Workshops & Speakers

The NCACC will continuously update this page with summaries of each session and workshop, and information on the presenters.

Note that, new for 2018, Steering Committees will take "deep dives" into topics of interest through various workshops. Plan your travel and itinerary accordingly!

Noran Sanford and GrowingChange
General Session: Friday, August 24, 8:30 - 9:45 a.m.

Few projects solve – or even address – several problems at once. GrowingChange is one that does. GrowingChange is a youth empowered, nonprofit organization that is designed to address several tough problems that challenge North Carolina: the numbers of young people entering the penal system; a county with no locally grown, sustainably produced food; decreasing numbers of small farms and independent farmers; joblessness among wounded warriors returning from deployment; abandoned Brownfield properties decaying into dysfunction; health disparities between African-Americans, Latinos, and whites; and declining health outcomes among the rural poor.

In this inspiring session, program founder Noran Sanford and members of the GrowingChange team and community will share how the organization addresses all these challenges in Scotland County.


Sam Quinones
General Session: Saturday, August 25, 8:45 - 10:15 a.m.

Sam Quinones is a journalist, storyteller, former LA Times reporter, and author of three acclaimed books of narrative nonfiction, including Dreamland: The True Tale of America’s Opiate Epidemic. The book weaves together tales that reveal how unfettered prescriptions of pain medications during the 1990s collided with an influx of black tar heroin, which, when combined with a brilliant marketing and distribution system, resulted in today’s public opiate crisis.

Quinones will share this story and discuss his insights into how counties have been at the forefront of a long process of rebuilding communities that have been destroyed by societal forces.




Workshop Block I, 9:30 - 11 a.m.

Justice and Public Safety Steering Committee Forum on Inmate Medical Care
This Justice and Public Safety Steering Committee Forum will showcase best practices for inmate medical care in county jails. You do not need to be a Steering Committee member to attend.

Moderator: Justice and Public Safety Steering Committee Chair "T" Davis, Warren County Vice Chair
Presenter: Amber Harris, Government Relations Coordinator, NCACC

Public Education Steering Committee Forum on School Funding Allotments
North Carolina’s complicated formula for funding allotments to local school districts is under scrutiny at the Legislature. This Public Education Steering Committee Forum will take a deep dive into the allotment system, and examine reasons why the Joint Legislative Task Force on Education Finance Reform is considering changes. You do not need to be a Steering Committee member to attend.

Moderator: Public Education Steering Committee Chair Mark Richardson, Rockingham County Commissioner
Presenter: Adam Pridemore, Legislative Counsel, NCACC

The New MOUs Between NC DHHS and Counties
The Family & Child Protection and Accountability Act required each county to sign by July 1, 2018, a Memorandum of Understanding that enumerates certain performance standards to be met by every Department of Social Services in the state. This session provides an in-depth look at the performance requirements, corrective action plans, and examples of communication between county Departments of Social Services, county managers and Boards of Commissioners.

Presenters: John Eller, Davie County Manager; Donna Fayko, Social Services Director, Rowan County, and President, N.C. Association of County Directors of Social Services; Amy Scott Galey, Alamance County Board Chair; Bryan Hagood, Alamance County Manager; and Susan Osborne, Social Services Director, Alamance County, and First Vice President, NCACDSS
Moderator: Page Lemel, Transylvania County Vice Chair

Workshop Block II, 1:30 - 2:45 p.m.

Health and Human Services Steering Committee Forum on Medicaid Transformation
Medicaid in North Carolina is in a state of increasingly rapid transformation from a fee-based system to managed care. This Health and Human Services Steering Committee Forum will start with the basics of how the Medicaid system works, cover the ins-and-outs of how these Medicaid reforms may impact county health and social services programs, and provide time for attendee discussion and feedback. You do not need to be a Steering Committee member to attend. 

Moderator: Health and Human Services Steering Committee Chair Bob Byrd, Alamance County Vice Chair
Presenter: Hugh Johnson, Government Relations Coordinator, NCACC

Social Security: The Choice of a Lifetime
How and when to take Social Security is one of the most important decisions you will make regarding your retirement. This presentation demonstrates how you can make a suitable decision for your needs by analyzing and comparing different Social Security filing options.

Speaker: Carlo Cordasco, Vice President, Nationwide Retirement Institute

Workshop Blocks II-III, 1:30 - 4:30 p.m.

1:30 - 4:30 p.m.
Building Strong and Resilient Teams in County Government
This highly interactive and practical presentation will engage participants in discussions on building effective and resilient teams both internally to the county and externally to the community. Participants will learn the principles of effective teams and the strategies behind creating teams, gain an understanding of the process of building strong coalitions around important public issues, and engage in discussion on how county government can provide leadership in building those coalitions.

Facilitator: Dan Clark, Director, Montana State University Local Government Center

1:30 – 4 p.m.
Furniture Movers and Shakers: Academy’s Custom Training Meets New Needs for Traditional Industry
The Catawba Valley Furniture Academy is an industry-driven training program designed by local furniture manufacturers to prepare students for skilled positions that are in high demand by one of the region's largest employers. This unique opportunity results in almost guaranteed employment for those who complete the program.

Transportation will be provided to this off-site workshop, where attendees will learn about the program's partners, inception and curriculum design during an overview and tour of the facility.

Bus or shuttle transportation will depart from the Convention Center entrance at 1:30 p.m. for a 15-minute ride to the Academy (973 Locust St.). Participants will return to the Convention Center no later than 4 p.m. Refreshments will be provided on-site. Wear comfortable shoes! Reserve your seat on the bus by emailing

Facilitator: Lori Price, Catawba Valley Community College Business & Industry Services

Workshop Block III, 3:15 - 4:30 p.m.

Taxation and Finance Steering Committee Forum on Sales Tax Distribution
What sales taxes do counties have the authority to levy? How do those sales tax dollars travel back to the county? This Taxation and Finance Steering Committee Forum will provide attendees with an overview of the local sales tax collection and distribution process, and the opportunity for discussion and questions. You do not need to be a Steering Committee member to attend.

Moderator: Taxation and Finance Steering Committee Chair Johnnie Carswell, Burke County Vice Chair
Presenter: Paige Worsham, Associate General Counsel, NCACC

An Update on Hurricane Matthew Recovery
Almost two full years after Hurricane Matthew dumped torrential rains on the state, many counties are still working to help citizens recover. During this presentation, Michael Sprayberry, N.C. Emergency Management Director and Deputy Homeland Security Advisor, will describe the ongoing efforts to provide assistance to North Carolina’s disaster survivors. The presentation will include guidance for counties on how to best prepare for an organized and efficient recovery operation in a post-disaster scenario, as well as a prediction for the 2018 hurricane season.

Moderator: Dan Hunsucker, Catawba County Commissioner


Workshop Block IV, 10:15 - 11:30 a.m.

Programs that Work! Workforce Development Initiatives Helping Youth Thrive
This session will showcase three successful workforce development initiatives that focus or have a component that focuses on helping young people enter the workforce. Through brief, Thrive Summit-style presentations, workshop attendees will learn about: 1) two programs administered through the Piedmont Triad Regional Council: the NextGen Youth Program that serves youth who require additional assistance to enter or complete an education program or to secure or hold employment; and the “Dream It. Do It.” initiative that helps connect local manufacturers, schools, community colleges, community-based organizations and other stakeholders to inspire next-generation workers to pursue careers in manufacturing; and 2) Work in Burke, a program designed to educate students and their parents about the job opportunities available in Burke County and the training required to pursue a career in those fields.

Speaker and moderator: NCACC President Brenda Howerton, Durham County Commissioner
Speakers: Wendy Walker-Fox, Workforce Program Director, Piedmont Triad Regional Council; and Alan Wood, President/CEO, Burke Development Incorporated

HOPE in the Battle Against the Opiate Epidemic
As the tentacles of the opiate epidemic have spread and devastated families and communities, the social safety net has responded, with some innovative efforts finding lasting impact. This workshop will speak to local responses that seek to provide safe and quick assistance to those who are struggling to overcome their opiate addiction: the Town of Nashville’s HOPE Initiative, Brunswick County’s Anchor Initiative, and Orange County’s Coordinated Opioid Overdose Reduction Effort (COORE).

Speaker and moderator: NCACC Past President Fred McClure, Davidson County Commissioner
Speakers: Thomas Bashore, Chief of Police, Town of Nashville; John W. Ingram, V, Sheriff, Brunswick County; and Charles Blackwood, Sheriff, and Kim Woodward, EMS Operations Manager, Orange County

Thomas Edison and the Rise of Innovation
Join professional storyteller Tim Lowry for an entertaining and informative workshop based on the life of America’s most prolific inventor. Using stories from the fascinating career of Mr. Thomas Edison, Tim will lead the group in several exercises that will help you fight acceptance of failure and predetermined outcomes.

Active Shooters in Schools: Liability Issues, Funding, Prevention and Response Tactics
What happens in the case of an “active shooter” at a school? What are the factors that play into how and why they occur? This workshop will provide facts and a history of school shootings, and a forum for discussion of preparation and prevention strategies, basic response tactics, and liability issues.

Speaker: Troy Pitcock, Law Enforcement Loss Control Field Representative, Kentucky League of Cities, and consultant, Law Enforcement Risk Management Group

Sponsored by the NCACC Risk Management Pools

Workshop Block V, 1:30 - 2:45 p.m.

The Changing Landscape for Human Services Organization and Governance
This session will provide an overview and discussion of a county’s options to organize and govern human services, and share lessons learned.

Speaker and moderator: NCACC First Vice President Kevin Austin, Yadkin County Chair
Speaker: Aimee Wall, Thomas Willis Lambeth Distinguished Chair in Public Policy, UNC School of Government

The County Impacts of the N.C. Farm Act
The N.C. Farm Act of 2018, among other things, strengthens North Carolina’s Right to Farm law, which protects farmers and forestry operations from certain nuisance lawsuits. Additional changes of interest to counties include updates to land records and notice requirements and valuation of certain farm equipment. Bring to this workshop your questions related to the Farm Act, North Carolina agriculture issues, or federal legislation!

Speaker: Jake Parker, Legislative Counsel and State Legislative Director, N.C. Farm Bureau Federation
Moderator: Agriculture Steering Committee Chair Amy Dalrymple, Lee County Board Chair
Sponsored by the NCACC Agriculture Steering Committee

Emerging Issues in Public Health
Environmental hazards pose a threat to not just community health but community well-being, as quality of life factors such as clean public water and the economy can suffer the consequences of a disaster. This session, held in partnership with the N.C. Association of Local Health Directors, will examine public health's role from multiple perspectives, including New Hanover County's experience with GenX in the Cape Fear Public Utility Authority's water supply, new legislation impacting local environmental health, and a status report on opioid response after a year of intense focus.

Facilitator: Dennis Joyner, Public Health Director, Union County, and President, N.C. Association of Local Health Directors
Presenters: Lillian Koontz, Public Health Director, Davidson County; Layton Long, Public Health Director, Chatham County; and Phillip Tarte, Public Health Director, New Hanover County
Convener: Environment Steering Committee Carol McCall, Scotland County Vice Chair
Sponsored by the NCACC Environment Steering Committee

What You Need to Know About Appraisals and Assessments
Each county’s tax assessor is ultimately responsible for the listing, appraisal and assessment of all property in the county. What is the role of the Board of Commissioners in the process? If you receive questions from constituents about how, when and why property is appraised, are you able to provide an answer? This session, led by two experts in real property appraisals, will provide attendees with a baseline understanding of the law, standards and process.

Speakers: David Baker, Director of Tax and Revenue Outreach, NCACC; and Kirk Boone, Lecturer in Public Finance and Government, UNC School of Government
Moderator: Barbara Beatty, Catawba County Vice Chair

Sponsored by the North Carolina Property Tax System (NCPTS)

Workshop Block VI, 3:15 - 5 p.m.

Screen Heroin(e), and Discuss Opioid Epidemic Response in Your County
Heroin(e), an original Netflix short documentary, follows three women – Fire Chief Jan Rader, drug court Judge Patricia Keller, and the Brown Bag Ministry’s Necia Freeman – working in coordination to combat the opioid epidemic in heroin-ravaged Huntington, West Virginia. Attend this session to view the film and participate in a follow-up discussion on how you view the epidemic in your own county, and what initiatives your county (if any) is participating in to attempt to address the problem.

Discussion facilitator: Tara Conrad, Regional Director of Community Operations, Partners Behavioral Health Management

Screen Resilience, and Discuss Impacts of ACEs on Public Health in Your County
The short documentary Resilience digs into the science behind Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) and about the impacts that toxic stress has on children. The national Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have linked ACEs to risky health behaviors such as smoking, alcoholism and drug use; chronic health conditions such as obesity, diabetes, depression, cancer and heart disease; low life potential and early death. Attend this session to view the film, learn about the new prevention therapies, and engage in follow-up discussion on the importance of fighting back against this toxic stress for the short- and long-term well-being of your community.

Discussion facilitator: Sharon Hirsch, President and CEO, Prevent Child Abuse North Carolina

#FreeSpeech and #PublicRecords Considerations for Social Media
OK Tweeps, so you’re engaging your constituents on Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, LinkedIn, Twitter and every other social media platform under the sun. But do you know if that eye roll emoji ๐Ÿ™„ you posted last night at 9:51 p.m. (in response to a fellow commissioner’s post) is public record? What if you deleted said emoji at 9:53 p.m.? And what if Patti the paralegal in your county attorney’s office caught wind of an economic development project you’ve been trying to keep under wraps – ๐Ÿ˜ฎ OMG! – and is posting about great new jobs on the way on Facebook? Can you order them to delete their comments? ๐Ÿค” In this session, UNC School of Government faculty Frayda Bluestein and Bob Joyce will separate #facts from #fakenews to keep you from running afoul of free speech and public records law when you’re on social media. ๐Ÿ‘

Speakers: Frayda Bluestein, David M. Lawrence Distinguished Professor of Public Law and Government, and Bob Joyce, Charles Edwin Hinsdale Professor of Public Law and Government, UNC School of Government

YouthVoice, 4 – 9 p.m.

Orientation and ‘Real Colors’ Training
Everyone has a distinct temperament spectrum comprised of four colors: Blue, Gold, Orange and Green. In this “Real Colors” session, attendees will learn how to quickly identify their own “color” and personal strengths, as well as that of others. Using this powerful knowledge, you can develop more effective communication skills and build better relationships by recognizing and appreciating the strengths and viewpoints of others.

County commissioners are invited to participate in the “Real Colors” training with Youth Delegates.

Speaker: Dan Clark, Director, Montana State University Local Government Center


Workshop Block VII, 10:30 - 11:45 a.m.

Leadership as an Elementary Skill
Based on “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People,” the Leader in Me program helps schools implement “The 7 Habits of Happy Kids.” Several Catawba County schools have successfully implemented the program, which begins to build self-confidence and leadership skills at the elementary school level, and has a proven record of boosting academic achievement and increased engagement among teachers and parents, and lessening discipline problems.

Speaker and moderator: NCACC President Elect Larry Phillips, Surry County Commissioner
Speakers: Angela Garcia, Principal, Lyle Creek Elementary; and TBD

The State of Social Services System Reform
The Family/Child Protection and Accountability Act, approved by the N.C. General Assembly in 2017, established a working group to study regional supervision and collaboration among county or regional social services agencies or programs. The working group (SSWG) has completed the first stage and report of its work, and has embarked on the second phase, which includes envisioning the benefits and challenges associated with transitioning the state to a regionally-administered system. In this session, NCACC First Vice President Kevin Austin, Yadkin County Board Chair and one of four county commissioners serving on the SSWG, will facilitate a conversation with Co-Chairs Senator Tamara Barringer and Representative Sarah Stevens, and N.C. DHHS leadership on how the state and counties continue to work together to make system-wide improvements to North Carolina’s social services system.

Speakers: Senator Tamara Barringer, N.C. State Senate District 17; Representative Sarah Stevens, N.C. House District 90; and Michael Becketts, Assistant Secretary for Human Services, and Susan Perry-Manning, Principal Deputy Secretary, N.C. Department of Health and Human Services.
Moderator: NCACC First Vice President Kevin Austin, Yadkin County Chair

Catawba County Workforce Initiative Bridges Classroom to Career
Catawba County is driving local workforce growth by partnering business with education to cultivate connections between the classroom and real-world careers for students of all ages. The K-64 initiative increases access to school-based programs that are proven best practices for preparing a qualified workforce by collaborating with local employers to align courses of study with workforce needs; exposing students to real-world careers and related curriculum choices from earlier on; and enabling adults to update their skills and enhance their employability in a dynamic work environment.

Speaker: Mark Story, CEO and Executive Director, Catawba County K-64
Moderator: Sherry Butler, Catawba County Commissioner

Workshop Block VIII, 1:15 – 2:30 p.m.

Engaging Youth in Reimagining Your County’s Possibilities
Boards of Commissioners are but stewards of the county for a duration of time. Today’s leaders often cite a desire to help the next generation transition into the workforce and positions of leadership within a community. But is the voice of the youth part of your county’s equation as it works toward solutions to issues that impact the next generation? This workshop will feature a panel of youth involved in organized youth councils that demonstrate buy-in and ownership of a county’s future, through the voice of the county’s future!

Speaker and moderator: NCACC Second Vice President Ronnie Smith, Martin County Commissioner
Panelists: Sarah Alexi, Leadership Montgomery; Angel Barber, Martin County 4-H; and Carrigan Price, Catawba County Youth Council

The State of Medicaid Transformation in North Carolina
Medicaid transformation in North Carolina continues to take shape in its move from a fee-based system to a managed care model. Following multiple changes by the General Assembly, North Carolina submitted a request last year to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services to modify how Medicaid services are delivered in the state. N.C. DHHS intends to begin Medicaid managed care in 2019. In this session, Health and Human Services Steering Committee Chair Bob Byrd of Alamance County will lead a discussion with N.C. DHHS leadership on how these changes will likely impact county governments, providers and clients.

Speaker: Dave Richard, Deputy Secretary for Medical Assistance, NC Department of Health and Human Services
Moderator: Health and Human Services Steering Committee Chair Bob Byrd, Alamance County Vice Chair

General Government Steering Committee Forum on Broadband Infrastructure
Increasing access to broadband is a longstanding Association legislative goals. This General Government Steering Committee Forum will look at counties’ authority in North Carolina in relation to broadband, recent efforts toward expanding connectivity, and innovative county approaches, and provide opportunity for attendee discussion and questions. You do not need to be a Steering Committee member to attend.

Moderator: General Government Steering Committee Chair Ellen Reckhow, Durham County Commissioner
Presenter: Johanna Reese, Director of Government Relations, NCACC; Alyssa Byrd, Interim President, Chatham County Economic Development Corporation; and Greg Coltrain, Vice President of Business Development, RiverStreet Networks