NARC Annual Conference
& Exhibition

June 4-7, 2023 – Detroit, MI

Thanks for a great conference!

The Annual Conference and Exhibition is the largest national event focused on promoting effective regional cooperation and solutions through interaction and education. Held annually in June, NARC’s Annual Conference is the premier place to learn how to engage in effective regional collaboration.

Representatives of Councils of Government and Metropolitan Planning Organizations — leadership, professional staff, board members, local elected officials, technical and program staff — come together to share best practices, attend informative sessions on program, legislative and regulatory issues, as well as avail of training and technical services. Speakers include experts from the public and private sector, congressional and state lawmakers, and individuals from universities and non-profit organizations.


Click here for a PDF version of the full conference agenda. 


1:00 PM – 5:00 PMRegistration Open and Exhibitor Setup
1:00 PM – 5:00 PM

Mobile Workshop – The Henry Ford Museum

Take a tour through Detroit’s automotive past, present, and future. Whether this is your first time in Detroit, or you are a return visitor, the Henry Ford Museum of American Innovation is a must-see destination. The Henry Ford Museum showcases the achievements of some of America’s greatest minds. Along the way, you will also see Ford’s Michigan Central Station campus where Ford is reimagining its business for a new century as it turns to Detroit’s oldest neighborhood as a launchpad for its future mobility plans. Transportation will be provided.
Pre-registration is required. Non-registered spouse and personal guests are welcome to participate.
1:00 PM – 5:00 PM

Mobile Workshop – Connecting Detroit to Ferndale: Walking & Biking Tour of Livernois Corridor 

Join a walking and biking tour of one of Detroit’s most exciting corridor redevelopments. The historic “Avenue of Fashion” has been reimagined to highlight the rich American jazz legacy and African American cultural heritage that has shaped the arts and businesses of Livernois Avenue. The tour will travel across 8 Mile into the bustling City of Ferndale and include a walking tour of the Great American Main Street, a destination known for art, music and DIY culture, offering independent shops, support for local makers, and a diverse and vibrant food scene. 
Pre-registration is required. Non-registered spouse and personal guests are welcome to participate.
5:30 PM – 7:00 PM

Opening Reception: Welcome to Detroit
The National Association of Regional Councils and the Southeast Michigan Council of Governments welcome you to the 57th Annual Conference and Exhibition in Detroit Michigan largest national event focused on promoting effective regional cooperation and solutions through interaction and education. Help us kick off the conference with drinks with your colleagues.

Reception supported by Munetrix.


7:00 AM – 7:30 AM

Downtown Walk & Tour
Start your day with a SEMCOG-led 30-minute walking tour of downtown Detroit including the city’s newest art alleys, Campus Martius, and Capital Park. 

7:30 AM – 4:00 PM

Registration & Exhibitors 

7:45 AM – 8:15 AM

Breakfast and Welcome
The National Association of Regional Councils welcomes you to the 57th Annual Conference and Exhibition, the largest national event promoting regional cooperation and solutions. We are delighted you have joined us for two days of engaging sessions, regional excellence, and camaraderie with your colleagues.

The Honorable Bob Cannon, Supervisor, Clinton Township, Michigan; Southeast Michigan Council of Governments; NARC Immediate Past President

The Honorable Joy Fuchs, Washington County, Texas; Brazos Valley Council of Governments; NARC President

The Honorable Jennifer Robinson, Council Member, Town of Cary, North Carolina; Triangle J Council of
Governments; NARC President-Elect

8:15 AM – 8:45 AM

Welcome to the Region
The Southeast Michigan Council of Governments welcomes attendees to the greater Detroit region, home to more than 180 members comprised of counties, cities, villages, townships, intermediate school districts, and community colleges.

The Honorable Todd Bettison, Deputy Mayor, Detroit, Michigan

The Honorable Gary Peters, United States Senator for Michigan

Amy O’Leary, Executive Director, Southeast Michigan Council of Governments

8:45 AM – 9:15 AM

Break with Exhibitors

9:15 AM – 10:15 AM

Resilient Economies
Building resilient economies is a top priority for cities and regions. Join us for an engaging roundtable session with three regional leaders as they discuss the unique approaches and successful economic sustainability strategies employed by their diverse regions.

The Honorable Chris Barnett, Supervisor, Orion Township, Michigan; Southeast Michigan Council of Governments; NARC Board of Directors

Erik Johnson, Deputy Executive Director, Sacramento Area Council of Governments

Clark Mercer, Executive Director, Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments

Greg Stuart, Executive Director, Broward Metropolitan Planning Organization

10:15 AM – 11:15 AM

Innovative Approaches to Housing
An acute national housing supply shortage coupled with historic home price appreciation have led to an affordability crisis, leaving policymakers and industry leaders seeking ideas and innovative approaches to overcome these challenges. Hear from policy and industry leaders about new approaches to the housing crisis.

The Honorable Gary Moore, County Judge, Boone County, Kentucky; Ohio-Kentucky-Indiana Regional Council of Governments; NARC Board of Directors; NARC Past President

The Honorable Dawn Ramsey, Mayor, South Jordan, Utah

Andrew Gruber, Executive Director, Wasatch Front Regional Council; NARC Executive Directors Council Immediate Past Chair

Jeff Little, General Deputy Assistant Secretary for Housing, United States Department of Housing and Urban Development

Richard Murphy, AICP, Program Manager, Policy Research Labs, Michigan Municipal League

11:15 AM – 11:30 AM

Break with Exhibitors

11:30 AM – 12:30 PM

LUNCH KEYNOTEAmerican Planning Association
The planning profession plays a key role in helping communities and regions contend with existing challenges and prepare for new obstacles and opportunities that may lie ahead. Angela D. Brooks, the current President of the American Planning Association, joins us to discuss her vision for the APA and how she is thinking about what lies ahead for communities and regions.

The Honorable Jennifer Robinson, Council Member, Town of Cary, North Carolina; Triangle J Council of Governments; NARC President-Elect

Angela D. Brooks, FAICP, President, American Planning Association

12:30 PM – 1:00 PM

Break with Exhibitors


1:00 PM – 2:00 PM

NARC Public Safety and Emergency Management Committee
Three train derailments occur on average every day in the United States, most commonly due to human error and mechanical failure, causing grave environmental and health concerns for local communities. Trains that run as long as five miles in length frequently block at-grade crossings and create barriers within communities. This meeting will focus on train derailments, at-grade crossings, and how some regions are responding.

Co-Chair: The Honorable Byron Ryder, County Judge, Leon County, Texas; Brazos Valley Council of Governments; NARC Past President

Co-Chair: Diane Rath, Executive Director, Alamo Area Council of Governments

Juvare, in partnership with Amazon Web Services

Ty Warner, Executive Director, Northwestern Indiana Regional Planning Commission; NARC Executive Direc- tors Council First Vice Chair


NARC Economic and Community Development Committee
Regional councils play a pivotal role in driving effective workforce development strategies that prioritize diversity, equity, and inclusion in their programs and ensure that underrepresented populations have access to training, education, and employment opportunities. This meeting will explore the significance of regional councils in fostering inclusive and equitable workforce development.

Co-Chair: The Honorable Jennifer Robinson, Council Member, Town of Cary, North Carolina; Triangle J Council of Governments; NARC President-Elect

Co-Chair: Betty Voights, Executive Director, Capital Area Council of Governments

** This conference session is supported by the Economic Development District Community of Practice granted by the Economic Development Administration.** 

Anna Roach, Executive Director, Atlanta Regional Commission

Brittany Sickler, Networks Program Manager, Office of Regional Affairs, U.S. Economic Development Administration

David Warm, Executive Director, Mid-America Regional 12 Council

2:00 PM – 2:15 PM

Break with Exhibitors


2:15 PM – 3:15 PM

NARC Energy and Environment Committee
Community engagement in the decision-making process concerning energy policies, environmental regulations, and sustainable development initiatives has proven crucial for achieving more equitable, inclusive, and environmentally conscious energy outcomes. Hear from local, regional, and federal perspectives about effective techniques for advocating for environmental policies, engaging local authorities, and influencing decision-making processes to encourage the adoption of sustainable practices.

Co-Chair: The Honorable Lee Constantine, Commissioner, Seminole County, Florida; East Central Florida Regional Planning Commission; NARC Board of Directors

Co-Chair: Kristina Egan, Executive Director, Greater Portland Council of Governments

Natalia Saraeva, Consent-Based Siting Team Lead, United States Department of Energy

Diane Rath, Executive Director, Alamo Area Council of Governments


Regional Storytelling
Harnessing the unique stories, heritage, and cultural richness of a region can captivate audiences and foster a sense of belonging and pride. Join us for an engaging session where we explore the transformative power of regional storytelling, rebranding, and communications in shaping perceptions, attracting investment, and driving economic growth.

The Honorable Rosa Escutia-Braaton, Councilmember, City of Modesto, California; Stanislaus Council of Govern- ments; NARC Board of Directors

Desira Blanchard, Communications and Community Engagement Manager, Naugatuck Valley Council of Governments

Michelle Nance, Regional Planning Director, Centralina Regional Council

Miguel Segura, Director of Public Affairs & Regional Development, Alamo Area Council of Governments

3:15 PM – 3:30 PM

Break with Exhibitors

3:30 PM – 4:15 PM

Trail Networks: Local and Regional Approaches
Regional trail networks are valuable assets for mobility, recreation, and even economic development. Trails are prized by residents because they contribute significantly to a high quality of life. Hear local, regional, and national perspectives about successful approaches to building trails and opportunities for future expansions.

The Honorable Philips Armstrong, Township Commissioner, Whitehall, Pennsylvania; Lehigh Valley Planning Commission; NARC Board Member

Michelle Carroll, Executive Director, Mountainland Association of Governments

Mary Ellen Koontz, TrailNation Collaborative Lead, Rails-to-Trails Conservancy

David Tobar, Construction Administrator, City of Detroit

4:30 PM – 6:00 PM

Executive Directors Council Business Meeting & Elections

Everyone is welcome to attend.


7:00 AM – 7:30 AM

Downtown Walk & Tour 
Start your day with a SEMCOG-led 30-minute walking tour.

7:30 AM – 4:00 PM

Registration & Exhibitors 

7:45 AM – 9:00 AM

Breakfast & Keynote Discussion
The SEMCOG vision for Southeast Michigan is that…“all people benefit from a connected, thriving region of small towns, dynamic urban centers, active waterfronts, diverse neighborhoods, premier educational institutions, and abundant agricultural, recreational, and natural areas.” Hear from the people and organizations working to achieve this vision!

Amy O’Leary, Executive Director, Southeast Michigan Council of Governments 

Gina Cavaliere, Chief Community Impact Officer, Downtown Detroit Partnership

Maureen Krauss, President and CEO, Detroit Regional Partnership

Mark Wallace, President and CEO, Detroit Riverfront Conservancy

9:00 AM – 9:45 AM

Vision Zero and Complete Streets: Approaches on Transportation Safety
Making the nation’s roads safer for drivers, cyclists and pedestrians is a priority at all levels. The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA) prioritizes safety improvements for all modes of travel and provides funding for approaches such as a Vision Zero and Complete Streets. Hear from the local and regional perspective how these techniques work and why we can be hopeful for a safer transportation future.

The Honorable Alan Wapner, Council Member, Ontario, California; Southern California Association of Governments; NARC Board of Directors

James Hannig, AICP, Deputy Director of Complete Streets, City of Detroit Department of Public Works

Matt Hart, Executive Director, Capitol Region Council of Governments

9:45 AM – 10:00 AM

Break with Exhibitors


10:00 AM – 11:15 AM

NARC Transportation Committee
We will hear first from the FHWA Office of Planning about upcoming local and regional opportunities under the IIJA and other relevant information regarding transportation planning. We will also hear from the Windsor-Detroit Bridge Authority, the Canadian government agency responsible for delivery of the new Gordie Howe International Bridge, a project of significant regional, national, and continent-wide importance.

Co-Chair: The Honorable Fred Strong, Councilmember, Paso Robles, California; San Luis Obispo Council of Governments; NARC Board of Directors

Co-Chair: Greg Stuart, Executive Director, Broward Metropolitan Planning Organization

Heather Grondin, Vice-President, Corporate Affairs and External Affairs, Windsor-Detroit Bridge Authority

Spencer Stevens, Team Leader, Transportation Planning Capacity Building Team, Federal Highway Administration Office of Planning, Environment, and Realty


Greenhouse Gas Strategies
In the face of urgent global challenges posed by climate change, collaboration between local communities and government organizations is essential for effective greenhouse gas reduction strategies. Join us as we bring together local and regional stakeholders and the Environmental Protection Agency to explore innovative approaches, best practices, and shared goals in the pursuit of greenhouse gas emission reductions.

The Honorable Christian Dorsey, Board Member, Arlington County, Virginia; Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments; NARC Board of Directors

Angie Fyfe, Executive Director, ICLEI – Local Governments for Sustainability

Jack Groarke, Senior Advisor for Infrastructure, Environmental Protection Agency

Jennifer Narvaez, Program Manager for Air Quality Management, North Central Texas Council of Governments

11:15 AM – 11:30 AM

Break with Exhibitors

11:30 AM – 12:30 PM

LUNCH KEYNOTE: The Future of Mobility
The transition toward electrification will continue to accelerate as more electrical vehicles (EVs) of all sizes enter the market. General Motors is at the forefront of this revolution and sees an all-electric future as a key component in its vision of a world with Zero Crashes, Zero Emissions and Zero Congestion. Hear from Alex Keros, GM’s Lead Architect for EV Infrastructure, about GM’s leadership and vision for future mobility, how Detroit is doubling down as the Motor City, and ways regional leaders can position their own communities for success in this increasingly electric future.

The Honorable Chris Barnett, Supervisor, Orion Township, Michigan; Southeast Michigan Council of Governments; NARC Board of Directors

Alexander Keros, Director of EV Infrastructure Development, General Motors

12:30 PM – 12:45 PM

Break with Exhibitors


12:45 PM – 2:00 PM

ChatGPT Wrote this Title: Unleashing the Power of Data, Apps, and AI
Data is the lifeblood of the digital era and is more essential – and more abundant – than ever. Join us to delve into the art of harnessing the power of data, learn how the rise of mobile apps and cloud-based platforms has democratized access to information, and discover how organizations are leveraging advanced data analytics techniques to drive innovation, optimize operations, and make informed decisions that help shape community success.

The Honorable Bob Stevenson, Commissioner, Davis County, Utah; Wasatch Front Regional Council; NARC Board of Directors

Maria Messick, Senior Advisor, Office of the Under Secretary for Economic Affairs, United States Department of Commerce

Frederick Treyz, PhD, CEO & Chief Economist, REMI

Kevin Vettraino, Planning Director, Southeast Michigan Council of Governments


The Future of Public Service – Local Governments 2030
A group of cities, counties, and public service entities from across the nation pulled together recently to explore the challenges and opportunities surrounding public service and local governments, including improving interactions with the public, navigating our disruptive and polarized times, reshaping agency culture, and recruiting and retaining the talented workers needed to ensure communities remain strong, vibrant, and customer service focused. The nationwide delegates from all sectors of public service convened last year to wrestle with these issues and establish a call to action and road map for the future. Hear from some of the delegates that contributed to this effort and explore new governance models that encourage active decision-making, inclusivity, and responsiveness to community needs.

Chuck Wemple, Executive Director, Houston – Galveston Area Council; NARC Executive Directors Council, Second Vice Chair

Anthony Ladd, Public Works Development Director, City of Kalamazoo, Michigan

Janani Ramachandran Yates, Deputy Budget Director, City of Detroit, Michigan

2:00 PM – 2:30 PM

Break with Exhibitors

2:30 PM – 3:15 PM

Equity and the Planning Process: Moving Toward Inclusion
Planning is a constantly evolving practice and the increasing integration of equity into the planning process is an important example of this fact. Greater consideration of equity during the planning process is an essential step toward putting good intentions into action. This session will focus on how equity is being woven into the fabric of the planning process.

The Honorable Justin Kiel, Council Member, LaPorte County, Indiana; Northwestern Indiana Regional Planning Commission; NARC Board of Directors

Rachael Barlock, Water Resources Engineer, Southeast Michigan Council of Governments

Grace Gallucci, Executive Director, Northeast Ohio Areawide Coordinating Agency

Sarah Jepsen, Chief Planning Officer, Southern California Association of Governments

3:15 PM – 3:30 PM

Break for Mobile Workshops

3:30 PM – 5:15 PM

Tour Belle Isle Park, the “Crown Jewel of Detroit.” Designed by Frederick Law Olmstead, Belle Isle is a 982- acre island park situated on the Detroit River between the United States and Canada. Belle Isle is home to a wide assortment of education and recreational opportunities, including the Belle Isle Aquarium, Anna Scripps Whitcomb Conservatory, Dossin Great Lakes Museum, Belle Isle Nature Center, the James Scott Memorial Fountain, and more. Enjoy the natural environment, historic structures, and unique character of Belle Isle on this mobile workshop. Transportation will be provided.

Pre-registration is required.

3:30 PM – 5:15 PM

MOBILE WORKSHOP: Detroit RiverWalk Tour
This walking tour showcases the redevelopment of and activities and amenities along the #1 Riverwalk in
America – the Detroit Riverfront! This world-renowned destination attracts approximately three million visitors annually who come to walk, run, bike, spend time with family and friends, and take advantage of the quality-of-life opportunities a revitalized riverfront provides. The tour will have several interesting stops, including the 25 feet below grade urban greenway, the Dequindre Cut, and the newest destination, Valade Park, featuring a sandy beach, a chil- dren’s musical garden, and Bob’s Barge, the only floating bar in the Detroit River! Transportation provided.

Pre-registration is required.

6:00 PM – 9:00 PM

AWARDS EVENT: Detroit Princess Dinner Boat Cruise
This year brings a new twist to an old favorite as we present awards for the very best that regional planning has to offer from the comfort of the Detroit Princess. This dinner boat ride on the Detroit River provides spectacular views of the Detroit and Windsor skylines as well as Belle Isle, the Ambassador Bridge, and a fabulous sunset.

Boarding begins at 6:00 PM

Guided Walking Groups depart at 6:00 PM and 6:30 PM from the Hotel Lobby, Michigan Avenue Exit.

Detroit Princess departs the dock at 7:00 PM sharp.

You may arrive anytime during that window. SEMCOG staff will direct you along the 15-minute walk from the hotel to the dock or you may use rideshare/taxi. Dressy casual with comfortable shoes is recommended.

Pre-registration is required.


8:00 AM – 9:00 AMBreakfast
9:00 AM – 10:00 AMNARC Board of Directors Elections
Everyone is encouraged to attend; NARC members are eligible to vote.
10:00 AMConference Adjourns 
10:00 AM – 1:00 PMNARC Board of Directors Business Meeting
The meeting will be held atop the historic Penobscot Building, which affords excellent views of the surrounding area from the highest outdoor patio space in Detroit. Lunch will be served.

Everyone is welcome to attend.  

Join us in Detroit!

Westin Book Cadillac Detroit
1114 Washington Blvd. 
Detroit, MI 48226

Conference Countdown

Thanks for a great conference!

Presenting Sponsors

Partner Sponsors

Supporting Sponsors

Interested in sponsoring? We are accepting applications from all eligible vendors! Check out the Sponsorship Packet for details!

Future Dates

58th Annual Conference & Exhibition 

June 23-26, 2024

Atlanta, Georgia, Atlanta Marriott Marquis


Annual Conference dates for 2025 coming soon!