Returning Attendee Schedule

2024 SDLA Conferences

Dates & Locations

  • April 14 - 17, 2024 | San Diego

  • November 3 - 6, 2024 | San Rafael


5:30 - 7:00 p.m.

Registration and Networking Reception


8:30 – 10:00 a.m.

Building a Solid Financial Foundation: Financial Policies and Internal Controls

Cindy Byerrum, Scott Nelsen, and Samantha Brown Prall, Eide Bailly CPAs

The session will discuss the financial policies or practices that most Districts have such as the reserve policy, investment policy, debt policy, budgeting polies, procurement and purchasing polices, and more. We will give the do’s and don’ts of each policy and provide samples from other agencies. This session will also discuss expense reimbursement policies and accounting policies and procedures. Lastly, the Session will provide best practices examples regarding financial management and controls.

10:00 – 10:30 a.m.


10:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.

Keep Your Eye On the Money: Navigating California’s New Campaign Contribution Prohibitions

Craig Steele, Richards Watson Gershon

SB 1439 imposes new requirements on local elected officials to prevent alleged “pay-to-play” schemes involving specified contributions and proceedings after January 1, 2023. Using practical examples, this session will provide guidance on the new restrictions and disqualification requirements and other campaign finance law developments.

12:30 – 1:30 p.m.

Networking Luncheon

1:45 – 3:00 p.m.

Thriving Together: Navigating Community Engagement in the Fast Lane

Ashley Metzger, Regional Government Services
Hilary Straus, Citrus Heights Water District

In our fast-paced world, community engagement fosters meaningful connections and drives collective progress. The session will give attendees the “who, what, when, where and why” of community engagement. It will share a variety of proactive engagement strategies that will position your district for success when the time comes to react to emerging issues. The group will discuss a range of options( both informal to formal), lessons learned, and discuss the strategic and legal considerations at various levels.

By the end of the session, attendees will be able to:

  1. Identify when a community perspective is necessary or helpful
  2. Consider the legal implications surrounding community input
  3. Understand best practices for community engagement
  4. Receive tips and tools to make engagement efforts pop

3:00 – 3:30 p.m.


3:30 – 4:30 p.m.

Positioning Your District for Success: Legislative Relations 201

CSDA Public Affairs Field Coordinator

David beat Goliath and special districts can win in the State Legislature and Congress if they exercise wisdom. Gain insights that will help your board and your community understand the benefits of taking action; walk through the key actions special districts of any size can take to position themselves for success; and discern the top priorities and next steps for you and your district.

5:30 – 7:00 p.m.


Sponsored by the Special District Risk Management Authority (SDRMA) Special Districts Risk Managment Authority logo


8:30 – 10:00 a.m.

Who Does What and Why: Establishing Good Governance

Nick Ghirelli, Richards Watson Gershon

This session will explain the roles of the Board, individual Board members, and District Managers to ensure effective governance. Using examples, the session will cover common problems that interfere with effective governance and can result in costly mistakes, including:

  • The roles of Boards and individual members serving on the Board
  • Non-Interference in Administrative Affairs
  • Ensuring Brown Act and Ethics Compliance in Board Operations

10:00 – 10:30 a.m.


10:30 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.

Advanced Financial Reporting and Strategies for Public Officials

Cindy Byerrum, Scott Nelsen, and Samantha Brown Prall, Eide Bailly CPAs

This session will include a deep dive into interpreting budgets and financial statements and the various methods of presentation of both. A cash flow projection model will be reviewed, along with the important elements needed for an adequate cash & investment management plan. The use of debt financing in financial projections will be discussed along with an overview of the various types of debt financing that can be a strategy in the financial planning. Investment options will be presented that go beyond the often-used strategy of simply investing in the State Local Agency Investment Fund (LAIF). Advantages and disadvantages of the different investment strategies will be presented, along with sample treasurer reports that conform to state guidelines. Lastly, we will explain Pension and OPEB unfunded liabilities and discuss the establishment of Section 115 trusts as an investment mechanism to reduce future costs.

12:00 – 1:00 p.m.

Networking Luncheon

1:15 – 2:45 p.m.

Public Agencies and Lawyers: How to get the most out of your attorney-client relationship

Steven Flower, Richards Watson Gershon

The role of the attorney for a public agency is different than for private clients. What client does the public attorney represent? Who gives direction on legal matters? How can Board members and staff ensure that a special district gets high quality, understandable, and cost-effective legal services? A public agency attorney answers these questions and provides tips for getting the most value out of your agency’s relationship with its lawyers.

2:45 – 3:00 p.m.


3:00 – 4:00 p.m.

Special District Investments: Understanding Best Practices and Investment Options

California CLASS

Discover best practices and investment options tailored to meet the unique needs of your special district. In this session, we will discuss risk management techniques, financial planning, and striving to maximize returns while adhering to the objectives of safety and liquidity. This session will offer insights for general managers, board members, and other key stakeholders navigating special district investments in 2024.

4:00 p.m.

Conference Ends for Returning Attendees

4:00 - 5:00 p.m.

CSDA Benefits B-I-N-G-O - sponsored by California CLASS

Optional, all attendees welcome. We love maximizing the benefits we offer. You love winning prizes! Let’s all do what we love at the Special District Leadership Academy Conference. We start with an exploration of membership benefits to make sure your district is taking full advantage of all we provide. Along the way, you’ll win prizes and enjoy refreshing beverages!