|Standing (left to right): Susan Mankita, Kryss Shane, Linda Grobman. Seated: Karen Zgoda
But there were many more highlights. Here are a few:
1. Keynote addresses: These are informative and inspirational speeches that are usually given at the beginning and end of a conference, to tie the theme of the conference together for all attendees. These were held in a ballroom large enough to hold all 1,000 conference attendees. The theme of the conference, "Restoring Hope," ran through the various keynotes throughout the 3 1/2 days of the meeting. After a Monday morning introductory speech by NASW Executive Director Elizabeth Clark, the attendees heard Bob and Lee Woodruff speak.
|Bob and Lee Woodruff
2. Sharing with other professionals: I submitted an abstract, which was accepted, to do an individual presentation entitled, "That Was Awesome! Hope Through Live Music at the Bedside During Illness and End of Life."
|Roberta Gastineau, Christina Risley-Curtis, Linda Grobman
The format of the presentation was a panel with two other presenters. The conference planners did an excellent job of matching three presentations that were different, yet complemented each other. Roberta Gastineau did a humorous reading on social work and ethics, and Christina Risley-Curtis presented on the importance of animals in social work, including assessing clients' relationships with animals, as well as using animals in therapy. It was a pleasure to meet and present with these two innovative social workers.
3. Entertainment: On the conference agenda for Tuesday night was a special performance by the Capitol Steps, a wonderfully zany musical comedy troupe that "puts the mock in Democracy."
4. Exhibiting and more networking: When I go to a social work conference, I am often there as an exhibitor, as was the case at this one.
|Linda Grobman and Carmela Isabella, who wrote a chapter in MORE DAYS IN THE LIVES OF SOCIAL WORKERS about her incredible experience as a BSW intern in Hillary Clinton's office.
I have just touched the tip of the iceberg. Much of the "good stuff" that happens at conferences occurs outside of the educational sessions, during informal conversations, in the exhibit hall, at receptions, or even at a political comedy performance. Not to mention that you can learn a great deal from the variety of excellent workshops, presentations, and symposia--and be energized and inspired by the keynotes and just being in a place with so many like-minded folks with whom you can share ideas and make connections.
What are your best conference experiences?