MPA Students Attend the ICMA West Coast Regional Conference

Tuesday, March 26, 2019
ICMA members at conference

March 20-22, 2019, SFSU MPA students andInternational City/County Management Association (ICMA) members attended the ICMA West Coast Regional Conference in Reno, Nevada. Among these students were Jordan Harrison, Richard Cheney (SFSU ICMA Chapter Treasurer), and Melissa Plageman (SFSU ICMA Chapter Vice President), along with MPA alum, Casey Sparks, a current ICMA Fellow in Sacramento. This year, the conference focused on utilizing innovation in local government and our organizations. There were a series of workshops and breakout sessions offered throughout the week that focused on creating an innovation playbook optimizing clear goals to approach, employ, and regulate the use of new innovative ideas and technologies.  The keynote speaker was Xavier Hughes, chief of technology under Obama and current Chief Technology Officer of ICMA.  He set the perfect tone to lead off a conference focused on innovation beyond just applying technology.  Ron Carlee, a professor at Old Dominion and past city manager of Charlotte, closed out the conference with an insightful look at our biases and how they hinder our ability to reach our full potential.

Throughout the week, attendees discussed techniques for increasing diversity within ICMA by producing a diverse pipeline for future generations and reaching out to younger entry-level professionals through coaching programs and professional development. New innovative ideas were presented that focused on the use of Big Data and Artificial Intelligence to enhance planning, execution, and addressing constituent concern within local government. Through the use of AI paired with social media, cities can address municipal concerns that would likely otherwise not be realized. Other concepts discussed were ethics, the importance of creating a connection over content, and key questions to address before generating an innovation incubator in your organization. 

The conference was an optimal way for MPA students to network with and learn from experienced professionals while gaining exposure to the inner workings of the local government profession. This experience and connections made within the ICMA network will be beneficial for students as we begin or expand in our careers within Public Administration.  There were four students at this conference, three from SFSU.  Many participants approached us throughout the conference asking about our program and our future goals.  The message was a common one: Many current administrators are nearing retirement, and there is a growing need for the next generation to step up and take over.