Winter #MACoCon Academy Electives Tackle Communications, Tourism, Cannabis, and More! – Conduit Street | Turn 420
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Winter #MACoCon Academy Electives Tackle Communications, Tourism, Cannabis, and More! – Conduit Street



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 6 Electives at Winter Conference.

The 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: Foundations for Local Leadership

Description: A strong foundation of knowledge and skills is needed to successfully navigate the many different facets of being a local government leader. In this session, speakers will introduce participants to the basic core competencies every county government practitioner needs to know, such as risk management, reaching consensus, ethics, employment issues, and the Open Meetings and Public Information Acts. Then, attendees will observe a live-action role play of an open meeting and see if they can spot the mistakes being made – they’re not as obvious as one might think!

Proposed Speakers:

  • Lenny Pfeffer, Council Member, Dorchester County
  • Sharon Green Middleton, Council Vice President, Baltimore City
  • Laura Price, Outgoing MACo President, former Council Member, Talbot County
  • Shelley Heller, County Administrator, Kent County
  • Weston Young, Chief Administrative Officer, Worcester County
  • Larry Porter, Commissioner, Caroline County

Date/Time: Wednesday, January 4, 2023; 8:00 am – 9:00 am

Title: Help Your Health Department Help You

Description: If the pandemic has taught us anything, it’s that response time is critical. Promptly disseminating crucial information can save lives, but what door those answers lie behind can be a tricky question. In this session, experienced Health Officers will provide a “Who, What, When, and Where” rundown of how a local health department works within the real-life context of today’s most pressing public health issues. Plus, they’ll share best practices to bolster collaboration and communication, from unexpected rapid response scenarios to routine procedures within existing programs. Attendees will even walk away with a reference tool to keep in the office.


  • Gregory Branch, Health Officer, Baltimore County Health Department
  • Nilesh Kalyanaraman, MACHO President, Health Officer, Anne Arundel County Department of Health
  • Barbara Brookmyer, Health Officer, Frederick County

Moderator: The Honorable Karen Lewis Young, Maryland House of Delegates

Date/Time: Wednesday, January 4, 2023; 3:00 pm – 4:00 pm

Title: Amplifying Your Message – Effective Constituent Communications

Description: The right communication strategies can build a bridge between government officials and the public they serve. The wrong strategies can find you treading in dangerous waters. Officials must find the right methods for engaging with constituents to foster trust, support, and understanding. In this digital age, social media is just one increasingly powerful tool that – when done correctly – can be a fast and effective way to deliver messages and learn about your community’s needs. Attend this session to learn how to effectively navigate modern communication channels and steer clear of perilous pitfalls.


  • Nicole Weissman, Director of Strategic Communications, National Association of Counties (NACo)
  • Damian O’Doherty, Center Maryland
  • Alex Hughes, Blended Public Affairs

Moderator: The Honorable Evan Glass, Council Vice President, Montgomery County

Date/Time: Wednesday, January 4, 2023; 1:30 pm – 2:30 pm

Title: The Politics of Flushing? The Basics of Septic and Sewer

Description: Septic systems provoke many questions and misconceptions. Over 420,000 homes in Maryland rely on septic, with many more served by public sewer systems. Although both types of systems accomplish similar end goals, there are dramatic differences – and county leaders need to be aware of them to make the best governing decisions for their communities. In this session, speakers will explore the basics of septic systems, the regulatory structure that protects the environment and public health, and the evolving political debate over wastewater treatment.


  • Matt Cumers, Calvert County, 1st Vice President of Maryland Conference of Environmental Health Directors
  • Andrew Lazur, Water Quality Specialist, UMD Extension Service
  • Les Knapp, Local Government Advisor, MDE

Moderator: The Honorable Mary Beth Carozza, Maryland State Senate

Date/Time: Thursday, January 5, 2023; 1:30 pm – 2:30 pm

Title: Data, Data Everywhere: How Tourism Turns Clicks Into Cash

Description: From sales tax reports, to advertising click-through rates and visitation figures, to credit card zip code analysis, the amount of data generated by the tourism industry has multiplied exponentially in the last twenty years. Learn how today’s tourism leaders are navigating this wealth of information and mining it to maximize effectiveness and stretch budgetary dollars, all while bringing in state and local tax dollars, creating jobs, and supporting economic development. This panel session will include case studies demonstrating how tourism leaders from across Maryland are using data analysis to guide decisions and measure results.


  • Liz Fitzsimmons, Managing Director, Department of Commerce Office of Tourism and Film, State of Maryland
  • Cassandra Vanhooser, Director of Economic Development and Tourism, Talbot County
  • Daniel P. Spedden, President, Hagerstown/Washington County Convention and Visitors Bureau
  • Mia Bloom, Director of Government & Community Affairs/Executive Director Visit Baltimore Education & Training Foundation, Visit Baltimore

Moderator: The Honorable Johnny Mautz, Senator-elect

Date/Time: Thursday, January 5, 2023; 3:00 pm – 4:00 pm

Title: Deep in the Weeds – Cannabis Implementation in Maryland

Description: With the legalization of adult-use cannabis on the ballot and widely anticipated to pass, it is essential to begin thinking about implementation as Maryland heads into the 2023 General Assembly Session. Issues like county opt-outs, revenue structures, planning and zoning, and even human resources implications are top-of-mind for county officials. This panel delves into what can be expected in the upcoming implementation discussion.


  • Will Tilburg, Executive Director, MMCC
  • Chris Trumbauer, Chief Policy Advisor to the County Executive and Budget Officer, Anne Arundel County
  • Susan Banks, Director of Economic Development – Dorchester County; MEDA Foundation Board of Directors

Moderator: The Honorable Reuben Collins II, Commissioner President, Charles County

Date/Time: Friday, January 6, 2023; 11:15 am – 12:15 pm

MACo’s Winter Conference, “Hit the Ground Running,” will be held at the Hyatt Regency Chesapeake Bay Hotel in Cambridge, MD from January 4-6, 2023 (with a pre-conference orientation for new county officials on January 3).

Learn more about MACo’s Winter Conference:

Read the full article here