During Convention, you will have the opportunity to choose from the list of topics shown below. Each session is designed to enhance your knowledge and provide you with ideas that you can take home and apply in your own community.


Legislative Update

The League’s State and Federal Affairs team will discuss current issues and what’s on the horizon for the Legislature’s fall agenda including hot topics like trans­portation, municipal finance and federal issues.


Nikole Brown, Legislative Associate, Michigan Municipal League
Chris Hackbarth, Director, State Affairs, Michigan Municipal League
John LaMacchia, Legislative Associate, Michigan Municipal League

Artistic Expression in Communities

Art in its many and varied forms is an essential component of the sense of place in every community. In this session, you will learn about the benefits of public art as well as some statewide initiatives to promote further artistic expression. You’ll also hear from two local communities with a serious commitment to investing in the arts, and the creative ways they have found to fund such projects. 

Michael Brown, Community Development Director, City of Ironwood
Nathan Triplett, East Lansing Mayor & V.P., Michigan Municipal League Board of Trustees
Sarah Triplett, Director of Public Policy, Creative Many

Crowdfunding Gains Traction

Crowdfunding as a means of investing in both public spaces and entrepreneurial ventures has been gaining ground in Michigan. In this session, we’ll examine the League’s efforts to promote crowdfunding, and introduce you to two entrepreneurs whose focus is helping other entrepreneurs and small business owners realize their dreams through investment crowdfunding. You’ll also get an up-to-date review of the Michigan Economic Development Corporation’s successful Public Spaces Community Places crowdfunding initiative.

Jeff Aranoff, Founder, Sidewalk Ventures
Angela Barbash, Founder, ReConsider
Katharine Czarnecki, Director, Community Development, Michigan Economic Development Corporation
Summer Minnick, Director, External Relations & Federal Affairs, Michigan Municipal League



Ask Siri: Technology as a Tool to Improve our Communities

Learn how technology can help streamline operations, engage the public, boost employee morale, reduce costs and waste, and propel communities forward.


Steve Baker, Councilmember, City of Berkley and IT Strategy Innovation Lead, DTE Energy


Scott TenBrink, Community Project Manager of Citizen Interaction Design, University of Michigan
Terry Croad, Planning Director, City of Southfield

Public Safety Special Assessments

A legacy of the great recession is that many communities are struggling to provide necessary funding for core services. One little known option for cities under 15,000 people is a public safety special assessment. This session will explore the legal requirements and considerations surrounding this revenue option.


Anthony Minghine, Associate Executive Director & COO, Michigan Municipal League

Municipal Hot Topics

Legislation and court rulings often impact a variety of policies and procedures in Michigan communities. In this session, we’ll examine the implications of two recent U.S. Supreme Court rulings: one that prohibits sign ordinances from regulating signs based on content, and another that legalizes same-sex marriage. Other hot topics will include Freedom of Information Act changes (effective July 1, 2015) and Open Meetings Act updates that affect municipal compliance.


William Mathewson, General Counsel, Michigan Municipal League


Lauren Trible-Laucht, City Attorney, Traverse City



General Session


Michael Young, City Manager, Rockford & MLGMA President

30 x 30

James Freed, a 30-something, already has a decade of public and private leadership experience under his belt. With a long career ahead of him, he has a unique perspective on the next 30 years of municipal government.


James Freed, City Manager, Port Huron

The City Shaped

Hear from Joe Minicozzi, who has led pioneering studies on economic productivity in cities, which have affected the reevaluation of public policy and a broader understanding of market dynamics created by tax policy.


Joe Minicozzi, Principal, Urban 3

The Urban Consulate

Claire Nelson, founder of the Urban Consulate, will discuss a new project to foster civic and cultural exchange between cities, starting with Detroit, New Orleans, and Philadelphia.


Claire Nelson, Founder, Urban Consulate

Michigan Local Government Management Association (MLGMA) Colloquium


Frank Peterson, City Manager, Muskegon



Mobile Workshops

The League wants you to see all the amazing things happening in Traverse City. So this year, included with the cost of your full registration, we are offering a number of mobile workshops.However, you must sign up to participate in one of them. If you did not pre-register and wish to attend of these workshops, please visit the Convention registration desk for availability. All tours will depart from the main entrance of the Park Place hotel, and will take place rain or shine. Buses will transport you back to hotels after the mobile workshops.


Downtown Traverse City

Discover Downtown Traverse City

Downtown Traverse City has grown from a sleepy tourist town to a vibrant regional center and national destination. Learn how simply focusing on the needs and wants of residents and businesses provided the basis for a progressive downtown vision. On this walking tour, you will experience downtown’s three districts, its evolving waterfront, and end up in the heart of fantastic shopping and dining!

Tour Guide

Rob Bacigalupi, AICP, Executive Director, Downtown Development Authority, Traverse City



Revitalizing a Downtown District

Traverse City, like most cities, has a section of the downtown that has been somewhat forgotten. On this walking tour of the city, you’ll get a first-hand look at the active steps the city is taking to revitalize this district and make it relevant to residents and visitors alike. You’ll also get the details on the League’s exciting Traverse City PlacePlans project, a joint effort of the League and MSU, funded through the MIPlace Initiative. Stops include Space, Traverse City’s cool coworking spot, the Traverse City Bumpout project, and new commercial and residential developments. The last stop is Workshop Brewing Co., where you can enjoy a fresh craft beer for just a few bucks.

Tour Guides

Nathan Elkins, Studio Director, Influence Design Forum
Russ Soyring, Planning Director, Traverse City


Luke Forrest, Program Manager, Michigan Municipal League


Sleeping Bear Dunes National Park

On a guided tour, you’ll experience the natural wonders along the 7-mile Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive, with spectacular overlooks of Lake Michigan, Glen Lake, and the Sleeping Bear Dunes. There will be several stops along the way so you can get out and take pictures of the breathtaking scenery. A fabulous boxed lunch will be provided for the ride to the park.

Tour Guides

Representatives from the National Park Service


Grand Traverse Commons Preservation & Reuse

The Village at Grand Traverse Commons is one of the largest historic preservation and adaptive reuse redevelopments in the country currently underway. The Village is the unique renovation of dozens of historic buildings formerly known as the Traverse City State Hospital. Presenters will fill you in on the history and redevelopment of the buildings, followed by a tour. You’ll even have time to visit some of the village’s new shops.


Theaters at the Heart of the Community

On this walking tour, you’ll get a behind-the-curtains look at the historic State Theater, beautifully restored in 2007 and now home to the Traverse City Film Festival. If the renovation schedule permits, you’ll also get an up-close look at Old Town Playhouse, which offers quality community theatre experiences. Along the way, you’ll hear how civic engagement and volunteerism have helped keep these theaters a vital part of Traverse City’s cultural scene. Lunch will be at InsideOut Gallery.


Bike the Traverse City Trails

A recent study found that bicycling contributes $668 million to Michigan’s economy each year. If you have a trail system in your community – or would like to develop one – you’ll learn how communities all across Michigan are using the “Trail Town” approach to support new opportunities for community and economic development. You’ll also learn about recently passed legislation aimed at helping communities become more trail friendly. Along the ride, you’ll see first-hand how Traverse City has become a premier trail-friendly community with impressive economic results.  Attendees are encouraged to bring their own bikes, but bikes will be provided.  Lunch will be at North Peak Restaurant.

Tour Guides

Julie Clark, Executive Director, TART Trails, Inc.
Lee Kurt, Trail Planning and Management Director, TART Trails, Inc.


Harry Burkholder, Program Coordinator, Land Information Access Association


Works in Progress: How to Size up Your Placemaking Opportunities

Take a walk with Richard Murphy, a League staffer and accomplished planner, to view Traverse City’s 8th Street corridor at the edge of downtown. Murph will help you view this area–a work in progress–though a planner’s eyes. Participants will learn how small details can have a big impact on how space is perceived, used, and ultimately valued. This will be a fun, unstructured conversation aimed at helping you think critically (in the most constructive way!) about how physical design can improve the human experience, including practical solutions to common design challenges. After this walk with Murph, you won’t ever view a sidewalk the same!

Tour Guide

Richard Murphy, Program Coordinator, Michigan Municipal League



30 x 30 Session Follow-up


James Freed, City Manager, Port Huron

The City Shaped Session Follow-up


Joe Minicozzi, Principal, Urban3
Mark Nickita, Commissioner, Birmingham

The Urban Consulate Session Follow-up


Claire Nelson, Knight Foundation
Brian Boyle, Co-Chief Executive Officer, Issue Media Group
Jeff Aronoff, Founder, Sidewalk Ventures

Navigating the Changing Seas of Retiree Finance

Fulfilling financial obligations to retired employees is a challenged faced by communities across the state. In this session, you’ll learn about some of the research and finding related to pensions and other post-employment benefits uncovered by the UM Center for Local, State, and Urban Policy’s Michigan Public Policy Survey. Well also share with you the League’s work to build a comprehensive statewide pension-related database and the municipal impact of recent changes by the Governmental Accounting Standard Board.


Chris Hackbarth, Director, State Affairs, Michigan Municipal League


Debra Horner, Research Project Manager, UM Center for Local, State, and Urban Policy (CLOSUP)
Michelle Watterworth, Senior Manager, Plante Moran


Coffee & Doughnuts for All! Strengthen Your Community through Equity


Nathan Triplett, Mayor, East Lansing, & Vice President, Michigan Municipal League Board of Trustees


Christina Suave, Southeast Michigan Communities Coordinator, Welcoming Michigan
Alfredo Hernandez Corsen, Associate Program Director, Lakeshore Ethnic Diversity Alliance




General Session

Towards the City (and Village) We Need

The new millennium has brought significant economic, technological, and social changes that are influencing people’s expectations of where they live. Those changes will also affect the operation of local government in the next 10 years and beyond. How can local leaders adapt to preserve their community’s unique character while embracing the changing needs of their residents?


Summer Minnick, Director, External Relations & Federal Affairs, Michigan Municipal League


Rosalynn Bliss, City Commissioner, Grand Rapids & Board Member, Michigan Municipal League Board of Trustees