Who is a member?
Our members are the local governments of Massachusetts and their elected and appointed leadership.
The MMA Annual Meeting draws nationally recognized speakers who offer their insights on issues of concern to local governments. Each Annual Meeting concludes with a banquet dinner capped by quality entertainment.
The 2019 speaker and entertainment lineup is not yet finalized. Information will be posted here as soon as they are confirmed.
Keynote Address: Anna Maria Chávez
Friday, January 18, 9:30-11 a.m.
Ballroom B, 3rd floor, Hynes Convention Center
Anna Maria Chávez, named one of the “World’s Greatest Leaders” by Fortune magazine, is a former CEO of the Girl Scouts of the USA, worked closely with local officials as Arizona’s director of intergovernmental affairs, and held several posts in President Bill Clinton’s administration.
Chávez uses her 25 years of public service and nonprofit leadership experience to teach others about teamwork, inclusion and diversity, resilience, leadership and motivation. Her recent speaking engagements include conferences of the National League of Cities and the International City/County Management Association.
Fortune named Chávez to its list of greatest leaders in 2016, alongside Pope Francis, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, citing Chávez’s transformative work as CEO of the Girl Scouts of the USA from 2011 to 2016.
“When Chávez, the first person of color to head the [Girl] Scouts, took the helm in 2011, the 104-year-old institution seemed to be creeping toward anachronism,” Fortune wrote. “Not anymore. Chávez has added new badges in fields like financial literacy and STEM education.”
Chávez’s work with the Girls Scouts, which included an organizational redesign, led to her induction into the U.S. News & World Report’s STEM Leadership Hall of Fame in 2016. In 2014, Fast Company honored her as one of the most creative people in business.
Along with Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg’s Lean In organization, Chávez led the creation of the “Ban Bossy” campaign, which aims to eliminate the stigma associated with the word “bossy” and encourage girls to become leaders.
Chávez’s personal experiences growing up in rural Arizona developed her passion for public service and social engagement. After completing her law degree, she went to work in President Clinton’s administration, including posts as a senior policy advisor to Transportation Secretary Rodney Slater and to Small Business Administration Administrator Aida Alvarez.
Under then-Gov. Janet Napolitano of Arizona, Chávez served as the director of intergovernmental affairs, where she established a close working relationship with local elected and appointed officials across the state. She also served as Napolitano’s deputy chief of staff for urban relations and community development, where she launched the governor’s Aging 2020 initiative and created the Arizona Division of Aging and Adult Services.
Chávez, 50, is now helping to improve the lives of older adults as the executive vice president and chief growth officer at the National Council on Aging, the nation’s oldest advocacy organization dedicated to helping Americans navigate the challenges of aging. Chávez is responsible for advancing the council’s mission to improve the health and economic security of 10 million older adults by 2020.
For her work supporting and empowering Hispanic communities, Chávez received the Excellence in Community Service Award in 2013 from the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund, where she also serves on the Board of Directors. She received the Graciela Olivarez La Raza Award from UnidosUS (formerly the National Council of La Raza) in 2013.
Chávez earned a bachelor’s degree from Yale University and a juris doctorate at the University of Arizona. She received the Law College Association Award in 2013 and an honorary doctor of laws degree from her law school alma mater in 2014.
She lives in New Jersey with her husband, Robert, and their son Michael.
WEMO Leadership Luncheon: Karen Spilka
Friday, January 18, noon-1:30 p.m.
Ballroom C, 3rd floor, Hynes Convention Center
Sen. Karen Spilka, who in July became the third woman elected president of the Massachusetts Senate, has served 17 years in the Legislature and been a force on economic and technology issues, and in advocating for children and those with disabilities.
Spilka and her husband, Joel Loitherstein, became involved in local government when they moved to Ashland in 1985. Spilka joined the Personnel Board, and Loitherstein joined the Conservation Commission. In the late 1990s, Spilka won a seat on the School Committee, where – after concluding that education aid inequities were shortchanging MetroWest communities – she formed a coalition and coordinated an effort to lobby for changes to the state’s education funding formula.
When her state representative resigned in 2001, Spilka announced her candidacy. She served three years representing the Seventh Middlesex District before being elected to the Senate.
In the Senate, Spilka represents the 2nd Middlesex and Norfolk District, which includes Ashland, Framingham, Holliston, Hopkinton, Medway and portions of Franklin and Natick. She served as chair of the Senate Committee on Ways and Means for three years, after serving as Senate majority whip, assistant majority whip, Senate chair of the Joint Committee on Economic Development and Emerging Technologies, and Senate chair of the Joint Committee on Children, Families and Persons with Disabilities, a committee she helped originate. She currently chairs the Biotech Legislative Caucus and the Tech Hub Caucus.
When Spilka was installed as Senate president on July 26, she gave a personal speech citing her family history as the driving force behind her passion for public service and working on behalf of people who need help.
In 1906, her grandfather fled Russia for the United States after protesting the czar’s policies and seeing a friend hanged in the village square. Her father, a World War II veteran, suffered from an undiagnosed mental illness, and Spilka recalled thinking as a teenager about how her family’s life would have been different if her father had received the services he needed.
Spilka also spent 26 years as the legal guardian for her sister, who had Down syndrome.
She said her sister’s rallying cry each week was, “‘I got my paycheck!,’ … which taught me that giving people the opportunity to participate in our economy – as well as the tools to succeed – benefits us all.”
Prior to becoming a legislator, Spilka, 65, was an attorney in private practice as an arbitrator and mediator, specializing in labor and employment law and community and court mediation. In addition, she has been a facilitator and fact finder in disputes in the public and private sectors, as well as a trainer of adult mediation and school-based peer mediation programs, collaborative-based collective bargaining, and conflict resolution strategies.
She has also previously worked as a labor and employment attorney on behalf of employees, unions, the Massachusetts Water Resources Authority, and the Commonwealth.
In 2013, Spilka was a candidate in the Democratic primary to succeed Congressman Ed Markey after he won a special election to the U.S. Senate. Katherine Clark won the primary and, ultimately, the congressional election.
Spilka is a graduate of Northeastern Law School and earned a bachelor’s degree in social work from Cornell University. She has one step-daughter, two sons, and a rescue dog named Lincoln.
Friday Dinner Speaker: Matt Light
Friday, January 18, 7-9 p.m.
Grand Ballroom, 2nd floor, Sheraton Boston Hotel
Former New England Patriot Matt Light, protector of Tom Brady’s blind side at left tackle for 10 seasons, now runs The Light Foundation, which provides youth with outdoor learning experiences to help instill the values of responsibility, accountability and hard work.
Light’s foundation seeks to help young men become responsible members of their communities who can pass on the torch of leadership and achievement to their friends and families.
The foundation purchased and developed more than 400 acres of land in Ohio to create its Chenoweth Trails facility, where each summer it holds an outdoor leadership camp called Camp Vohokase.
A variety of programs are held at Chenoweth Trails, and the foundation works with other nonprofits to serve the needs of the community. The organization also provides academic scholarships to young student leaders in Ohio and New England.
All Sports United, a nonprofit organization, honored Light in 2014 with its Humanitarian Award for excellence in philanthropy. In 2008, Light earned the President’s Volunteer Service Award from President George W. Bush.
A starter in his rookie season in 2001, Light, 40, served as the anchor of an offensive line that over a decade helped the Patriots win seven division championships, four conference titles and three Super Bowls.
Named to the Associated Press All-Pro first team in 2007 and the AFC Pro Bowl team in 2006, 2007 and 2010, Light is one of only four Patriots offensive tackles to be named to the Pro Bowl since 1970, along with Patriots Hall of Famer Bruce Armstrong, Leon Gray and Brian Holloway.
Light accomplished all these things while dealing with the inflammatory bowel disorder Crohn’s disease. Only months after he earned his second Super Bowl ring in 2004, Light thought his football career might be over after doctors removed a 13-inch section of his intestines. He hadn’t eaten in a month and lost 50 pounds, he disclosed to Men’s Journal after his retirement.
“Having retired, and having the platform I have, it’s just a natural thing to be able to share my story with people,” he told the magazine. “If I can play professional sports and find a way to live with this disease, then you have some hope. Everybody battles it differently, but your mindset and staying positive are so important.”
Light was known as the Patriots’ resident prankster, having once filled Brady’s car with packing peanuts and removing the tires from quarterback Matt Cassel’s car and putting two of them in his locker. Even head coach Bill Belichick fell victim to Light, who hooked up a trick mouse to the coach’s computer that shocked the person who touched it. Light told NESN that Belichick shocked himself twice and lost a computer file, which led to a “lengthy meeting” between player and coach. That didn’t stop Light from pulling the same prank later on offensive line coach Dante Scarnecchia.
Always comfortable in media interviews, Light had a short stint as an analyst at ESPN, for which he still contributes content from time to time.
Light and his wife, Susie, have two daughters and two sons. An Ohio native, Light and his family now live in Massachusetts.
Closing Session: Jim Braude and Margery Eagan
Saturday, Jan. 19, 3:45-5:15 p.m.
Ballroom A, 3rd floor, Hynes Convention Center
Braude and Eagan’s midday “Boston Public Radio,” aired on WGBH, is widely considered one of the most important public affairs programs in Massachusetts. Leaders and thinkers face fair yet firm questions from Eagan, an award-winning journalist, and Braude, a former political advocate and Cambridge councillor.
Saturday, Jan. 19, 7:15-9:15 p.m.
Grand Ballroom, 2nd floor, Sheraton Boston Hotel
The world famous, high-energy dueling pianos of Howl2GO will cap off an exciting two-day MMA Annual Meeting & Trade Show with top-of-the-line entertainers delivering a dynamic live music experience.
Howl2Go brings audiences to their feet with renditions of classics, dance hits, and party anthems played on two baby grand pianos.
The players take requests and entertain with a mix of oldies, pop, country, rock and more. The travelling live show comes from Howl At The Moon, a popular dueling piano bar with locations in downtown Boston and other major cities across the country.
Bring your dancing shoes, get ready to sing along, and enjoy a boisterous conclusion to the conference.