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Convention Guest Speakers Share Unique Roads to Success

May 2, 2019

The GMA 2019 Annual Convention themed: “Cities United: Lead to Succeed.” will take place at the Savannah International Trade & Convention Center from June 21-25.

2019-Convention-Banner-A.png“At GMA, we’re putting great emphasis on the value of Georgia’s cities and their impact on our state as a whole. As cities unite to share this important message, this year’s convention will offer sessions and presentations that allow attendees to enhance their leadership skills while uncovering ways to make Georgia the best place to live, work and play,” said GMA Executive Director Larry Hanson.

The Opening General Session is scheduled on Sunday, June 23 from 3:30-5:15 p.m. With a focus on leadership, Otis White, president of Civic Strategies, will discuss the common attributes of effective city government leaders based on his years of study and observation. Following his remarks, attendees will hear from three individuals who embody the qualities of great leaders. They include Alex Gregory, former chairman and CEO of YKK Corporation of America, Joan Higginbotham, a former astronaut and the third African-American woman to travel into space, and Malcolm Mitchell, former Valdosta High School grad, wide receiver for the University of Georgia and Super Bowl champion with the New England Patriots, who is now inspiring young people to read and reach their full potential. 

Other opening session highlights will include a recognition of the Georgia Cities Foundation’s (GCF) 20th anniversary, a tribute to the late Mike Starr, who had served as GCF president since its inception until his untimely passing in April and the presentation of GCF’s annual Renaissance Award. In addition, the popular Parade of Flags will be part of the opening festivities.

The exhibit hall will feature an expanded reception on Saturday from 3:15-5:30 p.m. The hall will also feature breakfast on Sunday morning followed by Policy Committee Meetings. On Monday, GMA will host its Business Session from 8:30-9:15
a.m. Returning for the third year, GMA will host a training ceremony for all certificate recipients on Friday. Here, the association and the Carl Vinson Institute of Government roll out the red carpet for city officials who’ve committed to learning ways to better their communities.

Monday will also feature concurrent sessions and Rapid Fire Sessions, which will give cities from across the state an opportunity to present successful projects to convention attendees.

GMA will offer training sessions on Friday afternoon, Saturday and three-hour classes on Tuesday, providing the ability for members to earn up to 12 hours of credit during the convention. Forty-four classes will be offered, including one new class: Succession Planning: Preparing for Tomorrow’s Workforce Today.


Currently, a quarter of the local government workforce is age 55 or older and more than half is age 45 or older. The inevitable exodus of long-serving and knowledgeable city employees could have significant consequences to city operational efficiency and effectiveness. This new class represents a beginning step for city officials to understand the value in developing a succession plan for their city to ensure it has qualified employees in place to provide high-quality services to city residents and businesses.

GMA will also offer two opportunities to participate in mobile workshops. The Mobile Workshop: Port of Savannah will take place on Friday and explore how Georgia’s deep-water ports foster growth statewide. These ports drive development and opportunity across a range of industries, reaching ever corner of every county. The Port of Savannah is the nation’s fourth busiest port and is home to the largest single-terminal container facility of its kind in North America. This mobile workshop includes a presentation and tour of the Savannah ports facility, highlighting the Georgia Ports Authority’s role and partnership in attracting and expanding businesses in communities throughout the state.

In the Mobile Workshop: Placemaking in Action, which will be offered on Saturday, participants will engage in the process of placemaking by conducting a walking audit of Ellis Square in Downtown Savannah. They will also examine the diverse ways that placemaking capitalizes on a local community’s assets, inspiration and potential, with the intention of creating public spaces that promote people’s health, happiness and wellbeing.

For more information about the convention, contact Janice Eidson at jeidson@gmanet.com or 678-686-6256. For information about exhibiting during the convention, contact Yalonde Tanner at ytanner@gmanet.com or 678-686-6239, and for information about Annual Convention sponsorship opportunities, contact Amy Henderson at ahenderson@gmanet.com or 678-686-6226.