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Special Districts Summit Central

Our Central Region Virtual Summit brought together special district leaders for a conversation about navigating the changes and continuing uncertainty triggered by the COVID-19 pandemic.


Nearly 100 special district leaders joined the live virtual summit on Sept. 17, which featured speakers from airports, seaports, parks, libraries, transportation commissions and water districts. Panelists shared lessons learned from the COVID-19 response and offered insights into how special districts are adapting management techniques, technology strategies and leadership approaches to meet the needs of a post-COVID environment.
Key Takeaways from this important conversation include:

  • Modernization supports resiliency. Districts that adopted cloud, mobility, digital collaboration platforms and other modern technologies before the pandemic hit had an easier time pivoting to remote work and digital citizen services.
  • Disaster recovery drills pay off. Several districts benefited from disaster drills held shortly before COVID-19 arrived in the U.S. Although the exercises didn’t anticipate a global pandemic, they helped prepare districts for COVID-related disruption.
  • New digital services probably aren’t temporary. District leaders say virtual meetings and online service options launched in response to COVID-19 are proving popular with citizens and stakeholders, making them hard to turn off.
  • The future is touchless. The pandemic is prompting airport districts and others to adopt identity solutions like facial recognition technology that don’t require users to touch a screen or device.
  • Management practices are changing. Because of remote work, district leaders are moving away from traditional HR metrics such as employee attendance and focusing instead on outcomes.
  • Office space is being reevaluated. The success of remote work has some districts reconsidering the amount of physical office space they require.
  • Work will be hybrid. District leaders don’t foresee completely virtual workforces, but they anticipate giving employees more flexibility to split time between in-office and at-home work.
  • Culture is a concern. Engaging remote workers around a shared mission is emerging as key management challenge for district leaders.

Tanya Acevedo, Chief Technology Officer, Houston Airport System
Brian Kelley, Chief Technology Officer, Ohio Turnpike and Infrastructure Commission
David Leach, Principal Architect, AT&T
Maria Meachum, Director, Wilmington Public Library District
Bruce J. Moeller, PhD, former Chief of Staff and Assistant County Administrator, Pinellas County
Jeff Nehila, Executive Director, Deerfield Park District
Sree Pulapaka, VP Chief Information Officer, San Antonio Water System
Charles Thompson, Chief Information Officer, Port Houston
Dustin Haisler, Moderator, Chief Innovation Officer, Government Technology
Steve Towns, Moderator, Deputy Chief Content Officer, e.Republic
Click here to access the slides presented during the summit.

To join us at an upcoming Virtual Summit, visit our event page to register.