Q&A: Meet MISA Ontario's New President
May 30, 2019
Posted by: Jacqueline O'Hara
Morgan Calvert, Director of Information Technology Services for Middlesex County, has big plans as the new President for Municipal Information Systems Association, Ontario (MISA Ontario). You can feel his enthusiasm as we sit down to learn more about him, how he got involved, and the value MISA Ontario brings to municipalities.
Tell me how you first got involved in with MISA Ontario?
Middlesex County has been a member for more than ten years and I have been attending the InfoSec and annual conferences ever since. My first impression of the association was that it is represented by the most welcoming, friendly and collaborative people I had the opportunity to meet. I have been more actively involved in MISA Ontario since 2015 when I had the opportunity to co-chair the annual conference which was hosted in London, Ontario with Grant Hopcroft.
There are so many intelligent, passionate and talented individuals in the association. By simply getting involved, I have greatly improved and developed existing and new skills that I have been able to apply in my personal and professional life. The relationships that I have built through my involvement with MISA Ontario have provided me new perspectives, great friends and some excellent memories!
I think it’s wonderful that you joined the Board of Directors at a younger age. What encouraged you to volunteer?
I was chatting with a good friend of mine, mentor and past MISA Ontario board member, Brian Whitelaw, who had mentioned that it would be an excellent opportunity and experience for me to become a board member. I ran for one of the Director roles and never looked back.
How have you been able to balance your full-time job along with school, and being a Board Member?
It hasn’t been easy, that’s for sure. However, taking on a full-time master’s program, maintaining the trajectory of a full-time career, while balancing my duties to the Board and its members have been nothing but a positive and rewarding experience. You quickly realize how important the people closest to you are. My wife, family, friends and colleagues have all supported me throughout this journey and I can’t thank them enough. Especially, my wife.
Preparing for the 2020-2025 strategy, do you have an idea on initiatives MISA Ontario should focus on?
I would like to develop alumni and youth programs to ensure the sustainable and long-term success of the association and its membership. I want to ensure relevant programs and services are being delivered to the membership through leading the development of the next strategic plan and build new and stronger partnerships with our fellow municipal associations and partners.
What are you most excited about over the next five years?
The information technology landscape is continuing to evolve from what I would call “traditional IT,” where we have historically been responsible for maintaining daily operations of the organization, to a more business oriented, solution provider perspective. It is in this space where we can leverage our existing knowledge and abilities to better assist our organizations to strategically further their vision and goals through a more collaborative, communicative and cooperative platform. MISA Ontario needs to develop strategies, frameworks and tools as well as provide the platform our members can use to innovate their municipality through education and training, social networking and collaboration rooted opportunities.
Can you give me an example of how you have been able to connect with municipalities and/or vendors (partners) since joining our association?
Capitalizing on the social networking opportunities that the association has facilitated over the years, has allowed me to find other municipalities or (vendor) partners with similar opportunities and challenges to bounce ideas off of, learn from and have meaningful conversations with. The association has provided the platform to build and develop relationships that have been invaluable to my professional growth and in turn, my municipality.
What has surprised you most about working with MISA Ontario?
How open and welcoming everyone is with each other and how willing everyone is to share their experiences and lessons learned.
What might we be surprised to know about you?
Good times aside, I’m actually a pretty boring person. :)
What have you learned from previous presidents and your board members to prepare you for this position?
I’ve learned that everyone brings the best version of themselves to their respective role, while maintaining an openness to varying perspectives and ideas. Previous presidents and board members have always acted in good faith, with integrity, and are passionate about the work they do. I have the utmost respect for everyone around the board table and I am looking forward to furthering the great work that this amazing group of individuals has been able to accomplish over the years!
How do you see yourself supporting the vision and mission of MISA Ontario?
By being the biggest advocate and supporter of the association and its members.
What is one key strategy you are most proud of from the 2015-2019 strategy?
I am most proud of the expansion of our operational team to include a Community Manager role. This role was a direct result of a greater emphasis on building a strong and collaborative member community. As MISA Ontario is an evolving and growing association, it is important to recognize that without the passionate, energetic and amazing staff who continue to go above and beyond for this association, we would absolutely not be in the position we are in today.
What does leadership mean to you?
Leadership to me, is about supporting and enabling others through creating and encouraging an environment where individuals can be themselves while working together to achieve a common or shared goal. Leadership is about respect, trust and a positive attitude. It is about developing and growing others. To be a leader means you are looking out for others and their interests before your own.
How do municipalities prepare for uncertainty?
As much as we like to be in control and be prepared for any eventuality, we will always face uncertainty. Whether that’s in our personal or professional lives, existing political landscapes or what the next ‘big’ innovation is in local government, the best advice I can give to someone is to stay up to date, strategically consider the alternative possibilities, and maintain the relationships you’ve been able to build over the years. By staying up to date, you will better understand the current environment, its pressures, its challenges as well as its opportunities. By strategically considering the alternative possibilities, given the context of the current environment, you have set yourself up to better respond to the changing environment. Finally, the relationships you build over the years provide you the ability to capture a different perspective, one that you may not have considered yet. It’s for these reasons that being a member of MISA Ontario is a huge benefit to municipalities. There are so many extremely intelligent individuals within the association who are always willing to assist in overcoming uncertainty in local government, whatever that may be.
What is the best way MISA Ontario can take educated risks in order to improve services?
Collaboration and genuine dialogue with the membership, external agencies and fellow MISA chapters.
A condensed version of this interview can be found in the June 2019 issue of Municipal World.
About Municipal Information Systems Association (MISA) Ontario
Municipal Information Systems Association, Ontario (MISA Ontario) is a non-profit organization whose objective is to foster an engaged and active community of municipal professionals, at all levels, to share information, experiences and promote municipal IT practices. For almost 40 years, MISA Ontario has continued to be an advocate for innovation on behalf of all municipalities, small to large, on issues and topics that impact their communities. As a member, you will join a growing number of 1400+ dedicated professionals working towards more effective government.
Visit our website for more information.