Thursday, November 15, 2007

It's Conference Day

I'm at the Olympia Fields Country Club in Olympia Fields, Il. This is where we're hosting the Tutor/Mentor Leadership and Networking Conference.

This is the 28th time I've hosted this conference since 1994, and I still get jitters,hoping everything will run smoothly, enough people will attend, and that participants will get value from attending.

Yet, I know from past experience that I've done all I can. It's now up to those who attend to make this conference and this networking work for them. I know from past experience, that just one or two contacts out of a face to face conference can lead to major impacts on an organization.

For instance, in the first conference we started our relationship with lawyers and judges of the Chicago Bar Association. That's led to a Lend A Hand Program that now mobilizes lawyers and judges to be part of tutor/mentor programs all over Chicago. It also raises money to help fund these programs. Yesterday was the annual meeting to review grant requests. Almost $200,000 was awarded to different tutor/mentor programs in Chicago.

In another conference, around 1998, I met Steve Roussos. Steve was a PhD student at the University of Kansas and had contacted me saying "I'm coming to Chicago. Can we meet?" I asked when. He said November. I said, "will you do a workshop?" He did, and we've been working together ever since.

In another conference, in around 2000, I met Scot Evanbeck, Dean of University College at IUPUI, in Indianapolis. The web site was re-built by IUPUI in 2005 as a result of the networking and collaboration that resulted from that first meeting.

In the T/MC OHATS documentation system I've documented actions and networking that has taken place since 1999. Through this you can see how the conferences play a role in bringing people together, share knowledge, and enable each participant to use this knowledge to build their own program, start a new program, or support a citywide strategy of multiple programs.

It's showtime! Got to get dressed and help set up. If you're in the area, why not drop by. If you can't make it, why not join us in the forums on the T/MC web site.

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