Fire Chiefs Leadership Seminar

December 8 — 9, 2021

Universal City, CA

This seminar contains programs designed to appeal to fire services leaders including, but not limited to, fire chiefs, chief officers, and union leadership. Presenters and topics have been selected to deliver challenging leadership topics such as succession planning, labor relations, emergency response, late-breaking changes in EMS, and more.

Please see our general event and meeting policies and be sure to review our conference specific health and safety protocols below.


Full Registration Includes:

  • electronic access to all program materials 
  • admission to all educational sessions 
  • admission to the Wednesday lunch, Wednesday evening reception, and Thursday breakfast.

Full Conference Registration Fees

City Staff/Officials $350 
Company/Consultant/League Partner/All Others $670 
Non-member City $1350 
Guest/Spouse Reception Only Registration (Wednesday) $50 


The guest/spouse fee is restricted to persons who are not city or public officials, are not related to any League Partner or sponsor, and would have no professional reason to attend the conference. It includes admission to Wednesday’s networking reception only. There is no refund for the cancellation of a guest/spouse registration. It is not advisable to use city funds to register a guest/spouse. 

Refund Policy:

Advance registrants unable to attend will receive a refund of rate paid, minus a $75 processing charge, only when a written request is submitted to Megan Dunn, and received on or before November 30. Refunds will not be available after this date. If you are unable to attend, you may substitute a colleague for your entire registration.
Hotel and Travel

A limited number of hotel rooms are available at a reduced rate for conference attendees. The discounted hotel rate cut-off is Tuesday, November 16, 2021. Hotels are subject to sell out prior to the deadline – reserve early! 

STEP ONE: Register for the Conference

STEP TWO: Book a hotel room

Once registration is complete, you will receive a confirmation e-mail directing you to the group housing reservations page.

Sheraton Universal Hotel 
333 Universal Hollywood Drive
Universal City, CA 91608

Group Hotel Rate (per night): $199– Single/Double Occupancy (plus tax and fees)

Hotel Changes or Cancellations

Hotel reservation changes, date modifications, early check-out, or cancellations must be made directly through the hotel. Please note that after Tuesday, November 16, 2021 has passed, you may incur a financial penalty and minimum one-night room charge or attrition fees. 

PLEASE NOTE: The information you provide to Cal Cities when registering for a Cal Cities conference or meeting may be shared with the conference or meeting hotel(s). The hotel(s) will also share with Cal Cities the information you provide to the hotel(s) when you make your hotel reservation for the conference or meeting. The information shared between Cal Cities and the hotel(s) will be limited to your first name, last name and dates/length of stay in the hotel.

CAUTION! You must be registered for the conference prior to booking a hotel room. Do not make a hotel reservation unless you are sure it is needed. Your city/company will be financially responsible for all cancellation/attrition fees. If you are making hotel reservations for others, please confirm with each individual, in advance, that they actually need hotel accommodations and intend to use them on the dates you are reserving.

Parking and Transportation

Discounted Daily Parking: $14*
Discounted Self- Parking (per night): $29*
Discounted Valet Parking (per night): $45*
*Subject to availability and to change

Sheraton Universal Hotel offers an ideal location by the highway, next to the entrance to Universal Studios Hollywood. 

Nearby airports include:
Los Angeles International Airport (24 miles)
Hollywood Burbank Airport (4.9 miles)

Use the nearby Universal City metro stop on the Red Line to easily reach other Los Angeles attractions, including the Walk of Fame, the Hollywood Bowl, and Grauman's Chinese Theatre.
    Health and Safety Protocols

    The City of Los Angeles recently enacted new vaccination requirements for indoor activities. These requirements will apply to the Dec. 8-9 Fire Chiefs Leadership Seminar at the Sheraton Universal in Universal City, which is located within the city limits of the City of Los Angeles. 

    All participants of the conference, unless exempted, must provide proof of full vaccination upon arrival at the conference. For specific information on the requirements and on what constitutes an exemption, please see the SafePass LA document that was sent to all registrants on Nov. 19.

    In addition, masks are required for all indoor areas of the venue. 

    What you can expect

    Upon arrival at the conference registration area, security personnel from the Sheraton Universal will verify proof of vaccination or exemption. For those with an exemption, proof of a negative COVID-19 test result is required from a test provider or laboratory that includes the participant’s name, date of test, and test result. The test must have been administered no more than 72 hours prior to your arrival.

    Once verified, attendees should proceed directly to the badge pickup area to receive a conference badge. This badge should be worn throughout the conference for admittance into official conference activities and as proof of vaccination or exemption verification.

    Our commitment to you

    The League of California Cities is excited to be holding in-person meetings again and providing an opportunity for our members to get together for conferences, board, division, department, and caucus events. With the holidays fast approaching and concerns from national and public health officials about a potential surge in COVID-19 cases this winter, Cal Cities is committed to keeping our staff, members, and partners healthy and safe, especially as many families will be getting together for the first time since the beginning of the pandemic.

    Our goal is to provide exceptional educational experiences and networking opportunities that make attendees and their cities more successful, and in an environment that is safe for all. To achieve this goal, we expect all attendees to adhere to the meeting and event requirements.

    We understand that some of our participants may not be prepared to meet the requirements of the city regulations. As such, we will extend the seminar refund deadline from Nov. 30 to Dec. 7, 2021. Please send a written request to Megan Dunn to cancel. Hotel reservations need to be canceled directly with the hotel at least 72 hours prior to the check-in date. 

    Thank you for your cooperation.


    2021 Fire Chiefs Leadership Seminar Program (PDF)

    Tuesday, December 7

    Fire Chiefs’ Welcome Reception

    5:30–6:30 p.m.

    Join the President and officers of the Fire Chiefs Department of the League of California Cities for a Welcome Reception with light appetizers and networking with other attendees on the evening before the conference. Beverages will be available for purchase. RSVP to Meghan Mckelvey at


    Wednesday, December 8

    Registration Open

    8:00 a.m.–6:00 p.m.


    Department Business Meeting

    8:30–9:15 a.m.

    • President’s Report 
    • Director’s Report 
    • 1st  VP Candidates Speeches (3 minutes max each)
    • 2nd VP Candidates Speeches (3 minutes max each)

    (Voting on the candidates takes place from 9:00 – 11:30 a.m.)

    Opening General Session

    9:15-10:30 a.m.

    Welcoming Remarks
    Jeff Boyles, Fire Chief, Newport Beach, 1st Vice President, Cal Cities Fire Chiefs Department 

    Creating Resilient and Brain-Healthy Fire Departments 
    Dr. Stephen Odom presents a popular and in-depth presentation that examines the causes, signs, and symptoms of post-traumatic stress injuries and how it affects firefighters, including their department and families. Attendees will learn what can be done to heal, prevent further damage, and create a new “Brain Health” culture for their departments, where prevention and resiliency are holistic essential elements in supporting the whole unit. The effects of organizational culture and leadership are also examined to paint a clear picture of these elements, along with recommendations for creating a safe, confidential, and accessible Behavioral Care System for your fire department.

    Dr. Stephen Odom, Ph.D., Founder & Chief Clinical Officer, First Responder Wellness & Shift Wellness

    Extended Break and Visit With Sponsors

    10:30–10:45 a.m.

    Understanding the Legislative Process 

    10:45–11:55 a.m.

    Moderator: Dan Stefano, Fire Chief, City of Costa Mesa - Fire & Rescue

    A brief overview of California’s legislative process to better assist those directly affected by fire service and public safety legislation. Get acquainted with the three types of measures considered by the California State Legislature: bills, constitutional amendments, and resolutions. Learn how a bill becomes law and how to read a bill. Discover what makes an effective letter of support and what tools and tips to keep in mind when testifying before a committee. Following the presentation, receive a legislative update.

    Elisa Arcidiacono, Legislative Representative League of California Cities

    Officers Election Results

    11:55 a.m.

    Voting results for the 1st Vice President and 2nd Vice President of the Fire Chiefs Department are announced. 

    Networking luncheon

    12–1:15 p.m.

    Diversity, Equity, and Inclusivity in the Fire Service: Navigating and Implementing Strategies for Chiefs

    1:15–2:30 p.m.

    Moderator:  John Binaski, Fire Chief, Clovis, Department Director, Cal Cities Fire Chiefs Dept.

    Fire departments serve communities that are demanding rapid and measurable change in our workforce diversity. Attempts have been made, but meaningful change has not, which is evidenced by the growing frequency and severity of complaints, lawsuits, and even consent decrees. Furthermore, claims of workplace hostility/harassment reveal a moderate to major gap between workplace expectations/training, and the actual behavior of our firefighters. This gap, referred to as a “culture of indifference” in civil actions, exposes the agency to a loss of public trust, a crushing blow to morale, and derails all DEI efforts. Discover seven actionable steps agencies can implement to mitigate risk and better meet our community’s expectations of our workforce.  Agencies that have implemented these strategies have reported a noticeable and lasting change in their culture; a change that was not as evident after attempting various online or corporate-focused training programs.

    Micheal Despain, Fire Chief (ret.), City of Lincoln (NE) 
    Eric Rosoff, Executive Manager, Career Survival Group

    Extended Break and Visit with Sponsors

    2:30–3:00 p.m.

    Recruiting, Hiring, and Promoting the Right People for Your Agency

    3:00–4:15 p.m.

    Moderator: Cal Cities Fire Chiefs Dept. Officer

    This workshop is designed for supervisors and managers involved in the selection process of potential candidates for employment. It takes its participants through all steps of the hiring process and provides tips on best practices to ensure you get the best-qualified candidates and reduce your chances of liability.

    Geoffrey Sheldon, Partner, Liebert Cassidy Whitmore


    4:15–4:30 p.m.

    CalOES: Take Advantage of Emergency Funds Now

    4:30–5:00 p.m.

    Moderator: Ryan Buras, Deputy Director, California Governor's Office of Emergency Services

    Emergencies move fast and have devastating emotional and economic impacts on communities. One way to prepare your city is to take advantage of the funding opportunities available, such as home hardening and disaster and emergency preparedness programs and recovery efforts. It is essential to understand how the wide variety of programs may benefit your city and can mitigate the impacts of an emergency. Hear and learn from the Governor’s Office of Emergency Services (Cal OES) on these programs and ask questions about how to best operationalize disaster preparedness and cost recovery in your city. 

    Joint Networking Reception with the City Clerks

    5:00–6:00 p.m.


    Thursday, December 9 

    Registration Open

    8:00 a.m.–12:00 p.m.

    Breakfast Buffet Opens

    8:00 a.m.
    Breakfast served in the session room.

    The Set-up of Successful Leadership 2.0

    8:30–9:45 a.m.

    Moderator: John Binaski, Fire Chief, Clovis, Department Director, Cal Cities Fire Chiefs Dept.

    Many people look at those in successful leadership roles and ponder questions like ‘I want to be the best at leading my team too, what can I do?’ The truth is, there is nothing coincidental about an effective leader’s drive to the top. In this informative and entertaining keynote presentation, Brian Crawford will pick up where he left off in 2019, and provide participants with the tools they need to face future tests and trials.

    Speaker: Brian Crawford (Ret.) Fire Chief, Shreveport, LA. and Plano, TX. and former Shreveport CAO and current Sr. VP with Willis-Knighton Health System.

    Brian Crawford is a 30-year fire service veteran and national speaker on public safety leadership. He previously served as the fire chief and CAO in Shreveport, LA, and also served as fire chief in Plano, TX.  Chief (Ret.) Crawford is currently a senior vice president for Willis-Knighton Health System. He holds master's degrees in organizational psychology and hospital administration.



    9:45–10:00 a.m.

    Key Ingredients to Working with Your City Manager

    10:00–11:15 a.m.

    Moderator: Greg Barton, Fire Chief, Beverly Hills, Past President, Cal Cities Fire Chiefs Dept.

    A key component to the success of a fire department, and the fire chief, is working with the city manager. What are the essential ingredients in that important relationship, to maximize building support at a community level? What components contribute to a healthy partnership? Attend this session and hear from panel of city managers and fire chiefs as they discuss their experience and recommendations related to this important working relationship.


    Brian Crawford (Ret.) Fire Chief, Shreveport, LA. and Plano, TX. and former Shreveport CAO and current Sr. VP with Willis-Knighton Health System

    Luke Serpa, City Manager, Clovis

    John Binaski, Fire Chief, Clovis, Director, Fire Chiefs Department, League of California Cities

    Silvio Lanzas, Fire Chief, Glendale Fire Department

    John Gillison, City Manager, Rancho Cucamonga

    Concluding Remarks and Adjourn 

    11:15–11:30 a.m.

    Jeff Boyles, Fire Chief, Newport Beach, President, Cal Cities Fire Chiefs Dept.

    Session Materials
    Explore Previous Seminars

    Thank You Sponsors

    Speaker Center

    In the Speaker Center, you can find resources for all speaker-related details including deadlines, audiovisual requests, presentation submission directions, panelist agreements, and key event contacts. 

    Agreements and Presentation Submissions
    Below are key presenter deadlines and a link to the Speakers Agreement. Please read and complete the required fields to acknowledge your acceptance of the League of California Cities’ presenter guidelines. Providing your digital signature allows Cal Cities to move forward in planning and promoting your session, as well as publish your name and affiliation on our website and in marketing materials. Your contact information will remain strictly confidential.

    Should you have any questions, please contact the education department.

    Important deadlines 

    Today: Complete the Speakers Agreement and note any specific audiovisual requests. 

    November 16: Register for the seminar and book a hotel room if you would like to attend other seminar sessions.

    August - November: Meet with the other speakers / moderator of the session about the details of your session. You will want to make sure everyone involved in the session knows what information each panelist will cover, work out the order of speakers, decide how you will handle speaker introductions, and coordinate your PowerPoint presentation.

    November 29: Submit your final presentation to Cal Cities via the presentation submission page.

    Presentation Guidelines

    Our goal is to provide exceptional educational experiences, networking opportunities, and innovative tools that will make attendees and their cities more successful. Studies show that adults learn best when they are actively involved in the process rather than passively listening or watching. Most seminar attendees are knowledgeable about the subject, and therefore are interested in hearing what others know and what their experiences have been. Accordingly, we urge you to plan your presentation with these suggestions in mind.

    The most common complaints on session evaluations from prior seminars are:

    • "The presentation was a 'sales' pitch for a particular product or service."
    • "I couldn't read the slides."
    • "One speaker took so much time that the others were not able to give their full presentations."
    • "I'd like more practical knowledge."

    Please consider the following as you prepare for your presentation:

    • Relevant content for experienced audiences that stretches thinking and provides new approaches.
    • Content that is delivered in an engaging way and draws on the experience of the attendees.
    • Examples and case studies of real success (and successful failures).
    • Try to add stories, anecdotes, testimonials, or demonstrations that emphasize your point. We all remember a good story, and thus more easily the lesson with it.
    • Provide tools and information that the audience can implement.
    • If there are other speakers in your session, coordinate with them in advance to decide your speaking order and ensure that all presentations fit into the assigned time allotment. If you do not have the contact information for your co-presenters, please contact us at
    • Selling from the podium creates conflict of interest problems. Education sessions at the Fire Chiefs Leadership Seminar should never be an advertisement. Therefore, presentations may not include any commercialism for specific products or consulting services.

    Submitting Your Session Materials

    Presentation materials are an important element of Cal Cities educational programs. Please submit your presentation in either a Microsoft-friendly format or as a .pdf file no later than Monday, November 29. Session materials can be submitted through our website starting in early November. It is Cal Cities' goal to make a positive impact on the environment by integrating environmental considerations into all seminars.

    Some things to keep in mind are:

    • When naming your session materials, please use your session title. For example: "YourSessionTitle"
    • If your session group has created multiple presentations, please combine all presentations into one document before submitting to us, in the order the presenters are speaking.

    Please contact the education department with any questions, concerns, or assistance needs you may have.

    Submit your presentation here.

    Session Layout and Structure

    The League of California Cities encourages our presenters to use the most engaging and educational platform possible when speaking at the Fire Chiefs Leadership Seminar. We recognize that each session has a unique format and presentation style based on the preferences of the speaker(s) and content being presented, but the following three examples are provided as a general guideline in planning your session.

    Panel Discussions: 75 minutes, with up to 3 speakers

    Presider (5 minutes)     

    • Welcome
    • Frame session
    • Introduce speakers

    Speaker(s) #1, #2 and #3 (20 minutes)   

    • Summary of relevant experience
    • Learning objectives
    • Core session content
    • Summary of key points

    Presider (10 minutes)   

    • Facilitate Q&A
    • Final comments

    Concurrent Session: 75 minutes, 1 speaker

    Presider (5 minutes)     

    • Welcome
    • Frame session
    • Introduce speaker

    Speaker #1 (60 minutes)            

    • Summary of relevant experience
    • Learning objectives
    • Core session content
    • Summary of key points

    Presider (10 minutes)   

    • Facilitate Q&A
    • Final comments

    Speed Sessions: 20 minutes

    Speaker #1 (15 minutes)            

    • Self-Introduction
    • Frame session
    • Fun and engaging presentation

    Final Thoughts (5 minutes)        

    • Facilitate Q&A
    • Final comments

    As a reminder, sessions may not include any product/service demonstrations or commercial presentations for specific products or consulting services. Please contact the education department with any questions, concerns or assistance needs you may have.