Sunday Opening General Session
10 a.m. – Noon

Thomas L. Friedman

Best-selling Author and Columnist for The New York Times

That Used to Be Us: How America Fell Behind in the World It Invented and How We Can Come Back


Tom Friedman is renowned for his direct reporting and sophisticated analysis of complex issues facing the modern world. Winner of three Pulitzer Prizes, he has covered monumental stories from around the globe for The New York Times since 1981. Vanity Fair called him “the country’s best newspaper columnist.”

His latest bestseller, co-written with Michael Mandelbaum, is That Used to Be Us: How America Fell Behind in the World It Invented and How We Can Come Back. According to The Christian Science Monitor, “Anyone who cares about America’s future … ought to read this book and hear the authors’ compelling case.”

That Used to be Us chronicles the four major challenges we face as a country – globalization, the speed of change in information technology, chronic deficits, and our pattern of energy consumption. Public works professionals are all too familiar with the impacts of aging infrastructure on the country’s economic prosperity and future investment in innovative solutions for 21st century challenges. 

Make it a priority to attend this thoughtful discussion of how these challenges can be met by studying America’s history and the formula for success that led this nation through the last two centuries, and a potential way forward that echoes Alexander Hamilton’s vision of a system that promotes private enterprise and provides the favorable conditions for funding infrastructure. 

In addition to That Used to Be Us, Tom Friedman is the best-selling author of multiple books including Hot, Flat, and Crowded and The World is Flat: A Brief History of the Twenty-first Century.


Monday General Session
8:30 – 9:45 a.m.

Gabe Klein

Commissioner of the Chicago Department of Transportation

A Whole New Ballgame: Chicago's Infrastructure Planning


Avoiding gridlock requires leadership capable of engineering change on a grand scale. As people move back to urban cores, public works is challenged to redefine urban transportation beyond the traditional car-centric view. Noted as “an unconventional choice” for Commissioner of the Chicago Department of Transportation, Gabe Klein took on the responsibility of improving transportation for the City of Chicago in 2011. Under his leadership, CDOT is a customer-focused agency that is a national leader in technology, multi-modal innovation, and sustainable design making a positive impact on the quality of life for Chicago’s 2.6 million residents.


Previously, Mr. Klein was director of the Washington D.C. Department of Transportation, where he brought the Capital Bikeshare program to the District and overhauled the city’s parking system. Later, as Vice President at Zipcar, he helped to shape the young company’s brand identity, marketing, and operational standards, and was responsible for introducing the unique car-sharing concept to the D.C. region.  


Don’t miss this fascinating review of the programs and initiatives of CDOT and its roadmap to the future, “Chicago Forward,” ensuring that Chicago continues to be a vibrant international city.


Tuesday General Session
8:30 – 9:45 a.m.

Cy Wakeman

Thought Leader and Best-selling Author

Reality-Based Leadership: Ditch the Drama and Turn Excuses into Results

Reality check: The fact that the times we live in are challenging for all of our organizations IS NOT the source of our pain. The source of our pain is our inability to respond to our challenges with leadership that is based in reality. That’s a provocative statement, but in this dynamic presentation, thought leader and author, Cy Wakeman, will reveal how to be the kind of leader who helps employees change the way they think about and perceive their circumstances. Do you relate to any of these questions?

  • Do you have people in your workplace in the habit of greeting change with surprise, panic, and blame?
  • Do you or any members of your staff make decisions based on assumptions about the motivations of others?
  • Are people more invested in being right than in getting the job done?
  • Should you just go ahead and list “drama” as a line item in your budget because time and energy are being devoted to it anyway?

Cy Wakeman’s groundbreaking ideas will help us stop managing and start leading by breaking through resistance, conflicts, and excuses to solve long standing issues. She is a successful business entrepreneur, an expert blogger for both and and the author of two books: Reality-Based Leadership – Ditch the Drama and Turn Excuses into Results and Reality-Based Rules of the Workplace: Know What Boosts Your Value, Kills Your Chances and Will Make You Happier.

Cy Wakeman will also present an afternoon workshop called: Reality-Based Leadership: A Deeper Dive.



Wednesday Closing General Session
11 a.m. – 12:15 p.m.

Mike Ditka

ESPN Analyst, Pro Football Hall of Fame Player, Super Bowl Winning Coach

ACE: Attitude, Character and Enthusiasm

Pro Football Hall of Fame enshrinee and Super Bowl-winning coach Mike Ditka is a Chicago icon, playing for the Bears for five years and returning later as Head Coach leading them to six NFC Central titles, three NFC championship appearances and the Super Bowl XX title. Boasting a career that few can match, Iron Mike is one of only two people to win the Super Bowl as a player, assistant coach, and head coach. 

He is currently an analyst for Sunday NFL Countdown, Monday Night Countdown and makes regular appearances on ESPN SportsCenter and ESPN radio.

As the Closing General Session speaker, Coach Ditka will deliver a powerful presentation highlighting the key characteristics people need to achieve their personal and professional goals. With his first-hand experience, clear illustrations, and humorous anecdotes, his presentation will have impact and immediate, take-home value for you to reflect upon as you return to home to lead your public works agencies and business organizations forward.