I missed last year’s National Education Conference in Orlando for the first time in a decade, with the birth of my son the week prior prevailing. This year I added Portland to my roster of SGMP NEC’s that had previously taken me to Orlando, Nashville, Sacramento, Denver, Atlantic City, Dallas, Louisville, Kansas City, Norfolk, and New Orleans. It was my eleventh NEC in twelve years, but the first one I attended as a member of the association’s national board of directors. It makes a difference.
I’ve had increasing responsibility at these conference for many years since I served my chapter in a leadership role and since I volunteered to be on various national committees. I’ve also previously been tasked with running the silent and live auctions and I’ve attended as a member of the Gilmer Institute of Learning, charged with fundraising, scholarship and certification, and education and programming. So I’m not exactly a stranger to the society’s leadership.
But now as one of nine board members, I felt more ownership of the conference than ever before. It’s success meant everything to me personally, and rave reviews and harsh criticism would be much more palpable this year. I am completely biased but from as objective point of view as I can have, I believe this year was a considerable success. Successful unto itself, but successful too in such a challenging environment for government meetings. Attendance was good, spirits were high, sessions were well attended, and the tradeshow exceeded many expectations. Portland was an incredible host city, a city many of our attendees had not yet before visited.
There were blips – how could there not be? But I reveled in the blips not being obvious to the lay attendee. I minded the emergency sessions the board had to meet to discuss conduct matters and last minute changes, sure, but I was more proud of the way the product we put out there in the marketplace. Hard work pays off. And I’m looking forward to continuing to serve this most important industry association for years to come.