The Idaho Association of Counties (IAC) hosted its 2023 Annual Conference at the Boise Centre from September 25 to September 27. Idaho’s county elected officials, county staff, and affiliate organization members traveled from around the state to participate in the event, which had nearly 250 attendees.
The conference provided a diverse mix of educational activities and workshops, committee and business meetings, and networking opportunities with colleagues and the 44 companies who exhibited. There were also fundraising events for the IAC Scholarship Fund and presentations on leading in times of crisis from keynote speaker Dr. Peter Cressy and on building a culture of service through feedback from Secretary of State Phil McGrane. Commissioner Mary Jo McGuire of Ramsey County, Minnesota and President of the National Association of Counties (NACo), presented at the conference and spoke about her “Forward Together” campaign. Governor Brad Little addressed attendees during the closing lunch ceremony and shared details about his Idaho LAUNCH grant program designed to strengthen Idaho’s workforce by providing funding for education and training programs.
The conference kicked off on Monday with attendees being greeted at the registration desk by a special guest: Miss Idaho 2023. Reagan Yamauchi of Soda Springs, Idaho, who currently holds the title of Miss Idaho, helped at the conference’s check-in table so she could meet with Idaho’s county elected officials and welcome them to the event. Monday continued with committee meetings and concurrent workshops focused on options for healthcare at retirement, best practices in internal investigations, getting to know IAC, stress management, creating a respectful workplace, and several more regarding workplace culture and business growth and economy in Idaho.
Attendees also enjoyed the GemPlan Lunch and Opening Session on Monday. State Controller Brandon A. Woolf addressed attendees regarding Transparent Idaho and increased accountability in local government data. The afternoon was filled with more workshops, committee meetings, and a well-attended ice cream social sponsored by IAC’s Associate Partner Western States CAT.
Later that evening, NextEra Energy Resources, another valued Associate Partner, sponsored the highly anticipated Welcome Reception where the 2nd Annual IAC Scholarship Fund Cornhole Tournament took place. Participants in the tournament were able to compete for the coveted title of “Cornhole Champs” and a night’s stay at The Riverside Hotel in Boise, while raising money for the Scholarship Fund. IAC’s Scholarship Fund awards scholarships every year to the children and grandchildren of county elected officials and the children of county staff for post high school professional and degree programs.
“We are so grateful for the generosity of our members, without whom the scholarship awards wouldn’t be possible,” said Mindy Linn, IAC Operations Specialist, who facilitates the scholarship applications and awards process every year. “Although donations are accepted throughout the year, we wanted to find a fun and engaging way for people to support the fund.”
Kelli Brassfield, IAC Policy Analyst, has coordinated the Scholarship Fund Cornhole Tournament the past two years. “We’re so pleased with the success of Tournament and with our members’ participation. This year, the tournament alone raised $2,195.00 for the IAC Scholarship Fund,” said Brassfield. “We also introduced a giant game of Heads or Tails and professional headshots at the conference to raise money for the scholarship fund, and those two activities have collectively brought in $1,470.00. The total raised between all three events at the conference for the scholarship awards is an impressive $3,665.00.”
The returning champions, Rick Sena of GovPros and Brion Poston, husband of Boundary County Clerk Glenda Poston, both defended their title valiantly and came in second place in the tournament against IAC president Vic Pearson and his teammate Matt Brassfield. This year’s cornhole champions were honored with custom sashes and an IAC champion belt sponsored by GovPros at the closing awards banquet.
The second day of the conference kicked off with a continental breakfast sponsored by TC Energy, followed by more workshops, committee meetings, and the general session with keynote speaker Dr. Peter Cressy. Cressy, Director of Executive Leadership Programs at the Washington Leadership Institute, presented “Washington, Lincoln, Roosevelt, Churchill: A Strategic Approach to Leading in Times of Crisis.” The session focused on the eight common characteristics that Washington and the other great leaders manifested, especially when faced with adversity, while dealing with visibility, communication, planning, and collaboration. Those who want to dig even deeper into the themes presented can visit an interactive website that allows users to “Be Washington,” by guiding them through various leadership exercises. The website allows participants to practice their decision-making skills while being confronted with challenges that George Washington faced while he was commander in chief or president. After the keynote address, attendees enjoyed a networking break with exhibitors sponsored by IAC’s Associate Partner Idaho First Bank. The ICRMP Lunch followed the Legislative Committee meeting and additional workshops. During the lunch, Kristen Leininger, ICRMP Digital Engagement Coordinator, and Justin Nyquist, ICRMP Underwriting Coordinator, addressed the membership about ICRMP trainings resources and their new and improved member portal.
The exhibit hall wrapped up on Tuesday afternoon with a raffle of the exhibitor door prizes, which was sponsored by IAC Associate Partner Idaho Power. Conference attendees who completed their exhibitor passport after visiting all the vendor tables were eligible to win door prizes donated by the exhibitors. “Exhibitors, sponsors, and Corporate Partners are an integral part of our conferences and vital to the success of IAC’s mission,” said IAC Communications and Marketing Manager Jessica Roth. “We want to emphasize the incredible impact their involvement and partnership makes on Idaho’s counties and thank them for their ongoing support.” Businesses who are interested in building deeper relationships with Idaho’s county officials may apply to join IAC’s Corporate Partner Program. Find the application and more information on IAC’s website or by emailing Jessica Roth.
The exhibitor drawings were followed by Tuesday afternoon’s general session, which featured a keynote presentation from Idaho Secretary of State Phil McGrane, who spoke about building a culture of service through open communication and constructive feedback. McGrane shared how he implemented surveys and took the results to heart to make informed changes in his office and his daily practices when he was Ada County Clerk. Those changes positively impacted the office’s culture, which resulted in the clerk’s office making the Top 10 Best Places to Work in Idaho list for the three years in a row.
McGrane’s presentation was followed by the IAC Business Meeting and the presentation of legislative resolutions up for consideration. During the business meeting, which was conducted by IAC’s Legislative Committee Chair Don Hall, committee chairs reported on resolutions from their respective committees. Members present for the business meeting voted unanimously to support eleven legislative resolutions. “One of the most important reasons our members should attend the IAC Annual Conference is that it allows committees time to discuss proposed legislative resolutions before coming together as a full membership to vote on IAC’s legislative priorities for the next legislative session,” said Vic Pearson, IAC President and Franklin County Prosecutor.
IAC wrapped on Wednesday with its closing lunch and awards banquet, during which the 2023 awards recipients were recognized by peers for their dedication and significant contributions to the organization and their counties. The first award presented at the conference was the H. Sydney Duncombe Award, which is IAC’s highest honor given to individuals who have greatly contributed to furthering county government through development and education in Idaho. The award was created in 1988 in honor of the late Dr. H. Sydney Duncombe, who taught and trained numerous county officials in their roles and responsibilities. This year’s award recipient was nominated by two different IAC districts.
The recipient of the H. Sydney Duncombe Award for Excellence in County Government is Seth Grigg, IAC Executive Director.
“Seth has fourteen years of leadership experience specializing in local government advocacy and management. He is skilled in analyzing complex problems and developing highly technical legislation to address and resolve those policy issues. A collaborative leader, he works tirelessly developing grassroots advocacy campaigns and fostering partnerships between the executive branch, legislators, and local governments. Beyond his highly technical policy expertise, this individual is a compassionate leader, husband, and father who has a gift for seeing the best in others,” said Pearson.
The second award presented at the conference was the Mills-Adler Award, named in honor of two distinguished county elected officials: the late Darwin Mills, Lincoln County Sheriff, and the late Betty Adler, Payette County Treasurer. Both exemplified the qualities all county elected officials strive for.
Recipients of the Mills-Adler Award for 2023 were:
– Jenny Rosin, Lemhi County Assessor
– Angela Barkell, Owyhee County Clerk
– Philip Lampert, Benewah County Commissioner
– Craig Rinehart, Cassia County Coroner
– Bruce Withers, Lemhi County Prosecuting Attorney
– Chris Goetz, Clearwater County Sheriff
– Sabrina Young, Washington County Treasurer
In addition to the 2023 award recipients, Kristin Cundiff, IAC’s Director of Professional Development and Events, was presented with an engraved plaque and recognized for her dedication to the organization over the past two decades. Cundiff celebrates her 20-year work anniversary with IAC this year. “It couldn’t have been easy to surprise the event planner, so I want to thank Seth and Vic for making the effort to pull this off,” Cundiff joked as she accepted her award. “It’s been a great experience working with IAC, and I’m looking forward to many more years here.”
IAC’s County Officials Institute (COI) graduates were also recognized during the closing lunch for completing the two-year training program. COI was created to provide the skills and knowledge county elected officials need to be effective leaders in local government. The trainings are open to county officials and county staff, and they take place in multiple locations around the state in the fall and spring. This year’s graduates are:
– Kristina Glascock, Twin Falls County Clerk
– Scott Kamachi, Fremont County Commissioner
– Colleen Poole, Jefferson County Clerk
– Shelly Tilton, Gem County Clerk
– Patty Weeks, Nez Perce County Clerk
– Donna Atwood, Washington County Clerk
– Sabrina Young, Washington County Treasurer
Bingham County Commissioner Mark Bair was also recognized during the conference for being the first county official to complete the program and satisfy all of the course requirements.
The conference wrapped with a surprise for IAC staff, as they were called on stage to be recognized for their efforts behind the scenes to host a meaningful and worthwhile event for IAC’s members. “Many of you know me, but you may not know my staff, without whom I could not do my job or put on events of this caliber,” said IAC Executive Director Seth Grigg. “I am so appreciative to them and to all our attendees, presenters, sponsors, and exhibitors who came together to help make this conference a success. I hope to see you at all at IAC’s premier event, the Midwinter Legislative Conference, this January in Boise.”
To see the full photo album from the conference and download pictures, visit our flickr page.