Keynote Speakers 2019

James and Deborah Fallows

  • Monday, May 20, 2019

 James and Deborah Fallows will provide lessons from their journey across America to understand the prospects of cities, towns, and places (many of which represented by GFOA members) who despite the paralysis of national politics are working to craft solutions and make things better. Their work, Our Towns: A 100,000 Mile Journey Into the Heart of America, is a collection of stories from their meetings with hundreds of civic leaders, workers, immigrants, educators, business people, artists, public servants, city planners, and entrepreneurs. They will provide perspective on topics that will help all finance officers confront challenges and work towards building strong communities. 

James has been a national correspondent for The Atlantic for more than thirty-five years, reporting from China, Japan, Southeast Asia, Europe, and across the United States. He is the author of eleven previous books. His work has also appeared in many other magazines and as public-radio commentaries since the 1980s. He has won a National Book Award and a National Magazine Award. For two years he was President Jimmy Carter’s chief speechwriter.

Deborah is a linguist and writer who holds a PhD in theoretical linguistics and is the author of two previous books. She has written for The Atlantic, National Geographic, Slate, The New York Times, and The Washington Monthly, and has worked at the Pew Research Center, Oxygen Media, and Georgetown University.


Peter Bregman

  • Tuesday, May 21, 2019 

Peter Bregman will speak to GFOA delegates on how to handle difficult situations, maintain your ground in the face of uncertainty, respond productively to opposition, act powerfully and courageously, and build your leadership pressence. 

Peter is a Master Certified Coach, leadership expert, and the CEO of Bregman Partners. For over 30 years, he has coached CEOs and senior leaders to develop their leadership skills, build aligned, collaborative teams, and overcome obstacles to drive results for their organizations. Peter has a deep understanding of both organizations and people and has dedicated his entire career to finding solutions that bring the interests of both together. He has worked with CEOs and senior leaders in many of the world’s premier organization and is a sought-after speaker and thought leader in the areas of leadership development, organizational change, productivity and emotional courage. He is also a regular contributor to the Harvard Business Review, and his articles and commentary appear frequently in Bloomberg BusinessWeek, Fast Company, Psychology Today, Forbes, The Financial Times, PBS, ABC, CNN, NPR, and FOX Business News.

Peter is also the best-selling author, most recently, of Leading with Emotional Courage: How to Have Hard Conversations, Create Accountability, and Inspire Action on Your Most Important Work. His book, 18 Minutes: Find Your Focus, Master Distraction, and Get the Right Things Done, was a Wall Street Journal bestseller, winner of the Gold medal from the Axiom Business Book awards, named the best business book of the year by NPR, and selected by Publisher’s Weekly and the New York Post as a top-ten business book.  Peter earned his B.A. from Princeton University and his M.B.A. from Columbia University.



  • GFOA's keynote presenter for Sunday, May 19, 2019 will be announced soon.