Leadership Academy Participant Resources

GFOA's Leadership Academy will be held February 19-24 at the College of Charleston. The information below will help attendees finalize their registration process for the academy. Congratulations on being selected to attend this year's event.

Daily Agenda

Opening Reception and Dinner

Radolph Hall, College of Charleston, 5:00pm

Chris Morrill, Bob O’Neill and Kendra Stewart will welcome the group at the reception. 

All classes will be held on the College of Charleston campus in the Beatty Center at 1400 Liberty Street, Tate Room 202

Characteristics of Great Organizations                                  

8:45am – 12:15

Robert “Bob” O’Neill will present on the “Local Government Imperative” to provide broader context of public sector leadership trends. There will be a break at 10:30am.                                                          


12:15 – 1:15

Self-Assessing your Strengths

1:15 – 3:15

Dr. Alicia Caudill will lead the review self-assessments (Strengthfinders) and discuss how to translate results into leadership outputs. 



Case Study Groups


The case study will be introduced and groups will be given time to discuss. 

Dinner On-Campus

The Halsey Institute of Contemporary Art, 161 Calhoun Street, 6:00pm

There will be a reception from 6:00 – 6:30pm, and dinner will begin at 6:30pm.                                             

Leading a Government Finance Workforce


Gerald Young and Chris Morrill will share the latest research from Mission Square Research Institute and GFOA on public workforce challenges and then share ideas on how to attract and retain government finance talent.

10:30-10:45 Break

Decision Leadership: The Finance Officer as a Decision Architect


Shayne Kavanaugh will discuss government leaders make decisions for a living. With good decision-making, they can greatly improve the lives of their constituents and further their careers. But decision-making is messy. Groups often do it, so there are conflicting points of view. It is time-constrained, so there isn’t time to consider everything. There is always uncertainty, usually more than we realize. And it is done by humans, so it comes with a myriad of well-documented cognitive biases and inconsistencies  (i.e., “noise”) in human thought. Finance officers are positioned to help government officials reduce the negative impact of bias and noise in decision processes. Helping people avoid bias and noise is sometimes called “decision architecture.” Budget officers can be good decision architects because they are likely to possess four broad perspectives and skill sets. We’ll discuss these four and how to develop them.


12:15 – 1:15

Roles and Responsibilities of Local Government Officials, Part 1 


Dr. John Nalbandian will discuss the roles and responsibilities of local government officials in today’s complex and rapidly changing world.  He will also cover his recent research on the gap between what produces results we desire and what is politically acceptable in most public sector organizations. There will be a break at 2:30.

Dinner On-Campus

Avery Research Center, 125 Bull Street, 6:00pm 

The bar will open at 6:00pm, and dinner will be at 6:30pm. 

Roles and Responsibilities of Local Government Officials, Part 2 

8:45am – 12:15 

Dr. Nalbandian continues the discussion on the roles and responsibilities of local government officials from Tuesday.  There will be a break at 10:30am. 


12:15 – 1:15

Leadership Skills for the 21st Century 

1:15 – 2:45pm 

Bob O’Neill will discuss the characteristics of high performing organizations.  This may include dialogue with Dr. Nalbandian and Chris Morrill.



Fairfax County Case Study Discussion

3:00 – 5:00pm 

Bob O’Neill and Chris Morrill will lead a discussion on the pre-assigned case study.  


Participants are on their own for dinner tonight.

Innovations in Organizations

8:45am – 12:15

Dr. Kim Nelson will discuss her research on the role of the finance professional in leading innovation. There will be a break at 10:30am. 


12:15 – 1:15

Inclusive Community and Social Equity

1:15 – 2:45

A discussion on being intentional in creating inclusive communities



Leading a City

3:00 – 4:30pm

Mayor Joseph P. Riley will lead a discussion of the value of public service.

Dinner Off-Campus

Upstairs at Rue de Jean at 39 John Street, 6:00pm

The bar will open at 6:00pm, and dinner will be at 6:30pm. 

Leadership Discussion

8:45 – 10:00

Bob O’Neill will lead a conversation with attendees focusing on their action agenda, including their personal leadership agenda, five tasks they wish to do for their organization, and how to continue leadership skill growth.



Managing in Chaotic Times 

10:15am – 11:45 

Valerie Lemmie from the Kettering Foundation will be discussing advancing democratic practices during challenging times. 

Closing Remarks  

11:45 – 12:00

Michael Bryant will share his story as a local government leader.

Certificates and Lunch

12:00 – 1:00

Registration Information

GFOA will register attendees automatically. Once registered, you will receive an invoice to your email address on file.

Hotel Reservation (CODE: GFOA2023)

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Full Agenda


Leadership Academy Policies

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Questions? Contact Randall Towns.