It is hard to believe but we are only a few short weeks away from the 97th Annual UPCEA conference in the beautiful and eclectic city of Portland. I am very excited about our conference –not only do we have two outstanding keynote speakers, Carl Safina (author of Song for the Blue Ocean) and Michael Horn (co-author of Disrupting Class: How Disruptive Innovation Will Change the Way the World Learns), but we will also feature interactive presentations from our colleagues addressing the professional development issues we face on a daily basis.
The person who has been at the eye of this hurricane of bringing all the moving pieces together is the new Chief Learning Officer for UPCEA, Amy Heitzman. She has done a marvelous job (to no one’s surprise) and I’ve asked her to share her thoughts with us as the conference content has come together. As if she needed another task….but she stole a minute from the conference planning and offers these insights into what we can expect in Portland:
As I reflect on the road to Portland, I’m struck by one word in particular: synergy.
Defined as cooperative interaction among groups, such that cooperation creates an enhanced effect greater than the individual parts, I see myriad examples of synergy specifically with regard to the UCPEA Annual Conference.
I’m amazed at the brilliant ways in which our collective concerns about resilience and sustainability align with the characteristics of our host city — Portland has come to embody for all of us specific ideas about how we go about what it is that we do, not just what it is that we do.
The “Intensives,” deep dives designed to kick off the conference experience, bring together for us the challenges and successes of our practice—addressing crucial needs by blending expertise and experience.
Guided morning tours, an afternoon of excursions and a special musical performance at our banquet serve to bring us into close connection with our environment, both within our hotel and without.
The culminating sessions of the conference, “Colleague Conversations,” present a rare chance for cooperative reflection and synthesis at the end of what is certain to be a monumental few days.
And perhaps the gathering itself, the meta-work of what we do, most clearly denotes for me this synergy—coming together highlights our common goals, and as such, the pieces of our varied backgrounds appear to me to be more alike than different the closer we get to Portland.
Stepping into this role at UPCEA, I wondered what would change as I transitioned from professional member to a member of the association staff. This new lens has granted me a rare set of permissions: to recognize the synergy that comes from seeing our shared values and needs from multiple viewpoints.
It is from this perspective, this lens of alignment, commonality and shared values, that I have the privilege of describing my new role as a responsibility for cultivating that synergy. To this end, I invite you to Portland to experience an outstanding conference and city, and to see the synergy of all these pieces coming together.
Many thanks, Amy. And if anyone needs any further enticement to join us in Portland, here’s a list of the top things to see and do in Portland: http://www.travelportland.com/things-to-see-and-do/attractions/top-sights. You won’t want to miss this – see you in Portland.