Tech, Trails, Tourism, and More – Hot Topics in Academy for Excellence Electives at #MACoCon

County Fellows of the Academy for Excellence in Local Governance are required to complete 8 Core Courses and 6 Elective Credits – MACo announces 6 Elective Courses to be held at the 2022 Summer Conference.

The 2022 MACo Summer Conference will take place at the Roland Powell Convention Center in Ocean City, MD, from August 17-22. This year’s theme is “Taking Care of Business.”

The 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 (register online) – Academy Fellows must complete evaluation forms for each class to earn credit.

Academy Fellows with questions about their transcripts should contact registrar Elizabeth Hinson at

Also view Core Courses being offered at MACo’s 2022 Summer Conference.

Academy Elective Courses Offered at the 2022 MACo Summer Conference:

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

New Innovations = New Opportunities: Harnessing Developing Technology Trends

 Description: The world of technology is quickly evolving, and with it, how government does business. From paying property taxes with bitcoin, to implementing a password-free security strategy, county governments should be focusing on current tech trends and the challenges and opportunities they create. Join this session to hear leading experts discuss tech innovations and how they can improve government operations.


  • Gail Roper, Chief Information Officer, Montgomery County
  • Jennifer B. Heflin, Managing Director, Accenture
  • Chrissy Nizer, Administrator, MDOT MVA

Date/Time: Wednesday, August 17, 2022; 2:30 pm – 3:30 pm

The Path to Economic Revival: Leveraging Trails & Nature

Description: No longer seen as just a path in the woods, trails have become an important tool for driving economic development and creating cohesive communities. These underappreciated assets bridge different points of interest and drive tourism, all while providing a source of local recreation and connecting the workforce to their communities. This expert panel discusses the ins and outs of trail development and management and how leveraging these overlooked assets can benefit Marylanders.


  • Natalia Sanchez, Outdoor Recreation Planner, National Park Service’s (NPS) Rivers, Trails and Conservation Assistance (RTCA) Program
  • Dan Hudson, Trail Manager, Maryland Park Service
  • Kate Patton, Executive Director, Lower Shore Land Trust

Date/Time: Thursday, August 18, 2022; 2:00 pm – 3:00 pm

Destination Maryland – Tourism of Tomorrow

Description: Tourism is big business for Maryland’s counties, employing hundreds of thousands of residents, adding billions to the economy, and generating millions in local tax revenue. Like many other areas of county service, Maryland’s tourism industry has experienced unprecedented challenges over the past two years. Throughout the pandemic, counties developed new strategies to attract visitors or began promoting a new kind of tourism altogether. As a crucial service to their communities, tourism departments began focusing on innovative or expanded outdoor and online offerings, and became a hub of workforce development and community revitalization projects, among other outside-the-box solutions. In this session, county representatives will discuss their new and revised visions for promoting tourism and how they can be applied statewide to bolster Maryland’s economy.


  • Wesley Heinz, Executive Director, Western MD Scenic Railroad
  • Kristen Goller, President, MD Destination Marketing Organizations; Tourism Manager, Wicomico County Recreation, Parks & Tourism
  • Dan Spedden, President, Visit Hagerstown and Washington County
  • Lucille Walker, Executive Director, Destination Southern MD

Date/Time: Thursday, August 18, 2022; 3:30 pm – 4:30 pm

All Disasters Are Local: Rethinking Resilience

Description: While a disaster always begins and ends at the local level, a strong partnership among federal, state, and local governments is vital to emergency preparedness and community resilience. And while many communities look to federal assistance after an emergency incident or disaster, the reality is that federal disaster assistance is dependent upon several factors – and counties must be prepared to recover and rebuild with or without federal aid. In this session, an expert panel will explain the ins and outs of disaster relief programs, detail best practices for aligning key roles and responsibilities when disasters strike, and highlight new ideas and policies to help counties streamline community resources in times of crisis.


  • Anna Sierra, Chief Development Officer, Maryland Department of Emergency Management
  • Michael Hinson, Director, Emergency Management, Howard County
  • Wayne Darrell, Director of Emergency Services, Kent County (invited)
  • Preeti Emerick, Director, Emergency Management, Anne Arundel County

Date/Time: Friday, August 19, 2022; 1:00 pm – 2:00 pm

Empowering Communities: Breathing New Life Into Old Spaces

Description: Local governments routinely grapple with providing community development that best serves constituents and makes good use of community spaces. From food deserts to vacant buildings, former agri-land to urban housing, opportunities are abundant throughout Maryland. In this session, participants will learn from an esteemed panel on innovative and effective ways to rethink and redevelop public spaces to empower the communities where they reside.


  • Yolanda Jiggetts, Executive Director, Park Heights Renaissance
  • Kelly Robertson-Slagle, Director of Economic Development, Charles County
  • The Honorable Jake Day, Mayor, Salisbury; Immediate Past President, Maryland Municipal League
  • Kevin Baynes, Director, State Revitalization Programs, Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development

Date/Time: Friday, August 19, 2022; 2:15 pm – 3:15 pm

Too Cool for Traditional School: The Changing Role of Community Colleges and Career and Technical Education

Description: Maryland is at a turning point: The Blueprint for Maryland’s Future and its attached funding are set to accelerate career and technical educational (CTE) offerings in K-12 education, as the workforce’s demands for skilled positions are evolving. Coupled with the diversifying role of its community colleges, Maryland has the potential to meet tomorrow’s challenges beyond the next years and into the next generation. Participants will learn from leaders in Maryland’s community college and education communities on these trends and how they can partner with local governments to prepare Marylander’s learners for the modern workforce.


  • Brad Phillips, Executive Director, Maryland Association of Community Colleges
  • Rachel Hise, Executive Director, Blueprint Accountability and Implementation Board
  • Mara Doss, Member, Accountability and Implementation Board, former Prince George’s Community College Administrator
  • Douglas Handy, President, Maryland Association of Career and Technical Education; Director of the Office of Career and Technical Education (CTE) and Fine Arts for Baltimore County Public (BCPS) Schools (invited)

Date/Time: Saturday, August 20, 2022; 10:00 am – 11:00 am

MACo is also offering 3 Core Courses at the Summer Conference!

Read about all the sessions being offered at MACo’s Summer Conference.

Learn more about MACo’s Summer Conference: