49th Annual Conference Wrap-Up

TSABAAThe 49th Annual TSABAA Conference gathered together over a hundred administrative and financial state agency professionals to network, sharpen their skills and gain insight and inspiration from several quality speakers.
Madeline York and Tom Alves took the attendees through an exercise that reinforced our different personality types (aka energy) – from fiery red to cool blue and sunshine yellow and earth green in between. It underscored the point in a fun way how we all share the strengths and weaknesses of how we approach team projects, leadership and peer-to-peer work relationships.
Bryan Collier, the Executive Director for the Texas Department of Criminal Justice, briefed us on the successes and efficiencies of our state criminal system (30% reduction in crime, the closing of 8 prisons since 2011, and the successful funding of its Treatment and Diversion programs). His Top 13 Suggestions list culled from his years of experience:
1. Manage your budget, but don’t let your budgets manage you
2. Learn to be creative
3. Do your job like you don’t need it
4. Step outside your comfort zone
5. Look around for a mentor
6. If a new job doesn’t make you nervous, you didn’t jump far enough
7. Show, don’t tell
8. Forget the words I and my; remember we and us
9. None of us are defined by the chair we occupy now
10. Every job provides hard work
11. Take feedback for what it is
12. A great job isn’t your life’s meaning
13. Public service is a privilege
Linus Akanoh Jr. of Deloitte shared his expertise in Strategic Risk practices, which was especially relevant with the challenges that Hurricane Harvey brought to the Texas Gulf coast. He defined the difference between an emergency and a crisis, pointing out four failures that often take place in a crisis:
1. Failure of imagination
2. Failure of recognition
3. Failure of innovation
4. Failure of allocation, which was highlighted by a story and how leadership would spend whatever it took to have a day back where something bad occurred and to avoid a public relations disaster that could ensue. A key takeaway question worth asking was: “If everything went bad, how much are you willing to pay to fix it?”
Mary Scott Nabers dove into state government and highlighted the trends of collaborative efforts and how private partnerships are revolutionizing projects, spotlighting the 130 toll road story and its successes and failures.
Jason Keiningham and Jimmy Mullis of the Texas A&M Forest Service shared their response to Hurricane Harvey and showed the needs local volunteer fire departments experienced as a result of collaboration in public entities and the help they received.
Melinda Crockom and Vanda Payne shared how legislation helped create a requirement for direct-dial access to 911 with Kari’s Law, explaining how they have followed-up with that on a natioinal level with emergency calling service accessibility.
Ursula Parks brought a friendly face to an often-intimidating branch of our state government – the Texas Legislative Budget Board (LBB). She gave a broad overview of relevant LBB changes and sharing insight on what to expect in the future and streamline our agency efforts and reporting to LBB.
Harvey Kronberg, publisher of the Quorum Report, wrapped things up with an engaging legislative update, mostly focusing on – “a combat sport called ‘politics.’” He started off by explaining a “fundamental reality” in Texas politics – where voter turnout shows that most of the political decisions here are not made in the general election, but in the Republican Primary – 1.5 million people voted in the Republican Primary. Harvey provided insight into the upcoming 86th Legislative Session and his thoughts on the hot topics, which will include the Speaker’s race and Hurricane Harvey.
The informative sessions, coupled with the many networking opportunities, left attendees with a boost of morale, tighter relationships across state agencies and a refreshed outlook for our public service work.

About the Author

Doug Van Pelt

Doug is a communications specialist with the Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation. He has a long history of writing having worked at the Texas Department of Agriculture and published his own heavy metal magazine for over a decade.

Doug Van Pelt can be contacted at: doug.vanpelt@tdlr.texas.gov.