It began on a beautifully hot August day as I sat at a picnic table in our campsite in Jasper, dialed-in to our first conference call. It was the first of many meetings I will spend with two committees, one reviewing presenters and the other researching and selecting keynote speakers.
Over the next eight months, these teams of professionals from across the country will work over email, file sharing and conference calls to systematically fill more than 20 spots in the program for May’s Connexions Conference. The spots will include every keynote, plenary panel, and workshop presenter. The longer we go, the more difficult it becomes to narrow the list to meet wide criteria to match the needs of conference delegates. It’s now March and our final few selections will happen as nature comes to life and the final agenda is set for Charlottetown.
The selection process must balance topics, demographics to match our profession, geographic location of presenters, sector, and experience level. One area of particular focus for me since I began five years ago is to have a program which closely reflected the genders within our profession. Every year, we get one step closer, and this year, I’m happiest with how close we’ve come to this goal.
The challenge to balance all of these criteria and produce a conference program which has mostly new presenters, while falling within budget…is damn tough! Our conversations will range from near argument to jovial laughter, and end with a program made for you. And you. And you, you and you.
I won’t tell you this year’s program is awesome, I’ll let you attend and you can tell me what you think of the Pub Crawl on the final night. I listen for beer (Buddy, I’m from the Maritimes)! Sociable!
Tim Conrad, APR