Fire Chiefs Leadership Seminar

December 13-14, 2023

San Diego Mission Bay Hotel

1775 East Mission Bay Drive, San Diego, CA

Thank you for joining the League of California Cities for the 2022 Fire Chiefs Leadership Seminar in Monterey!

Designed for fire services leaders including, but not limited to, fire chiefs, chief officers, and union leadership, this conference provides challenging leadership topics such as succession planning, labor relations, emergency response, late-breaking changes in EMS, and more.

The seminar took place Wednesday, Dec. 7 - Thursday, Dec. 8 at the Hyatt Regency Monterey, where 100 fire services leaders from across the state explored current topics of importance and engaged in networking opportunities.

Save the date for the next seminar on Dec. 13-14, 2023 at the San Diego Mission Bay Hotel.

For questions, please contact event program manager, Katie Pebler.

Seminar Information

Explore Previous Seminars

2022 Seminar Session Descriptions

View the 2022 Fire Chiefs Leadership Seminar Program.

Tuesday, December 6

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.


Wednesday, December 7

Breakfast On Your Own

7:00–8:30 a.m.

Registration Open

8:00 a.m.-6:00 p.m.

Premium Sponsor Tables Open

8:00 a.m.-6:30 p.m.

Fire Chiefs Dept. Opening Remarks and Business Meeting

8:15-8:30 a.m.        

Using a Coaching Mindset to Increase Fire Team Performance

8:30-9:45 a.m.     

What if the elements that make directive leadership work during an incident are stifling your fire team’s growth and development when applied to day-to-day management? Incident commanders must be able to direct their teams with maximum clarity and efficiency. And yet, this same approach when applied outside of a crisis can impede learning and create dependency. Effective public safety leadership requires the ability to pivot between a command-and-control style to an approach grounded in a coaching mindset. During this interactive session you will learn how to utilize coaching techniques to unlock peak performance across all levels of your organization. Once embedded in your leadership style and the department’s culture, the cascading effects of a coaching mindset will free up your top leaders to focus on an even higher vision.

Alexander Hamilton, President, Fire Chiefs Department and Fire Chief, Oxnard

Jennifer Coyle, President, North Star Consulting, Inc.

Visit with Sponsors 

9:45-10:15 a.m.   

Visit with several vendors offering products and services to benefit you and your city. Coffee, tea, and water will be available.    

EMS Updates from Across the State

10:15-11:25 a.m.        

Receive an update on key EMS issues happening across the state. Updates will include a focus on legislation, APOT, EMSA Strategic Plan, EMS Commission, Community Paramedicine, ambulance RFP processes, IGT/GEMT status, and other hot topics.

Moderator and Speaker:
Dan Stefano, Fire Chief, Costa Mesa Fire & Rescue

Kurt Henke, Principal/Managing Partner, AP Triton, LLC
Kristin Thompson, EMS Division Chief, Newport Beach

Short Break

11:25-11:35 a.m.        

Cal Cities Legislative Update

11:35 a.m.-noon         

Receive a rapid-fire update on the most important bills to city fire departments importance of the relationship. Then, learn how the League of California Cities can be a resource for you in the future.

Alexander Hamilton, President, Fire Chiefs Department and Fire Chief, Oxnard

Elisa Arcidiacono, Legislative Affairs, Lobbyist, League of California Cities
Meghan McKelvey, Manager, Department and Member Services, League of California Cities
Russell Noack, President/Managing Partner, Public Policy Advocates, LLC

Networking Luncheon

noon-1:00 p.m.        

Difficult Conversations: Way to Bypass Conflict

1:15 -2:15 p.m.       

Issues and complaints are often escalated through the chain of command or a grievance process that could have otherwise been avoided. Had these problems been addressed through a direct conversation with a supervisor or colleague, then attorneys, union representatives, and administration need not get involved. However, many employees are at a loss on how to handle workplace conflict, and jump directly to more extreme measures. Two attorneys from Oppenheimer Investigations Group will discuss different communication techniques utilizing role play and case studies.

David Spencer, Fire Chief, Auburn City Fire Department

Christina Ro-Connolly, Partner, Oppenheimer Investigations Group LLP
Zaneta Seidel, Attorney Investigator/Partner, Oppenheimer Investigations Group LLP

Visit with Sponsors

2:15 -2:30 p.m.        

Visit with several vendors offering products and services to benefit you and your city. Coffee, tea, and water will be available.

Behavioral Health and the Fire Service

2:30-3:45 p.m.   

Receive an update on current and emerging behavioral trends for the fire service.

Alexander Hamilton, President, Fire Chiefs Department and Fire Chief, Oxnard

Kevin Greene, EMS/Health & Safety Director, California Professional Firefighters
Dr. Stephen Odom, PhD, First Responder Wellness, Shift Wellness, & The Counseling Team
Ryan Sharma, Associate Professor, Director of Clinical Training, California Lutheran University

Visit with Sponsors

3:45-4:00 p.m.       

Visit with several vendors offering products and services to benefit you and your city. Coffee, tea, and water will be available.

Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion: Effective Tools for Succession Management

4:00-5:15 p.m.   

Does your organization struggle with recruiting a diverse workforce? Do you have a succession management plan? Have you embraced and does your agency practice diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI)? Discover answers to why and how DEI can be utilized to enable your organization to be more attractive to qualified applicants and to retain the talent you already have. Hear fire service leaders’ experiences with these topics, including what has worked for them and what has fallen short.

Kurt Latipow, Retired Fire Chief, AP Triton, LLC

Pat Lynch, Senior Associate, AP Triton, LLC
Curtis Jacobson, Fire Chief, Fremont
Marianna Marysheva, City Manager, Livermore

Joint Networking Reception

5:15-6:30 p.m.

After a full day of education, relax and enjoy some light hors d’oeuvres and refreshments while networking with your colleagues. This will be a joint reception with attendees of the City Clerks New Law and Elections Seminar and the Fire Chiefs Leadership Seminar.

Thursday, December 8 

Breakfast Buffet

8:00-9:00 a.m.

Breakfast available in the session room.


See Change Clearly: Building Resilient Fire Department Teams

8:30-9:45 a.m.   

Bestselling author and former local government executive will help you reenergize and align your department. You will learn how to leverage the experiences of the last two years to create a path of connection, impact, and excellence. After the session, you will be equipped with new and innovative tools to refuel empty tanks, build a high performing team, and harness personal and professional resilience.

Alexander Hamilton, President, Fire Chiefs Department and Fire Chief, Oxnard

Jacob Green, President/CEO, Jacob Green and Associates


9:45-10:00 a.m.        

Key Ingredients to Working With Your City Manager

10:00-11:15 a.m.        

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

Jeff Boyles, Immediate Past President, Fire Chiefs Department and Fire Chief, Newport Beach

Kerri Donis, Fire Chief, Fresno
John Gillison, City Manager, Rancho Cucamonga
Gaudenz Panholzer, Fire Chief, Monterey Fire Department
Nat Rojanasathira, Assistant City Manager, Monterey

Concluding Remarks and Adjourn

11:15-11:30 a.m.     

Alexander Hamilton, President, Fire Chiefs Department and Fire Chief, Oxnard


2022 Session Materials


Previous Seminar Session Materials

Thank You Sponsors

Call for Proposals

Cal Cities is seeking thorough, thoughtful, and complete proposals that tell how your session can help 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 Fire Chiefs Leadership Seminar is open through June 30.

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 fire chiefs and fire service personnel 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 the topic new and/or critical for city government?
  • Will it draw a wide audience?
  • Does the panel reflect the diversity of California cities (north/south, large/small, urban/rural)?
  • Is the panel gender balanced and demographically diverse?
  • Will the session appeal to an audience with various political affiliations?
  • Will this issue stimulate action and further important discussion?
  • How does the proposed session impact education and/or advocacy for city leaders?
  • Is the topic geared towards the average fire chief?
  • Do you have at least 5 important takeaways?

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 full 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.