Presentation slides, links to speaker bios, and other materials from the educational sessions are available below.

Pre-Conference Sessions

IGR Legislative Update

Mobile Tour: A Collaborative Structure for Equitable Design of Shared Space

Education Sessions #1, Thursday, June 27, 10:15 – 11:15 a.m.

Education Sessions #2, Thursday, June 27, 1:15 – 2:15 p.m.

Education Sessions #3, Thursday, June 27, 3:30 – 4:30 p.m.

Education Sessions #4, Friday, June 28, 9 – 10 a.m.

Pre-Conference Sessions

Navigating the AI Landscape: Strategies and Issues for Local Governments

Hauson Le, Strategic Foresight Manager, AFI in collaboration with SGR

Designed for local governments exploring this new technology, participants will gain insights into the basics of artificial intelligence (AI), discuss its risks and ethical implications, and learn best practices for effective usage. By engaging in interactive discussions, debates, and strategy development, attendees will be empowered to anticipate and act with greater wisdom in shaping the future of AI with their community.


WorkWell: Building a Healthier Workforce

April Lewis, Chief Executive Officer & Founder, A. Lewis Academy, Inc. 

Ready to boost employee morale, increase productivity, and create a thriving work environment in your city? Join this interactive workshop and discover the power of the WorkWell System: an evidence-based approach to employee wellness that will equip you with the tools and strategies to foster a healthier and happier workforce.


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IGR Legislative Update

An up-to-date look at what happened – and didn’t happen – during the 2024 Legislative session.


2024 Legislative Session Overview (pdf).

Mobile Tour: A Collaborative Structure for Equitable Design of Shared Space

Downtown Rochester has transformed in recent years, adding art, pedestrian areas, and riverfront improvements. This work has not happened through happenstance, but has been through an intentional partnership with Destination Medical Center using a process called co-design.

No one person or organization can address the complex problems facing communities today, especially because they disproportionately impact certain communities over others. Equitable co-design is about a rigorous and meaningful opportunity for individuals to have a “say” and inform decision making.


Presentation slides for the Mobile Tour on Community Co-Design (pdf).

Water Reclamation Plant LMC Tour (pdf).

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Education Sessions #1

Building the State-Local Partnership: State Resource Implementation to Support Local Housing Goals

Rachel Robinson, Deputy Commissioner, Minnesota Housing; Jennifer Bergman, Director of Local Government Housing Programs, Minnesota Housing

Join the Minnesota Housing Finance Agency as they discuss the rollout of historic resources passed by the legislature in recent years. This session will provide you with implementation updates on a variety of state-local partnership housing programs and provide best practices for completing and submitting your application materials. You will also get an overview of the resources available to cities to assist with housing efforts, and consider what housing programs will benefit you and your developer partners.


Lead Service Line Inventory, Management, and Funding

Chelsea Alger, Director of Funding, Bolton & Menk, Inc.; Drew Weber, Project Manager, Bolton & Menk, Inc.; Spencer Larson, Public Works Crew Leader, Plainview

Protecting communities from the risks of lead exposure is core to city government. The focus of the Lead and Copper Rule Revisions (LCRR) is finding sources of lead in drinking water and taking steps toward removal. This session will dive into how using GIS during the inventory process reduces the overall effort of creating an inventory and increases the quality overall. You will learn the categories of assistance, what is expected through the inventory grant program, how to apply for replacement funds, and analyze lessons learned on the various inventories and replacement plans.


Presentation slides for Lead Service Line Inventory, Management, Funding (pdf).

Navigating New Horizons: Empowering City Clerk-Treasurers in a Shifting Landscape

Moderator: Heather Bandeen, Director of Resources and Development, Sourcewell

Panelists: Jane Popp, City Clerk-Treasurer, Upsala; Beth Ramacher, City Clerk-Treasurer, Grey Eagle; Tara Greer, City Clerk/Finance Director, Staples

As city governments face a wave of retirements and new leadership, the role of the clerk-treasurer stands at the forefront of a statewide transformation. This session addresses the evolving responsibilities of clerk-treasurers in small cities and the relationships that truly make a difference. Through a blend of personal insights and collective experiences, this panel will explore strategies for beginning and succeeding in a clerk-treasurer position. You will gain practical advice on fostering collaboration, embracing nuances of this important role, and how city councils can bolster the success of new clerk-treasurers. Join us for a wide-ranging dialogue that not only acknowledges challenges but celebrates opportunities for Minnesota’s small cities.


Presentation slides for Navigating New Horizons (pdf).

Sprouting a Clean and Green Economy & Jobs

Kristin Mroz, GreenStep Cities and Tribal Nations Coordinator, Minnesota Pollution Control Agency; Cathy Liebowitz, Senior Manager of Membership Engagement, Clean Energy Economy MN; Peter Lindstrom, Public Affairs and Community Engagement Manager, Clean Energy Resource Team

Cities are crucial hubs for economic activity, innovation, job creation, and financial growth. Meanwhile, we are faced with environmental pressures such as shortages in natural resources, a lack of affordable housing and transportation options, and a changing climate. Discover how your city can support economic development and growth while also achieving environmental and social benefits through a clean and green economy and jobs.


Maintaining City Trust Through Infrastructure Failure

Sue Budd, City Council Ward 3, St. Louis Park; Kim Keller, City Manager, St. Louis Park

A watermain break is not something council members, city staff, or residents want to experience, but in spring 2022 St. Louis Park experienced this twice. City emergencies — including infrastructure failure — take considerable coordination, planning, and skills. Join a St. Louis Park council member and the city manager to hear what happened in 2022, the lessons learned, and the community and financial impacts. Also hear how St. Louis Park is now planning for the future — and why your city should be planning for emergencies now, not after they happen.


Council Transitions: How to Start Strong

Pamela Whitmore, Shareholder, Kennedy & Graven; Rachel Tierney, Shareholder, Kennedy & Graven

Whether your city has an entirely new council or one new council member, all new elected leaders need to understand the structure of the city and their role in it. Learn the basics of how to prepare a new council member for the transition from member of the public to now serving as one member of a governing body. This session will include tips on how to prevent common issues before they arise.


Shaking the Money Tree: Exploring Alternative Funding Sources

Jason Aarsvold, Senior Municipal Advisor, Ehlers; Dan Tienter, Municipal Advisor, Ehlers

Do you need additional cash for a project? Perhaps a new funding source for a program? Or maybe you just need a bit of luck to help get an important initiative across the finish line? If you answered yes to any of these questions, it’s time to “shake the money tree” and explore lesser-known, or even unconventional, funding sources. In this session, we will demystify the funding process for certain programs, discuss their advantages and disadvantages, and provide real examples of the “money tree” in action.


Presentation slides for Shaking the Money Tree (pdf).

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Education Sessions #2

The Green Frontier: Understanding Cannabis Regulation

Max Zappia, Chief Regulatory Officer, Office of Cannabis Management; Sophie Leininger, Government Relations Director, Office of Cannabis Management

Hear an update on legislation impacting local governments’ role in the licensing and registering of adult-use cannabis. The Office of Cannabis Management will share the latest news on the rulemaking process, enforcement efforts related to cannabis and THC products, and establishing the licensing and regulatory framework. Topics will also include development of model zoning ordinances and local government resources, and what cities should take action on now as full implementation nears.


Inclusion, Equity, and the Badge: A Conversation with Police Leaders on Leading Equity Efforts

Roger New, Chief of Police, Eagan; Pilar Stier, Chief of Police, Le Sueur; Jay Henthorne, Chief of Police, Richfield

Its been four years since the murder of George Floyd. This tragic incident has spurred cities and their police departments to take action against bias and racism, and towards inclusion and equity. Join this conversation with three police chiefs on how they are leading to change the culture around policing in their communities, attract new officers to the profession, and work together with partners and residents to ensure that change is implemented in the right places.

No handout materials available for this session.

Partners in Energy Program: Community-Powered, Utility-Facilitated

Sofia Troutman, Product Portfolio Manager, Xcel Energy; David Wanberg, Community Development and Economic Development Director, Faribault; Emma Struss, Sustainability Coordinator, Bloomington

For 10 years, Xcel Energy has collaborated with select communities to help them develop and implement their energy plan goals. Whether goals include energy efficiency, utilizing renewables, facilitating electric vehicle use, or building electrification, the process brings community voices into the conversation. The Partners in Energy Program leverages the community’s local wisdom along with energy data and expertise to write a plan and then helps the community execute it. Join us as we share program goals and hear case studies from participating local community leaders.


Presentation slides for Partners in Energy Program (pdf).

Funding Climate & Energy Projects – Federal and State Resources for Cities

Moderator: Michael Intermill, Enterprise Director, Federal Funds Implementation Minnesota Management and Budget

Panelists: David Eichenthal, Senior Advisor for Policy Implementation and Delivery, Us Department of Treasury IRA Implementation Office; Kate Knuth, Climate Director, MN Pollution Control Agency (MPCA); Pete Wyckoff, Assistant Commissioner, Minnesota Department of Commerce

The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, the Inflation Reduction Act, and the 2023 legislative session brought unprecedented investments in infrastructure in many forms – including climate and energy. These funds are available to cities across the State looking to make infrastructure improvements or those looking to transition away from costly fossil fuels and into cleaner energy for facilities and fleets. Join officials from the State of Minnesota to learn about the variety of current and upcoming funding, strategies for a successful application and ways to put these dollars to use.


Presentation slides for Funding Climate & Energy Projects (pdf).

Workforce Futures: Adapting to Aging Populations and Shifting Demographics

Kelly Asche, Senior Researcher, Center for Rural Policy and Development

Learn how greater Minnesota is faring in the battle for skilled labor. You’ll explore how a significant aging population and demands on health care services are impacting rural areas, and how high school graduates can help fill these gaps. By attending this session, you will understand the causes of workforce shortages and why this may be the “new normal,” understand the shift in migration patterns in rural Minnesota since the pandemic, and learn about strategies to help high school graduates participate in the local workforce.


Presentation slides for Workforce Futures (pdf).

Engineering 101 for Small Communities

Moderator: Jen Desrude, Senior Engineer/Project Manager SEH, Inc.

Panelists: Justin Black, Client Service Manager, SEH, Inc.; Lori Cacka, City Clerk, Brownton; David Krueger, Community Development Specialist, SEH, Inc.

With new environmental concerns and new regulations to be aware of, the work of a municipal engineer is forever changing. This session for non-engineer city leaders will introduce you to the basics of civil engineering and provide an overview of topics like the roles and duties of the engineer, the types of projects cities are required to use an engineer for, how to control costs, and the best way to handle disagreements between the city and developers. You’ll also hear from a fellow Minnesota city about a project and its outcomes.


Presentation slides for Engineering 101 for Small Communities (pdf).

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Education Sessions #3

Tales From the (En)Crypt and Gone in 60 Seconds: Real-life Cybersecurity Stories

Nick Johnson, City Administrator, Mayer; JoAnn Olson, Information Technology Coordinator, Thief River Falls

Cities are facing increasing cyber threats which threaten protected data, public funds, and infrastructure. While this can feel like a scary movie, the reality is that cities of all sizes and abilities can take steps to protect themselves from a cyber incident. In this session, you will hear the tales from the City of Mayer and the City of Thief River Falls about recent cyber incidents, including how the city recovered and what they learned. You’ll walk away with tips on protecting your city, as well as a better understanding of the broad scope of consequences and actions should a cyber incident occur in your city.


Presentation slides for Tales From the (En)Crypt and Gone in 60 Seconds (pdf).

Building Community, Fostering Belonging

Pablo Obregon, Director of Community Growth, Willmar; Ben Martig, City Administrator, Northfield; Maurice Harris, Council Member, Golden Valley

When residents feel a sense of belonging, it can have many positive effects on a city. Belonging helps build relationships and trust that can inform a city’s decision-making, projects, and initiatives. But how do cities create a sense of belonging? How can we measure a feeling? This session will focus on how three cities are approaching this topic and the impact on their communities. The variety of roles on this panel will provide unique perspectives in what belonging means and why it is important.


Presentation slides for Building Community, Fostering Belonging (pdf).

A Conversation on EMS Issues in Minnesota

Andrew Slama, Fire Chief, Edina; Michael Juntunen, Coordinator for Community Paramedicine, Mayo Clinic

Emergency Medical Services (EMS) continues to be a prominent issue in both greater Minnesota and the metro area, but for varying reasons. Funding, employee recruitment and retention, licensing, oversight, and response times have all been identified as areas for improvement to ensure Minnesotans across the state receive reliable and quality emergency care. In September 2023, the League convened a task force  to help develop solutions to these concerns. Hear from the task force chairs on the most pressing issues in EMS delivery and sustainability and discuss potential solutions to address the ongoing needs of the industry.


Elevate Your Well-being: Simplifying Healthy Living at Home, Work, and Everywhere You Go

Nicole LaChapelle-Strumski, Program Manager, Southeast Service Cooperative; Hannah Keltgen, Manager of Wellness and Marketing Communications, South Central Service Cooperative

Picture this — a version of yourself bursting with energy, positivity, and razor-sharp focus. Dive into a presentation that unveils the transformative power of expert-backed tips, designed to pave the path toward robust health and unwavering productivity. Say goodbye to sluggish days and hello to a vibrant, goal-crushing you! You’ll also learn tips on achieving a sense of work-life harmony and creating an environment focused on well-being at the office.


Presentation slides for Elevate Your Well-Being (pdf).

Five Easy Steps to Environmental Protection & Enhancement

Amy Fredregill, Senior Director of Sustainability, WSB; Bridget Rathsack, Sustainability Coordinator, Burnsville; Charlie Yunker, City Manager, Saint Anthony Village

Environmental protection and enhancement does not need to be a massive undertaking. Communities can start small and still have major impact. In this session, you will learn five easy ways to promote environmental enhancement in your community that result in a more resilient future — with minimal budget impacts.


Presentation slides for Five Easy Steps to Environmental Protection & Enhancement (pdf).

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Education Sessions #4

Global Minnesota: Bridging Communities and the World

Phil Hansen, President, Global Minnesota

For over 70 years, the nonprofit Global Minnesota has been at the forefront of connecting Minnesotans to the world, and the world to Minnesota. Many cities have both formal and informal international connections, through residents, businesses, and sister city programs. This session will show how Global Minnesota is advancing international understanding and engagement in communities across the state through an array of initiatives involving professional exchanges with international visitors, educational outreach, and world affairs programs. This session will highlight how Global Minnesota’s programs can help your community unlock the benefits of international engagement.


Opioid Settlement Funds: An Update on Uses and Impacts

Alicia Baker, State Opioids Response Project Director, Minnesota Department of Human Services; Jeremy Drucker, Director of the Office of Addiction and Recovery, Minnesota Management and Budget; Susan Arntz, City Manager, Mankato

Cities continue to face significant impacts of the opioid epidemic, particularly as it relates to public health and public safety. This session will provide an update and overview of how Minnesota is spending the unprecedented amount of settlement money coming to local governments to fight the opioid epidemic. Explore in real-time a “how-to” of the statewide dashboard that showcases who is receiving the money and what we can learn from the data about measurable impacts and outcomes. You will also hear about the work of Minnesota’s new Office for Addiction and Recovery and learn how some cities are directly using settlement funds or working with other cities and counties to fund opioid abatement programs.


Communicating When Things Get Tough: How to Navigate Controversial Topics with Your Community

Ted Davis, Executive Vice President, Weber Shandwick

Cities often need to deal with hard topics; budget cuts, tax increases, emergencies, development projects and other controversies.  How and when you communicate with your residents, employees and other stakeholders can determine your success. This session will explore the kinds of events, decisions and initiatives that require careful communications, the tools that you can use and how effective communications can help your city successfully navigate complex issues.


Presentation slides for Communicating When Things Get Tough (pdf).

Building Trust and Creating Hope to Resolve Difficult Situations

Aimee Gourlay, Collaboration Services Manager, League of Minnesota Cities Insurance Trust; Todd Prafke, City Administrator, Saint Peter; Kathy Lund Dean, Professor of Management & Ethics, Gustavus Adolphus College

Early collaborative conflict resolution (ECCR) is a tool that cities can use to resolve conflict. Whether conflict occurs with residents, partners, or within a city, this participative session provides skills for confronting conflict and resolving difficult situations while also forging trust among those involved. You will learn and experience the practices of ECCR and hear stories from the speakers who have successfully used this tool.


Partnering to Advance Transportation Projects

Doug Fischer, Program Director for Government Markets, TKDA; Tim Himmer, Public Works Director, Coon Rapids; Dan Schluender, Director of Engineering, Blaine

The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA) and state-funded programs have created opportunities to take the vision of needed transportation improvements and make them reality. At times, these projects are within the jurisdictional authority of a county or the state, but in order to get the project done, cities have to step up and take on a lead role. This session will focus on how to ensure your community’s transportation needs are documented, identify potential funding sources, and deliver the project utilizing state and federal funds. The presentation will include case studies of the City of Coon Rapids TH 610 & East River Road project and the TH 65 (97th Avenue to 119th Avenue) project.


Sparking Interest to Attract New Firefighters

Caleb Feine, Assistant Fire Chief of Operations, Rochester; Christopher Ferguson, Assistant Fire Chief, Rochester; Holly Mulholland, Deputy Fire Chief, Rochester; Amanda Marx, Firefighter, Rochester; Eric Kerska, Fire Chief, Rochester

Fire departments across Minnesota and the nation are struggling to recruit firefighters. The Rochester Fire Department (RFD) noticed this challenge and decided to take a creative and proactive approach to recruitment. RFD developed a strategic plan for recruiting younger and more diverse firefighters, including more women in what is still a male-dominated field. Hear directly from the leaders of this effort to learn about Rochester’s efforts and how fire department leaders are working closely with their city council to make this a priority for the entire city.


Presentation slides for Sparking Interest to Attract New Firefighters (pdf).

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