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The annual Executive Directors Conference & Board Retreat is designed by and for executive directors and board members of Regional Councils and Metropolitan Planning Organizations. The conference, held in a different region of the country each year, brings executives and elected officials together to discuss topics ranging from organizational structure, innovative best practices, and new developments in technology.

Hosted by Houston-Galveston Area Council

Executive Directors Conference
September 26-28, 2021

Please see draft agenda below Hotel information.

2021 Board Retreat
September 28-29, 2021

Board dinner: Tuesday 6:30 PM – location TBD
Board retreat: Wednesday 8:30 AM – 1:00 PM

Tremont House Hotel
2300 Ship’s Mechanic Row
Galveston, Texas 77550
Phone: 409.763.0300

Executive Directors Conference Draft Agenda

Sunday, September 26
1:00 PM – 2:00 PM 

Major Metros Meeting

Join your fellow executive directors from major metropolitan regional councils in a discussion of how they are responding to the surge in COVID-19 cases.    

2:30 PM – 5:30 PM 

Mobile Tour – Artist Boat Coastal Heritage Preserve

Optional, additional cost ($50.00).

Don your shorts, sunglasses, sunscreen, and comfortable close-toe shoes for an epic island adventure to Galveston’s premier Coastal Heritage Preserve on the West End of Galveston Island. Board the island shuttle with Karla Klay, Executive Director of Artist Boat, for a personal tour of the Downtown and Seawall as you make your way to the Preserve to observe the wildlife, wetlands, and coastal prairie of this 690-acre conservation area. Enjoy a walking tour of the boardwalk, Bird Observatory, nature trails, and Kayak Pavilion as you learn how Artist Boat has implemented a program to promote awareness and preservation of coastal habitats and the marine environments through science and art. 

6:00 PM – 7:30 PMWelcome to Galveston Opening Reception 
Join your colleagues for the opening reception atop the Tremont Hotel at the Rooftop Bar. The cocktail reception is sponsored by the Texas Association of Regional Councils.  Beer, wine and light appetizers will be available.  
Monday, September 27 
8:00 AM – 8:30 AMBreakfast
8:30 AM – 9:00 AM 

Welcome to the Region 

Chuck Wemple and the Houston-Galveston Area Council welcome you to the region.  

9:00 AM – 9:15 AM  Break
9:15 AM – 11:45 AM 

Rapid-Fire Innovations 

Share with your colleagues (in two minutes or less) a new project, study, revenue enhancement, or other innovation your regional council is pursuing. Handouts and other materials are welcomed but not required.  


Ty Warner, Northwestern Indiana Regional Planning Commission 

11:45 AM – 12:45 PM 

Networking Lunch

This is your opportunity to network with your fellow executive directors over lunch. 

12:45 PM – 1:00 PM Break 
1:00 PM – 1:30 PM

Housing Affordability  

Housing stocks are dwindling and prices are escalating, making it increasingly difficult for lower- and middle-income persons to find affordable housing that is adequate and safe. Learn from two of your colleagues what they are doing to create affordable housing in their regions.  


Josh Brown, Executive Director of the Puget Sound Regional Council 

William Murdock, Executive Director of the Mid-Ohio Regional Planning Commission 

1:30 PM- 2:00 PM  

Global Covenant of Mayors for Climate & Energy Session 

GCoM is the largest global alliance for city climate leadership, built upon the commitment of over 10,000 cities and local governments to reduce annual emissions by 2.3 billion tons of CO2 by 2030. Representatives from GCoM will share what they are doing and how your organization can become a part of the covenant. 


Chuck Bean, Executive Director of the Washington Metropolitan Planning Council of Governments  

Lauren Palmer, Director of Local Government Services at Mid-America Regional Council 

2:00 PM – 3:45 PM Evolving Regions – Getting Ready for the Future 
3:45 PM – 4:00 PM Break  
4:00 PM – 5:15 PM 


You set the agenda for this session!  

Prior to the session, attendees will be prompted to suggest discussion topics. Attendees will vote on their favorite topics and those topics will be used for several roundtable exchanges. Each roundtable will be led by the person who suggested that table’s topic. Participants will be free to attend whichever sessions interest them and can move between groups if they would like. 


Ryan Vogt, Executive Director of Oregon Cascades West Council of Governments 

5:15 PM – 5:45 PM 

Importance of Juneteenth  

Presentation followed by App-guided self tour of important Juneteenth sites. Plan to incorporate networking happy hour and dinner plans along the tour path. Golf carts available to rent for tour, if desired. 

Tuesday, September 28
7:30 AM – 8:00 AM Breakfast 
8:00 AM – 9:00 AM 

The Houston Region Welcome

The Texas Association of Regional Councils 24 Regional Councils help local governments find common ground across Texas to find solutions to pressing problems.  A panel of four organizations will highlight some of their innovative programs across regional boundaries.

9:00 AM – 9:45 AM 

Talking Economic Resilience with the Economic Development Administration  

Millions of jobs remain lost due to the pandemic, and the Economic Development Administration (EDA) offers regions an unprecedented opportunity to invest in communities with funds from the American Rescue Plan.  We are delighted to welcome US Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Economic Development Alejandra Castillo to share EDA’s vision for a more resilient future and the opportunities they are offering to make that vision a reality.

Speaker:  The Honorable Alejandra Y. Castillo, Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Economic Development 

9:45 AM – 10:15 AM Getting Ready for Solar (US Department of Energy Funding Program)
10:15 AM10:30 AM Break 
10:30 AM – 11:15 AM 

Infrastructure and Recovery Funding: What’s in it for Regions and MPOs 

Congress is on the cusp of providing historic, once-in-a-generation multi-trillion-dollar funding to support a wide swath of the nation’s infrastructure. In two pieces of legislation – the Bipartisan Infrastructure Deal, which includes reauthorization of the surface transportation program, and a reconciliation package – Congress would bring unprecedented levels of spending to states and localities to help address regional priorities in a number of crucial areas. NARC staff will present what is in these bills, what it means for MPOs and other regional organizations, and the bills’ prospects for passage. 

Facilitator: Erich Zimmermann, Deputy Director/Director of Transportation Programs National Association of Regional Councils    

11:15 AM – 12:15 PM Leadership in Challenging Times
12:15 PM – 12:45 PM Lunch 
12:45 PM – 2:15 PM Executive Directors Council Meeting  
3:00 PM – 5:00 PM Mobile Tour  – UTMB Open Gates/Blackstone/Telemedicine/Zoom from Lab/COVID Impact 


Future Dates

Executive Directors Conference dates for 2022 and 2023 coming soon.