By Mary Gordon and Joyce Arceneaux Mathis
Against the backdrop of revitalization efforts resulting from Hurricane Katrina, over a 150 conference attendees and colleagues of the National Black Caucus of Local Elected Officials (NBC-LEO) assembled for this year's Annual NBC-LEO Summer Conference, "Recovering and Rebuilding: New Orleans and NBC-LEO," in New Orleans, July 5-8.
NBC-LEO President Deborah Delgado, councilwoman, Hattiesburg, MS, remarked, "In terms of vitality and empowerment, this conference was unparalleled. We had a wonderful turnout and amazing participation. In fact, the programs and the speakers were of such high quality that I found myself wishing that even more of our members could have benefited. I came away from New Orleans energized, invested, and focused on service, to my city as well as to NBC-LEO and NLC. Meetings like this fortify and inspire us to be bold and resourceful and tenacious in all that we do."
Throughout this year's meeting, conferees heard from keynote luncheon speakers NLC First Vice President Marie Lopez Rogers, mayor, Avondale, AZ, and New Jersey General Assembly Speaker Sheila Oliver, East Orange, NJ. Speaker Oliver talked about the importance of public service for the African American community. Mayor Rogers encouraged NBC-LEO members to increase their leadership involvement with NLC.
At this year's conference, the 2011-2012 NBC-LEO Foundation Fellows, Erica Gilmore, councilmember, Nashville, TN, and Trey Chinn, councilmember, Laurel, MS, participated in their graduation ceremony and were honored for their involvement in the program. Their mentors were NLC Immediate Past President James Mitchell, councilmember, Charlotte, NC (Gilmore) and Myron Lowery, councilmember, Memphis, TN (Chinn). New Foundation Fellows Karen Y. Johnson, councilwoman, Nashville, TN, and Jamal Miller, commissioner, District Heights, MD, were recognized as incoming Fellows for 2012-2013. Their mentors are James Mitchell (Miller) and Robert Avery, councilmember, Gadsden, AL (Johnson). Applications for next year's Foundation Fellows Program are due the last Friday in April 2013.
The range of topics and speakers at the Summer Conference included:
With regard to the Gulf Coast recovery efforts after Katrina, Tatum stated, "The biggest challenge at that time was that there was no relationship with local elected officials and communities in Mississippi. If those relationships had been in place, the Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality could better assist minority communities. These communities need to better understand environmental problems."
State Senator Peterson said, "In the case of disaster, make sure that recovery dollars circulate in your communities."
Bishop-Murphy remarked, "Health information technology offers the promise of potential improvements in the quality of care for all Americans, but in particular, for communities of color. It also offers opportunities to increase efficiencies in care and provide for cost savings in the health care system."
Additional panel discussions included:
A Leadership Training seminar, "Leadership, Recovery and Rebuilding," was convened with instructors L. Maurice Daniel, managing director, Integrated Capital Strategies, Sir Guy Epps, managing director, Integrated Capital Strategies, Kyle McGlotten, managing director, Integrated Capital Strategies, Ron Hamm, president, Hamm Consulting Group, and Farad Ali, senior vice president, North Carolina Institute for Minority Economic Development.
NBC-LEO President Deborah Delgado encourages members to apply for NLC and NBC-LEO Board positions for the year ahead. For details, call (202) 626-3169.