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The Davenport Institute Kicks Off 2023 Conference Season

Maureen Tobin speaking to a room on engaging communities in-person

In May, the Davenport Institute began its conference season by engaging with local government leaders across the country at two conferences, where they spoke on timely issues including in-person engagement and the dialogue between government and community. 

The first conference was the California Association of Public Information Officers (CAPIO) Annual Conference in Monterey, California. Here executive director Maureen Tobin delivered a talk with city clerk and public information officer at City of Morgan Hill Michelle Bigelow, titled “Getting Back to Basics, In-Person Public Engagement.” The session was inspired by the transition from purely online engagement to the hybrid space witnessed today. As local governments continue to assess the best ways to connect with their communities, the vital benefits of in-person engagement cannot be neglected. While, in some cases, the pandemic allowed for a wider reach of involvement through virtual options, connection and foundational relationship building, that only comes from in-person activities, were lost. The session encouraged local government leaders at CAPIO to return to the basics of public engagement and the shared goal of building strong communities. Tobin and Bigelow also provided an analysis of the pros and cons of online, in-person, and hybrid engagement to the 40+ participants.

The following week, Davenport Institute assistant director Pooja Bachani Di Giovanna delivered the presentation “The Dialogue Between Local Government and Community, Partnering for Success” at the International City/County Management Reimagining Local Government Regional Conference in Louisville, Kentucky. The three-day conference hosted by the International City/County Management Association (ICMA) focused on “Public Engagement, Political Discourse & Local Democracy,” and brought together local government leaders from across the country. This interactive session focused on the important role dialogue plays in building connections between local governments and their communities through effective public engagement. The session was well-regarded by a filled room of 57 attendees. 

“Dialogue is a foundational element of public engagement,” states Di Giovanna, “and plays a key role in building trust and relationships between local governments and their communities.”

Conferences are an important component of the Davenport Institute’s role as a thought leader in the space of public engagement. Opportunities such as these exemplify the institute’s mission to help build strong communities by promoting public participation in local governance.