I have received some inquiries from several chapter officials wanting my opinion on whether it is worth their while to attend the 2014 USA Dance Chapter Conference, which will be held in Irvine, CA on March 6-9, 2014. My response is that it is extremely worth while. The annual Chapter Conference brings together officials from chapters all over the country where they can obtain useful information on growing their chapter, retaining members and volunteers and learning new techniques to improve their chapter over-all, in an environment meant to facilitate friendly interaction interspersed with lots of social dancing.
This year’s Chapter Conference will have some new elements because several of the past key presenters will not be there. Chapter officials will not see the previous corporate officers Esther Freeman and Bill Rose, nor have the opportunity to attend their popular sessions because they have left office and will not be in attendance. But chapter officials will get to hear from their replacements and begin to evaluate whether this new team is living up to their campaign promises.
In reviewing the list of topics and presenters this year, my recommendation is to make a special effort to attend the sessions presented by Stan Andrews and Angela Prince. Attendees should also plan to schedule some time with Ben Moseley, who will be there throughout the conference in order to discuss the Website and Marketing Promotion Program for chapters. I have attended presentations by these individuals on several occasions in the past and can attest to their high quality.
I have always believed that it is important when inviting presenters to identify those who can best engage the attendees as well as provide them with accurate information in a clear fashion. It is also extremely important for the integrity of USA Dance that presenters who are also members of the organization be upstanding individuals who understand and support USA Dance’s role as a National Governing Body of DanceSport first and foremost, and the key activities provided by social dancers in support of that mission. Individuals who do not meet these high standards should be screened out as presenters.
I note that there is no presentation this year regarding USA Dance’s K-12 program, which has as a key element the role that chapters can play in expanding dance opportunities in the schools. This is an omission that needs to be corrected for next year’s conference, because the encouragement of dancing in the schools is part of USA Dance’s mission and fully aligns with the educational activities of the organization.*
This year’s conference hosts will be the Orange County, Los Angeles and Inland Chapters. These host chapters have wonderful volunteers and I am sure they will perform their host functions in the gracious manner for which they are known, particularly in welcoming the many chapter officials from around the country to Southern California and ensuring that they have an excellent conference experience and many enjoyable dance activities during their stay. So chapter leaders should go and enjoy the conference, and take away some useful information as well.
The link to the Chapter Conference site is:
*January 31, 2014 Update Regarding K-12 Program: I have been informed that a K-12 presentation has been added to the Chapter Conference, although it has not yet appeared on the published schedule. Attendees should make a point to attend this presentation and pick up the literature that will be available in order to assist chapters to start their own K-12 Student Program.