Forward Together: Presentations and Articles for Local Government

Trainings and Inspirations from Forward Together

Available Now

Forward Together Virtual Conference 2020

As local government leaders and partners, we are navigating uncharted territory in this age of COVID-19. At the same time, our conferences and other professional development opportunities have been canceled or postponed. Still, our communities must carry on.

We need to prepare for the future of local government in a post-COVID world. But we can’t prepare in isolation. Together we can rise to the occasion. Together we can do the bold, innovative things that we must to recover, and that we’ve always dreamed about doing for our communities.

That’s where wisdom from the first ever Forward Together Virtual Conference for Local Government comes in.

May of 2020 brought hundreds of local government professionals together online, with Polco/National Research Center (NRC), the International City/County Management Association (ICMA), National League of Cities (NLC), Engaging Local Government Leaders (ELGL), Alliance for Innovation (AFI), Tennessee City Management Association (TCMA), the Government Finance Officers Association (GFOA), Iowa City/County Management Association (IaCMA), and government innovation coach Nick Kittle.

Forward Together encompasses everything from financial and human resource planning to emerging data leaders should know to adapt moving forward.

All the presentation recordings are now available for free to local governments. If you want to receive the recordings, enter your email by clicking the button below. We will send them to you shortly.


Top Eight Articles From Forward Together 

What We Learned Hosting Our First Post-COVID Virtual Conference

By Cory Poris Plasch, Vice President of Customer Success. Read more here.

What Will Be Different for Local Governments Long After COVID-19?

Guest article by Dan Bolin, Partner, Ancel Glink, P.C. Read more here

Five Ways Local Governments Support Their Staff After COVID Shutdowns

By Heather Locke, Research Analyst. Read more here

Five Reasons Local Government Must Embrace Remote Work

Guest article by Heidi Voorhees, President, GovHR USA. Read more here

Top Eight Local Government Innovations As We Emerge from COVID-19

By Ranier Ford, Client Success Specialist. Read more here

During Pandemic, Local Government Leaders Find New Creative Ways to Innovate

By Jade Arocha, Senior Research Analyst. Read more here

Featured Speakers

Nick Kittle

Nick Kittle is a government performance and innovation coach and keynote speaker, and an ex-Chief Innovation Officer who spent 15 years working in local government. He founded one of the first local government innovation offices in the country and won three national awards for innovation before writing the book “Sustainovation: building sustainable innovation in government, one wildly creative idea at a time”.

Beyond that, he is also a Renaissance man who dabbles in the arts and the world around him, an avid disc golfer, and an award-winning barbecue chef. But at the end of the day, he makes it his job to help great people do great things. He is a partner and resource for a brighter future through his work with Life 2.0 (TEDx talk) and he empowers workplaces across the country with Sustainovation. His motto is live the life you love and love the life you live.

To learn more about Sustainovation, please visit

Daniel Bolin

Daniel J. Bolin is a partner at Ancel Glink representing public entities and property owners in wide-ranging local government, land use, and election matters. Dan has spent his entire legal career in local government, regularly counseling governmental clients at public meetings and offering advice on current issues, including coronavirus response and cannabis legalization. Dan’s creative strategies for the repair and demolition of blighted and abandoned properties recently helped his client earn a Lake County Municipal League Innovation Award. Dan writes about controversial land uses, and regularly speaks at state and national conferences regarding emerging local government topics. Dan hosts Ancel Glink’s Quorum Forum podcast, and his appearance on the GovLove podcast earned a GovieLovie Award.

Laurie Buczek

Laurie Buczek

Laurie is a consulting advisor for the Alliance for Innovation. She has over two decades of experience in leadership roles across the private, public and non-profit sectors. Laurie is uniquely experienced in organizational capacity & health, business strategy development and implementation, operations, technology, marketing and nonprofit governance. Most recently, Laurie serves as the President of Mindshift Strategy, a strategic business consulting firm.  Prior to her role at Mindshift, Laurie was the Deputy City Manager for Gilbert, Arizona where she oversaw the Information Technology, Human Resources, Digital Government and Office of Management & Budget departments, while leading new strategy for innovation and smart cities. Laurie holds a degree from The Ohio State University and resides in Gilbert, Arizona.


Andy Berke

Born and raised in Chattanooga, Tennessee, Andy Berke served as State Senator for Tennessee’s 10th District from 2007 to 2012 before becoming the 65th Mayor of Chattanooga in 2013. As Mayor, Andy is focused on growing the local economy, ensuring every child has the opportunity to succeed, making Chattanooga’s streets safer and neighborhoods stronger — all while running a high-performing and effective government. Known as the Gig City, Mayor Berke has worked to maximize Chattanooga’s high-speed fiber optic infrastructure, establishing the first Innovation District in a mid-sized city and concentrating his efforts on digital equity. In 2015, Mayor Berke was named the Municipal Leader of the Year by American City and County magazine for innovative initiatives such as Baby University, Tech Goes Home, and NetBridge, as well as for his leadership during a domestic terror attack on July 16, 2015, that took the lives of four Marines and a Naval Officer.

Mila Cosgrove

Mila Cosgrove has worked in the public sector for over 30 years.  She currently serves as the Deputy City Manager for the City and Borough of Juneau, Alaska.  Prior to that appointment, Ms. Cosgrove’s professional area of focus was Human Resources which included 15 years at the executive level for both State and Local governments.  Ms. Cosgrove has a special expertise in Labor Relations, Organizational Development, and Executive Recruitment.

Ms. Cosgrove has a long history of contributions to professional development organizations.  She currently sits on the board of the Alaska Municipal Managers Association and she served as President of the International Public Managers Association – Human Resources in 2013.  Most recently, Ms. Cosgrove helped develop IPMA-HR’s Executive Leadership Training program.  Ms. Cosgrove holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology from Naropa University and is a graduate of the Pacific Program for Catalytic Leadership.  She holds the IPMA Certified Executive designation.  

Jennifer Fennema

Jennifer Fennema was named Director of Human Resources for the City of Henderson, Nevada in March 2014. Before her appointment, Jennifer served as the Human Resources Administrative Services Manager, the Director of Human Resources at Atlas Pipeline, and in human resources positions for the City of Henderson, Aristocrat Technologies, and Montana State University.

Active in the community and in her profession, Jennifer is a 2018 graduate of Leadership Henderson and is an IPMA-HR Senior Certified Professional.  She currently serves as a Board Member for Southern Nevada IPMA-HR and Nevada PELRA and is an active member of IPMA-HR.  In 2019, the City of Henderson Human Resources team won the prestigious IPMA Excellence Award for a medium agency. Jennifer is a graduate of Montana State University-Bozeman with a bachelor’s degree in Speech Communication.  Jennifer has been a proud Henderson resident since 2000.

Mark Funkhouser

Mark Funkhouser, president of Funkhouser & Associates, is a municipal finance expert and former mayor of Kansas City who has served as a government official, elected leader and publisher of Governing magazine. He is a trusted and credible advisor to government officials who is uniquely qualified to help them put their communities on the path to fiscal sustainability. Funkhouser holds an master’s degree in social work from West Virginia University, an M.B.A. from Tennessee State University, and an interdisciplinary Ph.D. in public administration and urban sociology from the University of Missouri at Kansas City.

Kim Haddow

Kim Haddow is the director of the Local Solutions Support Center (LSSC), a national hub that coordinates and creates opportunities to counter the misuse of preemption and strengthen local democracy.  At present, LSSC is focused on helping local governments define and expand their powers to respond and recover from the pandemic.  For the past two decades as president of Haddow Communications, Inc., Haddow has worked with a broad range of nonprofit organizations on messaging and branding, strategic campaign planning, and opposition management.  Haddow also worked at Greer, Margolis, Mitchell, Burns (GMMB), a Washington, DC- based media consulting firm, advising political, initiative, cause-related marketing, and non-profit campaigns.

Ron Holifield

Ron Holifield is a “Servant Leader Provocateur” with one goal: To drive the leadership conversation in corporations and local government nationwide toward a servant leadership value system. 

For more than 30 years, he’s successfully recruited, assessed, and developed innovative, collaborative, and authentic leaders in the country’s most change-resistant sectors. As a former city manager, Ron has grown and transformed destinations to cities named as best-run and top for business, elevating their positions as statewide leaders. He’s partnered with more than 700 local jurisdictions in 47 states and consulted with some of the nation’s leading corporations, including American Express, Xerox, IBM, PeopleSoft, Verizon, Aramark, Space Imaging, and NASA.

A straight-talking change agent who produces results, Ron is a nationally sought-after speaker who presents annually at over 50 national, state, and regional conferences and has been featured on NPR, Entrepreneur, and numerous online, print, and broadcast news outlets. He’s also the author of 4th Dimension Leadership: A Radical Strategy for Creating an Authentic Servant Leadership Culture.

Shayne Kavanagh

Shayne Kavanagh is the Senior Manager of Research for GFOA and has been a leader in developing the practice and technique of long-term financial planning and policies for local government. He started GFOA’s research and consulting in long-term financial planning and policy development in 2002 and has been working with local governments on financial planning and policies ever since. 

He is the author of a number of influential publications on financial planning and has written a number of articles on long-term financial planning, financial policies, budget reform, and other related topics for magazines.

Prior to joining GFOA, Shayne was the Assistant Village Manager for the Village of Palos Park, Illinois, where he was responsible for managing all aspects of financial management operations, including budgeting, utility billing, payroll, and accounting. He received his MPA degree from Northern Illinois University.

Michelle Kobayashi

Michelle Kobayashi, Vice President of Innovation NRC/Polco, has helped local governments maximize public opinion for more than twenty years. She is a thought-leader in the field of survey research and evaluation, and has written numerous books and articles on the subject. As a resident survey expert, she travels the country to speak professionally and lead workshops about resident surveys, local government employee surveys, strategic planning and more.

Katherine Correll

Kat Correll is resource choreographer and innovator for local governments, non-profits, and private businesses hoping to achieve more with less. She brings broad experience in public-private partnerships, financing strategies, and organizational and partnership structures. Kat is well versed in professional development and volunteer networks, outreach and engagement, community and economic development, not-for-profit administration, project development and management, communications, and establishing collaboration around shared experience and marketing initiatives.

Born and raised in Denver, Colorado, Katherine has worked with development initiatives in Denver, New York, Chicago, and the Former Soviet Union.  Katherine received her master’s degree in Public Administration from Rutgers University and her bachelor’s degree in Politics with a Minor in Urban Studies from New York University.

Rick Getschow

Rick Getschow has been Eden Prairie, Minnesota City Manager since 2011. He previously served as City Manager in Hopkins, MN from 2005-2011. His career in public administration began in 1996 as city administrator for Hector, MN. and in 1998 he became the Lauderdale, MN. city administrator. He has spent 20+ years in local government increasing civic engagement and implementing leadership and employee-centered organizational programs.

Getschow is a member of the following professional and civic organizations: Metropolitan Area City Manager’s Association (MAMA), Minnesota City/County Management Association (MCMA), International City/County Management Association (ICMA), Eden Prairie A.M. Rotary Club and the Eden Prairie Chamber of Commerce.

Getschow earned his bachelor’s degree in political science from Miami University (Ohio) and master’s degree in public administration (MPA) from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.

Julia Novak

Julia established The Novak Consulting Group in September 2009. Her reputation and experience as a consultant who offers practical and implementable recommendations are grounded in more than 15 years of active service to local governments, including Fort Collins, Colorado; Lexington, Massachusetts; Rockville, Maryland; and as the city manager of Rye, New York. She is a practitioner first who has expanded her knowledge and expertise as a consultant for hundreds of organizations across the United States.

Julia has extensive experience as a facilitator, trainer, author, speaker, and established thought leader in the areas of governance and administration.

Julia earned a bachelor’s degree in government and politics from George Mason University and a master’s degree in public administration from the University of Kansas.

Rebecca Ryan

Trained as a futurist and an economist, Rebecca helps clients see what’s coming – as a keynote speaker, a Futures Lab facilitator, an author of books, blogs and articles, a client advisor, and the founder of Futurist Camp.

Heidi J. Voorhees

Ms. Voorhees has more than 35 years of experience in executive recruitment, general management consulting and local government administration and is the co-owner and President of GovHRUSA, a management consulting, executive recruitment and temporary staffing business. 

Ms. Voorhees has led more than 250 recruitments for local government entities in 17 different states and the District of Columbia.  Ms. Voorhees spent 19 years in local government administration including ten years as the Village Manager for Wilmette, Illinois.  She also worked for the City of Kansas City, Missouri, and the Village of Schaumburg, Illinois.  She has been an adjunct instructor at Northwestern University’s MPPA program and at their Center for Public Safety. Ms. Voorhees has spoken on a wide variety of workforce issues at national and state conferences. 

Ms. Voorhees holds a Master’s Degree in Public Affairs from the School of Public and Environmental Affairs at Indiana University. She also has a Bachelor of Science degree in Political Science from Illinois State University.

Spencer Wagner

Spencer Wagner is an Associate with the National League of Cities’ Local Democracy Initiative. His research focuses on state preemption and its impacts on local decision-making. Additionally, he provides support for the Local Democracy Initiative’s Census work and various Center for City Solutions research projects. Spencer’s educational background includes a Bachelor’s degree in political science & policy studies from Elon University.

Michael Walters Young

Michael Walters Young

Michael Walters Young is a native Kansan who has over two decades experience in local government in Kansas, Massachusetts and Tennessee. He possesses a Master Degree in Public Administration from the Edwin O. Stene School of Public Affairs and Administration at the University of Kansas. An award-winning city budget and finance expert, he currently serves as a member of the City of Franklin, Tennessee’s Finance Team as the Budget & Strategic Innovation Manager. He also spearheads a new statewide performance measurement collaborative – The Benchmarking Alliance of Tennessee – for Tennessee municipalities. Michael is a passionate communitarian who believes in the power of local government to be a positive and transformative building block in the American democracy. 

Vince Williams

Vince Williams serves as the mayor of Union City, Georgia, and the second vice president of the National League of Cities (NLC). Williams is also the first vice president of the Georgia Municipal Association.

Mayor Williams was elected to office in 2007 during difficult times for Union City. Since becoming mayor, he has focused on developing Union City’s central business district, ending homelessness, increasing transportation opportunities, job creation, public safety initiatives and more. Williams’ leadership and commitment to advancing the Council’s shared vision for Union City helped to transform a dilapidated mall into the thriving multi-million-dollar film studio Atlanta Metro Studios, and reverse a multi-year financial deficit to an 81% increase during his first term as mayor. For his efforts, he has been honored with a number of awards, including the Outstanding Georgia Citizen Award and the President’s Volunteer Service Award.

In addition to his public service, Mayor Williams is also associate pastor at the iThrive Christian Church and an entrepreneur in the real estate, health and wellness industries. Williams is happily married to Sharon Williams and the couple share a beautiful daughter, Nia Williams.  Williams earned a bachelor’s degree from Lemoyne-Owen College.

Priscilla Wilson

Priscilla Wilson currently serves as the Chief People Officer for ICMA, a role she has held since January 2020. Priscilla has enjoyed a 25-year career solidly grounded in full spectrum strategic human capital management, development, and engagement and preserves a reputation as one who consistently fosters and nurtures rapport and collaboration among diverse stakeholders. 

 Prior to joining ICMA, Priscilla’s most recent role was as a Senior Vice President with the highly respected executive search and leadership development firm, The Mercer Group. Prior to working with The Mercer Group, Priscilla served the City of Garland, Texas for over a decade and a half as the Senior Managing Director/Chief Human Resources Officer.

Priscilla holds a master’s degree in Public Administration from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and a bachelor’s degree in Political Science from North Carolina State University. She holds IPMA-SCP, SPHR-CP and SHRM-SCP certifications.

The Forward Together: Local Government Virtual Conference Partners

International City/County Management Association is the leading organization of local government professionals dedicated to creating and sustaining thriving communities throughout the world.

The National League of Cities serves the interests of 19000 cities, towns and villages in the US as well as professionals working in municipal government.

Engaging Local Government Leaders engages the brightest minds in local government. We are innovative local government leaders with a passion for connecting, communicating and educating.

The Alliance For Innovation, which began as the Florida Innovation Group in 1979, inspires innovation in local government and connects a network of leaders across North America.

The Tennessee City Management Association is a professional association of appointed city managers and administrators serving cities and other municipalities in Tennessee.

The Iowa City/County Management Association (IaCMA) is an organization of local government management officials working together to improve the public administration profession in the state of Iowa.

The Government Finance Officers Association (GFOA), founded in 1906, represents public finance officials throughout the United States and Canada.