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98th Annual ICMA Conference: Phoenix/Maricopa County Oct. 7-10, 2012
By John Kross, ACMA President-Elect

Exciting things are happening for the 98th International City/County Management Association (ICMA) Conference in Phoenix/Maricopa County on October 7-10! Approximately 100 members of the ICMA Conference Planning Committee met in Phoenix on November 18-20 to develop some conference themes including key note speaker ideas. Representatives of the local ICMA Host Committee and ACMA Board were also present to assist with the conference planning, including an initial orientation to downtown Phoenix, the Convention Center and the Heard Museum.

On Friday evening the ICMA Host Committee welcomed the Planning Committee to Phoenix and participants then spent considerable time reviewing the itinerary for the weekend and the 2011 ICMA Milwaukee Conference evaluation results. The annual evaluations on programs, sessions, key note speakers and the event venue, provide invaluable assistance in preparing for the upcoming conference. ICMA spends considerable time analyzing ways to improve each year and the feedback from these evaluations is a critical component in developing the upcoming conference program.

Saturday's itinerary was intended to develop the framework for the conference. ICMA focuses on some timely themes, hopefully topical and strategic, driven to match issues challenging our profession. The draft themes are noted as follows and include the career tracks. Saturday was also an opportunity for the local Host Committee to present its ideas for the social program and events. The Host Committee is proposing a uniquely Arizona experience with a pre-conference event on Saturday at the internationally renowned Heard Museum. On Sunday of the conference, the "Welcoming Reception" (at the Phoenix Convention Center) offers a taste of the local sports teams such as the Phoenix Suns, Arizona Diamondbacks, Phoenix Coyotes and Arizona Cardinals. The mainstay Tuesday Evening social program is a Mexican Charreada and Western Show experience at Corona Ranch. Other full and half day tours ideas including sporting events such as golf, tennis, hiking, Yoga (at the Convention Center) and a 5K run was presented. We are pleased to report that these ideas were received well received by the Planning Committee. On Saturday night, we hosted a dinner reception for the Planning Committee at the Heard Museum. The evening including transportation on the light rail from the Hyatt as well as small group tours throughout the museum. The reception and Heard experience was a real hit among the group.

Conference Theme tracks (working titles):
  • Business as Unusual: Shared and Regional Service Delivery Approaches and Alternative Business Models
  • Creating Communities via Cyberspace
  • Managing Employee Benefits
  • Finding Pathways from Polarization to Civility
  • Get (and Keep) a Life!: Dealing with Personal and Family Stresses of Local Government Management

Career tracks for:
  • Small Community Managers
  • Assistant Mangers
  • ICMA Credentialed Managers

The Planning Committee's work concluded on Sunday morning with a review of possible key note speakers. The key note speakers will not be finalized for a while but the group also spent some time brainstorming an overall conference program theme. Spending most of my life living in this region, playing the role of observer on Sunday, it was interesting to hear other's perspectives from around the country and their attempts to link the local geography, sunshine, Phoenix and the region (in general) to a broad-based theme.

The Planning Committee will continue its work over the next several months but there is real excitement about the 98th ICMA Conference in Phoenix/Maricopa County. The participants are looking forward to their return to the area and participating in advancing our profession.

Arizona City/County Management Association
1820 W. Washington Street, Phoenix, AZ 85007   •   Phone: (602) 258-5786   •   Fax: (602) 253-3874   •