MMA Annual Meeting attendees catch up before the Massachusetts Mayors’ Association’s Annual Business Meeting on Jan. 19. Pictured are (l-r) North Adams Mayor Tom Bernard, Lynnfield Town Administrator Rob Dolan, Braintree Mayor Joe Sullivan, Chicopee Mayor Richard Kos, South Hadley Assistant Town Administrator Jennifer Wolowicz, and South Hadley Town Administrator Mike Sullivan.

Collaborating and innovating to provide superior services carried through as themes during the MMA’s record-breaking 40th Annual Meeting & Trade Show on Jan. 18 and 19 in Boston.

The event, featuring compelling speakers, timely workshops, networking opportunities and a bustling Trade Show saw record attendance of 1,300 municipal officials.

Keynote speaker Anna Maria Chávez kicked things off with an impassioned, personal plea to cultivate the next generation of leaders from all walks of life and backgrounds, stressing the effectiveness of diverse teams.

Gov. Charlie Baker and Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito also spoke during the opening session, presenting the outlines of the administration’s forthcoming state budget proposal and highlights of the administration’s partnership with cities and towns. Gov. Baker announced a new proposed program to help the state and communities mitigate the effects of climate change.

Nancy Eddy, the first president of the MMA and a former Amherst selectman, gives words of encouragement to local officials after she was honored during the opening session of the MMA Annual Meeting on Jan. 18.

Attendees also welcomed Nancy Eddy, the first president of the MMA and a former Amherst selectman, during the opening session. Eddy shared some thoughts about the founding of MMA in 1979 and its mission.

At the Women Elected Municipal Officials Luncheon, Senate President Karen Spilka discussed the importance of women holding elected office at all levels of government.

On Saturday, Jan. 19, U.S. Sens. Elizabeth Warren and Ed Markey attended the MMA Annual Business Meeting and discussed the impact of the federal government shutdown on Massachusetts and its communities.

The 2019 Annual Meeting theme was “Strong Communities for a Stronger Commonwealth.” The event featured a record 34 workshops along with 10 Learning Labs across the two days that explored topics ranging from climate change to zoning to finance to marijuana commerce.

The Trade Show featured 228 exhibitors, including a number of environmental consulting, financial, energy and technology firms.

Before the official start of the conference, first-time attendees had the opportunity to hear from their more seasoned counterparts to get tips on how to make the most of the high-energy event.

The Massachusetts Mayors’ Association, Massachusetts Municipal Management Association, Massachusetts Selectmen’s Association and Massachusetts Municipal Councillors’ Association held annual business meetings during the Annual Meeting, electing leadership and discussing timely topics. This year, the member groups discussed education finance, effective communication, and issues facing aging communities.

During the closing session on Saturday, Boston Public Radio hosts Jim Braude and Margery Eagan held a “radio show style” conversation with former Public Safety Secretary Andrea Cabral and Lawrence Mayor Dan Rivera.

The Friday dinner featured remarks from Secretary of the Commonwealth William Galvin, Attorney General Maura Healey and State Treasurer Deborah Goldberg.

Galvin discussed the high stakes of next year’s decennial U.S. Census and his commitment to making sure that every Massachusetts resident is counted. Without an accurate count, he said, “we could lose a seat in Congress. … We could be shortchanged in the money we deserve” for programs such as transportation, education, public health.

Healey talked about her office’s Project Here, a free substance use prevention education program available to all public middle schools in the state, and Game Change, an innovative approach to healthy relationship and violence prevention education.

Goldberg discussed her commitment to continued modernization and growth of the state Lottery, an important source of local aid, and said she’ll be seeking more flexibility in Massachusetts School Building Authority cap. She added that the Alcoholic Beverages Control Commission has added staff and hours in order to be more responsive.

Former New England Patriot Matt Light, founder of The Light Foundation, shares stories from his playing years during the Friday night dinner at the MMA Annual Meeting on Jan. 18.

Former New England Patriot Matt Light entertained local officials at the Friday dinner with stories about his playing days and the many pranks he played on his famous coach, Bill Belichick, as well as teammates. He urged the audience to embrace the accountability and personal responsibility principles that are largely responsible for the unprecedented success of the Patriots. He also discussed his Light Foundation, which provides youth with outdoor learning experiences to instill the values of responsibility, accountability and hard work.

Lively dueling piano group Howl2GO got Saturday night’s banquet crowd on their feet and singing to cross-generational favorites.

This marked the third year that the Annual Meeting has had its own mobile app for attendees. The app features comprehensive information and interactive features, including the ability to download workshop materials, build a personal schedule of events, add to the “social wall,” and participate in a photo-based scavenger hunt.

There were a number of “firsts” at this year’s Annual Meeting & Trade Show, including a “Why I Serve” activity at the MMA booth, with attendees taking a moment to share why they chose public service, and a videographer capturing exciting speakers and live testimonials from attendees about the value of the event. The keynote by Chávez and the addresses by Gov. Baker and Lt. Gov. Polito will be available for viewing on the MMA website.

“The MMA really celebrated its 40th anniversary in style,” said MMA Executive Director Geoff Beckwith, “with record attendance, engaging and inspiring speakers, twice as many learning opportunities as last year, important conversations about municipal challenges and policy priorities, and heartfelt recognition of the association’s very first president, Nancy Eddy. It was a really packed two days, and the energy and enthusiasm of our membership gives us excellent momentum going into 2019.

“I want to thank our terrific staff for all their hard work, and I applaud our members for using the Annual Meeting to learn, network and continue their outstanding public service to the people of Massachusetts.”

Next year’s MMA Annual Meeting & Trade Show will be held on Jan. 24 and 25, 2020, again at the Hynes Convention Center in Boston.

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