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Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Pastries, Presentations, and Progess

I’m going to be honest with you: I didn’t really think a training conference for alumni volunteers would be that exciting. (Shh, don’t tell my boss). I knew the setting, Boston, would be great. I knew the social aspects - the mixers and meals - would be fun. And, I knew the content would be immensely valuable. What I wasn’t quite sure of however was how this would translate into the overall conference experience.

In one word, it was awesome. At the meet and greet Friday night you wouldn’t have guessed that many of these people were meeting for the first time. The next morning really didn’t feel that early as everyone chatted away over surprisingly delicious walnut pastries. In fact, it’s possible that we were so busy enjoying everyone’s company that we forgot to start the conference exactly on time!
Our volunteers remained cheerful throughout a morning session jam-packed with detail. Perhaps they knew that we were just laying the foundation for the more interactive presentations to come.

Cut to lunch, where we had a prime view of the Boston Pride Parade from the hotel windows. Even this spectacular sight didn’t distract our new BFFs from mingling.

Josh Newton, vice president of university development, followed lunch with an update on Campaign Emory. Tears shed over the touching Emory Advantage testimonial and jaws dropped as Josh debunked some of the myths about Emory’s endowment. Myth #1: Emory’s got plenty of money. Myth #2: The endowment can be used by the entire University wherever it’s most needed.

Following a few more updates, we divided into discussion groups. I was truly inspired to see the passion and commitment of these volunteers, the open and honest collaboration, and the sparks of creativity as we figured out where we go from here.

Wrap up the entire package with a pretty bow (which in this case took the form of a lovely dinner that night and a tour of Fenway Park the next morning), and you’ve got yourself the perfect Emory Regional Leadership Conference. Or at least that’s what we’d like to think. Take a look at some of our photos from the weekend and decide for yourself!

- Ariane Fitch, assistant director of regional volunteer programs, EAA

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