Posted on March 8, 2019


ELGL is excited to participate in the NFBPA annual conference in Orlando, Florida. Learn more about ELGL’s session and the conference!

The NFBPA Chat Cafe’s is an annual workshop at NFBPA FORUM hosted by the NFBPA Emerging Leaders Council.

This informal panel discussion is generally held at noon with lunch being served. The event is on Friday, April 5 – register to attend today!

For 2019, the Chat Cafe will highlight the ELGL #DiversityDashboard.

Libby Seguin will provide background on the dynamics and the data of the ELGL #DiverstiyDashboard.

Then Mrs. Aretha Ferrell-Benavides, City Manager Petersburg, Virginia & John Titkanich, City Manager, Cocoa, Florida, will discuss how they will address this issue respective cities and a possible strategic plan to reverse trend and the reasons why it is important for community engagement.

2019 Chat Cafe’ moderator is NFBPA & ELGL member, Christine Edwards.

Register for the 2019 NFBPA FORUM !

Panelist Information:

Christine Edwards

Community Relations Coordinator, Mecklenburg County Government

Christine Edwards, Community Relations Coordinator for Mecklenburg County Government,  is a civic engagement innovator with ten years of local government communication and outreach experience.  A long time Charlottean, she has a passion for empowering the community towards action by providing the right tools. Christine earned her Masters in Public Administration with a concentration in Urban Management and Policy from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, a Bachelor of Arts in Sociology, and a Bachelor of Arts in African American Studies from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. Christine also worked as the Director for Community Programs at the James L. Knight School of Communication at Queen’s university of Charlotte where she taught neighborhoods everyday communication tools and digital tools for organizing. She also served as an adjunct instructor for ‘Community Media Ecosystems’. In both academic and professional realms, her focus has been to foster civically engaged communities through collaboration, partnership and digital communication. She has been involved in numerous local volunteer organizations focused on advancing racial equity in government including serving as the Southern Piedmont Chapter President for the National Forum for Black Public Administrators.

Christine has been a champion of gender equality in her community. She is a member of the Women’s Intercultural Exchange Garinger High School Mentoring Across Differences (GMAD) program. She was recently featured in a panel discussion for UNC Chapel Hill MPA Students titled, “Navigating Diverse Perspectives in Public Service” with Instructor Leisha Dehart Davis.  She also contributed her thoughts on a panel discussion titled “Championing Diversity in the Local Government Setting” at the NC City County Managers Association Winter Seminar in 2017. She has also contributed to the ELGL (Engaging Local government Leaders) Blog writing on the importance of representation, specifically seeing women of color in leadership positions.

In her spare time she volunteers, travels, enjoys good southern food and loves seeing urban policy theory play out in everyday life.

John A. Titkanich, Jr., AICP, ICMA-CM

City Manager, City of Cocoa, Florida

John has served the City of Cocoa for the past six years as the City Manager and prior to that, eight and a half years as its Community Development Director and two and a half years as its Economic Development Manager.  He holds a Master’s Degree in Public Administration and a Graduate Certificate in Urban and Regional Planning from the University of Central Florida (2001) and a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from Florida Atlantic University (1998).  Prior to joining the City of Cocoa in January 2002, John served as a Planner in both Land Development and Economic Development for the City of Orlando for three years.

John is a member of the International City/County Management Association (ICMA), the Florida City and County Management Association (FCCMA), and the American Planning Association (APA).  He is a Credentialed Manager with ICMA and a Certified Planner with the APA American Institute of Certified Planners.  He currently serves as a member of the Florida League of Cities Land Use and Economic Development Legislative Policy Committee, the Chair of the FCCMA Communications Committee, and a member of the Board of Directors for the United Way of Brevard.  John also served as President of the Florida Brownfields Association (FBA) in 2012-2013 and served five years as a member of the Board of Directors.

Libby Seguin

Business Analyst, Public Consulting Group

Libby Seguin is a Human Services Business Analyst at Public Consulting Group (PCG). Her work focuses on children, youth and juvenile justice. PCG works with state and local agencies and the social services sector to help and heal children, youth and families who have experienced adversity. PCG partners with these organizations to provide consulting and operational support to promote and protect children and families.

Libby has experience with operational assessments, fiscal analyses, and federal funding and claiming. Libby is also the Project Manager for ELGL’s Diversity Dashboard, and has worked on the Dashboard since 2017. Libby has her bachelors degree in Psychology from The Ohio State University and her masters degree in Public Administration from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Aretha Ferrell-Benavides

City Manager, City of Petersburg, VA

Prior to coming to the City of Petersburg, VA, Mrs. Ferrell-Benavides served as the City Manager to the City of Glenn Heights, Texas since May 19, 2015.

Additionally, she served as the Deputy Secretary of the State for the District of Columbia. She also previously held several positions to include serving as the Chief Operating Officer for the District of Columbia Department of Parks and Recreation; Chief of Staff for the Office of the Deputy Mayor for Children, Youth, Families and Elders; and Director for the Office of Neighborhood Action & the Community Empowerment Cluster.

With a true commitment to government, Mrs. Ferrell-Benavides previously served as the Assistant County Administrator for Los Alamos County, New Mexico. In that role, she managed the County’s Intergovernmental Program and Economic Development. For the City of Sunnyvale, California, Mrs. Ferrell-Benavides served as the Assistant to the City Manager, where she oversaw Sunnyvale’s Intergovernmental and Legislative programs.

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