From the President-Elect
Enclosed with this issue of The ATA Chronicle, you’ll find the Preliminary Program for ATA’s 58th Annual Conference, to be held October 25–28, 2017, at the Washington Hilton in Washington, DC. For this, our first conference in our nation’s capital since 1975, we’ve selected a conference hotel that’s in the heart of the action, within walking distance of Dupont Circle and Embassy Row, and just a short subway or cab ride away from DC’s many museums and attractions. Although many of us are familiar with the Washington Hilton as the location of the attempted assassination of then-President Ronald Reagan, you might be surprised to learn that guitar legend Jimi Hendrix played in the hotel’s International Ballroom in 1968. So I think it’s safe to say that ATA58 is going to rock!
Following our very successful conference in San Francisco in 2016, we received many helpful evaluations from our attendees focusing on individual sessions and on the conference as a whole. We truly value your feedback, and filling out those evaluations made you part of this year’s conference planning team. While there are some things we can’t change—I think all of us wish we could attend two or three sessions and events at once—we do know that our attendees want more advanced sessions, more sessions that teach a skill that can’t be learned from an article or webinar, and more time to network with colleagues and with current and potential clients.
Last year’s inaugural Advanced Skills and Training Day, held the Wednesday before the main conference begins, was a tremendous success. This year, we’ll once again be offering a variety of three-hour trainings on Wednesday morning and afternoon, with a focus on advanced, hands-on topics that leave you with new skills you can implement right away. Check the Preliminary Program for the full lineup, and make sure to register early, as many of the AST courses sold out last year.
We received over 425 session proposals for the main conference—a record number. From those, we selected 169 sessions that cover a wide range of topics and levels. In a typical year, about one-third of our attendees are participating in their very first ATA conference and need to learn the basics of our industry. Another third have attended more than five ATA conferences and want advanced-level sessions and plenty of networking time. To accommodate everyone’s networking needs, we’ll be bringing back last year’s very popular Job Fair and Brainstorm Networking events, and many of our divisions will be holding dinners and networking events for their members. To round things out, the energetic team who runs our Buddies Welcome Newbies program will once again be pairing first-time attendees with experienced ones to ensure that our first-timers have a welcoming face to look for throughout the conference.
The adage “it takes a village” applies not only to raising children, but to putting on an event that brings together some 1,800 attendees from around the world. I want to extend a huge thank you to our tireless staff at ATA Headquarters who make sure that the conference logistics run smoothly, to all of our division administrators, assistant administrators, committee chairs, and other volunteers who review every one of those 425 session proposals, and to ATA President David Rumsey and the rest of ATA’s Board, who provide lots of patient guidance and support throughout the conference planning process.
We’re looking forward to another incredible conference in DC, and having you there will make it even better! As I overheard on the escalator during our San Francisco conference, “You can’t download an experience like this.” Thank you for being an ATA member, and we’ll see you soon in DC.