Winter #MACoCon Electives Highlight Parks ROI, Infrastructure Funding, Workforce Issues, and MORE!

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 5 Electives at Winter Conference.

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).

Learn which Core Courses will be offered.

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 Elizabeth Hinson at

  • Title: Recreational ROI: Beyond Fun and Games
  • Description: Investing in parks and recreation programming can be a powerful tool in any county’s economic development toolbox. Accessible playgrounds, educational activities, and healthy and safe ways to enjoy the outdoors are just some of the robust recreational offerings that can make the difference for residents when looking for a new home. This panel will delve into the parks return on investment, focusing on methodologies for measuring and communicating the tangible and intangible benefits…like increased property values, reduced healthcare costs, and better quality of life for residents.
  • Speakers:
    • Steve Miller, Director of Recreation & Parks, Wicomico County
    • Bob Smith, Director of Recreation & Parks, Baltimore County
    • Adriane Clutter, Division Chief, Montgomery County Recreation
  • Moderator: The Honorable Jason Gallion, Maryland State Senate
  • Date/Time: Wednesday, December 6, 2023; 1:30 pm – 2:30 pm

  • Title: Leveraging Federal Infrastructure Funds: A Conversation with MDOT
  • Description: The nearly $2 trillion in Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA) and the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) funding represent a generational opportunity to invest in Maryland’s transportation, energy, and environmental infrastructure. In this session, the Maryland Department of Transportation (MDOT) will provide an overview of its resources to support county grant submissions and will preview upcoming federal discretionary grant opportunities of interest to Maryland counties in calendar year 2024.
  • Speakers:
    • Kristen Forti-Thomas, Director of Emergency & Environmental Management, KLT Group and MDOT Grants Consultant
    • Jeff Stockdale, Deputy Director, Federal Affairs, MDOT
    • Sean Winkler, Manager, Federal Infrastructure Strategy, MDOT
  • Moderator: The Honorable Nick Allen, Maryland House of Delegates
  • Date/Time: Wednesday, December 6, 2023; 3:00 pm – 4:00 pm

  • ­­­­­­­­­­­­Title: Hit the Ground Plumbin’ – Getting Apprentices to Work in Waste, Water, and Septic
  • Description: The Maryland Department of Health is working in conjunction with Morgan State University to roll out an innovative environmental health apprenticeship program with the goal of establishing a pipeline of valuable specialists into this vital profession. While in-class instruction is important to learning the tricks of the trade, field experience will empower these future employees with the on-job skills they need to succeed quickly. Learn from experts in the field about why apprenticeships are so valuable and how local governments can leverage new programs to get qualified candidates on the job faster.
  • Speakers:
    • Matthew Cumers – Environmental Health Director, Calvert County
    • Clifford S. Mitchell – Director, Environmental Health Bureau, Maryland Department of Health (invited)
    • Paul Monteiro – Maryland Secretary of Service and Civic Innovation
  • Moderator: The Honorable Johnny Mautz, Maryland State Senate
  • Date/Time: Thursday, December 7, 2023; 1:30 pm – 2:30 pm

  •  Title: 2024 Elections and Beyond…
  • Description: Counties administer and fund elections at the local level, overseeing polling places and coordinating poll workers every two years. But with modern trends in voter preference, new technology, difficulties recruiting and retaining election judges, threats and intimidation from hostile actors, new and evolving cyber threats, and defending against a constant stream of disinformation, the 2024 election cycle is top of mind for county leaders and state and local election officials alike. In this session, an expert panel will look ahead to the 2024 election and beyond, including strategies and potential policy changes to ensure fair, open, safe, and transparent elections.
  • Speakers:
    • Ruie Lavoie, Director, Baltimore County Board of Elections
    • Katherine Berry, Deputy Administrator, State Board of Elections
    • Benjamin Hovland, Commissioner, Election Assistance Commission
    • David Garreis, Director, Anne Arundel County Board of Elections
  • Moderator: The Honorable Cheryl Kagan, Maryland State Senate
  • Date/Time: Thursday, December 7, 2023; 3:00 pm – 4:00 pm

  •  Title: Closing the Gap: Filling Vacancies, Fostering Workplace Cohesion
  • Description: The fast-changing workforce dynamic feels even more tumultuous post-pandemic, with potential employees evaluating workplace options closely. Our public sector continues to struggle to recruit and retain employees – with an old formula of security and benefits sometimes proving to be insufficient to maintain staffing levels. This session will review best practices and innovative solutions for employee hiring and retention strategies, with a focus on ways to “close the gap” between the “old” generation of public servants and the “new” one.
  • Speakers:
    • Memo Diriker, Director Emeritus, Business, Economic, & Community Outreach Network, Salisbury University
    • The Honorable Eric Colvin, Commissioner, St. Mary’s County
    • Alexis Blackwell, Director of Human Resources, Charles County
  • Moderator: The Honorable Marybeth Carozza, Maryland State Senate
  • Date/Time: Friday, December 8, 2023; 11:15 am – 12:15 pm

MACo’s Winter Conference, “Eye of the Storm,” will be held at the Hyatt Regency Chesapeake Bay Hotel in Cambridge, MD from December 6-8, 2023.

Learn more about MACo’s Winter Conference: