Conference Exceeds Expectations for Newcomers and Veterans
How successful was the fall conference?
To find out, we spoke with the individuals who walked the halls of the convention center, attended the plenary and concurrent sessions, and networked until they didn't have any business cards left. Here's what they had to say.
, vice president of grant programs for The Community Foundation Serving Riverside and San Bernadino Counties
, and Paula Myles
, the foundation's controller, have been to a number of fall conferences. What keeps them coming back? For Myles it's the financial content. "Being the controller of a smallish foundation, it's important for me to connect with other financial professionals," she said. "I need to know what the larger foundations are doing and what we should be looking out for in our own foundation because we don't have the resources most of the other ones do."
Cudiamat especially enjoys the concurrent sessions "because that's where you can gather information about methodologies, approaches, and strategies and make it applicable to smaller communities. For me it's all about applying with I learn. The ideas are there, and it's up to me to bring them back and make everything relevant for our region."
, vice president and general counsel for the Austin Community Foundation
, also finds the concurrent sessions very useful. "I found the legal sessions as well as the ones on investments in this less-robust economy, community leadership, and new ways to use technology all to be interesting and informative."
Ramsey has one suggestion for improving her experience: more handouts. "I do wish there had been handouts (or an electronic equivalent) in every session. The legal sessions all had them, but many others did not," she explained. "All speakers should have handouts, and they should be available concurrent with the presentation."
While Cudiamat, Myles, and Ramsey are all conference veterans, many newcomers were in attendance as well, including Timothy DuMez
, director of donor services at the Community Foundation of the Holland/Zeeland Area
. His executive director thought the conference would be a great way for him to "gain valuable knowledge in a condensed format," and he quickly found out that she was right.
DuMez found the concurrent sessions particularly useful, including "Measuring Progress, Inspiring Action Through Key Indicator Projects"; "Asset Growth in an Economic Downturn: The Changing DAF vs. PF Debate"; "A Thriving, Unrestricted Annual Fund—What Every Community Foundation Needs"; and "20 Things Community Foundations Do That Drive Me Nuts!" As he explained, "I have extensive notes from each of these sessions and specific ideas to begin incorporating in our strategic approach for next year. I've been to many conferences in my working life, and you always hope to take away a nugget or two. I feel like I was given a plateful."
"I've been to many conferences in my working life, and you always hope for a nugget or two," DuMez said. "I feel like I was given a plateful."
Like DuMez, Mary Stanley
, senior gift planning advisor for the Central Indiana Community Foundation
, is relatively new to the foundation world and was attending her first Council conference. She was a partner in a large Indianapolis-based law firm in her previous life, so the conference was new experience for her.
"They said at Sunday's Newcomer Reception that people would go out of their way to meet and talk with us, and that was not an understatement," she noted. "I came home with many new contacts who I would not hesitate to call for guidance or advice in the community foundation field."
This was also the first conference for Mary Beth Mikrut
, executive director of the Racine Community Foundation
. She found the plenaries and the concurrent sessions very helpful, and like Stanley she really appreciated the networking.
"I came away from the conference with a sense of satisfaction and fulfillment," Mikrut said. "I look forward to attending future Council on Foundation events."
"I enjoyed the opportunity to meet fellow community foundation leaders during the breaks and at meals," she said. "I know I will be in touch with many of them in the months and years ahead. I came away from the conference with a sense of satisfaction and fulfillment. It was informative and intense, but fun. I look forward to attending future Council on Foundation conferences.