2020 Annual Conference

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Adapt and Advance: NCACC 113th Annual Conference

Counties consistently rise to the occasion to meet the challenge at hand. This fact has never been more evident than during the COVID-19 pandemic, as county governments adapt their focus and ways of working to protect the public’s health and safety, and each community’s way of life.

The NCACC has adapted in its own right, and the 113th Annual Conference, while held virtually, will continue to highlight the innovative things that counties do to advance their communities.

The immediate needs of our state’s citizens, businesses and public institutions have changed due to the pandemic. The needs of county leaders remain consistent. The county family still needs to come together through the Association to reinvigorate, and to learn from and support each other. As we all adapt and advance in our own right, let us share our like challenges, our response, and our stories of success this August.

The conference is offered to county officials at no charge and it is our hope that all 100 counties will participate!

Register at ncaccevents.org/events/ac2020/. Registrants will receive the conference website link and password to access sessions.

The schedule is as follows.


Thank You to our Premier Conference Partner!


Friday, August 14, 2:30 – 3:45 p.m.
General Session with keynote speaker Clay Jenkinson

244 years ago, Thomas Jefferson wrote in the Declaration of Independence, "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness." Yet today, we still wrestle with issues of equality. What exactly did Jefferson mean by equality? What are the issues of equality vs. liberty and the pursuit of happiness? How would Jefferson handle governmental leadership during a pandemic, and public reaction to police brutality? What is Jefferson’s vision for America, and, even if it is not realistic today, what actions can we take to realize what is possible in a free, equitable and educated society? Finally, what lessons from Jefferson and the other Founding Fathers are most applicable today for leaders at the local government level?

Clay Jenkinson is a scholar, presidential historian, and author who served as the major humanities commentator on Ken Burns’ 1997 documentary on the third president of the United States, Thomas Jefferson. His two most recent books are “Bring Out Your Dead: The Literature and History of Epidemics,” released in June, and “Repairing Jefferson’s America: A Guide to Civility and Enlightened Citizenship,” due to be released in August.

3:45 – 4 p.m.
Break, featuring pet pics!

While we cannot replicate the atmosphere of an in-person Annual Conference in a virtual setting, we will strive to allow commissioners to continue to get to know one another in fun ways. This break will feature a special video highlighting county officials' favorite pets and pet photos.

4 – 5 p.m.
LGFCU Innovation Hour

Learn about the 2020 LGFCU Excellence in Innovation Awards program winners. Chosen as award recipients by their peers in county government, these winning teams have implemented programs that demonstrate innovative solutions to county needs:

Behavioral Health Clinic – Alexander County

Energy Innovation Task Force – Buncombe County

Make Your Recycling Efforts Count – Catawba County

Library to Go – Catawba County

Behavioral Health Navigation for Inmates – Henderson County

No Wrong Door – Macon County

“LIEAP” into the Community – Scotland County

Fungi Demonstration Project – Transylvania County

Behavioral Health Collaborative – Union County

High Country Food Hub – Watauga County

Saturday, August 15, 9 – 10:15 a.m.
General Session with keynote speaker Doris Kearns Goodwin

The Association is thrilled to announce that Presidential Historian and Pulitzer Prize-winning Author Doris Kearns Goodwin is returning for the second consecutive year, and will offer context for our turbulent times and show how today’s leaders can learn from the past in this facilitated conversation. 

10:15 – 10:30 a.m.
Break: Musical performances, Legislative Goals process, and Two Truths and a Lie

While we cannot replicate the atmosphere of an in-person Annual Conference in a virtual setting, we will strive to allow commissioners to continue to get to know one another in fun ways.

During this break, we will showcase 1) some of our musically inclined county officials; 2) an overview of the NCACC Legislative Goals process; and 3) a “Two Truths and a Lie” segment that tests your knowledge of participating commissioners.

10:30 a.m.
Ceremonial conclusion

We celebrate the presidential term of Yadkin County Chair Kevin Austin, and look forward to a year of leadership from incoming president Ronnie Smith of Martin County and the 2020-21 Executive Committee in this ceremonial conclusion to the 113th Annual Conference.

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Here's what happened during the first two days of the 113th Annual Conference ...

Wednesday, August 5, 3 – 3:45 p.m.
Opening General Session

The Association celebrates its 113th Annual Conference with a ceremonial opening. The session includes a look back at the year that was and a look forward to the virtual conference. In addition, NCACC and UNC School of Government leadership will recognize commissioners who achieved Practitioner, Master or Mentor level status in the Local Elected Leaders Academy (LELA) over the past year.

3:45 – 4 p.m.
Break, featuring pet pics!

While we cannot replicate the atmosphere of an in-person Annual Conference in a virtual setting, we will strive to allow commissioners to continue to get to know one another in fun ways.

We welcome submissions from county officials of their favorite photos of their pets (or with their pets), which we will highlight in a slideshow during this 15-minute break. Email your photo along with your pet’s name(s) to ncacc@ncacc.org!

4 – 5 p.m.
General Session: A Pathway for Disconnected Youth

President Kevin Austin’s Pathways Initiative provides counties with a guide on ways to reduce the rate of disconnected youth – young people ages 16-19 who are neither working nor in school. This session will showcase an action plan for counties to promote youth engagement and help disconnected youth find a path toward meaningful work or higher education; highlight the work of MyFutureNC, a statewide organization that is striving to enable 2 million North Carolinians to attain post-secondary degrees or certifications by 2030; and introduce two county programs that have proven successful in connecting with those youth.

Speakers: Cecilia Holden, President and CEO, myFutureNC; Marcus Metcalf, Executive Director, HIGHTS; and Pamela K. Gould, M. Ed., Executive Director, Strategic Twin-Counties Education Partnership (STEP)

HIGHTS works in Western NC by serving at-risk youth, families, and community organizations. HIGHTS uses experiential activities, community service projects, job training, and goal driven exercises to help develop life skills and instill feelings of community belonging and purpose. | Read about programs

STEP strives to ensure that young people in Edgecombe and Nash counties are exposed to and fully prepared for the 21st century jobs that the region offers. | Read about career awareness programs

Thursday, August 6, 8:30 – 9:30 a.m.
Concurrent Sessions

Changing Demographics, Drawing Districts, and County Impacts
As North Carolina completes the 2020 Census, this session will review demographic changes in the state over the past ten years, as well as explain how coronavirus has impacted census activities. Census data is a necessary component of election districts, and the session will also provide an overview of redistricting and how local governments can consider making plans for any needed changes following the return of population figures.

Presenters: Blake Esselstyn, Mapfigure Consulting; and Deborah Stagner, Tharrington Smith LLP

Listen Up People! The Story Behind Effectively Sharing Information
You have information – important information, critical information, life-and-death information. People need to listen – and they need to listen good! Professional storyteller Tim Lowry will teach you to use humor, suspense, imagery, music and more to grab and hold the attention of your listeners. Folks will be singing your public safety announcement like a catchy commercial jingle and quoting your latest message like a punch line from their favorite comic.

State Leadership Spotlight: Emergency Management Director Mike Sprayberry, DHHS Secretary Dr. Mandy Cohen
Two of the state’s main figures in its response to the COVID-19 pandemic will speak during this session. At 8:30 a.m., Michael Sprayberry, who directs North Carolina Emergency Management and its Office of Recovery and Resiliency, will discuss pandemic response and other matters related to preparation for, response to, recovery from and mitigation of natural and man-made disasters. At 9 a.m., Dr. Mandy Cohen, Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services, will provide updates on COVID-19 as well as address the latest with Medicaid transformation.

Planning for Healthcare Costs in Retirement
This workshop will help attendees understand their retirement risks and how to plan for healthcare expenses in retirement, as well as the complexities of healthcare – including what is covered and what is not covered by Medicare.

Presenter: Tim O’Mara, Vice President, Nationwide Retirement Institute

9:50 – 10:50 a.m.
Concurrent Sessions

A Deep Dive Into Local Education and Workforce Data
In an effort to help local North Carolina communities develop action plans driven by data, myFutureNC, in partnership with Carolina Demography, is creating profiles for each county that highlights county-level education attainment and performance on key myFutureNC education and workforce metrics. This session will walk county leaders through their profiles, which are intended to facilitate decision-making on local priorities to increase attainment by highlighting county and regional performance, and specific opportunities for improvement. Over time these profiles could be used to map and analyze regional initiatives to increase post-secondary attainment in North Carolina.

Presenters: Jeni Corn, Ph.D., Director of Strategic Initiatives, myFutureNC; and Rebecca Tippett, Ph.D., Director, Carolina Demography

Innovative County Personnel Policies and Practices in Challenging Times
Challenging times call for innovative thinking! Our county leaders are at the forefront of this effort. During this session, county management staff and policy advocates will showcase how counties are responding to the needs of their workforce with "family forward" policies, and reacting to the challenges of COVID-19 by restructuring personnel policies and practices, and implementing new procedures.

Presenters: Sharon Burke, Buncombe County Human Resources Director; Lisa Finaldi, N.C. Early Childhood Foundation; Tina Sherman, MomsRising; Steve Garrison, Rutherford County Manager; Sybil Tate, Buncombe County Assistant Manager; and Heidi York, Person County Manager

State Leadership Spotlight: State Treasurer Dale Folwell, and IT Leaders on Broadband, Cybersecurity
State Treasurer Dale Folwell, the keeper of the public purse, will open this session at 9:50 a.m. and will address timely issues including the financial impact of COVID-19 on local government utilities, and status of the retirement system. At 10:20 a.m., two representatives of the N.C. Department of Information Technology – State Chief Risk Officer Maria Thompson and Broadband Infrastructure Office Director Jeff Sural – will join to address strengthening cyber security for counties and statewide access to broadband, respectively.

The ABCs of P3s
Public-private partnerships (P3s) are cooperative agreements that can offer counties flexibility on financing, development, and other aspects of county facility and infrastructure projects. This session will be led by representatives from New Hanover County and their architecture and design partner, LS3P. They will provide background on the P3 process, and share examples from New Hanover’s ongoing County Government Center project.

Presenters: Chris Boney, Chief Relations Officer, LS3P; Laura Miller, Wilmington Office Lead, LS3P; Sarah Warmuth, Chief Facilities Officer, New Hanover County; Tim Burgess, Deputy County Manager, New Hanover County

11 a.m.
Business Session

The session will focus on elections for NCACC leadership positions, notably NCACC Second Vice President, as well as North Carolina’s NACo Board of Directors seat No. 3. 

If your county has yet to submit a voting delegate, please do so as soon as possible. For a copy of the voting delegate form, click here. If you have any questions, contact Alisa Cobb at alisa.cobb@ncacc.org. The Business Session is open for all registrants to attend.

GFL wide