Public Works Officers Institute

March 8-10, 2023

Universal City Hilton

555 Universal Hollywood Drive, Universal City, CA

Designed for public works professionals of all career levels, this conference provides you with the essential information and updates necessary to most effectively run city and county public works departments. Now, more than ever, the opportunity for city and county officials to learn from and network with each other provides invaluable support. Sessions cover a variety of topics such as road safety, bridge programs, legislative updates, and leadership topics.

Held jointly with the County Engineers Association of California (CEAC).

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

Please see our event and meeting policies.

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 Public Works Officers Institute is closed and will reopen Spring 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!

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 and county public works directors up-to-date on issues of importance to them and their cities.


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 there at least (1) peer of the audience on the panel?
  • 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 description clearly state what cities will learn from attending the session?
  • 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 (5) 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.

Institute Information


2022 Public Works Officers Institute Program (PDF)

Tuesday, March 22

Public Works Officers Welcome Reception

5:30–6:30 p.m.

Join the President and officers of the Public Works 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.

Wednesday, March 23 

Registration Open

10:30 a.m.-6:00 p.m.

Exhibit Hall Open

11:00 a.m.-6:30 p.m.       

Opening General Session

1:00 p.m.-2:15 p.m.

Cal Cities/CEAC President’s Welcome
General Session Panel

Natural Disaster Planning: What You Can Do to Prepare
Are you thoroughly prepared for what, in many parts of the state, are no longer unexpected events? Between fire, flash-flood, and post-fire debris flows, natural disasters wreak havoc on our communities. In this session, panelists will recommend practical planning tips and tools, lessons learned from innovative efforts, and share collaborative planning approaches that will put your team ahead.

Moderator and Speaker
Sarah Rubin, Chief Outreach and Engagement Advisor, CA Department of Conservation

Steve Bohlen, Acting State Geologist, California Geological Survey
Jason Nutt, Assistant City Manager / Director of Transportation and Public Works, Santa Rosa
Kelsey Scanlon, Emergency Services Planner, Monterey County Office of Emergency Services
Jason Uhley, General Manager-Chief Engineer, Riverside County Flood Control and Water Conservation District

Visit with Exhibitors

2:15 p.m.-2:30 p.m.        

Concurrent Sessions

2:30 p.m.-3:45 p.m.        

Managing Stormwater's Perfect Storm: Management, Finances, Law, and Politics
Learn how to manage stormwater resources amid a myriad of rules and restrictions, climate change, and other challenges. With an eye to fiscal sustainability, discover the financial levers available for city leaders, new approaches and legislation, and a ten-step funding plan. An overview of relevant laws and case studies will frame the discussion.  

Steven Machida, Director of Public Works, San Carlos

John Abaci, Senior Counsel, Colantuono, Highsmith & Whatley
Dan Schaaf, Vice President, Schaaf & Wheeler
Tim Seufert, Managing Director, NBS

Challenges and Opportunities in Pavement Preservation
Learn how to get the maximum performance out of preservation treatments through specification and quality assurance. Then, review future challenges for delivering multifunctional preservation treatments that not only preserve the pavement structure, but address transportation issues, human thermal comfort, and the environmental impact of materials and construction.

Shadi Saadeh, Professor, City and County Pavement Improvement Center, California State University, Long Beach

DingXin Cheng, Professor and Director, California Pavement Preservation Center
John Harvey, Director, City and County Pavement Improvement Center, University of California Davis
Sampat Kedarisetty, Graduate Student Researcher, University of California Davis

Good News: Communicating the Value of Public Works
Unless the water is shut off or roads are closed, people tend to take for granted the significant role that public infrastructure plays in their daily lives, community safety, wellness, and connectivity. Whether you have communication support in your organization or are fitting outreach in where you can, the tools and tips presented in this session will help you build goodwill with your community through positive media coverage, the smart use of social media, and other tools.

Carmen Kasner, Western Engineering Operational Manager, NV5

Kristina Ray, Communication & Engagement Director, Carlsbad

Visit with Exhibitors

3:45 p.m.- 4:00 p.m.      

Concurrent Sessions

4:00 p.m.- 5:15 p.m.      

Sustaining Power During Wildfire: Public Safety Power Shutoffs with Microgrids
With wildfires growing in size and severity each year, cities are often forced to shut off power grids in high-risk areas. These preventative measures are known as Public Safety Power Shutoffs and may help limit fire-starting factors caused by power lines and electrical malfunctions. However, they also leave countless California businesses and residents without power. Microgrids offer a secure source of self-sufficient energy generation to protect communities and increase resiliency during grid outages. Discover what funding methods and different incentives are available to California cities and municipalities looking to enhance their resiliency with sustainable microgrids powered by renewable energy.

Moderator and Speaker
Brian Taylor, Senior Director, ForeFront Power

Kevin Flanagan, Program Manager, SPURR
Ann Kloose, Sustainability Division Manager, Fresno Public Works Department

Understanding the Legislative Process
California’s legislative process can be as complicated, lengthy, and politically fraught as the federal legislative process. In this session for beginners or officials simply wanting a refresher course, get acquainted with the three types of measures considered by the California Legislature, how a bill becomes law, and what to do when reading a bill. Then, discover what makes an effective letter of support and what tools and tips to keep in mind when testifying before a committee. A review of legislative committees will be included as well. 

Damon Conklin, Legislative Representative, League of California Cities
Marina Espinoza, Senior Legislative Analyst, California State Association of Counties

The Road Safety and Signage Audit
Road safety is typically managed reactively as officials investigate crash locations assuming that future  crashes are most likely to occur in those same locations. However, road crashes — particularly those on lower volume roads — are frequently distributed in seemingly random patterns and may not correlate to roadway deficiencies. Rather than reacting to historic crash data, public works professionals can identify systemic road deficiencies proactively through the Roadway Signing and Safety Audit. The audit is one of the easiest and most cost-effective ways to proactively address roadway and signing deficiencies with low-cost regulatory, warning, and guide signage improvements.

Joshua Pack, Director of Public Works, Butte County

Robert Paderna, Sr. Transportation Engineer, Kimley-Horn and Associates, Inc.
Matt Stringer, Associate Principal, Mark Thomas
Matt Weir, Vice President, Kimley-Horn and Associates, Inc.

Reception in Exhibit Hall

5:15 p.m.- 6:30 p.m.        


Thursday, March 24

Registration Open

8:00 a.m.- 4:00 p.m.        

Networking Breakfast

8:00 a.m.- 9:00 a.m.        

General Session

9:00 a.m.- 10:15 a.m.

What Public Works Professionals Need To Know About Municipal Finance 
Learn the latest hot topics when it comes to California's municipal public works financing, including the latest on state and local transportation funding. Geared towards public works professionals, understand the rules and trends in taxes, fees and other revenues; the relationship with the state budget, and problems and prospects for reform. Lastly, explore tools and new ideas for funding infrastructure, operations and maintenance, and get answers to the most pressing 
fiscal issues facing public works. 

Michael Coleman, Cal Cities Fiscal Policy Advisor,        


10:15 a.m.- 10:45 a.m.        

Concurrent Sessions

10:45 a.m.- 12:00 p.m.        

Never a Waste of Time - Talking Organic Waste Regulations
Hear from public works directors about how the implementation of the new organic waste diversion regulations brought by SB 1383 (Lara, 2016) is impacting cities around the state. Then, learn about the latest guidance and resources available for cities to comply with the regulations from CalRecycle.

Derek Dolfie, Legislative Representative, League of California Cities


Rene Guerrero, Director of Public Works, Pomona
Zoe Heller, Deputy Director, Policy Development, CalRecycle
Coby Skye, Assistant Deputy Director, Los Angeles County Public Work

Bridge Management and Maintenance Program
Discover how the Ventura County Public Works Roads and Transportation bridge asset database helps manage, maintain, and report on the county’s National Bridge Inventory (NBI) and non-NBI bridges. The bridge management program incorporates bridge data with a user interface that identifies essential bridges, structurally deficient and scour critical bridges, infrastructure condition, inspection reports, load rating analysis, sufficiency rating, age, the volume of traffic, bridge geometry, and appearance. The program enables Ventura County to anticipate remaining service life, prioritize categories of bridge work, and forecast costs for repair, maintenance, and replacement. Finally, the session will also include a brief update on Highway Bridge Program Advisory Committee activities including an update on legislative efforts related to bridge program funding.

David Fleisch, Assistant Director, Public Works Agency, Ventura County

Dennis Haglan, Vice President, California Operations Manager, Dewberry Engineers
Christopher Kurgan, Director, Department of Roads and Transportation
Matthew Randall, Road Maintenance Division Manager / Local Highway Bridge Advisory Committee Northern County Representative, Placer County

Reaching Diverse Communities
Public works professionals are expected to reach, engage, and build bridges with diverse constituencies in communities throughout California. Whether to communicate about construction activity, upcoming projects, or general information about agency goals and planning, it is important to reach a broad sector of community members in an inclusive manner. During this dynamic discussion, representatives from the city of El Cajon and the award-winning NV5 Community Relations division will discuss the strategies and tactics they have used to engage target stakeholders and build support for their projects, as well as lasting community relationships. 

Moderator and Speaker
Gabriela Dow, Director, Community Relations and Public Affairs, NV5

Yazmin Arellano, Public Works Director, El Cajon

Lunch and Awards

12:00 p.m.- 1:30 p.m.        

Enjoy networking with your colleagues over lunch followed by the time-honored delivery of California’s Outstanding Local Streets & Roads Project Awards. 


1:30 p.m.- 1:45 p.m.        

Concurrent Sessions

1:45 p.m.- 3:00 p.m.        

Variety Speed Sessions

Three topics will be presented lasting 20 minutes each.

Julie Lucido, Public Works Director, Napa

1. Opportunities and Challenges in Municipal 4G/5G Deployments (1:45 – 2:10 p.m.)
4G and 5G cellular networks serve both handsets and emerging applications, including machine-to-machine communications for smart cities and the ‘Internet of Things’. These networks create a technological foundation for new services and products that have not yet been conceived. At the same time, the deployment of 4G and 5G cellular networks — especially small cell services on public property — creates political, social, economic, and regulatory complexities that previous technologies did not have. Receive an overview and updates on the challenges faced by both cities and the wireless industry; the trade-offs and decision points that need to be navigated; and tools and resources to help cities as they navigate the technical, public opinion, regulatory, and legal waters of cellular technology deployments in the public rights-of-way.

David Witkowski, Exec. Dir., Civic Technologies, Joint Venture Silicon Valley

2. Three Ways to Enhance Your Political Acumen (2:10 – 2:35 p.m.)
Public works professionals are apolitical creatures often operating in highly political environments. To succeed, they need a solid understanding of how to navigate the complex and ever-changing dynamics of local government. In this session, learn the universal truths that drive elected and appointed officials in their decision-making and how this knowledge can help you get your projects over the finish line.

Kristina Ray, Communication & Engagement Director, Carlsbad

3. Forti-Fi Asphalt Fiber (2:35 – 3:00 p.m.)
Discover how Forta-Fi fiber reinforced asphalt provides a longer lasting pavement.

Mike Hass, Project Manager, Pacific Geosource

With SB 743, Will We Always Have More EIRs?
Is it the wider road or the new development that is leading to an increase in vehicle miles traveled? Who should be responsible for complying with SB 743 (Bradford, 2021), and is the solution to just issue more Environmental Impact Reports? This diverse panel will give you a breakdown of SB 743, including how local jurisdictions and state agencies are setting the California Environmental Quality Act’s vehicle miles traveled thresholds, how projects are being processed under SB 743 requirements, and what creative mitigation strategies are being implemented. Come ask questions and get a clearer picture of the future.

Sarah Holm, Environmental Division Manager, Dokken

Damon Davis, Transportation Specialist, County of San Diego
Matt Kelly, Senior Transportation Planner, Contra Costa Transportation Authority
Jason Pack, Principal, Fehr and Peers
Jason Welday, Director of Engineering Services/City Engineer, Rancho Cucamonga

Lead or Be Led
The onset of a crisis is too late to decide to become an effective leader; the process must be a cumulative part of each manager's personal development plan and practice. Learn how five-year partnerships with the public works department for the county of Santa Barbara — a department of 400 employees — built effective leaders at each level of the organization. 

Moderator and Speaker
Scott McGolpin, Public Works Director, County of Santa Barbara

Marr Christian, Division Manager, Code Enforcement, San Bernardino

Julie Hagen, Deputy Public Works Director, Santa Barbara
LTC (R) Nate Sassaman, Leadership Consultant/Trainer


3:00 p.m.- 3:15 p.m.        

Concurrent Sessions

3:15 p.m.- 4:30 p.m.        

Public Works Perspective: The Workplace Has Changed, Have You?
Many public works professionals have found themselves at a crossroads of the pre- and post-pandemic work environment, often with the same question: “Where do we go from here?” Join this panel of California public works officials as they discuss the operational effects of 2020 and the path forward. The panel will provide their perspectives on a range of issues, such as meetings, business hours, and process changes, and share data that helps attendees gain a broader perspective. Industry trends and challenges will inspire audience members to build their own recovery plans.

Michael Cannon, President, Cannon

Christian Di Renzo, Director of Public Works & Utilities, Watsonville
Patrick Dobbins, Public Works Director/City Engineer, Gonzales
Ben Fine, Director of Public Works/City Engineer, Pismo BeachScott McGolpin, Public Works Director, County of Santa Barbara

City of Pacific Grove Urban Stormwater Diversion
Discover how the city of Pacific Grove constructed two stormwater diversion projects. You’ll learn how the city was able to capture stormwater prior to entering the Monterey Bay Areas of Special Biological Significance (ASBS), helping to eliminate pollutants from reaching the sensitive habitat. The second project diverted stormwater from the sewer collection system which was treated and beneficially reused to support the water supplies in Monterey County. Finally, a discussion on how the projects were funded by grants and the lessons learned in implementing those funds will also be included.

Moderator and Speaker
Daniel Gho, Public Works Director/Deputy City Manager, Pacific Grove

Kari Wagner, Principal, Wallace Group

Public Contracting Requirements: Emergency Preparedness and Federal and State Reimbursement
How can public works departments prepare for emergencies? Learn contracting best practices and procedures to have in place before a disaster, what to have during the event, and what must happen immediately afterward to move forward quickly in addressing your community’s needs. Laws, regulations, and executive orders have specific requirements for procuring services to restore a destroyed area. If this happens, your agency needs to be ready and eligible for disaster reimbursements from FEMA or the State. Presenters will explain the ins and outs of these processes, including possible pre- and post-procurement best practices to receive reimbursement for disaster-related expenditures.

Reva Feldman, Retired City Manager, Malibu

Brian Baker, Vice President, Hagerty ConsultingRyan Buras, Deputy Director, California Governor's Office of Emergency ServicesMatthew Hochstein, Vice President, Hagerty Consulting
Robert Pesapane, Regional Recovery Division Director, Federal Emergency Management Agency


Friday, March 25

Registration Open

8:00 a.m.- 10:15 a.m.        

Joint Breakfast for Cal Cities and CEAC Attendees

8:00 a.m.- 9:15 a.m.        

Spend the morning with your city and county colleagues before each association resumes their separate 
closing session.

Cal Cities Business and Legislative Updates

9:15 a.m.- 10:00 a.m.        

Closing Keynote Session

10:00 a.m.- 11:15 a.m.

Three Important Accountability Traits of Highly Effective Teams
Learn the skills that help leaders achieve results within their teams. Most leaders try to hold others accountable when something goes wrong. The real way to boost performance and morale is to create a healthy peer-to-peer accountability system. Having a balanced accountability-proven system that shows leaders how to create motivated and loyal teams will help maximize performance instead of killing morale. Key takeaways include how to break down barriers, exert influence, and appeal to your team; how using power-words will inspire others to see your point of view to take positive action; the three Ps to embrace the power of accountability, improving work culture; and how to eliminate excuses and inspire others to achieve results they never felt were possible.

Hernani Alves, Author, Balanced Accountability, Founder, Balanced IQ Leadership


11:15 a.m.  


Session Materials
Explore Previous Institutes

2021 Institute Session Descriptions

Monday, March 15

Opening General Session

9-10:30 a.m. 

Cal Cities Public Works Department: President’s Welcome

Opening remarks: Rene Guerrero, Director of Public Works, Pomona

Embracing the Transportation Revolution

Public works directors know the transportation sector is poised to undergo dramatic and publicly apparent changes in the future. Two converging trends – autonomous driving and the electrification of vehicles – will spur cascading cycles of innovation with significant implications for city streets, urban parking capacity, and freeway infrastructure. In this session, Patrick Schwerdtfeger, technology futurist, will highlight US and Chinese companies leading the charge, the likely deployment trajectory, and how California cities can position themselves ahead of the curve. He will also discuss how pilot programs and proofs of concept will lead to incremental regulatory approvals, unleashing enormous private investment, bring in high-paying jobs, and augment tax revenues for leading cities. An initial presentation will be followed by Q&A from attendees.

Speaker: Patrick Schwerdtfeger, Technology Futurist, Trend Mastery, Inc.


Virtual Sponsor Showcase

11 a.m.-12:00 p.m

Premium and Elite level sponsors are anxious to meet F2F to discuss the how’s and the why’s your city needs their business expertise. Cal Cities sponsors cover a wide array of products and services that offer exceptional business expertise in all facets of public works and engineering departments. Look for prizes and games during the sponsor Q&A sessions!


Project Labor Agreements for Local Public Works Projects

1-2:15 p.m. 

Project Labor Agreements, once limited to mega projects, are increasingly being used on routine, local projects. Why is that, and what are the advantages and downsides? This session will provide the basic legal background on PLA’s, including enabling legislation and history, what they do and don’t do, legal pros and cons, and how their use has changed over time. Two of the state’s leading PLA experts, Julian Gross and Ardis Graham, will detail their experience with the implementation of PLA’s, including the impact on the bidding process and management/ cost of their projects.

Moderator: Keith Cooke, Engineering & Transportation Director, San Leandro

Speakers: Kirsten "Kurry" Foley, Administrative Services Manager, San Leandro Engineering and Transportation Department | Ardis Graham, Founder and Principal, Workforce Integrity & Training Solutions, LLC. | Julian Gross, Partner, Renne Public Law Group


Public Contracting Requirements: Emergency Preparedness and Federal and State Reimbursement

2:45-4 p.m.

How can Public Works Departments prepare for emergencies? This session covers contracting best practices and procedures to have in place before a disaster, what to have during the event, and what must happen immediately after to move forward and quickly to address your community’s needs. Laws, regulations and executive orders have specific requirements for procuring services to restore a destroyed area and your agency needs to be eligible for disaster reimbursements from FEMA or the State. The presenters will explain the ins and outs, including possible pre- and post-procurement best practices to receive reimbursement for your agency’s disaster related expenditures including tips learned from responding to recent large-scale fires and COVID-19.

Moderator: Jason Nutt, Assistant City Manager, Santa Rosa

Speaker: Richard D. Pio Roda, Principal, Meyers Nave

Wednesday, March 17

Coffee With Colleagues

8:30-9:15 a.m.

Join the Department Officers and members of the Public Works Department for an informal conversation with colleagues before the conference begins for the day.

Facilitator: Meghan McKelvey, Manager, Department and Member Services, League of California Cities



CONCURRENT SESSIONS: Variety Speed Sessions

9:30-10:30 a.m.

Three topics will be presented lasting 20 minutes each.

Moderator: Paz Gomez, Deputy City Manager, Public Works, Carlsbad



Be the Change: How to Modernize Your Government

Learn how Benicia, CA is creating groundswell support for digital transformation across its government by accelerating the move to virtual services and a customer-focused mindset with permitting, licensing, and code enforcement.

Speaker: Brad Misner, Community Development Director, Benicia



Stormwater and Health: California’s Trash Amendments and Tobacco Product Waste

California jurisdictions face dual problems from tobacco use in our communities: the public health burden of tobacco-caused disease and the considerable cleanup costs for tobacco product waste. In 2015, California established the first-in-the-nation Trash Amendments, requiring all municipalities to keep trash >5mm in size out of stormwater. Discover how this requirement enables bold policies in tobacco control that protect both public health and stormwater management budgets.

Speaker: Hudson Kingston, Staff Attorney, Public Health Law Center



Jumping Over the Counter: Retired Public Works Director to Consultant

By 2023, an anticipated three-in-ten public employees will be eligible for retirement. Rather than embracing a life of leisure, many retired civil servants recognize their unique positioning and choose to join consultancy firms for a “second career.” While this decision can benefit both the retiree and those they work for, the transition from public to private isn’t always an easy one. Join Steve Kahn, as he shares the trials and triumphs of transitioning from 24 years of public service into the private sector. Find out how to make things a little smoother if you’re considering a “second career” after retirement.

Speaker: Steve Kahn, Civil Senior Principal Engineer, Cannon



CONCURRENT SESSIONS: Legal Topics Speed Sessions

9:30-10:30 a.m.

Two legal topics will be presented lasting 20 minutes each with time for Q&A.

Moderator: Ben Fine, Director of Public Works/City Engineer, Pismo Beach



Huckey v. Temecula: The “New” Trivial Defect Rule for Public Sidewalks

In Huckey v. City of Temecula (2019) 37 Cal.App.5th 1092, the Court of Appeal held that sidewalk slab elevation changes measuring up to one and one-half inches are generally trivial defects. This was the first case in more than 4 decades to discuss the trivial defect rule in the context of sidewalk slab elevations. The decision is extremely favorable to public entities because it doubled the “3/4 inch rule” set forth in the prior decision of Fielder v. City of Glendale (1977) 71 Cal.App.3d 719. This session will explain the Huckey decision, and will offer practical guidance on how to address sidewalk slab elevations in light of that decision.

Speaker: Robert Ceccon, Shareholder, Richards, Watson & Gershon



The Basics of Design Immunity: Creating a Paper Trail

The session will explain the basics of design immunity, and how city staff can paper a file such that lawyers can successfully assert the defense. The session will use the real life example of how Ventura County successfully used the design immunity defense to avoid liability in a case where a landslide killed 10 people, and damaged 27 houses.

Speaker: Robert Ceccon, Shareholder, Richards, Watson & Gershon



Homelessness: Moving Beyond Streets and Parks

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

Over half a million people go homeless on a single night in the United States. Almost half of all unsheltered homeless people are in the State of California, on our city and county streets, and in places not intended for human habitation. But, beyond places like sidewalks, parks, cars, and abandoned buildings, homeless are also finding refuge in flood control channels and river systems. How are these encampments being handled? What can be done to prevent such encampments? What legal constraints and operational solutions are available? Attend and hear about these situations in our cities and counties, what is being done, and get ideas to take back to your community.

Moderator: Rene Guerrero, Director of Public Works, Pomona

Speaker: Mark Austin, Attorney (Partner), Burke, Williams & Sorensen, LLP | Joan Cox, Partner, Burke Williams & Sorensen



Legislative Update

2:30-3:30 p.m.

Join Cal Cities legislative representatives for a look at previous, current, and upcoming legislative items affecting the public works industry and profession.


Speakers: Caroline Cirrincione, Legislative Policy Analyst, League of California Cities | Derek Dolfie, Legislative Representative, League of California Cities.

Friday, March 19

What’s Driving Transportation Choices?

9:30-10:45 a.m. 

Public Transportation, rideshare and freight services have experienced tremendous ups and downs over the past year. In this session we will examine new research conducted which gives a glimpse on what the future might hold for a more equitable and cleaner transportation systems. In this session, we will explore the most pressing issues plaguing California communities and will share the latest developments in research and technologies to help public works professionals address them.

Moderator: Karalee Browne, Director, Institute for Local Government

Speakers: Matt Barth, Professor of Engineering, UC Riverside Research and Technology | Daniel Sperling, Distinguished Professor and Founding Director, Institute of Transportation Studies at UC Davis


Closing General Session Lunch & Learn: What Public Works Professionals Need To Know About Municipal Finance


12-1:15 p.m. 

Learn the latest hot topics in municipal public works’ financing in California and the latest on state and local transportation funding. Geared towards public works professionals, you’ll learn the rules and trends in taxes, fees and other revenues; the relationship with the state budget, and problems and prospects for reform. Explore tools and new ideas for funding infrastructure, operations and maintenance, and get answers to the most pressing fiscal issues facing public works.

Moderator : Rene Guerrero, Director of Public Works, Pomona

Speaker: Michael Coleman, CalCities Fiscal Policy Advisor,


2021 Institute Session Materials


2021 Virtual Institute 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 Institute Session Materials

2020 Session Materials
2019 Session Materials

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. Speaker Agreements must be submitted no later than December 17

March 1: Register for the conference and book a hotel room

November - February: Please plan to hold at least one conference call with all of the panelists to ensure each speaker is comfortable with their responsibilities during the session.

March 14: 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 Public Works Officers Institute 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, March 14. Session materials can be submitted through our website starting in early January. 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 Public Works Officers Institute. 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.