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Funkhouser & Associates

Governing in a Time of Rapid Change

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Event Recap:

The big takeaway

Municipal leaders are feeling the combined pressures of a politically fraught environment where social polarization, fiscal uncertainty and complex policy issues (Texas Municipal League Executive Director, Bennett Sandlin, spotlighted the tension between state versus local control; housing and zoning concerns; and party line politics) often push local governments into a defensive or reactive corner. But this is also a moment when localities, as ground level laboratories of democracy, are called upon to shape the future and win over their communities. To do so, leaders must devote time to operate strategically, build vision collaboratively, and implement policy incrementally.

“Don’t always play catch-up,” noted LaShon Ross, Deputy City Manager of Plano. “We need to take a long view and anticipate. That requires taking the time to step away and think. And then decide how you will act.”

Tell your story

To get in front of policy and budget battles, staffing shortages, and eroding trust in institutions, local governments must become better storytellers. “Cities need to tell their stories to residents in a way people understand what it means to them,” noted Paulette Hartman, Deputy City Manager of North Richland Hills. This requires getting over the fear of criticism, being transparent about challenges, and what you can and cannot do. It also points to the need to recruit effective communicators to work in local government. Assistant City Manager of Allen, Rebecca Vice, made a pitch for hiring teachers who are leaving the profession: They’re public servants at heart and tend to be natural communicators and storytellers.

Within the organization, more effective communication (including recognizing and celebrating successes) is an important way to engage employees and connect them to meaning and mission, which is key to retaining and nurturing talent, as several attendees noted. Externally, telling your government’s story can help build political support and foster community engagement and trust.


Getting Creative in Recruiting for Public Service

How Local Governments Can Cultivate Authentic Relationships In Their Community

Put your money where your mouth is

Being smart with the money is more than just prudent stewardship of taxpayer resources. It’s about meeting resident needs and following through on the story we want to tell. To do this, strategic plans ought to be backed by sustainably funded implementation roadmaps. However that’s rarely the case in local government. Bret Starr, CFO of Irving, outlined how his City used resident surveys to move from strategic planning to implementation and help prioritize areas for focused investment. A dedicated and consistent branding and messaging strategy to invest in street development (“road to the future”) was backed by a transparent financial plan.

Plano City Manager, Mark Israelson, and others also pointed out that negotiating priorities and making decisions about where resources can and should be directed is an important way of surfacing the choices, making them explicit and helping elected officials and residents understand the options and tradeoffs.


A Better Way to Plan A Daring City’s Future

Why Local Government Shouldn’t Fear a New Era of Fiscal Accountability

5 Trends to Watch in Municipal Finance & What They Mean for Local Government

Rethinking Budgeting: A Roadmap for Real Collaboration in Budgeting

To make technology work for people, start with the end in mind

Technology holds powerful potential to transform processes, create efficiencies and enable better outcomes in local government. But effectively implementing technology is about more than digitizing forms or automating service delivery. It’s about understanding the user experience and what they are trying to achieve. “Start with the end in mind,” explained Roger Wright, Chief Information Officer of Plano. “We need to listen to what the users need, and then empower them to do it.” “There has to be a dialogue [between staff and tech leaders] and ownership in driving technology forward,” agreed Abhi Nemani, Senior Advisor at Euna Solutions.

Coming full circle: Contrary to unfounded, yet persistent, fears, digitally empowered government is not about replacing people with bots or taking humans out of the equation. It’s about leveraging tech to streamline operational functions and make mission-critical information accessible and transparent so that employees’ time is freed up for higher-value strategic work and for nurturing connections with colleagues and the community.


Modernizing Public Finance & Administration

How Government Leaders Can Capitalize On Federal Funding to Fuel an Equitable Future


Event Details

How to Build Capacity for Good Governance & Sustainable Growth

We are convening a special leadership roundtable for local government executives in the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex. The event will bring together top officials from the region’s cities and counties to discuss how jurisdictions can effectively build capacity to meet the demands of rapid growth, manage fiscally sustainable budgets and prioritize good governance and community development in a time of volatility and change. Our program is designed to provide attendees with new ideas, information, and allies to support policy approaches and implementation strategies and empower local government staff with the tools to “work smarter, not harder.” 

This is a closed-door, invitation-only event open to senior government officials from the region. Please review our draft agenda below. Invitees must RSVP to participate. If you are interested in attending or have questions, please contact us. 

This event is hosted in partnership with Euna Solutions.


12:00 PM
Networking Lunch

12:30 PM
Welcome & Introductions
Opening remarks by Mark Funkhouser, President, Funkhouser & Associates

12:45 PM
A time of Growth and Change: The Texas Policy Landscape
An overview of top policy concerns, legislative updates and what high-performing governments are doing about legislative changes.
DISCUSSION LEAD: Bennett Sandlin, Executive Director, Texas Municipal League

Building Capacity for Growth and Change: Plans, People & Systems

1:15 PM
We’ll explore frameworks and steps for strategically planning and sustainably funding long-term growth while also supporting equitable access to opportunity.
DISCUSSION LEAD: Aimee Kaslik, Chief Strategy Officer, City of Denton

1:45 PM

2:00 PM
Putting people at the core: We’ll discuss approaches to change management and building organizational culture to cultivate antifragile governments.
DISCUSSION LEADS: Opal Mauldin-Jones, City Manager, Lancaster and Oscar Trevino, Mayor, City of North Richland Hills

2:30 PM
Technology is the easy part: How are public sector organizations effectively implementing digital tools and other solutions to empower staff to better serve the community?

3:00 PM
Case Examples
We will spotlight 2-3 rapid fire case examples of how local jurisdictions are addressing some of the challenges and priorities of the region (such as growing the tax base, regional collaboration and coordination on transportation and resource issues, and/or workforce development).

3:30 PM
Summary of discussion highlights and takeaways.
Martin Lind, VP, Business Development & Strategic Partnerships, Euna Solutions

3:45 PM

Event registration closed.

Date And Time

10-17-23 @ 12:00 PM to
10-17-23 @ 03:45 PM

Registration End Date


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