches and web-based tools has WSB & Associates used to move projects forward? Cities are continually looking for new ways to engage the public and build trust with the community to get big projects done. Learn from experienced professionals as they illustrate how using non-traditional engagement strategies as well as being flexible and transparent throughout the decision-making process can turn conflict into community support.

Building Inclusive Communities
Creating a Welcoming Community
Dr. Ayaz Virji, Chief of Staff, Clinic Medical Director & Ambulance Director, Johnson Memorial Health Services
In 2014, Dr. Ayaz Virji, his wife Musarrat, and their three children moved from Harrisburg, Pennsylvania to Dawson, Minnesota to practice rural medicine. Dr. Virji’s choice of location seemed unlikely—he was from the East Coast, a graduate of Georgetown Medical School, and Muslim! The Virjis’ story has been featured in the Washington Post, the StarTribune, and on Almanac. Their experience of making a life in rural Minnesota, including leading a series of public conversations about the myths and realities of Islam, has a lot to teach city officials about the importance of building communities that truly welcome everyone. Come hear the Virjis’ story first hand!

Return to top of page

Thursday, June 21—3-3:30 p.m.

Session Track: Governing & Leading
Role of Personnel Committees
Laura Kushner, Human Resources Director, League of Minnesota Cities
Many cities use personnel committees to vet council decisions about employee compensation, labor contracts, performance evaluations, and disciplinary action. This session will be a quick dive into the topic, exploring best practices and including audience discussion.

Managing Your City: The Basics
Public Expenditures 101
Pam Whitmore, Staff Attorney, League of Minnesota Cities
Cities are the pillars of our communities and are often asked to help various organizations by donating time, resources, or funds to accomplish their goals. Understand the general criteria for a valid public expenditure and discuss commonly analyzed expenditures, including factors used to determine the validity of donations to organizations, contributions toward economic development, expenditures on certain employee expenses, and more.

Planning & Development
Healthy Communities: 30 Ideas in 30 Minutes
Dani Protivinski, Stearns County Human Services Public Health Division
What can your city do to make your community a healthier place? Start a community garden? Turn a vacant lot into an active play area? Create safe places to walk and bike? Hear about approaches that are creating vibrant, healthy communities across our state, and find out about resources to help you get started.

Return to top of page

Thursday, June 21—3:15-4:15 p.m.

Managing Your City: Advanced Tools & Practices
Navigating Federal Tax Reform: What Cities Need to Know
Ann Lenczewski, Government Relations, Lockridge Grindal Nauen; Brian Reilly, Senior Municipal Advisor, Ehlers
Passage of the Tax Cuts & Jobs Act by Congress—and how Minnesota will ultimately choose to address tax conformity issues—has raised many questions. How might these changes impact the ways development agreements are negotiated? How will the changes related to both issuers and investors affect tax-exempt and taxable municipal debt? What will the impact be to local government aid, local levies, levy limits, and local economic development tools? Will these changes create potential shifts in property tax burden? Understand the politics behind the 2018 state law changes and hear how they will affect cities, plus get some best practice tips to address the changes resulting from tax reform.

Managing Your City: Advanced Tools & Practices
Financial Planning Strategies to Meet Your City’s Goals
Jeanne Vogt, Senior Financial Specialist, Ehlers; Nick Anhut, Senior Municipal Advisor, Ehlers
Long-range financial planning helps you set and meet goals for your city, flag issues before they grow into much bigger problems, and effectively communicate decisions with the public. So why aren’t all cities doing it? Discover how developing a long-range financial plan will help you articulate a vision for your community and a plan for how you’re going to get there. Learn how to establish the financial policies you’ll need for long-term success, and how to get started with creating a strategic financial roadmap for your city.

Civic Engagement & Leadership
Attracting the Next Generation to Public Service
Michael Meehlhause, Councilmember, City of Bemidji; Maria Carrillo Perez, Management Assistant, St. Louis Park; Alicia LaBeau, Councilmember, City of Paynesville; John Tingley, City Administrator, City of Tonka Bay
For years, we’ve been talking about the next generation of leadership joining our city councils and staff. Well, they’re here—and they are bringing a whole different perspective to our city halls! Hear from a panel of city elected and appointed officials about how this new generation views city government, ways they want to engage with city colleagues, and their goals and expectations for public service.

Return to top of page

Thursday, June 21—3:45-4:15 p.m.

Session Track: Governing & Leading
How Can a Community Foundation Help Meet Local Needs?
Dayton Soby, Board Member, Wedum Foundation; Sue Keithahn, chair of the board of the Greater Nicollet Area Community Foundation and co-owner of ProGrowth Bank in Nicollet, Mankato, and Gaylord, Minnesota
Are there community projects you wish the city could support? Find out how a community foundation can partner with governments and philanthropic groups to provide critical funding and leadership for many important purposes, while also giving people who have made a living and life in the community the opportunity to leave a legacy in support of their community. Learn about a program to assist smaller cities in creating their own community foundations, including legal and technical assistance and financial matching grants.

Managing Your City: The Basics
Records Management 101
Amber Eisenschenk, Staff Attorney, League of Minnesota Cities
Do you have file cabinets full of old documents and don’t know what your city should do with them? Find out how to identify what kinds of government data are government records and ways to approach common record management issues facing cities. Electronic records, destruction of records, and responding to record requests will be covered.

Planning & Development
Afternoon Stroll in Downtown St. Cloud (45-minute tour ending at 4:30 p.m.)
Tour Guide: Dave Kleis, Mayor, City of St. Cloud
Get out of the conference room and see how St. Cloud creates a vibrant, welcoming downtown during this afternoon tour of local shops, gathering spots, and other amenities.

Return to top of page

Friday, June 22—9-10 a.m.

Session Track: Governing & Leading
Promoting a Respectful Workplace: What Employees Need to Know
Kendra Dodd, Human Resource Manager, MRA
Recent events have elevated discussions and expectations about what behaviors we expect in the workplace and have emphasized the importance for city leaders to promote a respectful and safe work environment. During this session, you’ll experience the respectful workplace/sexual harassment prevention training the League offers on a contract basis to cities. This presentation for non-supervisory employees will explore the types of behaviors that constitute harassment or are inappropriate in a professional environment. You’ll also learn about your responsibility to report these behaviors and the consequences when employees engage in behavior that violates your city’s anti-harassment policy.

Managing Your City: The Basics
Your Economic Development Toolbox
Jim Gromberg, Economic Development Coordinator, WSB & Associates; Andrew Biggerstaff, Attorney, Kennedy & Graven; Gina Fiorini, Attorney, Kennedy & Graven
Many communities are proactively seeking ways to enhance employment opportunities, revitalize downtowns, redevelop parts of their community, and improve the quality of life. Get an overview of the basic tools cities have that can facilitate economic development, including TIF, tax abatement, loan and grant programs, and zoning flexibility. Plus, get tips for how to effectively use each tool.

Managing Your City: Advanced Tools & Practices
Addressing Water Infrastructure Challenges: Adaptation Planning and Strategies
Tracy Hodel, Assistant Public Utilities Director, City of St. Cloud; Phil Martin, Principal Engineer, Bolton & Menk; Bill Dunn, Wastewater & Stormwater Financial Assistance Programs Administrator, Minnesota Pollution Control Agency
City water, wastewater, and stormwater utilities face many challenges, including aging infrastructure, costly improvements needed to meet new regulatory standards, and the expected impacts of climate change. Learn about adaptation strategies cities are using to provide more sustainable and efficient operations, generate cost savings, and maintain adequate water supply and quality. Explore how to integrate adaptation strategies into your city’s current asset management, regulatory compliance, and emergency response planning processes.

Planning & Development
Strategies and Tools to Revitalize Your Downtown
Chris Chromy, Principal Transportation Engineer, Bolton & Menk; Steve Rentz, Operator, Hoffman Concrete
Many communities are struggling with deteriorating streets, uneven sidewalks, and aging public utilities. Investing in public infrastructure is vital to your city’s economic well-being and quality of life and is particularly important to creating a vibrant downtown. Learn about revitalization strategies that have provided enhanced infrastructure and amenities in downtown areas. Discover how cities are using sustainable design practices to refresh main street, ways to effectively engage the public and businesses in these projects, and options for financing them.

Civic Engagement & Leadership & Building Inclusive Communities
Leadership for Authentic Engagement and Effective Collaboration
Lisa Schaefer, Assistant City Manager, City of Edina; Mark Nolan, Transportation Planner, City of Edina; Stephen Sarvi, City Administrator, City of Winona; Brian Voerding, Executive Director, Engage Winona
How are cities building relationships and trust with community and engaging the public in city decisions? Explore practical ways to connect with residents and other stakeholders to move your community forward. Hear from two cities about how they are approaching community engagement work, including effective techniques that could be applied in any city.

Civic Engagement & Leadership
Getting Youth Involved in City Government
Meleah Follen, Youth Engagement Director, Northfield Healthy Community Initiative (HCI); Ben Martig, City Administrator, City of Northfield; Youth Representatives from Northfield Mayor's Youth Council and Youth on Boards Program; Rhonda Pownell, Mayor, City of Northfield
The City of Northfield offers a unique opportunity for youth to get involved in local government, make change, gain an understanding of how city government works, and use their voices in meaningful and powerful ways. Learn how the city's Youth on Boards program places youth on boards and commissions throughout the city and works with youth leadership to identify issues, design and implement solutions, and find ways to give the next generation a voice in civic affairs and gain exposure to meaningful careers in local government.

Return to top of page

Please note: online registration for the 2018 Annual Conference is now closed.

—Return to the main 2018 Annual Conference page