By Anne Kremer, DePaul University
After the candidate statements were sent to the membership via email, I received a message from Mary Hendry, retired IACAC member who served in leadership roles at both Saint Xavier and Roosevelt University. Mary may not know this, but she is always someone I’ve admired from afar for her professionalism, smarts, and overall south-side Irish “coolness” (I first met her when she welcomed my Summer Institute group at Lewis University in 2004.) I was excited to see her name in my inbox and thus anxiously opened the email. In her message she commented on how she agreed with what I had written about IACAC being a group with a “say yes!” attitude and that this is what makes our organization so great. She also shared that several years back she read a book by a Swedish diplomat, who wrote that the two most important words in any language were “yes” and “thank you.” Reflecting on my experience within this organization and on this recent conference experience, this statement could not be truer. So many of you said “YES” to this conference by engaging in your own professional search to learn, grow, and develop as a professional while at the conference. Whether you came to learn, presented, or lead or volunteered on a committee, this conference would not happen without your efforts and I cannot thank each of you enough for making this conference a success.
A few highlights:
We had 861 individuals attended this year’s conference held at the Westin in Itasca – this was three more than last year’s number! We are still waiting for official survey results; however, many individuals commented that it was a positive, educational, and professional experience.
As noted above, the conference would not be possible without the dedication and commitment of the 34 Conference Committee Chairs. This group was creative, dedicated and did an outstanding job carrying out the vision for this year’s conference. In addition, our conference promotion and programming is enhanced greatly through the work of our IACAC webmaster, Dan Saavedra and publication specialist, Sherry Hall. A tremendous thanks to this group!
I learned very quickly while planning the conference the impact our sponsors, advertisers, and exhibitors have on the success of this event. We broke last year’s record for sponsorship with 21 sponsors and 25 exhibitors. Each institution and organization’s willingness to give to IACAC is essential. Thank you for your generosity and support.
This year we offered 64 conference sessions that explored topics relevant to all members of the profession and offered wonderful collaborations between both sides of the desk as well as representation from multiple institutions. This year’s sessions also included two unique threads – Guiding the Way to Inclusion and Transfer Students and Community Colleges. These sessions focused specifically on these populations and concluded with a Connections session on Friday to debrief on topics discussed. You will be notified with the presentations and resources from each session are available on the IACAC website.
We were excited to welcome Dr. JoAnn Deak, Ph.D. and leader of The Deak Group, to share with us more about the adolescent brain. She offered many insights on the inner-workings of the minds of our students, as well as how we can have an even more positive impact on our students by what we say and how we act as they move through such a pivotal time in their lives. I think we would all agree we walked away having learned something new.
We hosted our first ever Candidate Meet and Greet prior to the General Membership Meeting on Thursday morning. Members were invited to join the candidates and ask questions regarding how they hope to contribute as leaders of IACAC.
Through the hard work Project Reach Committee and a generous donation from Colleges that Change Lives, we were fortunate to select two schools as this year’s Project Reach recipients, Tilden Community Academy and Truman Middle College. This committee also held the second annual Project Reach 5k raising $1977.00 with 93 runners. Proceeds from dining at The RAM totaled $594. Our membership was incredibly generous with their donations and each counselor returned to their school with a car load of new materials and resources for their students.
In addition, our Raffle committee raised over $6,500! This includes 50/50 ticket sales, raffle basket and silent auction sales. There were some very cool prizes, so congrats to all those lucky winners. Thanks to all who donated to the raffle, and we hope you’ll consider doing so next year!
To demonstrate the reach of our IACAC membership, this year we encouraged members to send in photos of their unique travels, college visits, and work with students. We also asked several counselors to send in videos of their students highlighting what they are most excited about regarding college, their biggest fears, what it means to be a first generation students, among other things. We showcased these pictures and videos throughout the conference. It was a great way to see just how much our members do with students and the impact we have on their lives during this time.
IACAC also hosted its first ever Tweet-wall at the conference. It was exciting to see the social media traffic with members congratulating one another, noting successful conference sessions, as well as complimenting the food. A trending topic on Thursday afternoon was the cheesecake – it was a hit!
We held several receptions honoring various groups throughout the conference. Our retirees enjoyed a luncheon and reception in their honor. This is a group that continues to give so much to this organization and we were so grateful for your attendance.
This year we were excited to select five new $1000.00 scholarship winners. Three of these students were present to receive their award and joined Todd and the Scholarship Committee following the Opening Session for a short reception.
We were very pleased to welcome Steve Syverson, Dean Emeritus from Lawrence University and NACAC board member, to our conference. Steve did a great job updating our membership on the happenings within NACAC as well as recognizing IACAC individuals who serve on various national committees.
One of the most exciting parts of each conference is congratulating our award winners. During dinner on Thursday evening there were five new James A. Alexander Newcomer Award winners: Jennifer Coomer, Mike Ford, Lauren O’Connor, Rosa Reiber, and Ali Willoughby. We also congratulated five deserving Molly K. Arnold Award winners: Nate Bargar, Carol Lee Barry, Megan O’Rourke, Ellen Rostker, and Mike Melinder. The Friend of IACAC Award went to the Chicago Area Regional Representative organization which has many members within IACAC who collaborate with us to seamlessly to better serve our students. And finally, the Patricia K. Kasowski Recognition Award went to Marsha Hubbuch, retired counselor from Riverside Brookfield High School. Congratulations and thank you for your leadership and contributions!
Our entertainment chairs worked very hard to provide a variety of entertainment options for both Wednesday and Thursday night. Wednesday night was IACAC’s Got Talent featuring performances by several IACAC members. Thursday night we welcomed Illinois State University’s student improv group, Improv Mafia, for an after dinner performance followed by a party in the IACAC Pub and Sports Lounge. The dancing and fun continued well into the night!
Our annual conference came to a close with the conclusion of the General Membership Meeting. This meeting served as an opportunity to thank our Past-President, Todd Burrell, for all of his contributions and efforts to this association. Mike Dunker was also recognized for a very successful year as President and passed the gavel to Anne Kremer who will step into this role in June.
In closing, I could not be more grateful to have had this opportunity to chair the 2014 conference. Thanks to all of you for saying “yes!” to attending and actively participating in this event. As I look to the next year, I look forward to saying “yes” with all of you and thanking you for your contributions, dedication, and leadership.