Author: Keith Lawlor, Assistant Manager – Conference Services, University of Prince Edward Island
The crux of why I love being a part of CUCCOA is the networking opportunities it provides each of us throughout the year! Every time I connect with another member, it’s refreshing to share challenges and successes, compare practices, and catch up with friends! Every member has something to offer, and the wealth of knowledge that the membership provides is invaluable.
Recently, I was fortunate enough to attend my first ever ACCED-I Conference in New Orleans representing our CUCCOA membership! CUCCOA and ACCED-I have developed a partnership, offering a complimentary registration to a visiting delegate from the sister association’s Executive Board. I was happy to welcome the opportunity to experience ACCED-I, seeking ideas for our membership and enhancing relationships with international partners.
The Association of Collegiate Conference and Events Directors – International (ACCED-I) is an association comparable to CUCCOA, though with a membership of 1750 representing 500 institutions internationally, it is huge! Like CUCCOA, ACCED-I offers networking opportunities, open communication channels among members, regional conferences, and an annual large scale international conference.
The ACCED-I conference incorporated speakers, topic sessions, exhibitors, and social events. A standout experience involved keynote speaker Herman Boone, the real man behind Denzel Washington’s character from the blockbuster film ‘Remember The Titans’. His presentation focused heavily on personal communication and team building, sharing his experience combining two racially divided football teams into one unified team, during a time in American history when racial tensions were high and segregation was being eliminated. He left the conference delegation inspired, and reminded the group how the most adverse of challenges can be overcome.
I had another positive experience when I connected with ACCED-I’s Industry Visibility Team, who are in place to strengthen partnerships with fellow sister organizations just like CUCCOA. A small group of us discussed ways to open the lines of communication between associations, and share some ideas and experiences from within the group. experiences. One interesting experience shared from a US member involved an exchange program, where she travelled to the UK to learn and work within the Conference and Housing Operation of a UK institution for a period of two weeks. It provided her plenty of insight about how the accommodation standards of the two countries vary, and inspired ideas for improvement for her home institution. This kind of an exchange even happens domestically, and rookie conference planners, and institutions new to the business often see huge value in such an experience. Imagine spending two weeks with another member school to compare practices and share perspectives – what an great idea!
ACCED-I also taught me something unexpected – it reminded me of just how great our CUCCOA membership is. I realized that our CUCCOA sessions are above-average in quality, and we’ve got some serious strength in our under-100-member size. CUCCOA was well-represented at ACCED-I too, with myself from the Executive Board, in addition to other members from Saint Mary’s and Carleton. We couldn’t help but compare the conference to the Canadian counterpart, and we are all enthusiastic about our upcoming National Conference in Halifax, Nova Scotia!
All in all, it was a wonderful experience, and I encourage CUCCOA members to attend an ACCED-I event sometime! It’s informative and it’s fun, and above all, it opens us up to a whole new network of colleagues, ideas and new experiences!