Connections Summit 2024 is next month! Join us and fellow public power leaders March 12-14 in Cary, N.C. – Register today!

2024 Connections Summit

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Connect with public power leaders, peers, and organizations at Connections Summit, March 12-14, 2024, in Cary, North Carolina.

Operating a successful public power utility has become increasingly complex. Navigating a changing workforce, embracing advancing technology, and meeting evolving customer expectations are driving us all to evaluate our current practices.

Are we ready to meet our customers’ needs now and in the future?

Where should we invest money and when?

How will we manage the changes that are upon us and ensure our public power utilities continue to thrive?

Connections Summit is the place for gaining insight into these and other challenges facing the electric utility industry today, and in the years ahead.

Enlightening speakers and informative sessions that support four conference tracks—Business & Finance, Technology, Customer, and Management—provide clarity that enables you and your team to navigate industry changes and continue to provide the outstanding service your public power customers expect.


Conference General Session Speakers

Denise Ryan

Denise Ryan, Owner, FireStar Speaking

How to Communicate with Everyone Who Isn’t You

An award-winning motivational speaker, Denise Ryan helps light the fires of enthusiasm so people can do great things. She is an author, is a Certified Speaking Professional, and has an MBA, and she has spoken for organizations from Hilton Hotels and IBM to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. She has worked with many electric providers and has spoken for leadership, linemen, and customer service representatives across the country. At Connections Summit, Denise will teach us about our communication styles, barriers to communication, and how to remove them.



Meridith Elliott Powell, President/CEO, MotionFirst

Meridith Elliott Powell

THRIVE: Turning Uncertainty to Competitive Advantage

Voted one of the Top 15 Business Growth Experts to watch by Currency Fair, Meridith Elliott Powell is an award-winning author, keynote speaker, and business strategist. She is a Certified Speaking Professional and a member of the prestigious Forbes Coaching Council. With a background in corporate sales and leadership, Meridith has developed a formula for turning uncertainty from a perceived negative to a positive. At Connections Summit, she will share how to make uncertainty your greatest asset to thrive, grow, and turn disruption into opportunity.






Alison Alvarez, CEO, BlastPoint; Costa Apostolakis, CEO/Founder, Nexgrid

How Future-focused Utilities Can Use AI Today

Artificial intelligence is here, and utilities are already using it to gain operational insights and improve processes. At Connections Summit, Alison Alvarez from BlastPoint and Costa Apostolakis from Nexgrid will share how they’re incorporating AI into their products to help utilities improve customer service and operate more efficiently. They’ll help demystify AI, separating the science fiction from science fact so you can use this technology to serve your customers and community.


Barry MatherlyPresident & CEO, Hickey Global; Mark James, Principal, Hickey Global

Adapting for Economic Growth

Barry Matherly
Mark James

Barry Matherly has helped communities prosper by creating opportunities for new investment and job growth for over 25 years. A certified economic development professional and trusted thought leader, Barry leads Hickey Global within the Hickey Family of global advisory firms, developing growth strategies to create vibrant, inclusive communities. He served as Chair of the International Economic Development Council (IEDC) and teaches at the University of Oklahoma Economic Development Institute.

As a Principal with Hickey Global, Mark James supports business development and project management services while leveraging the firm’s global reach as a part of the Hickey and Associates family of companies. Previously, as Vice

President of Sales, Economic, and Business Development at American Electric Power, Mark spearheaded strategic growth initiatives across 11 states, boosting jobs and retail customer load. Founder of ED Solutions, Inc., from 2002 to 2011, Mark provided economic development services to more than 200 communities worldwide.

Barry Matherly and Mark James from economic development consulting firm Hickey Global will share how public power communities can go about adapting for economic growth. They’ll dive into the competitive site selection process to help ensure your community is ready when opportunities arise.


Ted Lord, Golden Leaf Foundation; Ernest Pearson, Maynard Nexsen; Melissa Malkin-Weber, NC Clean Energy Fund; Julie Woosley, NC State Energy Office

North Carolina Partners for Growth

North Carolina is open for business. Public power communities are a prime location for growth, and finding funding partners can be a key place to begin. Representatives from the North Carolina State Energy Office, NC Clean Energy Fund, Golden Leaf Foundation, and Maynard Nexsen will discuss advice and best practices for how your community can be best positioned for growth with funding partnerships. Following presentations and group Q&A, speakers will make themselves available for one-on-one discussions about opportunities in your public power community.


Conference Agenda

Tuesday March 12
Time3:00 PM
SpeakerRoy Jones, CEO, ElectriCities of NC
SessionOpening Remarks
Time3:15 PM
SpeakerDenise Ryan, FireStar Speaking
Session"How to Communicate with Everyone Who Isn't You"
Time4:15 PM
SpeakerNetworking Reception
Wednesday March 13
Time7:00 AM
SpeakerBreakfast Buffet
Time8:00 AM
SpeakerMeridith Elliott Powell, MotionFirst
Session"THRIVE: Turning Uncertainty to Competitive Advantage"
Time9:15 AM
SpeakerBreakout Session 1
Time-Business & Finance Track
SpeakerChris Lund and Dawn Lund, UFS
Session"Why Disruptive Tech is Making Innovative Rates Necessary"
Time-Technology Track
SpeakerCosta Apostolakis, NexGrid
Session"Applications of AI in the Smart Grid"
Time-Customer Track
SpeakerJennifer Simmons, City of Albemarle; Susan Nunn, Performance Potential Uncorked, LLC; Sheri Benson, City of New Bern; Brad Sigmon, ElectriCities of NC
Session"Hiring for a Service Culture"
Time-Management Track
SpeakerMeridith Elliott Powell, MotionFirst
Session"Leadership Deep Dive"
Time10:30 AM
SpeakerBreakout Session 2
Time-Business & Finance Track
SpeakerChris Lund and Dawn Lund, UFS
Session"How to Navigate the Road to Innovative Rates"
Time-Technology Track
SpeakerJosh Poston, City of New Bern
Session"Lessons Learned in EV Infrastructure"
Time-Customer Track
SpeakerJon Boggiano, Everblue
Session"Customer Journey Mapping: Rethinking the Process"
Time-Management Track
SpeakerAllison Snyder, Town of Wake Forest
Session"Protecting Your Financial Future"
Time1:00 PM
SpeakerAlison Alvarez, BlastPoint; Costa Apostolakis, NexGrid; Janelle Rockett, Fayetteville PWC
Session"How Future-focused Utilities Can Use AI Today"
Time2:45 PM
SpeakerBreakout Session 3
Time-Business & Finance Track
SpeakerMitch Anderson & Josh Ciccia, Doxim; Scott Mullis, Greenville Utilities Commission; Kimberly Rodriguez, Fayetteville PWC
Session"Omnichannel Mastery: How to Optimize Billing Communications and Maximize Customer Engagement"
Time-Technology Track
SpeakerJared Combs, CDE Lightband
Session"What is AI and How Can it Drive Customer Engagement"
Time-Customer Track
SpeakerSteve Hawley, Greenville Utilities Commission; Gregory Jenkins, City of Raleigh; Deb Clark, ElectriCities of NC
Session"Communicating with Customers Through a Rate Change"
Time-Management Track
SpeakerBob Welsh, Leverage HR
SessionSuccession Planning"
Time3:45 PM
SpeakerNetworking Reception
Thursday March 14
Time8:00 AM
SpeakerBreakfast Buffet
Time9:00 AM
SpeakerBreakout Session 4
Time-Business & Finance Track
SpeakerKarie Ferriera, Tyler Technologies
Session"Vision, Victory, and Vigilance: Your Journey to Implementing and Sustaining Utility Billing Software"
Time-Technology Track
SpeakerEthan Poppe, Town of Clayton; Gary Smith, Sagewell
Session"You've Got AMI Data - Now What?"
Time-Customer Track
SpeakerMark James, Hickey Global
Session"Finding the Win-Win-Win for Customer, Environment, and Utility"
Time-Management Track
SpeakerRich Cappola, Town of Clayton
SessionModerated Discussion: "How Do You Know if Your Utility is Succeeding?"
Time10:15 AM
SpeakerMark James and Barry Matherly, Hickey Global
Session"Adapting for Economic Growth"
Time11:30 AM
SpeakerBreak and lunch
Time12:00 PM - 2:00 PM
SpeakerTed Lord, Golden Leaf Foundation; Ernest Pearson, Maynard Nexsen; Melissa Malkin-Weber, NC Clean Energy Fund; Julie Woosley, NC State Energy Office
Session"North Carolina Partners for Growth" panel discussion followed by one-on-one availability

Conference Policies

Cancellation Policy

You may cancel your Connections Summit registration through the conference portal. There is a cancellation fee of $50. There’s no fee to transfer your registration to another person from your organization. Should you have extenuating circumstances, please contact Kristin Tart.
Hotel reservations are the responsibility of each individual attendee. To cancel your reservation before Feb. 15, 2024, please contact Embassy Suites Raleigh-Durham/Research Triangle directly. After Feb. 15, please contact Kristin Tart. We may wish to return your cancelled room to the conference room block.
ElectriCities is not responsible for any charges or cancellation fees assessed by airlines, etc. If ElectriCities or the hotel cancels the conference, all registration and sponsorship fees will be 100% refunded.

Code of Conduct & Attendee Waivers

We are committed to a safe, positive, and welcoming experience for all attendees. Please familiarize yourself with our conference code of conduct, waivers, and privacy policy. Code of Conduct & Antitrust Warning Attendee Waiver Terms & Privacy Policy

Questions about Connections Summit? Email our events team.

Are you a business looking to network with public power leaders and provide resources and solutions to our members? Learn more about sponsoring Connections Summit.