Recently, the national Governmental Research Association (GRA) held its annual conference in Detroit, Michigan. The GRA is the national organization of individuals professionally engaged in governmental research.

The conference included a wide variety of topics from Detroit’s 2013 bankruptcy, autonomous vehicles, GASB, the Flint water crisis, and how urban farming is changing urban land use across the nation. Additional sessions included the effect of federal tax reform on states and pensions. The group shared their successes and pitfalls in data presentation, community surveys, podcasts, webinars, YouTube videos, and other innovations.

View the session presentations:

Not all sessions were held inside. Monday afternoon we boarded a bus and headed off to learn about urban farming.

We visited Recovery Park:

and Oakland Ave Urban Farm.

The highlight of the conference was a Tuesday evening awards dinner at the Detroit Institute of Arts.

The evening began with a keynote with author and consultant David Osborne. Molly Osborne, EdNC’s director of policy and engagement and Osborne’s daughter, led the off the evening interviewing her Dad about his life, their family, and his work.

The 2018 Officers and Trustees were installed.


President Mebane Rash Editor-in-Chief EducationNC/N.C. Center for Public Policy Research Raleigh, NC
Vice President Sarah Wetmore Director of Research The Civic Federation Chicago, IL
Secretary Nancy Rose Chief Operating Officer EducationNC/N.C. Center for Public Policy Research Raleigh, NC
Treasurer Kriss S. Sjoblom Vice President – Research & Economist Washington Research Council Seattle, WA


(2016) Craig Thiel Research Director Citizens Research Council of Michigan  Lansing, MI
(2016) Joe Peterangelo Senior Researcher Public Policy Forum Milwaukee, WI
(2016) Shawn Teigen
Vice President Utah Foundation Salt Lake City, UT
(2015) Dominic Calabro
President and CEO Florida TaxWatch Tallahassee, FL
(2015) Stephen Stuart Vice President and Research Director Bureau of Governmental Research New Orleans, LA
(2017) Criketa Matlock Research Project Director Public Affairs Research Council Of Louisiana (PAR) Baton Rouge, LA
(2014) Aaron Twait Research Director Minnesota Center for Fiscal Excellence Chicago, IL
(2014) Joe Adams Research Coordinator Public Affairs Research Council of Alabama Birmingham, AL
(2017) Doug Howgate Director of Research and Policy Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation Boston, MA


Awards for Most Distinguished Research, Most Effective Education, and Outstanding Policy Achievement were presented. The purpose of the awards is “to recognize exceptional research and educational efforts regarding state and local governmental issues.”

Most Distinguished Research

Utah Foundation (Salt Lake City)
Utah Health Care Cost Series

Bureau of Governmental Research (New Orleans)
Paying for Streets: Options for Funding Road Maintenance in New Orleans

Public Affairs Research Council of Alabama (Birmingham)
Together We Can: Charting a Course to Cooperation for Greater Birmingham

Certificate of Merit: Center for Governmental Research (Rochester, NY)
Essex County (NY) EMS Strategic Plan

Most Effective Education

Utah Foundation (Salt Lake City)
Tax Policy Series

Public Policy Forum (Milwaukee)
On the Money

Outstanding Policy Achievement

Bureau of Governmental Research (New Orleans)
Reducing the Cost of Tomorrow

Congratulations to all the award winners!

Wednesday morning focused on organizations’ communication strategies. “Communications Speed Dating” included presentations on Tableau mapping and creating podcasts. GRA members are invited to attend “office hours” calls on the first Monday of each month to discuss organizational strategy, learn what others are researching, or ask questions about the GRA association.

Looking forward to seeing everyone at next year’s conference!


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