2022 National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) Conference

NACE2022

The 2022 NACE Conference was held in Portland, Oregon this year.  This was our first in-person conference since 2019 and there was a lot of excited and anxious people in attendance.  Safety protocols were taken to keep us safe, but you can never truly feel safe with over 1,700 people in attendance.

I have been a member of NACE for the past 15 years and have continued to look for ways to expand my role within the organization.  I have served in multiple roles which have allowed me to grow a network with professionals across the world.

I am currently finishing up my role as a Co-Chair for the Mentorship Enhancement Task Force.  I received a phone call from the incoming NACE President in July 2021 to talk about the task force and the importance he placed on mentorship.  He asked me to Co-Chair this critical task force and work to revamp the program and increase awareness/participation for NACE members.

Fast forward to the NACE conference in Portland and my task force was provided a session to discuss the work we have been doing for the past 12 months and highlight the improvements we recommend to the Board of Directors.

I have attended past NACE conferences in Anaheim, Chicago, New Orleans, Dallas, and Orlando but this was my first opportunity to present to my colleagues.  We were given a prime slot on the second day of the conference to present our work and recruit new mentors into the program. 

My Co-Chair who is based out of St. Louis, Missouri and I spent multiple Microsoft Teams virtual sessions going over the presentation format, slides, and flow.  We decided to give a big overview of the program changes and then jump into a panel discussion with current NACE mentors and mentees to get their perspective on the impact of mentoring for each of them.

We soon discovered the NACE conference committee booked our session in the LARGEST room at the event.  We had no preconceived perspective on how many people would attend our session, but we did not imagine we could fill every seat in this large space.  NOTE—we did not get close to filling all seats. 😊

No worries!  We had a very good crowd, and the folks were able to get a more personal touch from my co-chair and I.  These folks were able to ask the panelist questions and we had on the spot sign-ups for new mentors and mentees.

We shared the work of the task force and identified our strategies and marketing plans to create a world class mentoring program.

The new program will have 3 mentoring layers:

  • 1 on 1 mentoring (traditional)
  • Reverse mentoring (new)
  • Mentoring Circles (new)

Mentoring research identifies Reverse mentoring and Mentoring Circles are unique ways to increase mentoring awareness and participation.  We discussed the benefits of each mentoring model and introduced the software we recommended to match mentors with mentees.  The current matching process is manual and does not consider the demographics of the mentor or mentee.  This software matching process was a big hit with the NACE board and folks in attendance during our session.

The marketing plan will utilize all social media platforms and the NACE website to promote the changes and encourage NACE members to join the program. 

I was excited to see the NACE President, David Ong in attendance during our session.  This was his pet project for the year, and he was extremely happy with our progress and excited to roll out the new program to the general membership.

David gave us a by-name shoutout during the general session late that day to thank us for the work we put in over the year.  This was the highlight of the conference for me and got more members wanting to discuss the mentoring program and to sign up.  I walked around with sign-up sheets for the rest of the conference and got many mentors and mentees signed up.

My official Co-Chair role ends on 7/15/2022 but we still must complete one more project before our term ends.  I have decided to take a year off from serving on another NACE committee or task force.  This was my second national commitment to the career field in the past two years—time to take a small break and concentrate on my local duties. 

I plan to get back into the national work of our career field in 2023 by either serving on another committee/task force or taking a larger step up to become a NACE Board Member.  This would provide me with additional leverage within the career field as we set policy to keep us relevant.

Yes, I’m still dreaming big! 😊

My 2023 conference travel plans will be less than this year.  The 2023 conference will be held in Lake Buena Vista (Disney World) so I do not have to endure another 7 hours of traveling.  My travel time over to Disney World will be just over an hour and I don’t have to worry about flight layovers in Salt Lake City or Minneapolis. 

Look forward to getting the band back together next year.

Irie!    

Austin, Texas

Austin NISOD

“To me, Texas is Austin, a bunch of cool people trying to make a difference”.

(Bill Hicks)

My Walk into the Future journey allowed me to venture to Austin, Texas in June to attend the National Institute for Staff and Organizational Development (NISOD) annual conference.

I was nominated for an Excellence in Leadership award by my institution and my trip to Austin was needed to get recognized and receive the award.  An expense paid trip to Austin was a welcomed addition to the Walk into the Future adventures.

I visited Austin multiple times when I lived in Texas during my time in the Air Force.  My first assignment was at Carswell Air Force Base in Fort Worth.  I returned to Texas a few years later for an assignment at Randolph Air Force Base in San Antonio.  I always loved to explore and made multiple visits to Austin for football games, track meets and to just take in the music scene while stationed in Texas.  Never imagined I would be back in the city for a leadership conference decades later but that’s the catalyst for this latest adventure.

I did not know much about NISOD but quickly discovered this is a huge organization within the 2-year college space.  My institution has been a member for years and supports the overall mission of NISOD. 

The annual conference is held at the JW Marriott in downtown Austin.  This location put conference attendees in the middle of a great environment for culture, food, music, and sightseeing.  Yes, I made a point to exploit each of these opportunities.

The hotel was within walking distance to the state capitol, The University of Texas, Congress Avenue Bridge, restaurants, and music.  Austin is designed to be a walkable city and has an impressive bike/scooter street setup.  A lot of the residents and visitors in downtown Austin jump on electric scooters to get around town.  I did not jump on a scooter but leveraged walking to different Austin venues.

Cooper’s Old Time Pit BBQ was a frequent stop for me on this trip.  I received recommendations prior to arriving for this BBQ joint and it was only steps away from the hotel.  I made this my first stop in Austin and the food was as good as advertised.  The setup is designed for customers to select their meat order which is sliced when ordered.  You follow-up with premade side dishes (potato salad, green beans, etc.) and deserts as needed.  Meat portions are huge and surprises most people when ordering.  I tried multiple selections over my time in Austin but highly recommend the smoke sausage—very good.

http://coopersbbqaustin.com/

Made a few trips over to the 6th Street music venues to listen to live music and experience the Austin music scene.  Got a chance to hear a few local bands that were good.  This Austin music scene is different than Nashville—there are multiple places to listen to music but it’s not as vast as what Nashville has to offer.  The venues were a lot smaller too, so the atmosphere was more laid back as well. 

The Texas State capitol was about a mile from the hotel and was easy to reach even with the high Texas temperatures.  Decided to venture down to get a few pictures on the capitol grounds and experience the monuments.  Explored the grounds and marveled at the architecture of the capitol building.  Got a chance to view the monument dedicated to black Texas history and some of the important black pioneers.

Continue reading “Austin, Texas”

2022 Rock N Roll Atlantic City

AC EXPO4

“Don’t dream of winning, train for it”.

(Mo Farrah)

The 2022 Atlantic City Rock N Roll Half Marathon has been in focus for me for the entire year.  I targeted this race since I have never run there before, and the course was described as completely flat.  I wanted to visit the famed boardwalk and see how my training translated to the course.

Another exciting aspect of running this race was the opportunity to see my tree branch, Lauren Apgar again.  Lauren has been a tree branch since our time in the Florida State University’s Career Center.  We were able to connect during the 2019 Philadelphia Rock N Roll Half Marathon and I have not seen her since due to COVID-19.  Atlantic City provided an opportunity for us to reconnect and for me to finally meet Reese, her boyfriend.

I signed up for the 2022 Atlantic City Rock N Roll Half Marathon back in June 2021 so had this destination on the running tourist calendar for a while. 

I normally fly on Southwest Airlines, but they do not have flights directly into Atlantic City.  Flying Southwest Airlines required me to fly into Philadelphia and then drive an hour plus over to Atlantic City.   Took a chance and viewed flight options on Expedia and discovered direct flights on Spirit Airlines to Atlantic City from Orlando.  The price point for the roundtrip flight was less than a one-way ticket to Philly on Southwest Airlines so Spirit became my airline of choice for this trip.  I did not know much about Spirit, but the experience was great for me start to finish.

I flew into Atlantic City on Friday with designs to get use to the area and catch up with Lauren prior to the race on Sunday.  My hotel was in Egg Harbor Township which is only 8 miles away from the famed Atlantic City board walk and race start line.  Note: I will stay much closer in 2023.

Met Lauren and Reese at Chickie’s and Pete’s which is a local sports bar in the area.  Lauren picked this location for us to help with the carb loading process and catch up for missed time.  It was great to sit with her and talk about family, friends, and professional growth.  The three of us were able to enjoy some good food, beer, and the reunion.

AC Lauren Reese

This was Lauren’s first Rock N Roll race experience so wanted to make sure she got the most out of the experience.  We agreed to meet at the Atlantic City Convention Center for the EXPO the next morning.  I was surprised to see outlet stores downtown as I drove into the heart of the city.  I knew there would be casinos, but the outlet stores put a smile on my face since I love shopping outlets.

Lauren, Reese, and I entered the EXPO to check in for the race and visit with the vendors.  We were able to navigate the check-in process and make our way to the vendors to check out new equipment, gadgets, and nutritional products.

The first vendor we encountered provided free sessions using the NORMATEK leg compression sleeves.  We were able to plug in and enjoy the technology to increase blood flow and relax before race day.  The 20-minute session was a highlight of the EXPO—I will have to research these sleeves more and invest in a set soon since my running program is ramping up for the Fall 2022 race season.

AC EXPO1

We made our way through the EXPO, and I got additional CEP leg compression sleeves.  Decided this new color pattern would be a good addition to my collection. 

A new feature for this EXPO was gaming tables that were setup to allow participants to try blackjack, roulette, and craps games.  Race participants received a $100 coupon to play during the EXPO and we made our way to the roulette table.  My favorite number is 15 so played that continually while at the roulette table.  I was able to hit 15 once which pays 36 to 1 odds.  I was excited to add chips to my growing stack.  A few others won as well, and this is where it got interesting.  We all assumed we were playing for prizes (water bottle, towel, etc.) but the dealer let us know we were just playing for fun.  Most of us went all in with our chips after discovering we were playing just to say we were playing—no money, no prizes, and no glory.  😊

Left the roulette table and got some energy gels before heading out for lunch.

Got the customary EXPO shots most of you expect:

AC EXPO2

Made our way to Wingcraft Kitchen and Beer Bar for lunch.  This restaurant was conveniently across the street from the Convention Center.  They have a very nice menu but settled on wings, fries, and beer to continue the carb loading process.  Hit the Nike and Gap outlet stores after lunch to pick up some sales before heading back to the hotel for a quick nap.

Had a pasta dinner at Jerry Longo’s which is inside Bally’s casino.  Headed back to the hotel to rest up for the big race.

The forecast called for rain and fog most of the weekend and it was spot on.  Woke up on race day to thick fog which equals a certain level of humidity.  The temperature was in the mid-50s when I woke up, but the fog made it feels a bit warmer—not Florida warm but not exactly what I envisioned for New Jersey in April.

I was able to park and catch the shuttle bus to the start line with minimal issues and met Lauren at the start line prior.  Lauren told me on Friday she planned to run with me, and we began to work on our race strategy.  I told her my normal routine of running water stop to water stop and to take on fuel throughout the race.  This also helps mentally break the half marathon distance into chunks instead of viewing it as one long race.

My plan was to run a smart tactical race and get us to the finish line while enjoying the process of racing.  Mission accomplished!

Lauren and I ran the entire race together.  I am extremely proud of her effort and perseverance during the race.  She was able to set a Personal Record (PR) and took two full minutes off her best time.  We crossed the finish line together, but she officially beat me by three seconds based on official times—congrats my friend!

Our race splits are below:

Mile 1:  9:28 / Mile 2: 9:35 / Mile 3: 9:26 / Mile 4: 9:52 / Mile 5: 9:32 / Mile 6: 10:29 / Mile 7: 10:10 / Mile 8:  9:53 / Mile 9: 11:14 / Mile 10: 10:59 / Mile 11: 10:48 / Mile 12: 11:33 / Mile 13: 10:38 / Mile 14: 1:56

We celebrated with pictures, beer, and breakfast on the board walk! This was a great course, EXPO, and race experience—so good, I have already signed up for the 2023 race.

I plan to stay closer to the boardwalk next year so I can enjoy the entertainment and shopping more.  Looks like Lauren will be coming back as well so we can get her another PR! 😊

Well done, Lauren!

Irie!

“The man who moves mountains begins by carrying small stones”.

(Confucius)

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