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Joe Supervielle:

Welcome to Voices in Local Government, an ICMA podcast. My name is Joe Supervielle. For a quick preview of ICMA's 108th annual conference achieving excellence together September 17 to 21 in Columbus, Ohio, we are glad to have planning committee co-chairs Emily Muzzarelli and Alex McIntyre. Thanks for joining us today.

Alex McIntyre:

Absolutely.

Emily Muzzarelli:

Thank you.

Joe Supervielle:

So today is about conference, but quickly, can you give us and audience a quick kind of what and where are your day jobs? Emily, why don't you start?

Emily Muzzarelli:

Sure. My name's Emily Muzzarelli, and I am the Assistant City Manager from Morgantown, West Virginia. Home of West Virginia University.

Joe Supervielle:

Alex?

Alex McIntyre:

I am Alex McIntyre, City Manager with the city of Ventura, home of the Pacific Ocean.

Joe Supervielle:

Both nice things there. We're going to get to this year's conference, but quickly, can you both give us an example of something you've learned at a past conference that you were able to put into practice at the day jobs you just listed? Alex, why don't you go first?

Alex McIntyre:

Yes, certainly. At last year's conference, I took a team of coworkers with me, and one of the things we became impressed with was a presentation by Zen City. We ended up bringing them on board and really starting to utilize that tool. It's a social media screening tool for us. That was a big takeaway for us.

Joe Supervielle:

Emily?

Emily Muzzarelli:

I'm somewhat new to local government. I've been in local government about four years, and my background's in engineering. Economic development was not really my strong suit. I sat through a presentation about site certifications, and found that Morgantown is really primed to utilize this type of program to launch ourselves forward for local investment.

Joe Supervielle:

I think that's a good advantage or benefit of the conference is to get out of your daily grind or the bubble, and have some exposures to other topics and other experts. On that note, the list is out, available online for everyone to check out. Who are some speakers or topics that you're each excited for? Any big names or even some maybe under the radar, a little bit more obscure, a little bit more specific topics that you're excited about? Emily, go ahead.

Emily Muzzarelli:

I'm really looking forward to hearing from Betty Hart. She's going to be talking about compassion and using that in our everyday work. We try to do it all and burn the candle in both ends, and I'm often guilty of that. I think just from that work life balance, I'm really looking forward to hearing from her.

 

https://conference.icma.org/education-session-details/?session=2192651

 

Joe Supervielle:

That's an example, not always a hard skill or a new thing to learn per se. It's kind of the bigger picture, how do you actually stay effective and be high performing at your job. That sounds like a good one. Alex, what about you?

Alex McIntyre:

Yeah, I've got a couple that, and coincidentally, they're ones that I happen to be introducing. So perhaps selfishly I'm going to make a pitch.

Joe Supervielle:

No, give it a plug. Go ahead.

Alex McIntyre:

The first one really is being able to hear from John Nalbandian, Bob O'Neill and Sherilyn Lombos, who's a City Manager in Oregon. They're going to be talking about governing in a disruptive environment, creating a course in a stormy sea, and I think clearly stormy seas is something we are familiar with here in local government. I think hearing from those experts should be very interesting and exciting.

 

https://conference.icma.org/education-session-details/?session=1969448

 

              My second one is really aligned with what Emily just said, is there sort of an encore presentation by Tamara and Paul Letourneau. Tamara is a City Manager here in Southern California, and it's the balancing act of being a parent and a CEO, Chief Executive Officer. I think both of those are not bookends, but one is certainly more on the personal track, and one is certainly more on the hopefully charting a course forward through stormy seas. Those would be my two pitches.

 

https://conference.icma.org/education-session-details/?session=2133714

 

Joe Supervielle:

There are also lots of extra experiences available for attendees. Again, check out the website for the full list. Some socials, that's obviously a big part of getting in person, especially after a couple years, either off, entirely or hard to get in person. Those socials and those receptions are going to be there. There's also some sports activities, micro certifications, but anything in particular you'd want to point out to would be attendees? Alex, go ahead.

Alex McIntyre:

Sure. One of the things I believe it's the Saturday event is a very small university, in Columbus called the Ohio State University. I believe there is a football game that night and the conference planning committee had an opportunity to tour the, I believe it's called the horseshoe, and it was it's fascinating. Again, seeing a college town like that really rallies behind it's the local university. Again, I say local as if it's a small little university, so that would certainly be one thing. I certainly have some dinner ideas and a few other things to suggest later, perhaps.

Joe Supervielle:

Emily?

Emily Muzzarelli:

I'm really looking forward to going to COSI at the Tuesday night event. Anyone that is from Columbus, and I tell them that this conference is going to be held at Columbus this year. Everyone says, you got to go check out COSI, it's The Center of Science and Industry. That's where the Tuesday night event is, and I'm really looking forward to checking that out.

Joe Supervielle:

All right. That one should be exciting. Let's talk about the actual attendees a little bit. The ICMA audience skews a little bit towards the actual city/county manager, but I think others can benefit. Whether it's the deputy managers, department heads, or even the early mid-career type professionals. What do you think stands out for that group, that they can get involved in, even whether it's networking with the higher ups or otherwise? What's the benefit for those other types of people in local government? Emily?

Emily Muzzarelli:

I think there's a lot of our educational sessions are really on economic development. If you have planning directors, director of development services, I think those are all folks who would take a ton of great contact from here from these conferences. Being able to bring this back and then anyone that is coming into local government from a different industry. Again, I came from the private engineer and consulting world, and really had no idea what a lot of the aspects were for local government. I had a great city manager when I came on and I think two months after I started got signed up to go to the ICMA conference in Baltimore. It was just so eye opening and I learned so much about the industry. I definitely think somebody coming in new, it's a great way to give them all the opportunities to educate and meet with other people.

Joe Supervielle:

Alex?

Alex McIntyre:

Certainly, yeah. I am bringing my financial director with me this year and he has joined me in past years. I've had different size teams coming to the ICMA conference. I think for him, it's going to be an opportunity to refresh certain skills and get him out of the world to finance. To put him in environments and areas that he is maybe generally unfamiliar with, and just raising his level of awareness. I think for anyone coming to ICMA, there are so many educational opportunities to expose yourself to things that maybe previously you didn't know about. It's an emerging issue in your community or in your state starting to get some level of awareness and education on these kinds of topics, I think is really important for anyone attending ICMA.

Joe Supervielle:

Group rates are available, check out the website for exact numbers. That's a way, travel costs can get tricky and it's not always easy, but the rates themselves, help out to get more of the team there. To get everyone caught up in learning and exposed to new ideas. Aside from the educational track, when they're true answers what are you most excited about, that the answer is networking.

              Going back to those social events, what specifically about that do you all enjoy? I guess another way to ask it is, not necessarily tips, but for people who are maybe not as outgoing or that's not the first thing that comes to mind for the introverts out there. How can those types also take advantage and get involved within the membership community and nonmember too at the event?

Emily Muzzarelli:

There are definitely some events that have really overwhelming amount of people that are there. Even from a networking, if large group settings are your thing. Even attending ground tables, that you're maybe only talking to five or six other people and specifically getting engaged on a topic per question. I think that's a really great way to network, at a much smaller and maybe not quite as overwhelming scale. Then there's plenty of opportunities to just have one on one conversation. If you're grabbing a coffee and sit down next to somebody, introduce yourself. It's kind of almost like the first day when everybody starts a new school. Everybody's new. Everyone's there. We're all there for essentially the same thing.

Joe Supervielle:

Alex?

Alex McIntyre:

Similar to what Emily just said. I think there are kind of strategies that people in my early years with ICMA, it took a little bit of extra effort to put yourself out there. Put yourself in the room, put yourself in the space. I think one of the things that really is, believe it or not, it's the name tags. If you can look at a name tag and get a sense of, "Oh, West Virginia," and it starts. You can start that conversation, and then that builds to other things. I think city managers can sometimes I think be somewhat introverted, that natural ability of coming out of that shell and finding that comfort level.

              I will say over time, as one returns to ICMA, those networks just further and further strengthen. I've had incredible success because of the networks, being able to hire staff, being able to find opportunities for myself. So the networks really are critical and they start slow and they build. Hopefully you have a friend at ICMA, hopefully there's somebody who can take your hand and introduce you. If not, find it in your own self to extend your hand out and say, "Hi, I'm Alex McIntyre. I'm from Ventura. Nice to meet you."

Joe Supervielle:

There'll also be plenty of friendly ICMA staff there to be those icebreakers. You mentioned, I think how you said, not just for your own career, but hiring too. The networking goes all directions. It's not just up, or who can I find that can do something for me. It's also not necessarily just directly below you. It goes sideways. It goes all directions, we're all here to learn from each other and meet, not just kind of selfishly fish for something on yourself. That's helpful for everyone.

              Along the same lines, do you have tips for first time attendees? Not just on the social part or the networking, but the agenda's huge. There's great topics. There're great speakers. It's more than one person can do while you're there. It might feel overwhelming a little bit to that first timer. Any tips on how to navigate it or how to prioritize, Alex?

Alex McIntyre:

Certainly, I think one of the key pieces of advice I'd offer at first time attendee is simply to show up. You've gotten to Columbus, you've gotten to your hotel, you got to the Convention Center. Stay present, attend the sessions, look at the sessions in advance, get the sense of what you think the takeaways are going to be. I know the sessions are described in ways that are trying to appeal to you. On the brochure itself, you will see who target audience is. If you have enough self-awareness on who you are and what target audience you fit into, I think some of that can help. The other thing is if I can be blunt, eavesdrop. Listen to where other people are going and see what they're going to attend and just tag along, follow along, slip in. Again, participate be present.

Emily Muzzarelli:

I would say as far as figuring out what to attend, if you have been in a role for a while trying to do something maybe a little bit outside of your comfort zone. Knowing where those weaknesses are and seeing what are the sessions, the night before everything really kicks off, look through the book. See if there's one that maybe appeal to something that think maybe lacking on. As a gener.al tip, related to networking, make sure you bring your business cards. While it's great that we have name tags and real easy to talk to folks, sometimes you leave and you can't remember who that person is. If you give someone your business card, they almost always are going to give it back to you. Then when they leave, just flip that over and write on the back, how you met what you talked about. That really goes a long way.

Joe Supervielle:

You nailed it. I was going to say, I'm not good at networking or anything. In my early days at industry events, I've had the pen too, because as soon as I got the card I had to make a note. I would completely forget the exact circumstance. Also, a reminder that even in person or digital attendees, there will be on demand after, through the end of the calendar year. You're not going to be able to see everything, but you can still bookmark like, "Oh I missed that one because I just couldn't get there." Then you can go back and check it out later.

              Emily's point was a good one. Get out of your comfort zone so you can kind of mix it up. If there's a certain topic you're kind of tasked with that you need to improve on or learn. That's great. If you want to just try something new and get exposed to it, I think that's helpful too. Individual decisions there.

              Last question, just Columbus in general, Emily, you pointed out that spot on Tuesday night. Is there, and Alex mentioned the football game, obviously a big deal there in Columbus. Is there anything else local? Did you have any tips if you were there in person during the planning session? Is there anything you want to share with the audience kind of inside scoop on Columbus itself?

Emily Muzzarelli:

I'll be going with my husband and my two children to Columbus, and we do a lot of brewery visits, and there's actually brewery district walking tour. Definitely hoping to be able to check those out. We're coming up a couple nights early, so before the conference starts to be able to check those out. It's just a very walkable city, where all the hotels are, is really in the heart of everything. So you can walk to a lot and there's a lot to do.

Alex McIntyre:

Certainly, the convention center is in a really convenient location and a lot of stuff is walkable, which I think makes it a positive. Two things, I'm a kind of a foodie guy. Although the beer tour sounds very intriguing as well. I think there's a very well known chef and restaurant tour named Cameron Mitchell, who is from Columbus. He has a long list of restaurants that he has in the greater Columbus area. The planning committee was able to enjoy one of his restaurants in April when we were visiting, it's called Marella's, which is a really good Italian restaurant.

              He also has a restaurant that I just discovered, but I have not been to it's called the Lincoln Social Rooftop. Any chance I have to have a cocktail on a rooftop, overlooking a city, I'm going to take advantage of it. It too is walkable from the convention center. I think there's just ample opportunities. There's going to be ample sort of selections of the types of foods that people might want to enjoy. I know eating is a big deal at a conference as well. So I hope people do take advantage of that as well.

Joe Supervielle:

All things to look forward to. So just a couple quick reminders, again, discounts for ICMA members to attend, but not exclusive to ICMA members. We want as many people in local government as possible there to learn and meet each other. Group registrations available, hotels on the website. There is digital attendance for people who just can't do the travel. That is something we improved during COVID, which I'm glad we got through this interview without having to talk about. That on demand will also be available after the event is over. The website is conference.icma.org. You can send questions to membership@icma.org or conferenceteam@icma.org.

              Emily, Alex, thanks for joining us today and best luck in Columbus.

Emily Muzzarelli:

Thank you much, Joe.

Alex McIntyre:

See you all in Columbus.

Episode is sponsored by

Guest Information

Emily Muzzarelli, P.E., assistant city manager, Morgantown, West Virginia

Alex McIntyre, city manager, Ventura, California 

Jessi Atcheson, ICMA marketing coordinator and host of ICMA Member Spotlights

Episode Notes

Planning committee co-chairs, Emily Muzzarelli and Alex McIntyre preview this year's ICMA 2022 Annual Conference: Achieving Excellence Together, September 17-22 in Columbus, Ohio.

  1. What they've learned at a previous event that was put into practice at their local government.
  2. Speakers or sessions they're most excited for.
  3. Benefits and tips for attendees other than city/count managers, covering assistant CAOs, department heads, and early to mid-career professionals.
  4. Networking.
  5. Suggestions for Columbus.

Then, Ohio local, ICMA marketing coordinator, and host of ICMA Member Spotlights, Jessi Atcheson joins to give more info on the Columbus airport, walking/ride-share situation, best restaurants and bars, and THE Ohio State University Saturday game day experience.
 

Resources

Registration

Agenda and Full Schedule

Conference App

Digital Event

Experience Columbus deals and discounts

Send questions to membership@icma.org or conferenceteam@icma.org

 

Sessions Referenced During the Episode to Bookmark:

Self-Compassion: A Key to Resilience-Featuring Betty Hart-Sponsored

Governing in a Disruptive Environment: Charting a Course in a Stormy Sea

The Balancing Act of Being a Parent and a Chief Executive

 

Jessi's recommendations:

OSU Pregame: Little Bar, Midway

Restaurants: Condados, Bakersfield, Standard, Foodhall, Lincoln Social, Hubbard, Local Cantina, Marcella’s, TownHall, The Eagle, Brassica

Breweries: Hoof Hearted, Seventh Son, North High Brewing, Columbus Brewing Company, Ohio Brewing Company, Whistle and Keg, BrewDog, Elevator Brewery & Draught Haus

Other Attractions: COSI, Columbus Zoo, North Market, German Village, Franklin Park Conservatory, Easton Town Center 

 

Sponsor Offers

New, Reduced Membership Dues

A new, reduced dues rate is available for CAOs/ACAOs, along with additional discounts for those in smaller communities, has been implemented. Learn more and be sure to join or renew today!

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