Aug 20, 2015


Thursday, August 20


8:30 am

Registration & Continental Breakfast


9:00 am


Cathilea Robinett, Executive Vice President, Governing


9:05 am

Opening Keynote: A Vision to Build a Better Future for Texas

Introduction: Cathilea Robinett, Executive Vice President, Governing

Speaker: The Honorable Joe Straus, Speaker of the House, Texas House of Representatives


9:45 am

Building a Better Future for Texas Through a Focus on People

Introduction: Cathilea Robinett, Executive Vice President, Governing

Speaker: Mike Salvino: Group Chief Executive, Accenture Operations

How do you attract the best talent, build a better future for your employees and develop better leaders for Texas? How do you create a style of leadership that allows you to be yourself but also inspires your people? How do you create a mindset where recognition and reward goes beyond the norm and where people feel inspired to both make the work life choices they need and to pursue their passions? Mike is an Accenture leader who runs a 90,000-strong global organization that has to not only attract the best millennial talent but inspire and retain its existing talent. In this session he will share his leadership journey and learnings.


10:45 am



11:15 am

Concurrent Sessions: Elevating Texas as a National Leader


Creating Resilient Communities

Resilience is defined as the capacity to recover quickly from disaster or adversity. For modern communities, being resilient means not only bouncing back after crisis, but anticipating threats and needs, adapting successfully to new challenges, and developing the capacity to cope effectively when disaster strikes. Whether dealing with public safety emergencies, environmental impacts, or more long-term challenges, such as addressing deteriorating infrastructure, affordable housing needs, and issues of poverty and crime, government leaders must work across agencies and jurisdictions to create safe and resilient communities. In this session, we will examine how communities can best prepare for immediate crisis mitigation and effective emergency responses as well as the strategies that are needed today for long-term capacity building and resilience.

Moderator: Zach Patton, Executive Editor, Governing
Lucia Athens, LEED, AP, Chief Sustainability Officer, City of Austin, Texas
Chris Connealy, Texas State Fire Marshall
D. Wayne Klotz, P.E., D.WRE, F.ASCE, Pres.09.ASCE, ENV SP and President, RPS Klotz Associates
The Honorable Annise Parker, Mayor, City of Houston


Data, Mobility and Technology

As population surges in and around Texas metropolitan clusters, urban growth places huge demands on existing infrastructure — and especially on existing transportation systems. Booming cities require contemporary modes of mobility for effective and sustainable growth management. This panel will discuss strategies for local and regional jurisdictions to establish funding and financing mechanisms for infrastructure projects and ways in which data and predictive analytics can help to assess community needs; manage growth; and monitor performance and evaluate outcomes of infrastructure and technology investments

Moderator: Dustin Haisler, Chief Innovation Officer, e.Republic
Debra Campbell, Assistant City Manager, City of Charlotte, North Carolina
Bill Fulton, Director, Kinder Institute for Urban Research, Rice University
Tim Lomax, Ph.D., P.E., Regents Fellow, Texas A&M Transportation Institute


Innovative Financing

Cash-strapped governments are turning to public-private partnerships and other innovative financing models to fund critical infrastructure projects and other public services. Although there are political barriers that often stand in the way of creative financing models and more cross-sector collaboration, Texas has implemented a number of P3s and officials can draw on a growing knowledge base on short- and long-term P3 financing models. Additionally, the Austin-Travis County area is one of a few communities in the nation conducting feasibility studies on Pay-for-Success programs, which bring together nonprofits and corporate funding partners to support projects such as housing, public health, and social issues. Our panel of experts will explore those innovative financing models, discussing specific challenges of cross-sector partnerships and key ingredients for successful P3s and social impact bonds.

Moderator: Ryan Holeywell, Senior Editor, Kinder Institute for Urban Research, Rice University
Samara Barend, Senior Vice President and P3 Director, AECOM Capital
The Honorable Sarah Eckhardt, Travis County Judge
David Leininger, Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer, Dallas Area Rapid Transit


Great People | Great State: Hiring, Retaining, and Promoting

Workforce development and succession planning are among the foremost concerns for government agencies and jurisdictions across the country. With huge waves of baby-boomers retiring and not enough young people entering – or staying in – public service, governments face a brain drain issue on the one hand, and a shortage of new talent who could contribute fresh ideas on the other. Public sector HR departments are under pressure to modernize their recruitment and hiring processes and to create an appealing, 21st century workplace. This means not only new technologies and policies to attract millennials and manage a younger, mobile workforce; it also requires an increased focus on management training to ensure that promoted employees are equipped with the skills and tools they need to manage a high-performance, modern public workforce.

Moderator: Mark Funkhouser, Ph.D., Publisher, Governing
Erin Hutchins, General Manager & Director of Portal Operations,
Kathy Nesbitt, Vice President, Employee & Information Services, University of Colorado
Omar Reid, Human Resources Director, City of Houston
Milton Rister, Executive Director, Texas Railroad Commission


12:15 pm



1:00 pm

Luncheon Keynote: Do Mess With Texas: Five Ways My Great State Can Be Even Greater

Introduction: Julia Burrows, Director, Governing Institute
Speaker: Evan Smith, Editor-In-Chief,  CEO and Co-Founder, The Texas Tribune


2:00 pm



2:20 pm

Concurrent Sessions: Looking Ahead – the Future of the Lone Star State


Texas’ Natural Resources: Challenges and Opportunities

Home to enormous natural resources, Texas is a major agricultural producer and an industrial giant. The state leads the nation in energy production, primarily crude oil and natural gas. However, while natural resources have fueled the state’s wealth, falling oil prices have lowered the boom. Moreover, the lack of sustainable water sources threatens farming and livestock revenues. In addition to water conservation programs and improving water storage facilities, desalination and water reuse technologies will be key for Texas’ continued environmental and economic viability. This panel will discuss forward-looking approaches for sustainable natural resource management in Texas, highlighting some of the important steps taken by legislative and local leaders and addressing the barriers still in the way of long-term energy and environmental sustainability for the Lone Star State. 

Moderator: Ryan Holeywell, Senior Editor, Kinder Institute for Urban Research, Rice University
Thomas P. Brown, Senior Vice President - Business Development, SUEZ Environnement
Elizabeth Fazio, Director, Committee on Special Purpose Districts, Texas House of Representatives
Tim Merriweather, Executive Director, Texas Infrastructure Council


Performance & Innovation: What Every Government Employee Needs to Know

Performance improvement and innovation have become public sector buzz-words as jurisdictions try to respond to citizen demands for more efficient, effective, and accountable government. Technology and data analysis offer important tools for evidence-based and proactive approaches that deliver better outcomes. Moreover, leadership and management skills are also vital to build an organizational culture that empowers continuous improvement and translates performance measures into guidelines for action. In this session, leaders will share their strategic vision and discuss some of the practical tools and innovations they have implemented to promote financial transparency, efficiency, and results-focused approaches in their jurisdiction.

Moderator: Dustin Haisler, Chief Innovation Officer, e.Republic
Alberta Blair, P.E., Director of Public Works, Dallas County
Tommy Gonzalez, City Manager, El Paso, Texas
Ken Levine, Director, Texas Sunset Commission
Steve Middlekauff, Director - Health & Human Services - U.S. & Canada, Unisys Company


The New Economy

The shared economy - the sharing of resources, talents and amenities – has been proliferating at warp speed and fundamentally transforming industries as well as the ways cities function disrupting regulatory environments and revenue generation sources. Urbanization and the expanding "Internet of Things" will continue to empower an entrepreneurially driven economy. While cities benefit from the influx of new economic activity, innovation, and growth, they also must grapple with the legislation and regulation needed to address such concerns as public safety and market fairness. This panel will assess how cities have been adapting to the new economy and what is still needed from a legislative and fiscal policy perspective to balance revenue and growth.

Moderator: Zach Patton, Executive Editor, Governing
Kate McGrath, Policy Director, Office of Texas Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick
John Miri, Chief Administrative Officer, LCRA
Ursula Parks, Director, Texas Legislative Board


Healthy Populations

The health and human services sector has been undergoing fundamental transformations as a result of legislative changes and new technologies as well as data-driven solutions. The need for cost-containment demands greater efficiency across the health and human services spectrum. At the same time, there is a growing understanding that proactive, preventive, and value-(rather than volume)-based strategies are more successful in cultivating healthier and thriving communities. HHS departments increasingly are using data for predictive analytics to help identify needs among vulnerable populations, pinpoint the most effective areas for intervention, and to develop more integrated and outcomes-focused solutions. In this session, we will take pulse of HHS transformation in Texas highlighting achievements and examining the barriers that still need to be overcome to achieve a 21st century model for public health and human services.

Moderator: Mark Funkhouser, Ph.D., Publisher, Governing
Kumar Rachuri, Director, Public Sector Strategy & Healthcare Innovation,
Susan Smith, Executive Director, TML Intergovernmental Employee Benefits Pool
Zachary S. Thompson, M.A., LCDC, Director, Health & Human Services, Dallas County


3:25 pm

Closing Keynote: Leadership and Ethics:  Transparency & Accountability

Introduction: Jim Driesse, Vice President, Texas Public Sector, IBM
Speaker: Billy Hamilton, Executive Vice Chancellor and Chief Financial Officer, Texas A&M University System; former Texas Deputy Comptroller


4:15 pm

Wrap up / Reception