Thanks to the true heroes, hasta luego to a friend.
The True Heroes
We just finished an amazing convention with almost 9,700 registrations. Over 90,000 screening interviews, over 200 exhibitors, and a never-ending stream of events, from Zoom, to webinars, to interactive sessions, to fireside chats with industry leaders. Several IPC companies commented this was by far the best virtual convention they have ever seen. In fact, one commented that SHPE is now the industry standard for virtual conventions. And we did all of this without any major issues or glitches, something about everyone else experienced.
We were able to help every student who needed relief or help with the registration, we attracted back almost all the IPCs who had to leave during the pandemic, successfully had our first APC (Academic Partnership Council, like the IPC but for academia), and helped a record number of people connect with their dream job, not to mention all the training, life stories, awards, experiences, and importantly, networking across the country.
Never in our wildest dreams could we have imagined that in record timing, without any prework and just NILA as a previous experience, we could pivot 180 degrees, cancel an in-person event of this magnitude, get a platform and production company ready, train everyone behind the scenes on how to work it, get hundreds of recorded talks with just 2-week notice, and deliver this experience. In fact, when we decided to go virtual, we were mentally bracing for the worst. Yet our amazing staff delivered an outstanding experience in record timing…
I often ask people, “who are our most critical and valued individuals in SHPE?” And I invariably get a myriad of answers. Our student members, after all they are why we exist, to help them. Our professional members, they give back to the organization and they are critical to our success. The IPC, they fund about half of our expenses so we can do our job. Our academia partners, they help with the source of talent for the organization. And similar responses. All of which are 100% true, these groups are critically important for us and without them we wouldn’t have the organization we have. However, I believe the most critical group and most important for SHPE is our staff.
Our staff are the lifeblood of the organization, the engine that keeps us running, the heart of our existence. To paraphrase someone else, if we lose all our members, if we lose the IPCs, if we lose our offices and assets, if we lose everything…but we keep our staff, we would, in no time, rebuild SHPE from the ground up and get us back to where we were before. Because our staff are the ones who make everything happen. Yes, we also have hundreds of volunteers and I see them in the same context as the staff, but volunteers come and go, and they have their own jobs and priorities and limited time. Our staff are 100% SHPE.
This convention saw amazing work from them. One person’s husband was in the hospital during the convention, yet she worked incredible hours to get things done. Several worked nonstop around the clock for days, over weekends, without any real breaks just to get things moving. And I saw many who I’d swear had the ability to be in three places at the same time. And not everyone was remote, some were with the production company working and fixing glitches as they happened so the public never experienced them. More incredibly, not once did I hear any of them complaining about the exhausting work, nothing, nada. All the conversations were very positive, either troubleshooting, planning for the next event, or helping someone else do well. It was an incredible act of selfless service in the interest of SHPE, in the interest of the greater good, and I thank each and every one of our staff for this.
As I said in my closing speech at the convention, our staff are our heroes, able to deliver impossible feats and do so with excellence. My, and the rest of the Board’s, thanks to all of you.
Hasta Luego to a Friend
Kathleen DuBois, Senior Director, Development and External Relations, is leaving us to pursue other interests.
I am very saddened by Kathleen’s departure as she has been a major contributor to SHPE in many areas: developing marketing that included the creation and distribution of SHPE’s new logo, enhancing our social presence, and, my favorite, spearheading a fundraising campaign that brought in almost a million dollars that was then allocated to scholarships and to COVID relief efforts. She demonstrated incredible ability to manage a large workload and succeeded in everything she did. She built and fostered strong relationships, both internal and external. To quote a Regional VP when Kathleen’s departure was announced “this hurts my morale, from upper management of staff she took the time to listen and acted on productive ideas, she was the Peacemaker, I will miss her.” An endorsement from one of her customers, and one that I personally vouch for.
She is amazing at thinking of win-win solutions, and was instrumental in ensuring that SHPE provided our constituencies with the messaging that showed our commitment to our members, our community, and the world as a whole.
She is an outstanding leader who will be sorely missed by those lucky enough to call her a colleague.
Her departure is bittersweet for her, as she loves it here and she loves and believes in SHPE’s mission. But she came across the opportunity of a lifetime, a job offer impossible to turn down and a great step forward in her career.
I won’t say goodbye or farewell to her, only say hasta luego as we will always have our arms open to her and would welcome her back if she ever wants to return.
Hasta luego dear friend. Good luck, wish you the best, and thanks for all you did for us.
Chair, SHPE Board of Directors