Workshops & Sessions

Handouts and copies of PowerPoint slideshows will be linked from this page.

Thursday, August 22

Workshop Block I, 9:30 – 11 a.m.

The ABCs of the PUV Program

Sponsored by the NCACC Agriculture Steering Committee

Chances are during your time as a commissioner, you have gotten a question from a constituent about the tax value of agricultural land, horticultural land, or forestland – or maybe even adopted a Schedule of Values for lands to be taxed at present-use value (PUV) in your county. If you yourself have more questions than answers about the PUV Program, attend this workshop to gain historical context on the program, an overview of responsibilities for Boards of County Commissioners, and an understanding of processes and terminology so that you can better help constituents with questions about the program.

Speakers: David Baker, Director of Tax and Revenue Outreach, NCACC; and Doug Huffman, Revenue Administrative Officer, NC Department of Revenue

Changes and Challenges Affecting the LME/MCOs

The roles and responsibilities of North Carolina’s network of Local Management Entities (LMEs) have been in a continued state of evolution since the early 2000s, posing a challenge to the stability of the public system of care for citizens with mental health conditions, intellectual/developmental disabilities, and/or substance abuse issues. Under Medicaid transformation law, the role of the LME/MCOs (Managed Care Organizations) will change yet again, and LME/MCOs will now provide behavioral and physical health coverage for a more limited population of persistently disabled Medicaid beneficiaries under what is known as Tailored Plans. Chief Executive Officers from several LME/MCOs will discuss big issues that their organizations face and how Medicaid transformation will impact the population they serve, and take questions from attendees.

Panelists: Rob Robinson, Chief Executive Officer, Alliance Health; Trey Sutten, Chief Executive Officer, Cardinal Innovations Healthcare; Leza Wainwright, Chief Executive Officer, Trillium Health Resources; and Victoria Whitt, Chief Executive Officer, Sandhills Center

How School Funding Agreements Impact the County-School Board Partnership

Sponsored by the NCACC Public Education Steering Committee

Several Boards of County Commissioners and Boards of Education use agreements (or formulas) to determine annual school system funding, providing consistency and a foundation for discussions. Hear from a panel of county and school system representatives on how current funding formulas, informal agreements, and policies that are no longer in use impact the working partnership between county boards and school boards.

Panelists: Pam Dubois, retired Deputy County Manager, and Lauren Tayara, Budget Analyst, Cabarrus County; Kelly Kluttz, Chief Financial Officer, Cabarrus County Schools; the Honorable Don Martin, Vice Chair, Forsyth County; Bryan Hagood, County Manager, and Andrea Rollins, Budget & Management Director, Alamance County; Jeremy Teetor, Finance Officer, Alamance-Burlington School System; ; the Honorable Mark Price, Commissioner, Onslow County; and Allison Speight, Finance Director, and Andrew Neal, Staff Attorney, Wayne County

Moderator: The Honorable Gordon Wilder, Vice Chair, Vance County, and Chair, NCACC Public Education Steering Committee

Workshop Block II, 1:30 – 2:45 p.m.

How a Bill Becomes a Law, and What It Means Once It Does

Sponsored by the NCACC General Government Steering Committee

In this session, NCACC staff will take you on a journey, starting with an idea and following it through the legislative process until it becomes law. You will have the opportunity to explore the various steps that may occur – from the introduction of a bill until it is enacted into law, and ultimately how to read the final law.

Session will be led by Kevin Leonard, Executive Director, and Amy Bason, Deputy Director/General Counsel, NCACC

Moderator: The Honorable Alan Thomas, Commissioner, Hoke County, and Chair, NCACC General Government Steering Committee

A Career Is Calling: Re-Engaging Youth in the Workforce

You have employers in your county who cannot find qualified workers. You have young people in your county who are not employed. How can you connect the two? As part of the Piedmont Triad Regional Council, the Piedmont Triad Regional Workforce Development Board, which covers a seven-county local area in central North Carolina, is engaged in just such efforts. In this session, PTRC team members will share strategies and results of their work with engaging young people – in particular those who have disengaged – in the local workforce.

Speakers: Wendy Walker-Fox, Executive Director, and Jessica Raby, Strategic Initiatives Specialist, Piedmont Triad Regional Workforce Development Board

Reconnect Rural and Urban: A Regional Approach to Economic Development

The Carolina Core, with its mantra of “a win for one is a win for all,” is about linking together counties and regions that share some economic development assets, priority strategies and, hopefully, some successes. The 17 counties in this regional economic development initiative are cooperating to brand four job development platforms: the Moncure Megasite, the Chatham-Siler City Advanced Manufacturing Megasite, Greensboro-Randolph Megasite, and the Aerospace Megasite at Piedmont Triad International Airport. This workshop, hosted by the Institute for Emerging Issues at N.C. State University, will include an overview from members of the Carolina Core cohort, and a facilitated discussion on how you can address similar opportunities in your county and region.

Cohort presenters: Bob Leak, President, Winston-Salem Business, Inc.; and Jed McMillan, Vice President, Piedmont Triad Partnership
Facilitator: Patrick Cronin, Assistant Director for Policy & Programs, Institute for Emerging Issues at NC State University

The Convergence of Health and Wealth: The Nationwide HSA

Learn how the Nationwide HSA administered by HealthEquity can offer your employees a benefits package that combines two long-term savings needs into one seamless experience.

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

Diffusing the Ticking Time Bomb: Being Proactive with Contentious Issues

Note: This is a double-block workshop that will continue until 4:30 p.m. There will be a break from 2:45 – 3:15 p.m.

County commissioners and management deal with upset citizens nearly every day. Often you must react to belligerence because you have no knowledge of what is causing the bad feeling until you get an earful. But not every bone of contention is hidden – it can be something that builds up over time, such as an ongoing funding dispute with a school board, or as sudden and explosive as an allegation of excessive police force or a group of protesters calling for the removal of a Confederate monument from the courthouse grounds. Hot-button issues can be difficult to discuss due to complicated underlying issues and public divisiveness, however engaging citizens in dialogue about these issues before they reach a boiling point can result in a better outcome than reacting to the issue in the moment. In this Local Elected Leaders Academy session, learn about strategies for engagement, and how to build trust during difficult conversations.

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

Ethics Training (3 – 5 p.m.)

Presentation files (PDF):

Legislation passed in 2009 requires all county commissioners to “receive a minimum of two clock hours of ethics education within 12 months after initial election or appointment to the office and again within 12 months after each subsequent election or appointment to the office.” The Association will offer county officials the opportunity to receive their required ethics training during this two-hour seminar.

Speakers: Frayda S. Bluestein and Norma Houston, UNC School of Government

Workshop Block III, 3:15 – 4:30 p.m.

Make Your County Count in the 2020 Census

County leaders have a vested interest in accurate census data – 26 federal agencies rely on it to appropriate federal monies in more than 1,000 programs. In addition, census data helps your county plan for future needs. Citizen participation is crucial to a county government, and the countdown to the 2020 Census rollout is now measured in months. This session will help you understand, as a commissioner or manager, where your county should stand with planning and public engagement strategies, and the potential impact on your county of low participation.

Speakers: Kenneth C. Wilkins, Cara Townsend, Rick Farmer, Paulette Everett, U.S. Census Bureau

Local Government Corruption: Screening and Discussion of All the Queen’s Horses (3:15 – 5 p.m.)

In 2013, Rita Crundwell was sentenced to almost 20 years in prison for embezzling more than $53 million from the City of Dixon, Ill. – a scheme that took place over the course of two decades and funded a lavish lifestyle for the longtime city comptroller, one of the nation’s top breeders of quarter horses. This session includes a screening of All the Queen’s Horses, which documents the crime, and a facilitated discussion on the importance of strong internal controls for a local government.

Moderator: Kimberly Nelson, Albert and Gladys Hall Coates Distinguished Term Professor of Public Administration and Government, UNC School of Government

Reconnect Rural and Urban: An Intracounty Approach to Bridging Divides

Project Empathy initially emerged from a dissatisfaction with the levels of service in rural areas of Transylvania County compared to the more suburban areas. Community leaders realized the need for – and interest in – starting a discussion focused on greater community awareness of the “other,” and to enhance healthy civic discourse. Project Empathy, led by community volunteers, has held community events on key issues, including fear of the “other,” gun control, health and empathy, justice and racial equity, and diversity. This workshop, hosted by the Institute for Emerging Issues at NC State University, will include an overview from Project Empathy leaders, and a facilitated discussion on how you can address similar issues in your county.

Presenter: Mark Burrows, organizer, Project Empathy
Facilitator: Patrick Cronin, Assistant Director for Policy & Programs, Institute for Emerging Issues at NC State University

Friday, August 23

General Session, 8:30 – 9:45 a.m.

Sesame Street Stands Ready with Supports to Build Resilient Children

When you were a child – or when your children were young – you may have sang along to the well-known Sesame Street Theme (Sunny Day): “Can you tell me how to get to Sesame Street?” Now, as county leaders, you should be asking how you can get Sesame Street to come to you. Fifty years ago, the founders of Sesame Street set out to engage children not just through educational media, but also through a direct and personal introduction into communities. Sesame Street in Communities continues this work to provide resources to help our nation’s most vulnerable population – our young children – who can suffer a lifetime as a result of a traumatic experience. Learn why you, as a county leader, should be so invested in early childhood development; how you can utilize Sesame Street’s resources; and how Transylvania County leveraged its Get Set Early Childhood Program for a broad partnership with Sesame Street in Communities.

Speakers: Dr. Jeanette Betancourt, Senior Vice President, U.S. Social Impact, Sesame Street Workshop; and the Honorable Page Lemel, Commissioner, and Jaime Laughter, County Manager, Transylvania County

Workshop Block IV, 10:15 – 11:30 a.m.

Democracy, Endgame

The intentional design of checks and balances, power dilution, and the role of citizens are the foundations of democracy. While the current state of domestic and international politics may seem deeply divided and dysfunctional, the system is responding as expected. But for how long?

Speaker: C. Douglas Smith, Managing Partner, Stornoway Advisors

Doug Smith has spent more than 20 years developing solutions for the NGO, government, and business sectors. His resume includes work as an executive with the Robert H. Smith Center for the Constitution, where Smith was the driving force building a global democracy training practice at Montpelier, the home of President James Madison. Smith and his family will begin a year-long global sojourn starting in September to explore global citizenship, entrepreneurship, and the connection between markets and human empowerment.

Taking Care of Their Own: Addressing First Responder Suicides in Henderson County

Over an eight-month span in 2017, Henderson County Government tragically lost two longtime first responders to suicide. A growing regional problem with access to mental health services, combined with a failure in the public safety spectrum to properly address daily and critical incident stress experienced by first responders, led county leadership to a plan to integrate behavioral healthcare into its existing approach to overall wellness.

Moderator: Megan Powell, Budget Manager/Internal Auditor, Henderson County
Speakers: The Honorable J. Michael Edney, Commissioner; Steve Wyatt, County Manager; Jamie Gibbs, Wellness Clinic Manager; Michael Barnett, EMS Manager; and Michael Tui, Behavioral Health Counselor, Henderson County

Guilford County, UNCG Team Up to Respond to Opioid Epidemic

The opioid crisis has impacted all counties in North Carolina, and the response has varied based on local resources. Guilford County has formed a collaborative with the UNC-Greensboro Department of Social Work to implement a post overdose response program. This program has met with success in reducing the percentage of fatal overdoses, as well as educating public safety responders on the disease of addiction. This session will focus on implementing a post-overdose response program, and leveraging the academic community to assist local government with solutions to complex problems.

Speakers include Jim Albright, Emergency Services Director, Guilford County; Chase Holleman, Navigator, Guilford County Solution to The Opioid Problem (GCSTOP); Randy Abbott, National Volunteer Coordinator, SAFE Project US; and Melissa Floyd-Pickard, Chair, Department of Social Work, UNC-Greensboro

Sleep Well at Night with Internal Auditors on Your Side

If you have nightmares about hackers, unethical employees, inefficient programs or dealing with your external financial audit firm, an internal audit function may be just for you! This fresh set of eyes looks within your county organization to ferret out avenues for fraud, vulnerabilities, inefficiencies, and much more. Hear from our host county about the benefits it has realized from its team of internal auditors.

Speaker: Chad Muhlestein, Director of Internal Audit, Guilford County

Reconnect Rural and Urban: A Regional Approach to Food Systems

Project 40 is a new regional food system planning project to build urban-rural economic development around a clear target: 40 percent of the Triangle’s food will come from urban and rural sources by the year 2040. The effort is designed to support progress toward shared economic opportunity across a wide urban-rural spectrum. This workshop, hosted by the Institute for Emerging Issues at NC State University, will include an overview from members of the Project 40 cohort, and a facilitated discussion on how you can address similar opportunities in your county and region.

Cohort presenters include Erin White, Principal and Founder, Community Food Lab
Facilitator: Maggie Woods, Policy and Program Manager, Institute for Emerging Issues at NC State University

Workshop Block V, 1:30 – 2:45 p.m.

What You Can Do to End Human Trafficking


Human trafficking is often “hidden in plain sight.” Local interventions are an important piece of the puzzle to save trafficking victims, identify involved individuals, and dismantle the criminal networks that support this network of modern-day slavery. This session will help you begin the process of self-education so that you, as a leader in your county, can build awareness of the signs of human trafficking and take action to combat the problem.

Speaker: Margaret F. Henderson, Director, Public Intersection Project, and lecturer, UNC School of Government

Moderator: The Honorable Renee Price, Vice Chair, Orange County, and NCACC At-Large Director

A Step-by-Step Guide to Debt Approval

In 1931, the NC General Assembly established the Local Government Commission (LGC) to help address the problems in local government finance caused by the depression. Today, the LGC not only monitors the fiscal health of local governments, but also approves the issuance of debt for all units of local government and sells the debt (or bonds) on the unit’s behalf. It is the combination of the power of approval with the power of sale that makes the LGC unique in the nation. In this session, learn about the ins-and-outs of the process – from improving your government’s financial condition and internal controls; filing a debt application; navigating the LGC meeting; and issuing debt successfully.

Presenters: Tim Romocki, Director of Debt Management Section, and Susan McCullen, Senior Accounting and Financial Management Advisor, Fiscal Management Section, NC Local Government Commission

Moderator: The Honorable Viola Harris, Commissioner, Edgecombe County, NCACC District 7 Director, and member, NC Local Government Commission

Mitigate Your Risk of a Cyberattack

Sponsored by the NCACC Risk Management Pools

Data about citizens that is stored on county government computer systems represent an attractive target to hackers, and a major liability to counties. Several North Carolina county governments have been hit by cyberattacks over the past few years. Most notably, ransomware infections have forced some county officials to make difficult decisions on whether to pay a ransom fee to a hacker, or begin what can be a long process of rebuilding a network of data. This session will include stories and advice from a panel of officials from counties that have endured a cyberattack, and showcase resources that are available for counties to reduce the risk of a successful attack and help with recovery if one occurs.

County panelists: Travis Myren, Deputy County Manager, Orange County; Rick Pilato, Chief Information Officer, Catawba County; and Loria Williams, County Manager, Hertford County

Resource panelists: Maria Thompson, State Chief Risk Officer, NC Department of Information Technology; and Jessica Cone, Account Management Specialist, Center for Internet Security

Moderator: Bob Carruth, Risk Control Manager, NCACC

Making Headway in the Battle Against Opiate Addiction

Is your county actively working on a local response to the opioid epidemic? If not – or your efforts are stuck in neutral – attend this session for inspiration and available resources to help you strengthen your county’s resolve to reverse the epidemic trends.

Speakers include Emily Williamson Gangi, Policy Engagement Director, ncIMPACT, UNC School of Government; Heather Murphy, Executive Director, The Health Foundation of Wilkes County; and Nastassia Walsh, Associate Program Director, Justice, National Association of Counties

Reconnect Rural and Urban: A Regional Approach to the Outdoor Tourism Industry

The Growing Outdoors Partnership is a Western North Carolina-wide initiative designed to ensure that the outdoor industry expands across the western part of the state and that its benefits accrue both rural and urban/suburban communities in the region. A pivotal part of this project is bringing together leaders from the urban and rural parts of the region to ensure that the 15+ million tourists visiting the area get out into rural communities, and that rural manufacturers successfully partner with urban firms to create the “Extraordinary Gear Made Here” that WNC is known for. This workshop, hosted by the Institute for Emerging Issues at NC State University, will include an overview from members of the Growing Outdoors Partnership cohort, and a facilitated discussion on how you can address similar opportunities in your county and region.

Cohort presenters: Matt Raker, Assistant Executive Director, Mountain BizWorks; and Noah Wilson, Project Manager, Growing Outdoors Partnership
Facilitator: Maggie Woods, Policy and Program Manager, Institute for Emerging Issues at NC State University

Workshop Block VI, 3:15 – 4:30 p.m.

Exploring the Leadership Needs of the Local Elected Official: A Story Told through Data

How do local elected officials view leadership? What skills do they believe are most important to effective local leadership? What behaviors do they think are most critical to being effective as an elected official? Do the answers to these questions vary based on gender, race, age, or size of the unit of government? Answers to these and other questions are being uncovered as the result of a year-long study conducted by the Center for Public Leadership and Governance. More than 600 county and municipal elected officials participated in discussions and written surveys to explore what they believe leads to success as a leader. Now we are interpreting what we’ve learned to help inform the development of new training and education programs for local elected officials. Attend this session to gain insight into the skills and behaviors needed to be viewed as an effective local government leader.

Presenters: Dr. Willow Jacobson, Professor of Public Administration and Government, UNC School of Government; and Dr. Torrie K. Edwards, Policy, Leadership, and School Improvement, School of Education, UNC-Chapel Hill

What Does the Future Hold for a New Local Government Center in Raleigh?

Since a five-alarm fire broke out on a site adjacent to the NCACC headquarters on March 16, 2017, counties have been without a permanent home in Raleigh. The NCACC and NC League of Municipalities are moving forward with plans for a new building on the site of the current and vacant Albert Coates Local Government Center. During this session, receive an update on progress that is being made on the creation of a new NC Local Government Center, and provide feedback to NCACC leaders on the considerations you feel are important for the future LGC.

Facilitator: Kevin Leonard, Executive Director, NCACC

Emerging Issues in Public Health

Sponsored by the NCACC Environment Steering Committee

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 NC Association of Local Health Directors, will highlight the new NC Drinking Water Incident Response Toolkit – a guide for pre-incident planning, with customizable tools for local governments, information on mutual aid, communication tools, essential information and additional resources. The session will also touch briefly on the impacts of Medicaid transformation on public health, and provide time for a public health Q&A.

Speakers: Jill Moore, Associate Professor of Public Law and Government, UNC School of Government; Steve Smith, Health Director, Henderson County, and President, NC Association of Local Health Directors; and Phillip Tarte, Health Director, New Hanover County, and Secretary/Treasurer, NC Association of Local Health Directors 

Convener: The Honorable Randy Thompson, Vice Chair, Brunswick County, and Chair, NCACC Environment Steering Committee

Off-site Tour of the International Civil Rights Museum

Take a guided tour of the International Civil Rights Center & Museum, located in downtown Greensboro. This archival museum and teaching facility celebrates the achievements of the Civil Rights movement throughout the United States, while focusing on the historic sit-in at the Woolworth’s whites-only lunch counter on February 1, 1960. Shuttle transportation will be provided to and from the Museum.

Saturday, August 24

Conference-Wide Youth Involvement Breakfast, 7:45 – 9 a.m.

County officials and YouthVoice Delegates begin the day together with breakfast. A brief presentation will highlight the Guilford County Behavioral Health Crisis Collaborative, a partnership between Guilford County, Cone Health and Sandhills Center that is moving forward with construction of a mental health urgent care center and two 16-bed facility-based crisis centers: one for adults, and one for adolescents and children.

General Session, 9 - 10 a.m.

Leadership in Turbulent Times

Presidential Historian and Pulitzer Prize-winning Author Doris Kearns Goodwin’s seventh book, Leadership in Turbulent Times, was published in September 2018 to critical acclaim and became an instant New York Times bestseller. A culmination of Goodwin’s five-decade career of studying the American presidents focusing on Presidents Abraham Lincoln, Theodore Roosevelt, Franklin Roosevelt and Lyndon Baines Johnson, the book provides an accessible and essential road map for aspiring and established leaders in every field, and for all of us in our everyday lives.

Following the keynote, Mrs. Goodwin will be available for a book signing until 10:30 a.m.

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

Listening for a Better Connection with Constituents

True connection means true communication. There are many ways foster communication – online forums, panel discussions, symposiums, educational public events, surveys, television spots, radio ads and newspaper columns. None of these will be effective, however, without the key ingredient of listening. Communication is an exchange of ideas and all too often information is flowing largely in one direction. Great leaders are great listeners. In this workshop, expert communicator and storyteller Tim Lowry will share several examples of how leaders from the public and private sector create genuine listening opportunities for their constituents. He will also teach several skills to help you glean stories from members of your community that are rich with information about what constituents value, what they fear, what they hope for, and how they perceive your message.

Speaker: Storyteller Tim Lowry

‘Old-Fashioned’ Facetime with Medicaid Managed Care PHPs

The shift from fee-for service to a managed care structure represents the most significant change in the Medicaid program since its inception, and the impacts of this transformation will be felt wide and deep in government and communities. As part of Medicaid transformation, the NC Department of Health and Human Services announced in early 2019 the selection of Prepaid Health Plans (PHPs) that will participate in Medicaid managed care when the program launches in November. This session will allow county officials to interact with and ask questions of representatives of PHPs in an informal, roundtable setting.

CountyCast: It’s Ear Candy for County Government Officials

CountyCast is a new podcast series from the NCACC designed to educate listeners about the level of government closest to the people – counties. Hosted by Amber Harris and produced by Ben Christoph, CountyCast shares county stories from North Carolina, helps people understand county government’s impact and why it matters, and attempts to entertain while celebrating counties and NCACC members. Come to this session to learn what a podcast is, receive a tutorial on how to subscribe to the podcast on your smartphone, watch a live recording of the podcast, and submit ideas for future episodes of CountyCast!

Family Justice Center Succeeding in Saving Lives, Restoring Hope

Sponsored by the NCACC Justice & Public Safety Steering Committee

In 2013-14, Guilford County topped North Carolina in the number of domestic violence-related homicides. Through the adoption of an integrated approach to providing safety and justice to victims of child abuse, elder abuse, and adult domestic and sexual violence, the county has realized a dramatic reduction in its rate of such homicides. This off-site session will provide attendees with a tour of the Family Justice Center, which since opening its doors in June 2015 has served as a one-stop shop for thousands of survivors of family violence.

Speaker: Catherine Johnson, Director, Guilford County Family Justice Center

Moderator: The Honorable Tammy Lee, Commissioner, Bertie County, and Chair, NCACC Justice & Public Safety Steering Committee

Reconnect Rural and Urban: A Regional Approach to Workforce Development

The STEM SENC workforce development effort emerged when 27 organizations, schools, institutions and businesses across 13 counties came together with the goal of providing access to science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) opportunities for all students regardless of geographic isolation, socioeconomic status, culture or ability. This workshop, hosted by the Institute for Emerging Issues at NC State University, will include an overview from members of the STEM SENC cohort, and a facilitated discussion on how you can address similar opportunities in your county and region.

Cohort presenters: Roszena Devione-Bivens, Educational Talent Search Director, James Sprunt Community College
Facilitator: Leslie Boney, Director, Institute for Emerging Issues at NC State University