DePaul College Prep
We all have people in our lives that have made an impact on where we are, and who we are. Sometimes, in the smallest ways, other times, in the most grand, we find a helping hand or a few kind words to lead us to where we need to be.
Below is an email I wrote to our conference committee earlier this month. I am sharing this with Membership now, but I was sure to share this with the conference squad first, our team, before anyone else read this message of gratitude. It is for them, but my hope is that it inspires you to look to do the same.
We are at our best, as an organization, when we make the best interests of each other our own interest. The soul of our shared story and the purpose of our profession is service. We are here, together, as volunteers, because we see the good in our work and in each other.
We are navigating through what seems to be, the longest year in our organization’s history. As we round the last turn towards April 21, I find myself reflecting on our shared path, and the road we have taken through the storm.
I am proud of this coalition of professionals. Collectively, our conference team is as talented, as creative, and as brave a group as I have been connected to. We are intentionally representative of membership and purposefully diverse in our views and our identities. We are resilient and adaptive, and have found ways to re-invent our traditions, and in many ways, elevate the experience. Thank you for trusting me and for supporting the process. Thank you for accepting this challenge, and for seeing it through.
I am proud that all of our decisions guiding the direction of our Conference have been made inclusively, with clarity and transparency – honoring the voices of this committee and across our association. We have operated in a state of unknown for much of this planning process (and for much of our personal and professional lives this past year), and you have all responded with patience and grace. This event belongs to ALL of us, and is for ALL of us – I am so very thankful this experience will represent the best of us all.
I am proud of how bold we have been and all of the NEW ideas. In a year where we could’ve packed away our creativity and leaned on what we’ve always done, we went all in on a fresh vision. Some highlights:
Virtual Appreciation Station
Spirit Wear Store (At long last)
Virtual Tastings (Delivering Libations Door to Door!)
Amazon Wish Lists supporting our Project Reach schools
Crazy creative entertainment ideas
Featuring space for IAS and their work, and supporting our Allyship Panel
Our FIRST US Congress Person contributing to conference (kudos, RW)
Rockstar Programming (seriously incredible)
Forcing structural inequality conversations through role play via Factuality
Digital Raffle Pulls
Keynote and Endnote speakers that will knock our socks off
Forward thinking First Timers experience
Re-Imagined Registration process in partnership with our non-for-profit platform partner
And the triumphant return of the Admissions Players
As with anything in life, you get out what you put in. What this team has put into making this experience come to be is inspiring and humbling, and for our friends sharing this experience in April, that good work will be felt across our Association. I tend to be sentimental, expressive of my feelings, and have been known to wear my emotions on the outside, easy for others to see. I am proud of that, too. I hope that by now you all know how truly appreciative I am of your super human efforts this year to make this conference come to be. I am most proud that we have made it through, together.
Nearly a year ago, around this time of year, I called on Membership, in a recorded President-elect video from my backyard in Chicago, to reflect on who has been in service to you, who has been your person, your “Mama Bluejay.” In the spirit of our conference and in the shadow of this very challenging year, I am proud to make that call out again.
As a part of the tone we hope to set with our re-imagined conference experience this year, we are offering a way to share your gratitude, to let those in your professional life know their impact on you. We call it the Appreciation Station, and it’s digital a way to simply say “Thank You” to someone who has been in service to you. Please consider reflecting on the year, and your career, checking out the link, and sharing the Good.