From the President-Elect
Madalena Sánchez Zampaulo
Twitter handle: @mszampaulo
ATA61 Goes Virtual
This year we’ve all been met with a lot of uncertainty. As president-elect and Annual Conference organizer, I’ll tell you that a global pandemic and economic crisis were not the challenges I expected we would face this year in planning ATA61. As the number of COVID-19 cases in the U.S. continues to climb, your health and well-being remain our top priority. With this in mind, and in order to bring some certainty to our Annual Conference event, ATA’s Board of Directors has decided to shift from a “hybrid” (in-person and virtual) model to a fully virtual conference model this year.
We could not make this decision earlier in the year due to the huge financial cancelation penalties ATA would have incurred if we had canceled without a contractually-stipulated cause. The conference hotel has now agreed to waive cancelation penalties if we agree to hold our Annual Conference at their hotel in 2025, the next available date. The removal of this financial barrier allowed us to focus solely on the health and well-being of our conference attendees, sponsors, and exhibitors.
With this new-to-ATA delivery format, and knowing conference attendees appreciate the educational content available, our main focus will be to deliver a large variety of sessions that will appeal to our diverse membership. While it may not be possible to provide all 174 regular sessions for the virtual conference, our goal will be to provide as many sessions as possible that attendees will find useful and stimulating. The remote conference features aim to make sessions incredibly interactive and accessible. You’ll be able to participate in session Q&As and even send your questions to speakers after their session if they were unable to answer them live. You’ll also be able to see which sessions are in progress and start viewing them immediately, switch between session rooms just as you would if you attended in person, and more. And, of course, if you can’t make it to a session during the livestream, you can watch the recording later!
Our virtual Exhibit Hall will allow you to chat with vendors and tools representatives and ask questions about their products or services. Our conference sponsors will also be highlighted on the virtual conference site so that remote attendees can learn more about them and what they provide.
Finally, it wouldn’t be an Annual Conference without the networking and camaraderie we all enjoy so much. The virtual conference will include remote networking and social gatherings for attendees, just as we always have when meeting in person. Divisions are encouraged to organize virtual social gatherings in lieu of the popular annual division dinners we all enjoy.
As conference organizer, I assure you that we’ll do everything possible to make the virtual conference as enjoyable and beneficial as possible for attendees.
Despite the uncertainty and unknowns 2020 has brought, we’re excited to have made this decision and to bring some certainty and excitement to the format of the Annual Conference. One thing is for sure—ATA61 will be one for the books!