Highlights from Accelarate Day 1: Gary Kovacs and Hon. Karen Freeman-Wilson Lead the Call for Elevated Government

Accelarate 2019, Accela’s annual customer and partner conference, kicked off today in the Mile High City! Nearly 900 of the govtech industry’s leading innovators gathered in Denver for three days of imagination, networking, and in-depth experiences with cutting-edge solutions and technologies. Against the backdrop of the Rocky Mountains, this year’s theme of “government elevated” was echoed in every speech, breakout session and hallway conversation, as attendees embraced the innovative ways governments are leveraging technology to improve digital service delivery and raise the bar on citizen expectations and community outcomes.

Today, a wide range of inspiring speakers took the stage, from elected officials to technology luminaries, including headliners Karen Freeman-Wilson, the Mayor of Gary, Indiana and President of the National League of Cities (NLC), and Accela CEO Gary Kovacs. Attendees also heard from their peers such as the City of Tacoma, the City and County of Denver, and the City of Oakland, who shared in breakout sessions some of the successful ways they have been working with Accela to create thriving communities.


“If You Want to Go Fast, Go Alone. If You Want to Go Far, Go With Others.”

To open the conference, conference MC, Jonathan “J.K.” Knight, Accela’s Chief Customer Officer introduced Accela CEO Gary Kovacs who took the stage to share the company’s vision for the future, renewed commitment to customer success, and the importance of building trust to re-imagine how Accela and its ecosystem of customers and partners work together to improve citizen experience. Kovacs rallied the crowd with a call for partnership at an inflection point in the industry: “Today, governments can be seen not only as providers, but also as service brokers. Governments have earned the right to be seen as partners, co-creating solutions and delivering services alongside the private sector.”

Following Kovacs were other speakers from Accela’s executive team including Vice President of WorldwideSupport Jack Reid, Chief Product Officer Troy Coggiola, and Chief Technology Officer Renato Mascardo to give customers insight and transparency into Accela’s investment and direction across key departments, including customer success, product, and technology.

Accela’s Chief Revenue Officer Dennis Michalis also hosted a Chief Information Officer (CIO) Panel, featuring Aleta Jeffress, CIO of Aurora, Colorado, David Edinger, CIO of the City and County of Denver, and Raj Chundar, Director of the Cincinnati Area Geographic Information System (CAGIS). Check back on the Accela Insights Blog for a full Q&A with more from today’s CIO Panel!

It’s All About Love!

Next, Hon. Karen Freeman-Wilson took the stage, wearing an Accela cape and a t-shirt that read, “I love Gary” — a nod to her love of Gary, Indiana where she serves as Mayor. She is also thePresident of the NLC, an organization that supports and ‘elevates’ over 19,000 towns, villages, and cities across the country.


Freeman-Wilson focused on the role engendering love between community members and the place they call home plays in developing citizen engagement. While it is sometimes easy to get lost in the importance of data, numbers and budgets, cities and states also cannot forget their responsibility to inspire residents. To encourage love for their cities, governments should focus on the following four pillars:

  • Ensuring housing for all

  • Building communities for all generations

  • Uplifting legacy cities and citizens

  • Encouraging civic engagement
In doing so, cities will develop a sense of trust between government and the citizens they serve, and help residents understand the magnitude of ownership and importance of their involvement in enhancing quality of life and improved outcomes for all.

Denver Takes Licensing Online – From Security Guards to Short Term Rentals

This year’s host city, Denver, was one of the many civic leaders to share the innovative ways leveraging technology has improved citizen experience in one of the event’s 60 breakout sessions. Dominic Vaiana, Denver’s Deputy Director of Operations for the Department of Excise and Licenses, shared how moving licencing processes online with Accela has entirely transformed the city’s relationship with citizens and reduced time and cost.

When Denver first implemented Accela, citizens faced wait times averaging nearly eight hours. The City was ultimately able to achieve a 36% reduction in customer wait times and 25% reduction in application intake time, saving customers and the city tens of thousands of dollars. Denver was also able to transition team members to more value-added tasks, which contributed to the growth and strength of their team as a whole.

Check the Accela Insights Blog for more updates on Accelarate’s presentations, announcements and keynotes; and for details on Accela’s latest technologies, visit our solutions page here. Stay tuned for Day Two of Accelarate tomorrow!

About The Author

Heidi Lorenzen

Heidi Lorenzen is Accela’s Senior Vice President, Marketing. Heidi is a high-impact global marketing executive with a 25+-year international career demonstrating her passion for taking fresh approaches to address unprecedented demands — and opportunities — on marketers. She is adept at leading change, repositioning companies, building legendary teams, reaching lofty goals, coaching and mentoring toward high performance, and “pushing the envelope” on creativity and innovation. Prior to Accela, Heidi was Vice President, Marketing at Singularity University where she built and led a team responsible for educating, inspiring and empowering leaders to apply exponentially-growing technologies (like biotechnology, artificial intelligence, and neuroscience) to create a more abundant future and help address humanity’s biggest challenges. Previous to Singularity University, Heidi served as Chief Marketing Officer at CloudWords responsible for accelerating the growth, visibility, and value of the company through high-impact marketing. She also held senior marketing executive roles at enterprise software and technology leaders including Autonomy, Interwoven and Polycom. Heidi serves as Vice Chair of National League of City’s Corporate Partners Leadership Council, is a Business Mentor at Bishop Ranch Intelligence Innovation Accelerator, and an Adjunct Professor, Business Strategy at San Francisco State University, College of Business. She holds a B.A. summa cum laude from Middlebury College (where she also learned to speak Mandarin Chinese) and an MBA in International Management from New York University’s Stern School of Business.

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