Attendees had plenty of opportunities to catch up and network during the 45th MMA Annual Meeting & Trade Show.

Collaboration, problem solving and taking action carried through as themes of the 45th MMA Annual Meeting & Trade Show on Jan. 19 and 20 in Boston, where more than 1,300 municipal officials and employees from across the state gathered for compelling speakers, timely workshops, countless networking opportunities, and a bustling Trade Show.

Boston Mayor Michelle Wu provided a warm welcome to a packed ballroom to start the two-day event.

“I think this gathering is the most important for keeping our communities, our governments, our democracy going, especially at this moment,” Wu said. “Everything is falling to cities and towns.”

Opening keynote speaker Eddie Glaude Jr., an author, Princeton professor and political commentator, gave an impassioned address on race and democracy in America — and diversity as a value to be cherished in communities.

Also during the Opening Session, Gov. Maura Healey and Lt. Gov. Kim Driscoll outlined their local aid proposals for fiscal 2025 and announced their Municipal Empowerment Act.

This Annual Meeting was the first as MMA executive director for Adam Chapdelaine, a veteran of local government who attended many MMA conferences as a member.

“I feel deeply connected to local government on an almost cellular level,” he told members. “I know it’s an institution that always rises to the occasion, no matter the challenge. And that is why I am so grateful to be the new executive director, and why I feel so bullish about the power of the MMA.”

At the Women Elected Municipal Officials Leadership Luncheon, Massachusetts Climate Chief Melissa Hoffer talked about her career path, offered advice tied to her experience as a woman in science and public service, and discussed state climate efforts and her current role.

On Saturday, Jan. 20, Lt. Gov. Driscoll returned to address the MMA’s Annual Business Meeting, following U.S. Sens. Elizabeth Warren and Ed Markey, who discussed the delegation’s efforts to win funding for Massachusetts communities.

The 2024 Annual Meeting theme was “Turning Passion Into Action,” a recognition of the commitment and problem-solving skills that local leaders bring to their work every day.

The event featured 21 workshops and six Learning Labs across two days that explored topics ranging from diversity, equity and inclusion to federal funding, climate change and artificial intelligence. Presentation materials from the workshops are available on the MMA website.

The Trade Show featured more than 200 exhibitors, including a number of environmental consulting, financial, energy and technology firms.

Before the official start of the conference, first-time attendees had an opportunity to network with their 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 Select Board Association, and Massachusetts Municipal Councillors’ Association held their annual business meetings on Saturday, electing leadership and discussing timely topics.

The Massachusetts Select Board Association also launched a new online version of its comprehensive guide for Select Board members during its business meeting.

Massachusetts native Gina McCarthy, a former White House Climate Advisor and former administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, energized the Saturday morning crowd by discussing gains being made in Massachusetts and across the country to adapt to climate change, as well as the work ahead.

Senate President Karen Spilka and House Speaker Ron Mariano attended the Friday dinner to accept Legislator of the Year awards from the MMA.

For the sixth year, the MMA Annual Meeting had its own mobile app for attendees. The app features comprehensive information and interactive features, including the ability to access workshop materials, build a personal schedule, connect with fellow attendees, and receive important notifications and updates.

The event brought back two popular features that debuted last year: a Headshot Station that offered free professional headshots, and a special session on career advancement featuring some of the top municipal recruitment professionals in the state.

Another returning feature was a “Why I Serve” activity in the entrance hall, where attendees could take a moment to share why they chose to enter public service.

Awards were announced to recognize the best municipal websites, town reports, and innovative programs.

“This jam-packed, two-day event featured an incredible level of engagement among members, who were connecting and getting the latest information about key issues that affect them,” said MMA Executive Director Adam Chapdelaine. “There’s nothing like the energy generated by this conference. It gives us excellent momentum for the year ahead.

“I want to thank our terrific staff for their hard work to make this sizable event a success, and I applaud our members for using the conference to learn, network and continue their outstanding public service to the people of Massachusetts.”

Next year’s MMA Annual Meeting & Trade Show — on Jan. 24 and 25, 2025 — will feature an exciting change in location, to the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center and the Omni Boston Hotel in Boston’s Seaport district.

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