Nine tips to help maximize your annual conference experience

Aug 30, 2022

Preparing for the League of California Cities Annual Conference and Expo is key to creating a valuable and memorable experience. Cal Cities has compiled a list of tips to ensure you get the most out of the conference.

1. Review the session descriptions and bookmark the session materials page

The annual conference is jam-packed with engaging, in-depth educational sessions on California’s biggest challenges. Take time to review the full schedule with your team before attending. Then, divide the sessions among your group to maximize the conference’s full educational benefits.

All session materials will be posted online as they are received. Bookmark the Annual Conference and Expo webpage to easily pull up the session materials during the conference.

2. Decide on pre-conference activities

The annual conference officially starts with the Opening General Session at 1:30 p.m. on Sept. 7. However, there are plenty of pre-conference activities for those who arrive beforehand.

Arrive early to take part in policy committee meetings, complete AB 1234 Ethics Training, or earn CMC/MMC Advanced Education Points by attending the City Clerks Workshop. If this is your first time attending the conference — or if you need a refresher — join Cal Cities for an attendee orientation at 12:45 p.m.

3. Plan to attend your department meeting

The annual conference is also an opportunity to finish old business, prepare for the year ahead, and meet like-minded professionals. During department meetings, city officials in similar professions gather to discuss the issues they are facing, hear timely legislation updates, and brainstorm solutions for their work on unified department goals.

City managers, city clerks, fire chiefs, public works officers, employee relations managers, and fiscal officers department meetings are held on Wednesday. City attorneys meet Thursday morning. Mayors and council members meet on Friday morning.

4. Decide which evening events to attend

This conference is not just about presentations and developing solutions to statewide challenges. There are plenty of opportunities to just meet other colleagues, such as the Host City Reception, CitiPAC Leadership Reception, Diversity Caucus receptions, and Division meetings. Between activities, you will certainly find yourself meeting and exchanging ideas with people from across the state. Make a plan for who you want to connect with in advance and remember to bring a stack of business cards.

5. Register for your division event

Each region has its own unique challenges and opportunities. Many of Cal Cities’ 16 regional divisions meet during the annual conference to share and reflect on issues impacting their region.

Regional divisions are at the core of Cal Cities advocacy. Through regional divisions, city officials — both elected and career — help develop and carry out grassroots activities. For information about division events, review the conference schedule or contact your regional public affairs manager.

6. Visit the Member Services Desk

Cal Cities members have access to a wealth of information and opportunities to help them better their communities. Visit the Member Services Desk to get information on the services available to you and your city, including legislative advocacy activities, ongoing educational opportunities, and how to meet other professionals.

7. Find exhibitors and League Partners in the expo

The Annual Conference and Expo is the largest event in California that connects city officials with organizations and businesses that support municipal activities. With over 200 exhibitors, this year’s expo floor will be brimming with opportunities to discover new city-focused services and organizations.

Also at the expo are the winners of this year’s prestigious Helen Putnam Award for Excellence. The annual award program honors and promotes the outstanding work of member cities throughout the state that have made unique contributions to community residents and businesses, which have resulted in lower costs or more effective delivery of services. 

Attendees can participate in a scavenger hunt for the Helen Putnam Award for Excellence winners. Find all the Helen Putnam booths for a chance at a prize courtesy of Cal Cities League Partners. 

In addition to the exhibitors, the expo also has a special zone for League Partners and an exclusive Speakers Theater.

8. Review Cal Cities’ meetings and events policies

Cal Cities and its partners have implemented measures to support the health and safety of everyone attending the conference. When we all collectively respect the significance of this contribution, we are advocating for the safety and well-being of our organization, cities, members, and fellow conference participants. Attendees should note these requirements before attending, including Cal Cities’ health and safety protocols and event photography policies.

9. Pack smart and plan for getting around

Attending any conference can be exhausting and includes a lot of walking. Pack comfortable shoes, chargers for mobile devices, and a jacket as conference rooms may be cold to some. Did you attend in 2021? Bring your Cal Cities reusable water bottle to fill up as you go around the convention center. Be sure to allow for extra time to pick up your conference badge before arriving at your first event.

For more information about individual sessions, including session descriptions, dates, and times, visit the Annual Conference and Expo webpage. While there, note the times of the department, caucus, and general assembly meetings. Then, start a list of all the sessions and activities that interest you to create your own schedule.

Please note, sessions and speakers are subject to change. For additional information, contact