What a pleasure it was to attend the annual Chapter Conference this past March, hosted by the ever-gracious volunteers of the Richmond, VA Chapter.
A lot of work goes into producing this multi-day event, with major organizing duties being performed by our Vice President of Social Dance, Jean Krupa, that include developing a list of workshop topics, securing the workshop presenters, handling hotel details, and coordinating with the host chapter on the nightly social activities.
Every year workshops include some important standard topics for chapter officers, such as chapter financial management and handling chapter conflicts. These were supplemented this year with additional workshops that included such topics as how to successfully build committees and volunteers, and how to run chapter elections. Other topics included a fund raising primer, marketing ballroom dancing via a chapter’s website, membership growth and retention, music selection, chapter publicity, improving the quality of chapter dances and other issues of interest to chapter officials. Such topics are presented not only by national and district officials, but also by chapter presidents and other knowledgeable individuals who are eager to share their expertise.
Our Senior Vice President, Bill Rose, presented a workshop on the new membership system, and was also available throughout the weekend for individual tutorials for chapter officials who had more specific questions or issues that needed to be addressed.
On Saturday night, there was a question and answer panel with all four National Corporate Officers, who answered a wide array of questions from the audience. I can attest to the lively discussion that took place.
Finally, the social aspect of the Chapter Conference was never ignored, but became a major element in each evening’s program, with dance demonstrations by some of Virginia’s top dance talent, mixers and lots and lots of social dancing.
Because this year’s Chapter Conference was held in the City of Richmond, the local chapter arranged tours of this historically significant City, and those of us who had the pleasure of going on this tour received a wealth of information on the evolution of Richmond from the time of the American Revolution through the Civil War, and the historical sites and figures that played such an important role in the development of our nation. A special thanks goes out to Richmond Chapter President, Phil Sisk for organizing these tours.
USA Dance has been moving these Chapter Conferences around the country each year so that chapters from different regions of the country will find it possible to attend at least every few years if not every year. And there is enough new information and new initiatives discussed each year to make the annual Chapter Conference valuable year in and year out.
Additionally, USA Dance has continued to increase the number of scholarships afforded to some of our smaller chapters or those lacking the financial resources, so that they will be able to attend in greater numbers. We encourage chapter officers who have not yet attended a Chapter Conference or may not have attended in several years, to consider attending the next conference, which will take place in Southern California in March, 2014. The Chapter Conference is a major benefit of chapter membership, and is an excellent way for chapter officers to expand their knowledge of successful chapter practices and strategies and to connect with their national officials, learning in detail about national programs, initiatives and services.