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Moving Your District Forward:

Preparing your people, processes and technologies for the future

Is your district ready for what comes next? After several years of pandemic-related disruption and crisis response, district leaders are confronting a new challenge: Determining what the future will look like — and understanding its long-term impacts on people, processes and technologies.

The Fall Special Districts Summit will offer unique insights on these critical questions. You’ll hear how innovative districts are:

  • Building technology platforms of the future — Find out how the Capitol Corridor Joint Powers Authority, which manages intercity passenger rail service in northern California, uses secure wireless and wired connectivity to power digital displays and provide public Wi-Fi service.
  • Meeting new expectations for digital experience — Learn how leading districts are modernizing digital services to boost customer satisfaction and improve employee attraction and retention.
  • Reimagining how work gets done — Hear great ideas for transforming internal operations and public-facing services from districts that are participating in our National Innovation Showcase

Watch Now



Emily Balkam

Senior Technical Product Manager, Massachusetts Bay Transit Authority (MBTA)

Emily is a Senior Technical Product Manager at the MBTA, which provides public transportation in Greater Boston, including subway, commuter rail, bus, paratransit, and ferry service.

She is passionate about the intersection of technology and public transportation. Her work at the MBTA is focused on improving access to transit for riders who are seniors, low-income youth, disabled, or blind. Last fall, she helped the MBTA launch an accessible digital application to provide reduced fares to low-income youth. Since launch, the MBTA has seen a 147% increase in young people served to date, with a month remaining in the program year.

In her free time, you can spot Emily exploring the Boston area with her two young children on a cargo bike.


Matthew Phillips

Chief of Staff and Chief Customer Service Officer, Detroit Water and Sewerage Department

Mathew Phillips currently leads the City of Detroit Water and Sewerage Department (DWSD) Customer Service division with responsibilities for safety, security, workforce and asset management. He has been with the department since 2019, completing the transition from an in-person customer service model to a contact-less model using technology and remote staff at one of the largest water and sewer utilities in North America; providing improved access through an online self-service portal and dramatically reducing call wait times.

Phillips is a customer-focused, results-driven, principled leader with more than 25 years of experience in the customer service industry. He has provided operational, analytical and account leadership to several high-profile clients such as Apple, Chrysler, GM Onstar, Netflix, Verizon Wireless, Blue Cross Blue Shield, and Western Union across contact centers in the United States, Canada, and the Caribbean.

His accomplishments include co-creating and implementing a novel work methodology called PULSE to change the culture of and empower customer contact center teams. Phillips prepared federal, state, and private foundation grants, resulting in receiving and implementing 24 grants totaling $50M in a four-year period. During his 15-year tenure at a major BPO he was responsible for managing a $45M portfolio while building 500-seat contact centers as business expanded.

Before joining DWSD, Phillips was the Chief Operating Officer of The Heat and Warmth Fund, a leading non-profit serving low-income Michigan residents. He also stretched his entrepreneurial interests when he became a Jersey Mike’s Subs Franchisee.


Shirley Qian

Principal Planner, Capitol Corridor Joint Powers Authority

Shirley Qian is a Principal Planner at the Capitol Corridor Joint Powers Authority, the managing agency of the Capitol Corridor intercity passenger rail service between Sacramento and San Jose. In the past 8 years with CCJPA, she has managed projects ranging from bike access, technology, to medium-term service improvement. Shirley has an environmental science degree from Cornell University and has a special interest in urban planning for climate change.


Devon Winthrop

Principal Architect II, AT&T

Devon Winthrop has been with AT&T for 21 years and is currently a Principal Architect II with the State, Local Government and Education organization in AT&T’s Global Public Sector. Devon supports local government and education in California, Nevada and Hawaii.

As a Principal Architect II, he is involved with innovation strategy and technical architecture for AT&T. Devon collaborates with Enterprise Architecture and IT leadership teams to drive strategic roadmaps that align with your technology and business objectives. He works within the innovation spaces at AT&T to forward emerging and evolving technologies. He recommends technology standards, principles and best practices, while integrating market trends and industry insights to drive forward-looking solutions.

Devon began his career as an Outside Plant Engineer, designing T-1 networks and developing AT&T’s original fiber switched Ethernet WAN services. He has over 14 years experience as an industry consultant; developing complex solutions involving traditional and emerging services in the areas of networking, voice transformation, security, mobility, IoT and Smart Cities, and network integration.

Devon also volunteers in his community with the Folsom High Music Boosters supporting the music arts in his home city of Folsom Californi

Omar Sandoval

Omar Sandoval

Director of Government Programs and Chief Information Officer, e.Republic

Omar Sandoval is the Director of Government Programs for the Center for Digital Government, a national research and advisory institute on information technology policies and best practices in state and local government. He also serves as Chief Information Officer for parent company, e.Republic. Prior to joining the Center, Omar was the Director of Information Technology for the Naperville Park District.

Omar has won numerous awards which include a Distinguished Services Award, by the Naperville Jaycees; Four Under 40 Achievement Award, presented by the Naperville Area Chamber of Commerce which recognizes young who demonstrate excellence based on leadership in the community, business leadership, and career and life balance. Government Technology magazine honored Omar with awards for Technology Innovations in the Park District Operations and Citizens categories; Top 25 Doers, Dreamers, and Drivers and a Leadership Innovation Award for his efforts in assisting his own organization and others to start eSports leagues during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Omar earned his Master of Science degree in Business Analytics with a concentration in Business Administration from Benedictine University. He currently serves as an adjunct professor at the College of DuPage in the Computer and Information Technology department.

Dustin Haisler
Dustin Haisler

Dustin Haisler — Moderator

Chief Innovation Officer, e.Republic

As the former Chief Information Officer (CIO) and Assistant City Manager for the City of Manor, Texas, a city outside Austin, Dustin quickly built a track record and reputation as an early innovator in civic tech. Dustin pioneered government use of commercial technologies not before used in the public sector – including Quick-Response (QR) barcodes, crowdsourcing, and gamification. Dustin was named as one of the nation’s Top 25 Doers, Dreamers and Drivers for government technology, was selected as an Eisenhower Fellow in 2019, and most recently, a 2021 Business Transformation 150 Leader by Constellation Research. Dustin’s work over the years has been featured numerous publications and books including Wired, Fast Company, the Wall Street Journal, Inc. Magazine, the Today Show on NBC, and Citizenville by California Governor, Gavin Newsom.

Dustin graduated Magna Cum Laude from LeTourneau University with a Bachelor of Business Administration and has worked with universities around the globe on incubating next-generation technologies in government including the Persuasive Technology Lab at Stanford University and the University of Trento, Italy. Dustin continues to work with Fortune 500 companies, government agencies, academia, gov tech startups, and non-profits across the globe on innovation, go-to-market, and citizen engagement strategies.

By bringing together solutions that help protect, serve and connect, AT&T Public Sector is delivering a faster, smarter, safer future.