Cal Cities Executive Director and CEO Carolyn Coleman announces Annual Conference Keynote Speakers

Sep 1, 2021

Dear California City Leaders,  

The League of California Cities Annual Conference and Expo is just three weeks away, and I am thrilled to announce the keynote speakers for the general sessions – two visionary and inspiring leaders, Bonnie St. John and Richard Montañez.

Bonnie St. John is no stranger to resilience. Despite having her right leg amputated at age five, St. John became the first African American ever to win medals in Winter Olympic competition, taking home a silver and two bronze medals in downhill events at the 1984 Paralympics in Innsbruck, Austria. In addition to her success as a Paralympic athlete, she is a best-selling author, a highly sought-after keynote speaker, a television and radio personality, a business owner, and a Fortune 500 leadership consultant.

During the opening general session on Sept. 22, St. John’s keynote, “Courageous Humility: Leading with Resilience in Challenging Times,” will touch on the unprecedented challenges that leaders at all levels are facing, and equip leaders with fresh, practical tools to help bridge sensitive subjects and situations without blaming, shaming, or silencing various points of view. St. John will share some of her own story, as well as six steps to transform uncomfortable situations into opportunities to build relationships.

Known as the “Godfather of Latino Marketing,” Richard Montañez’s personal story and career path are nothing short of inspiring. Starting “at the beginning, not the bottom,” Montañez began his career in 1976 as a janitor for PepsiCo and climbed the corporate ladder to become an elite vice president. Montañez was the first Latino board member to serve on the board of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference and is an inspiring motivational speaker who has been featured on Good Morning America, in The Washington Post, Vanity Fair, Fortune, and Newsweek.

At the general session on Sept. 23, Montañez will share in his keynote, “One Revelation Will Lead to a Revolution,” the secrets he used while being driven by passion and a quest for purpose that led him to experience the most dramatic revelation he would ever experience in a lifetime. That revelation would spur a revolution that forever changed corporate America’s protocol, empowering frontline workers, middle managers, and CEOs alike. And the result would be the birth of a billion-dollar product, also known as America’s favorite snack, Flamin’ Hot Cheetos.

In addition to powerhouse speakers during our general sessions, we have an incredible lineup of more than 40 breakout sessions that focus on solutions to the challenges cities have faced during this turbulent year. Session topics include leading with civility and purpose, tools to address rising pension costs, best practices for serving residents experiencing homelessness, tips to boost wildfire prevention and preparedness, and advancing equity in our communities.

We also know how valuable it is for you to foster connections and learn from each other during the conference. We’ve put together a variety of opportunities, including an interactive expo, for you to collaborate and engage with your fellow city leaders and exhibitors.

This conference is an opportunity to gather with your peers, recharge, and will leave you even more inspired to lead your communities. In times like these, it’s an opportunity you don’t want to miss. Be sure to register by the deadline, Wednesday, Sept. 15.

Remember, the League of California Cities Annual Conference and Expo is your conference, and we can’t wait to see you there.


Carolyn M. Coleman
Executive Director and CEO
League of California Cities