Cities United Summit

Cities United Logo

GMA’s Mayors’ Day conference has been renamed to the “Cities United Summit,” which better represents the event’s target audience and evolution. The Cities United Summit will be held as a virtual event on Monday, January 25, and mayors, councilmembers, city staff and special guests will have access to advocacy tools, attend policy committee meetings, receive unrivaled training and be exposed to networking opportunities. 

Register for the Cities United Virtual Summit

Tentative Schedule

Monday, January 25

8:00 am to 8:40 am

Perspectives from State Leaders on the 2021 Legislative Session
  • Mayor Vince Williams, GMA President
Invited Speakers
  • Governor Brian Kemp
  • Lt. Governor Geoff Duncan
  • Speaker David Ralston

8:40 am to 8:45 am


8:45 am to 9:15 am

Key Issues Facing Cities in the 2021 Legislative Session

GMA’s Legislative Policy Council is hosting a briefing on key issues that are likely to arise in the 2021 General Assembly which necessitate the importance of city officials maintaining close working relationships with legislators.

  • Mayor Jim Thornton, GMA First Vice President and Chair, Legislative Policy Council

9:15 am to 9:30 am

Break/Conversations in the Hall

9:30 am to 10:00 am

Meeting of the Municipal Government & Revenue and Finance Policy Committees

The growth of cities through annexation will be a topic of conversation during the 2021 legislative session, particularly the possibility of allowing school boards to object to annexations which affect school capacity. In addition, the use of tax abatements in luring development or redevelopment will come under scrutiny when offered in conjunction with annexations.

Additionally, GMA staff will brief attendees on any anticipated or pending legislation which could impact municipal governments and municipal revenue sources.

  • Bianca Motley Broom, Mayor, College Park; Municipal Government Committee Chair
  • Jim Elliott, Jr., City Attorney, McDonough and Hawkinsville; Revenue and Finance Committee Chair 
  • Representative Mary Margaret Oliver
  • John Ernst, Mayor, Brookhaven 
Staff Contacts
  • Ryan Bowersox, Governmental Relations
  • Charlotte Davis, Governmental Relations 

10:00 am to 10:15 am

Break/Conversations in the Hall

10:15 am to 10:45 am

Meeting of the Environment and Natural Resources & Transportation Policy Committees

A representative from the Georgia Environmental Protection Division will provide an update which will include the proposed appropriation of hazardous waste trust fund (HWTF) and solid waste trust fund (SWTF) fees. Pending environmental legislation will also be discussed.

In 2019, the American Society of Civil Engineers gave Georgia’s infrastructure a grade of C+, which means much of the state’s infrastructure is showing signs of disrepair and needs significant attention. As the amount of freight moving through the state increases, it is imperative our roads and bridges are in the best possible condition to handle it. In this session, members will have the opportunity to hear from Rocky Moretti, the Director of Policy and Research for TRIP (a national transportation research nonprofit) who will discuss the importance of investing in Georgia’s infrastructure and how doing so will lead to improved road conditions for motorists in Georgia. Lastly, a brief update on the work of the Joint Freight & Logistics Commission will be given to attendees.

  • Steve Edwards, Mayor, Sugar Hill; Environment and Natural Resources Committee Chair
  • Cornell Harvey, Mayor, Brunswick; Transportation Committee Chair
  • Rocky Moretti, Director of Policy and Research, TRIP: A National Transportation Research Nonprofit
  • Sarah Visser, Assistant Chief, Land Protection Branch, Georgia Environmental Protection Division
​Staff Contacts
  • Tom Gehl, Governmental Relations Staff

  • Michael McPherson, Governmental Relations Staff

10:45 am to 11:00 am

Break/Conversations in the Hall

11:00 am to 11:30 am

Meeting of the Community Development & Public Safety Policy Committees

Georgia has the 3rd highest uninsured rate in the nation and eight rural hospitals have closed in the state since 2011. Georgians who lack health insurance or live in communities without hospitals experience serious difficulty accessing quality health care. In this session, our speakers will discuss how Medicaid Expansion is a viable solution for removing barriers to health care access for low income and uninsured Georgians. In this session, members will hear from Laura Harker, a senior policy analyst with the Georgia Budget and Policy Institute (GBPI).

As the national discourse on public safety and community/police relations continues, we will hear from a law enforcement training and certification expert who will discuss recommended training and resources for municipal law enforcement officers, as well as newly required psychological screenings for police officers beginning in 2021.

  • Linnea Miller, Councilmember, Suwanee, Community Development Committee
  • Fred P. Perriman, Mayor, Madison, Public Safety Committee
  • Laura Harker, Senior Policy Analyst, Georgia Budget and Policy Institute (GBPI)
  • Mark Bender, Georgia Association Chiefs of Police, State Certification Coordinator
Staff Contacts
  • Charlotte Davis, Governmental Relations
  • Michael McPherson, Governmental Relations

11:30 am to 11:45 am

Break/Pick Up Your Lunch

11:45 am to 12:45 am

Awards Luncheon
  • Mayor Vince Williams, GMA President
Virtual Tour of the New GMA Headquarters Facility
  • Larry Hanson, GMA Executive Director
Update on COVID-19: An Interview with Dr. Anthony Fauci, Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases
  • Kelli Bennett, Director of Communications
  • Rusi Patel, General Counsel
Presentation of Visionary City Awards
  • Ben Young, Editor in Chief and Publisher, Georgia Trend
  • Jenna Williams, Douglas Youth Council

Certified City of Ethics Presentation
  • Mayor Phil Best, Immediate Past President

12:45 pm to 1:00 pm

Break/Conversations in the Hall

1:00 pm – 1:45 pm

Key Federal Issues Facing Cities in the 117th United States Congress

With the inauguration of President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris, and as the 117th Congress begins its work, GMA and our member cities have new opportunities to build relationships in Washington, D.C. and advance municipal priorities at the federal level. GMA’s Federal Policy Council Chair and 2nd Vice President, Mayor Julie Smith of Tifton, will preside at this meeting, where city officials will hear directly from representatives of the Biden Administration and U.S. House, as well as from NLC’s CEO and Executive Director about issues that will have an impact on cities in Georgia, including a possible new round of COVID relief, funding for infrastructure, and rural broadband deployment.

GMA Federal Policy Council Chair
  • Julie Smith, Mayor, Tifton - GMA Second Vice President and Chair, Federal Policy Council
  • Clarence Anthony, CEO and Executive Director, National League of Cities
  • Irma Esparza Diggs, Director of Federal Advocacy, National League of Cities
  • Julie Rodriguez, Director of the White House Office of Intergovernmental Affairs
  • Congresswoman Carolyn Bourdeaux, Georgia’s Seventh Congressional District
  • Congressman Austin Scott, Georgia’s Eighth Congressional District

1:45 pm to 2:00 pm

Break/Conversations in the Hall

2:00 pm – 2:30 pm

Supreme Court Update

Lisa Soronen, Executive Director of the State and Local Legal Center, will provide an update on the Supreme Court and Local Governments, including relevant cases, issues and decisions on the horizon, and what to expect during this term and beyond. In her role with the SLLC, Lisa files amicus curiae briefs to the United States Supreme Court on behalf of members of the Big Seven (National Governors Association, National Conference of State Legislatures, Council of State Governments, National League of Cities, United States Conference of Mayors, National Association of Counties, and International City/County Management Association) in cases affecting state and local government.

  • Mayor Pro Tem Michelle Cooper Kelly, GMA Third Vice President
  • Lisa Soronen, Executive Director of the State and Local Legal Center
Staff Contact
  • Becky Taylor, Director, Federal Relations & Research

Tuesday, January 26

9:00 am to 10:30 am

Board of Directors Meeting

1:00 pm to 4:00 pm

Municipal Training Institute classes

A separate registration is required for these classes.

Information Privacy and Security Breaches
Municipal Annexation: Growing Pains and Growth Spurts (SOLD OUT)

Wednesday, January 27

9:00 am to 12:00 pm

Municipal Training Institute classes

A separate registration is required for this class.

Practices for Successful Meetings