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Highlights from the National Governmental Research Association Conference

Last week, I attended the national Governmental Research Association Conference in Pittsburgh, PA.  The conference was hosted by GRA member organization Pennsylvania Economy League of Greater Pittsburgh and was attended by researchers, directors, and staff from organizations located across the country.  Attendees from Washington State, Utah, Wisconsin, Massachusetts, New York, Alabama, Louisiana, Colorado, Illinois, Michigan, North Carolina and others came together to discuss important policy issues facing our states and municipalities.  
 
Topics at this year’s conference included recovery school districts, the minimum wage and paid family leave, regional transportation visioning, and urban redevelopment.  Additional sessions included a look at the new pension accounting standards, how GRA organizations contribute to community development, and making our research matter.  
 
The highlight of the conference was a Tuesday evening awards dinner where former Pittsburgh Mayor Tom Murphy served as keynote speaker and 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.”  
 
The Governmental Research Association (GRA) also presented the Frederick P. Gruenberg award, given to an individual for “outstanding contributions to governmental research.” This year’s recipient was James W. Williams Jr., former executive director of the Public Affairs Research Council of Alabama (PARCA).  
 
The N.C. Center for Public Policy Research (NCCPPR) has been a proud recipient over the years of multiple awards in all three categories – Most Distinguished Research, Outstanding Policy Achievement, and Most Effective Education – on such research topics as high school dropouts, higher education governance, domestic violence, mental health reform, charter schools, financial aid in community colleges and universities, fraud committed against the elderly, and telepsychiatry.  
 
In 2014, former executive director and president emeritus, Ran Coble, received the Frederick P. Gruenberg award in recognition of his leadership and accomplishments.
 
Below is a Storify of highlights from the conference.  
 

Nancy Richmond Rose is the executive director of the North Carolina Center for Public Policy Research.

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