#MACoCon Academy for Excellence Electives Highlight Cybersecurity, Children’s Services, DEI, and ARPA Funding

Fellows of the Academy for Excellence in Local Governance (County Track) are required to complete 8 Core Courses and 6 Elective Courses to earn their certificate through the University of MD’s School of Public Policy – MACo will offer 6 Electives to be held at the 2021 Summer Conference.

Core Courses to be offered: County Financial Management, Consensus and Teambuilding

academylogoThe Academy for Excellence in Local Governance is a volunteer certificate program for elected and appointed county and municipal officials. The program provides a strong background of necessary skills and knowledge for local government leaders. It was founded by MACo and MML, is facilitated by the University of Maryland’s School of Public Policy, and is sponsored by the Local Government Insurance Trust (LGIT).

Academy courses are open to ALL conference registrants – Academy Fellows must complete evaluation forms for each class to earn credit.

Academy Fellows with questions about their transcripts should contact registrar Aisha Washington at awashin1@umd.edu or (301) 314-2641.

Academy Elective Courses Offered at the 2021 MACo Summer Conference:

(All courses will be completely in-person, with no virtual option. Participants must register to attend – daily options are available.)

Strengthening Security: Protecting Your Network from Cyberattacks

Description: In recent years, cyberattacks have threatened local governments’ ability to maintain operations and critical services. With the passage of the American Rescue Plan Act, federal dollars can now support local governments’ efforts to strengthen their information technology systems and improve cybersecurity protocols. As counties continue to transition many services online, cybersecurity and protecting online data has never been more important. This panel of experts will discuss how to leverage federal funding to secure IT systems and digital services.


  • Gregg Smith, Attila Security, Chair, Cybersecurity Association of Maryland, Inc.
  • Steven Wilson, Chief Technology Officer, Department of Fire and Rescue Services, Howard County Government
  • Christopher Merdon, NTT DATA Services, Division President – State & Local Government and Education

Moderator: The Honorable Katie Fry Hester, Maryland House of Delegates

Date/Time: Wednesday, August 18, 2021; 11:00 am – 12 noon

Reaching Troubled Kids, 2 Generations at a Time

Description: Maryland has developed a series of structures designed to serve children – the latest expanding that view to think about two generations at a time, aka “2 GEN.” Legislation creates a framework, but the real effect must happen locally in order to break down silos of agency focus and address the holistic needs of the entire household. Legislative and implementation perspectives will join together on this panel to talk through a new look at children’s services and how we can target better and more lasting results from our investments, two generations at a time.


  • Christina Church, Two-Generation Program Officer/Special Assistant to the Secretary, Department of Human Services
  • Cecelia Knox, Prince George’s County Community College
  • Courtney Thomas-Winterberg, Director, Allegany County Department of Social Services
  • Jenifer Dubosq, Director, Dorchester County Department of Social Services

Moderator: The Honorable Jason Buckel, Maryland House of Delegates

Date/Time: Thursday, August 19, 2021; 2:00 pm – 3:00 pm

Building a Vertical Vision in Times of Crisis: Leveraging Federal and State Emergency Resources

Description: COVID-19 has underscored the importance of a strong, well-defined, and seamless intergovernmental emergency management system. As MEMA transitions to a forward-facing, Cabinet-level entity, counties will be in a strong position to work with the State to develop scalable and adaptable concepts and to better align key roles and responsibilities when disasters strike. In this session, hear from experts about best practices to strengthen and streamline collaboration in planning, response, and recovery efforts and on why leveraging state/local partnerships is key for ensuring a more effective bridge to FEMA, especially for long-term incidents.


  • Jack Markey, Director, Division of Emergency Management, Frederick County
  • Russ Strickland, Executive Director, Maryland Emergency Management Agency
  • Joseph Theobald. President, Maryland Emergency Management Association

Moderator: The Honorable Michael Jackson, Maryland State Senate (invited)

Date/Time: Thursday, August 19, 2021; 3:30 pm – 4:30 pm

The Why Behind DEI: The Power of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in the Workplace

Description: Employers of all types benefit from smart strategies to develop a workforce that is both effective for¾and reflective of¾its community. A public employer, perhaps, should rely on these approaches the most to deliver essential front-line services. Panelists will discuss proven strategies to hire, train, maintain, and promote the right workplace environment needed to relate to residents, benefit from diverse worker experiences, and serve all members of our communities.


  • Jacia Smith, Esq. Chief of Staff, Baltimore City Rec and Parks
  • Tiffany Ward, Montgomery County Chief Equity Officer
  • Quinton Herbert, Baltimore City Human Resources Chief Human Capital Officer

Moderator: The Honorable Obi Patterson, Deputy Majority Whip, Maryland State Senate (invited)

Date/Time: Friday, August 20, 2021; 1:00 pm – 2:00 pm

Financing Resilience: New Tools in the Toolbox

Description: Financing climate resilience efforts can be daunting, but thankfully there are several new tools for counties looking to mitigate the impacts of increased precipitation, sea-level rise, flooding, and more. Explore how resilience authorities, hazard mitigation, and multi-county collaborations can reduce costs and increase revenue streams. Hear from several local governments that are implementing these strategies, as well as from finance experts who can answer questions about how these approaches can work in your community.


  • Mark Belton, Charles County Administrator
  • Matt Johnston, Anne Arundel County Environmental Policy Director
  • Jen Cotting, Director, UMD Environmental Finance Center

Moderator: The Honorable Sarah Elfreth, Maryland State Senate

Date/Time: Friday, August 20, 2021; 2:15 pm – 3:15 pm

FORUM: American Recovery Plan Put to Action

Description: The American Rescue Plan Act includes unprecedented direct and flexible aid for states and local governments to mitigate the fiscal impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. In addition to ensuring a robust and equitable recovery, this one-time infusion of resources provides an opportunity to invest in economic development, infrastructure, housing, transportation, human capital, and other critical areas. While program deadlines place some emphasis on speed, careful planning is essential to optimize the value of recovery dollars while complementing broader county planning. In this session, an expert panel will discuss funding opportunities and challenges, rules and regulations, and best practices to ensure this funding will enable communities to recover, rebuild, and thrive.


  • Mark Ritacco, Government Affairs Director, NACo
  • Ted Zaleski, Director, Budget and Management, Carroll County
  • Shelly Heller, County Administrator, Kent County

Moderator: The Honorable Guy Guzzone, Chair, Maryland State Senate (invited)

Date/Time: Saturday, August 21, 2021; 9:00 am – 10:00 am

Learn more about MACo’s Summer Conference: