City Managers Conference

February 8-10, 2023

The Westin Carlsbad

5480 Grand Pacific Drive, Carlsbad, CA

Designed for city managers and assistant city managers, this conference provides city officials with the essential information and updates needed to effectively run their cities. Previous topics include diversity, relationships with council members, COVID-19 and the future, public safety, financial impacts of the pandemic, and more.

For questions, please contact Associate Manager, Event Program Katie Pebler.

Please see our event and meeting policies.

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Conference Information


Click to view the full 2022 City Managers Department Conference Program (PDF)

Wednesday, February 2

Registration Open

10:30 a.m.-5:30 p.m. 

Lunch On Your Own

11:30 a.m.-1:15 p.m. 

Opening General Session

1:30-3:15 p.m.  

Opening Remarks   
John Gillison, Department President and City Manager, Rancho Cucamonga

Department Awards   

Keynote: The Social Psychology of Negotiations

From working with the city council and other department heads at your city to life outside of your career, there are a broad array of negotiation skills needed to get solutions accepted and implemented. Through using a simulated negotiation exercise, you will be introduced to a “toolbox” of negotiation skills based on social psychological principles that will help you more effectively navigate relationships, problem solve, and achieve mutually beneficial solutions.

Takeaways from the session will include how to get people to open up to share information, the difference between good and bad questions, and how to build trust and influence through language and non-verbal cues. You will also understand how to plan and prepare for negotiation including making an opening offer/proposal, how to negotiate using packages, making effective concessions, and how to successfully conclude a negotiation. Finally, discover how to create value in a negotiation to make sure both sides walk away satisfied. 

Holly Schroth, Ph.D., Senior Lecturer, Management of Organizations, Distinguished Teaching Fellow, Haas School of Business, University of California, Berkeley 


3:15 -3:30 p.m.


Straight, No Chaser

3:30-5:00 p.m.  


Listen in as city managers share their experiences during the recent past, the widespread challenges that surfaced, and what they did about it. Then, participate in collective learning with your colleagues by sharing your own experiences.


Moderator and Speaker

Rene Mendez, City Manager, Gonzales


Reva Feldman, Senior Advisor, Avenu Insights & Analytics/ Hagerty Consulting
Thaddeus McCormack, City Manager, Lakewood
Kimberley Summers, City Manager, Murrieta
Kurt Wilson, Executive Director, Western Riverside Council of Governments

League Partner Hosted Welcome Networking Reception

5:00-6:30 p.m.

After the first day’s activities, enjoy celebrating retirees, networking with your colleagues, and some light hors d’oeuvres.


Thursday, February 3

Breakfast Buffet Open

7:45-9:00 a.m.


Registration Desk Opens

8:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m.


Visit Sponsor Tables

8:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m.


Concurrent Sessions 

9:00-10:15 a.m.


Creating a Culture of Equity

There is high interest from both city staff and the community to advance equity in city government. As city managers and department heads responsible for leading this work, how do we harness this energy to create a culture of equity for our organizations? What are the challenges we’re facing and the successes we’ve experienced? Learn city strategies to approach equity and get the opportunity to share your own city’s experiences.

Erica Manuel, CEO and Executive Director, Institute for Local Government (ILG)

Jose Arreola, Community Safety Administrator, Salinas
Karen Diemer, City Manager, Arcata
David Wilson, City Manager, West Hollywood


Make Your City Attorney Your Best Friend

When issues get tense in your city, having a solid relationship with your city attorney can make a significant difference. You may not always see eye-to-eye, but understanding the key elements of building that relationship, and maintaining when undertaking a difficult issue, will help smooth the process and light the way to win-win solutions.


Moderator and Speaker
Jim Lewis, City Manager, Pismo Beach

Dave Fleishman, City Attorney, Pismo Beach


Show Me the Recovery! Updates on Fees, Assessments, and Financing Districts

Discover the importance of utilizing a variety of revenue tools, in both recovery mode as well as for long-term fiscal sustainability in a changing economy. The panel will address revenue options and the importance of public engagement as a fundamental effort. Updates via recent case law and legislative changes affecting cities across California will be provided. Select case studies statewide will be reviewed, including tales of challenges and successes in the city of Rancho Cucamonga. The topic of fiscal sustainability is a constant challenge for cities across the state, and perhaps more than ever as we emerge from the COVID pandemic. Attendees will leave the session with actionable information that can be applied to their city.


John Gillison, Department President and City Manager, Rancho Cucamonga


Michael Colantuono, Managing Shareholder, Colantuono, Highsmith & Whatley, PC
Tim Seufert, Managing Director, NBS
Danielle Wood, Director, NBS


Visit with Sponsors Coffee Break

10:15-10:45 a.m.


Concurrent Sessions 

10:45 a.m.-12:00 p.m.

Creating a Strong Partnership with CalOES

Emergencies move fast and have devasting physical and economic impacts on communities. One way to prepare your city is to have a strong relationship with the Governor’s Office of Emergency Services (CalOES). This relationship can help cities understand the short and long-term funding and program opportunities available to your city from the state. Learn about the programs that CalOES administers and take-away tips on how to build stronger relationships and support each other. Understand how the wide variety of programs offered by the state can benefit your city and can mitigate the impacts of an emergency. Proactively learn how to partner with CalOES on these programs and ask questions about how to best operationalize disaster preparedness and cost recovery in your city.

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

Think Outside the Building: Innovating Your Future

Knowing that innovation is critical isn’t enough. “Getting it” is one thing. “Getting it done” is quite another.  When your city thinks of itself as a community builder, quality of life advocate, and service provider, then it starts to behave differently. And that’s where innovation surfaces because to innovate is to implement change that creates a new dimension of performance. In this session, practical strategies and proven techniques are presented to (re)set the tone of a dynamic, always-on, learning culture that’s essential to unleash creativity and lead to faster, better innovation.



Patrick Ibarra, Co-Founder and Partner, The Mejorando Group

Prohousing Programs: Demonstrating Statewide Leadership While Meeting Local Goals

Many cities throughout California are experiencing dramatically increased Regional Housing Needs Allocation (RHNA) numbers, economic inequities, and homelessness. Now, a state program seeks to support local governments by creating a framework to help local agencies document prohousing policies and gain additional preference for competitive grant programs. Join us to learn best practices and lessons learned from cities that are leading the charge and get your burning questions answered.

Karalee Browne, Assistant Executive Director, Institute for Local Government
Matthew Burris, Deputy City Manager, Rancho Cucamonga
Danielle Foster, Housing Policy Manager, Sacramento
Anita Gutierrez, Development Services Director, Pomona

Networking Luncheon

12:00-1:15 p.m.

Join your colleagues for a networking lunch, with remarks given by Cal Cities Executive Director and CEO, Carolyn Coleman.


Afternoon General Session

1:15-2:45 p.m. 

Opening Remarks
Eric Figueroa, Department President-Elect and City Manager, Martinez

ICMA/Cal-ICMA President Remarks and Award 

Combatting Disinformation on Social Media: From Politically Motivated to Factually Inaccurate 

Social media tools empower governments to quickly inform and mobilize residents in support of community events and initiatives. They are also tools that enable rapid sharing of disinformation across residents that range from the politically motivated designed to manipulate, to the factually inaccurate that need only be coherently corrected. This presentation encompasses the design of policies and practices, and digs deeply into derailing disinformation viral messaging that originates from diverse sources, some legitimate and some disingenuous.

Thomas Bryer, Professor, University of Central Florida 

Sarah Stoeckel, Councilmember, City of Titusville, Florida


Visit with Sponsors Coffee Break

2:45-3:15 p.m. 


Concurrent Sessions 

3:15-4:45 p.m.

Diverse Workforce Development: Tips for Success and Pitfalls to Avoid

Explore tips for increasing diversity on your team. How do you move from just saying you want to increase diversity and inclusion, to actually seeing your staff at all levels of your organization and leadership reflect the diversity of the region you serve? This session will provide stories, tips, and tricks (and pitfalls to avoid) from colleagues who have been successful in doing so.


Chantal Cotton Gaines, Deputy City Manager, Palo Alto

Henry Gardner, Executive Director, Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum Authority 
Lydia Romero, City Manager, Lemon Grove
Ed Shikada, City Manager, Palo Alto

Defending Institutions: Promoting Civic Debate and Rejecting Personal Attacks

In 2020, a protest outside the home of Sacramento City Manager Howard Chan threatened the very institution of democracy, moving the public debate forum from its rightful place in Council Chambers and the ballot box to the personal domicile of a civic leader. When events like this happen, how can city leaders and administrators protect themselves and their families while fostering greater community trust? Do existing channels for public debate suffice, or are more outlets needed to make the public feel heard – particularly in the age of digitization?


Ken Striplin, City Manager, Santa Clarita

Pamela Antil, City Manager, Encinitas
Troy Brown, City Manager (ICMA-CM), Moorpark
Howard Chan, City Manager, Sacramento

Combating Disinformation on Social Media: The Workshop

*In order to participate in this session, bring a laptop or tablet which may be shared with others. Groups at each roundtable will complete digital decision-making activities as a team

A continuation of the afternoon General Session. Given a set of interactive scenarios, participants will develop and use a toolkit of technological, relational and communication solutions to combat disinformation. Next, learn how to apply principles of civil discourse that neither disparages residents who are spreading disinformation nor legitimizes viewpoints that are damaging to the community. Finally, create a plan to enable a rapid response team that bridges government and community to promote both correct information and civility across individuals who disagree with each other.

Thomas Bryer, Professor, University of Central Florida
Sarah Stoeckel, Sarah Stoeckel, Council Member, City of Titusville, Florida


Presidential Networking Reception

5:00-6:00 p.m. 


Evening on Your Own

6:00 p.m. 


Friday, February 4

Breakfast Buffet Open

7:45-9:00 a.m.


Concurrent Sessions 

9:00-10:15 a.m.

Navigating and Delivering for Multi-Generational City Councils

A new generation of elected leaders is joining city councils, bringing new perspectives and policies to the dais. They also have different experiences with government and may be interacting with a city manager for the first time. Plus, their fresher viewpoints may clash with more seasoned councilmembers. Learn first-hand from fellow city managers how they navigate these varying views and how it can affect decision making.

Ryder Todd Smith, President, Tripepi Smith

Kelly McAdoo, City Manager, Hayward
Mark Pulone, City Manager, Yorba Linda
Fran Robustelli, City Manager, San Leandro


A Tale of Three Cities: Partnerships and Programs for the Unhoused

Hear from three city managers as they discuss programs and partnerships that are addressing homelessness.


Helene Schneider, Regional Coordinator, U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness

Damien Arrula, City Manager, Placentia
Alma K. Martinez, City Manager, El Monte
Robert Nisbet, City Manager, Half Moon Bay

Benefits and Risks of the New Hybrid Workplace Model

As we move beyond the COVID-19 crisis, some cities are back to pre-pandemic norms while others have adopted new hybrid work models. Will hybrid work fundamentally change the way local government operates? Hear from city managers about their experiences with different remote work models in varying organization sizes, and best practices for work in the post-COVID world. Speakers will consider the impacts of a hybrid workplace on labor negotiations, equity concerns, tax-related issues, accessibility, city-wide versus department-specific remote work policies, and the implications of the state government’s decision to permanently change the way they work.


Justin Hess, Department Vice President and City Manager, Burbank


Armine Chaparyan, City Manager, South Pasadena
Lisa Goldman, City Manager, Burlingame

Karen Pinkos, City Manager, El Cerrito


Coffee Break

10:15-10:30 a.m.


Closing Session

10:30-11:45 a.m.

Opening Remarks
Justin Hess, Department Vice President and City Manager, Burbank

CCMF Remarks

California State and Local Economic and Fiscal Outlook

California has one of the largest and most diverse economies in the world and has been an epicenter of innovation, entertainment, agriculture and tourism in America for over a century. A combination of things, mostly stemming from the COVID-19 pandemic continues to cause economic disruption and uncertainty. Municipal revenues are affected in turn – but uniquely. This panel of leading experts will analyze economic and financial trends and discuss the year ahead for California and its cities.

Michael Coleman, Fiscal Policy Advisor,
Somjita Mitra, Chief Economist, Department of Finance
Ken Nordhoff, Principal, HdL Companies


11:45 a.m.


*Schedule subject to change

Session Materials
Explore Previous Conferences

2021 Conference Session Descriptions

Monday, February 1

Opening General Session

12-1:30 p.m.

Department President’s Welcome and Cal Cities Update

Receive an update on priorities and issues for the League of California Cities, along with news for the city managers department.

Speakers: Steven Rogers, City Managers Department President, Town Manager, Town of Yountville | Carolyn Coleman, Executive Director, League of California Cities


Opening Keynote: The Future of Work is Here

Constant technology innovations, Gen Z entering the ranks, and a changing global marketplace were already dramatically impacting the face of the workplace. Then 2020 arrived and the script got flipped upside-down for city managers on the front lines with minimal financial support and maximum challenges. In this high-energy session, technology strategist and futurist Crystal Washington shows innovative city managers how they can thrive now while keeping an eye on the horizon to be ready to ride future waves of change, dialing in on what’s to come over the next three to five years.

Attendees will discover unique ways to embrace technology trends and uncover insider tips and tactics, such as how to use technology to strengthen constituent connections without losing that personal touch. Crystal will also showcase the significant ways in which technology is re-programming 'us', and how you can use that information now to be prepared for later. Plus, the pandemic changed the way we work, and Crystal will unveil what the future of the workplace holds. Be there to learn firsthand how you can fortify your city's future and get a chance to have your questions answered live!

Moderator: Reina Schwartz, City Manager, Clayton

Speaker: Crystal Washington, Technology Strategist and Futurist


Concurrent Sessions 

2:30-3:45 p.m.

Vision 2020 in Hindsight: Train Wreck or Learning Opportunity

Attend this panel discussion featuring public and private sector professionals from across the state looking back at the most challenging year in a century. Panelists will discuss the dual and dynamic impacts of the pandemic, including the nationwide awakening to racial and social justice needs and racial inequities, alongside keeping a complex city operation functioning. They will examine impacts to their respective communities and workplaces and share their view of changes to how cities will operate now and into the future. Will our work/home balance be altered permanently? How can turn our discussions and aspirations to make racial equity sustainable?

Moderator: Alex Smith, Deputy Executive Officer, California Joint Powers Insurance Authority

Speakers: Ernie Hernandez, City Manager, City of Hawaiian Gardens | Robert Lowe, First Vice President, Alliant Insurance Services | Izzy Murguia, Senior Management Analyst, Poway


No Hotels? Less Retail? What’s a City Manager to do?

COVID-19 has impacted sales and hotel taxes, changing fundamental business models for retail, hotel, and accelerating residential and industrial. Economic development post-COVID is about retail reimagination with focus on shifting regional malls to blended use destinations and expanding residential and outdoor destination amenities. For hotels, both business and tourism, it’s about consumer perception of safety and “cleanliness”. A land-use revolution is underway as communities seek to resuscitate local economies and re-establish revenue momentum. Learn the primary economic development pathways to vitality and how cities can leverage government grants, special districts, public financing, and new zoning tools to achieve revenue and resiliency.

Moderator: Larry Kosmont, Chairman & CEO, Kosmont Companies

Speakers: Robert Aptaker, Member, National Development Advisors, Inc. | Jim Dillavou, Principal and Co-Founder, Paragon Commercial Group | Sharon Landers, City Manager, Carson


Creating Emotionally Healthy Workplaces During COVID-19

COVID-19 is imposing significant stress on local government organizations and employees. This webinar surveys evidence from sixty interviews with local government employees to paint a picture of the range of COVID-19 stress experiences in municipal and county organizations. The patterns from these interviews reveal that a range of workplace factors can alleviate or aggravate stress, including communications, supervisory practices, and exposure risks. Based on these results, participants will learn about workplace interventions for alleviating COVID-related stress.

Moderator: Lori Sassoon, Deputy City Manager/Administrative Services, Rancho Cucamonga

Speaker: Leisha DeHart-Davis, Distinguished Term Coates Professor of Public Administration and Government, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Wednesday, February 3

Concurrent Sessions

10:30-11:45 a.m.

California Municipal Finance and Economic Outlook in the Pandemic

The COVID-19 pandemic and recession is infecting the economy and, with it, municipal revenues. This panel of leading experts will analyze economic and financial trends and discuss the year ahead for cities in California. The group will review expectations for recovery in the travel industry; the outlook for state budget impacts and revenue allocations; trends in key revenues including lodging, property and sales taxes; and will provide evaluation tools for your agency.

Moderator and Speaker: Michael Coleman, League Fiscal Policy Advisor,

Speakers: Leila Bengali, Economist, UCLA Anderson Forecast | Caroline Beteta, President & CEO, Visit California | Ken Nordhoff, Principal, HdL Companies


It’s Not Transactional, It’s Relational: Addressing Racial Equity and Social Justice

While city managers across the state are expressing a desire to increase racial equity and social justice within their organizations, many don’t know where to start. Some leaders fear saying or doing the wrong thing. Others are growing increasingly aware of what they don’t know, especially as pertains to policies and practices that may inadvertently perpetuate structural racism and other inequities. Join us for a courageous conversation on how to lead organizations dedicated to fair and equitable practices all while navigating the vast number of political challenges and tensions that accompany this effort. We will cover practical approaches to go beyond the transactional and into the long-term relational mindset needed to shift into an organizational culture of genuine equity and inclusion.

Moderator: Elisa Cox, Deputy City Manager, Rancho Cucamonga

Speakers: John Gillison, City Managers Department President-Elect, City Manager, Rancho Cucamonga


General Session Lunch & Learn

12-1:30 p.m.

Presider: Steven Rogers, City Managers Department President, Town Manager, Town of Yountville


Cal-ICMA President's Remarks

Speaker: Dominic Lazzaretto


Promoting Civility in Times of Heightened Partisanship and Polarization

In the wake of the November election, local governments statewide are navigating polarization and partisanship at the federal, state and local levels. City managers are working hard to balance this while also managing new council dynamics, economic uncertainty resulting from the COVID crisis and a myriad of other challenges local governments face on a daily basis. Join a panel of city officials to hear strategies and lessons learned about how to manage relationships with elected officials, increase civility, continue operations and communicate effectively with your community.

Moderator: Kurt Wilson, Interim City Manager, Beaverton

Speakers: Jonathan Holtzman, Founding Partner, Renne Public Law Group | Patricia Martel, Board Member, Institute for Local Government


Concurrent Sessions

3-4:15 p.m.

Developing Organizational Values and Seeing Them in Action

The session will tell the stories of Cities and how the importance of organizational values benefited their City’s team, especially during crises such as COVID-19. Cities will also discuss how they developed and implemented their values. One of those examples is the City of Murrieta. Months before the COVID-19 crisis, Murrieta underwent an employee driven initiative. Engagement with all levels of employees and commitment from the City Executive Team was vital to the process. The initiative concluded with an academy awards style ceremony, revealing the values to all employees. Each of the Cities, Rancho Cucamonga, Hayward and Pismo Beach will highlight their values in action such as hiring based on values, utilizing values as part of performance evaluations, and much more.

Moderator: Louie Lacasella, Assistant to the City Manager, City of Murrieta

Speakers: Jorge Garcia, Management Services Director, Pismo Beach | Kelly McAdoo, City Manager, Hayward | Lori Sassoon, Deputy City Manager/Administrative Services, Rancho Cucamonga | Kim Summers, City Manager, Murrieta


The Next Normal - Dealing with Ethical Issues During a Crisis

When a crisis hits, we automatically go into crisis mode. Whether it’s a global pandemic, a gas explosion, or a brush fire, city managers and fire chiefs naturally act fast in dealing with the issue at hand. But, how do we remember to stay within the ethical guidelines in a rapidly evolving situation? Attend this frank discussion of the emotional impacts and ethical considerations leaders must navigate when confronting critical events.

Moderator: Dominic Lazzaretto, City Manager, Arcadia

Speakers: Jim Lewis, City Manager, Pismo Beach | Kimbra McCarthy, City Manager, Mountain View


2021 Legislative and Budget Efforts to Addressing Housing Production and Homelessness Crisis

COVID-19 has exacerbated California’s housing affordability and homelessness crisis. Jason Rhine, Assistant Legislative Director will lead a discussion regarding the Governor’s and Legislators’ attempts to address these vexing issues. Specifically, we will focus on the proposed State budget, including Project RoomKey, and pending legislative proposals.

Moderator: Steve Schwabauer, City Manager, Lodi

Speaker: Jason Rhine, Assistant Legislative Director, League of California Cities


League Partner Program Virtual Wine Tasting Event

4:30-5:30 p.m.

Get together with your colleagues from across the state virtually and enjoy some wine and social time.

Friday, February 5

Concurrent Sessions

11 a.m. -12:15 p.m.

Reimagining the Role of Police in Public Safety

Nationwide, cities have responded to widespread calls to reimagine the role police departments play in public safety. This panel explores different models for how cities interact with their police forces and how these models might influence potential reforms. Panelists will discuss their wide range of viewpoints and experiences when it comes to city administration, labor negotiations, and working hand-in-hand with community leaders to define how the police can best serve their communities.

Moderator: Ken Pulskamp, Executive Director, CCMF

Speakers: Jackie Gomez Whitley, Retired Chief of Police, Cypress Police Department | David Reynoso, Chief of Police, El Monte | Shawny Williams, Chief of Police, Vallejo Police Department


Positive and Effective Communication With Your Councilmembers

Being able to establish and maintain effective communication with the city council is essential to a successful council/manager relationship, and there are many variables to consider. A city manager’s relationship with the city council can be impacted by the manager’s relationship with department heads. Even managers who have a good working relationship with their city councils are often challenged by an outlier” council member. Plus, department head selection and termination can affect council relations. Panelists will explore these and other issues and challenges associated with communicating with elected officials, including strategies for dealing with varied personalities, communication styles, information expectations, and how to meet these expectations of city council during a work-from-home environment

Moderator: John Russo, Principal, Synchronicity Associates

Speakers: Patricia Martel, West Coast Regional Director, ICMA | Alexander Nguyen, City Manager, City of Oxnard | Deanna Santana, City Manager, City of Santa Clara


Closing General Session

12:30-1:45 p.m.

CCCMF President's Remarks

Speaker: Ken Striplin, City Manager, Santa Clarita


Closing Keynote: California: On the Climate Change Frontier

David Wallace-Wells, New York Times best-selling author and Ted Talk speaker, will give a closing keynote speech designed to motivate and inspire city managers to broaden who they think about our environment and ways that policies and other community decision-making plays a role on mitigating the effects on our communities. Living and managing cities in California, city managers see firsthand the effects of climate change. Attend this session to learn more about this significant challenge facing California cities, backed by the latest scientific evidence. A ‘fire-side chat’ between Wallace-Wells and our session moderator will follow with a discussion on the current impacts of climate change statewide, nationally, and globally, and actionable steps that California officials can take to help offset this crisis.

Moderator: Niroop Srivatsa, City Manager, Lafayette

Speaker: David Wallace-Wells, New York Times best-selling author and Ted Talk speaker


2021 Conference Session Materials


2021 Conference Access for Registered Attendees

In addition to access to all live sessions, session materials, and virtual networking opportunities, registering for the conference grants you access to all session recordings for later viewing for a limited time. View the session recordings.


Previous Conference Session Materials

2020 Session Materials
2019 Session Materials


Call for Proposals

Cal Cities is seeking thorough, thoughtful, and complete proposals that tell how your session can help elected city officials improve their communities, leadership abilities, and knowledge within their roles. Submissions from any individual, group, business, or organization on any topic are welcome. The call for proposals for the 2023 City Managers Conference is closed. We open the call for proposals for the 2024 City Managers Conference in May 2023.

We encourage you to take advantage of this exciting opportunity to share your ideas, knowledge, and expertise with this important audience! For questions, please contact Katie Pebler.

General Information

Who Can Submit

Submissions, from any individual, group, business or organization, are welcome. Please remember that all sessions require a well-conceived presentation, good visuals, and a great deal of rehearsal! Commercialization of a product or service is not allowed.

How It Works

Only proposals submitted online through the proposal form will be considered. As there is a limit to the amount of words allowed within the title and description of each proposal, it may be helpful to draft the proposal in a word-processing program first, then paste the final version into the online form.

Target Audience

This educational event is designed to keep city managers, including deputy and assistant, up-to-date on issues of importance to them and their cities. The conference also aims to provide essential information for city managers to effectively run their cities and best position them for the future.


All About Proposals
Securing a spot on the program is highly competitive, with approximately 25 percent of proposals being accepted. You can increase your chances by preparing a thorough, thoughtful, and complete proposal that tells how your session would help city leaders and those who work within city governments to improve their careers and communities. When preparing your proposal consider the following elements:

  • Is the topic new and/or critical for city government?
  • Will it draw a wide audience?
  • Will this issue stimulate action and further important discussion?
  • Does the panel reflect the diversity of California cities (north/south, large/small, urban/rural)?

Tips for Successful Proposals

  • Think big
  • Vary the viewpoint
  • Pare down the panel
  • Speaker skills matter
  • Plan for a crowd
  • Try something new
  • Interact with the audience
  • Fill in the blanks
  • Quality counts

Types of Proposals

More than 95 percent of each year's conference programming comes directly from the open call for proposals. Sessions may be scheduled as a general session or concurrent session at Cal Cities' discretion. Select one of the available formats listed below that best fits your topic and desired outcomes or propose an alternative session format.

  • Keynote Speaker
    Keynote speakers are high-profile and designed to bring everyone together for a general session / and may set the tone of the event. This format permits approximately 45-60 minutes of an engaging presentation by a single speaker. Depending on time restrictions, the presentation may be followed by approximately 15 minutes of questions and answers with the audience or a moderator. 
  • Panel Discussion
    Panels consist of a moderator and a maximum of three speakers who participate in a 60 minute engaging presentation and discussion followed by approximately 15 minutes of questions and answers.
  • Speed Sessions 
    Fifteen minute bursts of information on one topic by one speaker followed by five minutes of questions & answers. Typically, these engaging presentations are based on focused projects or personal experience.
  • Facilitated Group Discussion
    A 75 minute interactive conversation on a topic led by a single facilitator. You may include a maximum 15 minute presentation on which the issue/concern is framed and, then, guide a discussion among the attendees with prepared questions. At the conclusion of the discussion, the facilitator must spend time summarizing key findings, suggestions, and points. 
  • Alternative Format
    Be creative! If your session does not fit one of the above formats, this is your opportunity to propose something different. Please be sure to provide the time, room setup, and other important details. Alternative formats will be accommodated based on interest level, space, and set-up availability.
Requirements, Review, and Policies 

Submission Requirements and Review

Submissions will be reviewed by a program planning committee.

Cal Cities reserves the right to modify accepted proposal session titles, descriptions, presenters or other elements as necessary to insure balance, quality and enhance marketability. If an originally accepted speaker cancels, the session may be disqualified. Additional speakers not included in the original proposal are not permitted to be added without review and approval.

Successful Proposal Considerations

The following criteria may be considered during the review of submissions:

  • Relevance - What are the practical applications of your ideas? Have you included reasoning and documentation to support your conclusions, recommendations and outcomes? Conference attendees prefer presentations focused on outcomes or results. Make the definition and background portions of your presentation brief. Highlight problems encountered, options available, choices made, documented pre- and post-change effects and lessons learned.
  • Content expands attendees' knowledge - Will your presentation expand knowledge beyond entry-level basics? Most conference participants are elected officials, appointed officials, and seasoned professionals. In general, direct your presentation to an intermediate or advanced audience.
  • Originality - Does your presentation advance existing ideas or present new ideas? Has this material been presented elsewhere? You might apply proven techniques to new problems or identify and apply new approaches, techniques or philosophies. Assess the degree to which an application is a new tool. Avoid highlighting a named product or service…focus instead on the general attributes, benefits and drawbacks of a given application, process or tool.
  • Examples - Do you have an appropriate number of examples? Documenting comparative results convinces participants that your ideas have been tested in the real world.
  • Timeliness - Will your presentation still be up-to-date and cutting-edge in six to nine months when the conference occurs? Will your topic have implications in the future? How relevant is your topic in the context of pending legislation, regulations and technology?
  • Inclusion of good, solid insights - What attendees want to learn is the reality versus the hype, the positive and negative attributes, problems encountered but not often discussed, realistic expectations for the operational use and adaptability to a changing environment. They are searching for guidelines and models to simplify or manage their own application or installation.
  • Logical conclusions - Are your conclusions supported by data? Attendees place a high value on supporting data in assessing the value and applicability of presentations. Include adequate and convincing details.
  • Identification of outside resources - Have you included sources of information, benchmark data or other examples?
  • Avoidance of product/vendor commercial - No commercials and/or proprietary information for particular products, services or vendors are permitted.
  • Completeness of proposal - The quality, completeness and accuracy of the proposal will be considered during session selection process.
  • Preferred Speaker Qualifications - Panelists should reflect the diversity of California with a north/south, large/small, urban/rural representation when possible.
    • Five or more (5+) years of public presentation experience.
    • Two or more (2+) years of experience related to working in or presenting on the topic or idea.
    • More than two (2) successful speaking engagements to large audiences at a regional or state level in the past two years.
    • Must not pose a conflict of interest with subject/business area or must disclose such information in each speaker bio submitted.
    • No commercialism.

To ensure a variety of perspectives, Cal Cities policy limits the number of times an individual, group, business or organization can speak at a single conference. In addition, each panel should have no more than one panelist per city/county, firm, company or organization (exceptions may apply).

  • Overall - In the end, you must make your case for the importance of this topic and its relevance to participants.

Registration and Speaker Policy

The League of California Cities is unable to provide complimentary registration or any reimbursement of expenses, travel, or other compensation. We recognize and deeply appreciate your interest and commitment. The success of our program depends on the efforts of practicing professionals willing to volunteer their time to professional education.

Privacy Policy

We value your privacy and will never share any of your personal information nor sell your e-mail address to an outside party.