Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Tutor/Mentor Conference Success!

You've probably all figured that the reason you haven't heard from me in a while is that we just finished having our semi-annual Tutor/Mentor Leadership and Networking Conference at Northwestern Law School, which was last Thursday May 29th and Friday May 30th. The Conference was very successful, I met so many incredible people who are so passionate about helping at-risk youth. People came from all across America (I for sure met people from New York, Virginia, Florida, Texas, Nebraska, Iowa, Wisconsin, Indiana, Missouri, and California, in addition to people from programs all across Illinois) and from all kinds of programs.

In addition to helping organize the conference, I moderated two discussion panels on Thursday and Friday morning. Thursday morning's panel was on Program Strategies and Challenges, and I was so fortunate to have Rev. Regi Ratliff from Eternal Light Community Services in Maywood, IL, Rebecca Estrada from Erie Neighborhood House, Kathy Anderson from Wicker Park Learning Services and Bobby Capulong from Horizons-for-Youth were all so kind in participating and sharing their experiences and insights in running tutoring and mentoring programs.

On Friday, I moderated a discussion on Volunteer Recruitment and Retention Strategies along with Katherine Moone from East Village Youth Program and Judy Rosen from Village of Mt. Prospect Mentoring. We also had a wonderful and insightful discussion about attracting and keeping volunteers. I'm especially excited about that panel because I felt it truly kicked off my campaign to reignite our annual Volunteer Recruitment Campaign this summer. I feel like the people who would attend a panel discussion on volunteer recruitment and retention would be the same people who would help out with our Volunteer Recruitment Campaign and I hope to have a meeting at the beginning of July about what we can do in August and September to recruit as many volunteers as possible to be tutors and mentors in programs across the city.

If there was anything that I would like to change about this year's conference, it would've been that I wish that there were more people who came. Attendance was a little on the low side - around 60 each day. Next time I'm going to try and see who has attended the conference in years past and contact those people first. We're also going to try and work our media connections more so that more people who aren't even in the tutoring and mentoring community would be enticed to come to our conference.

In the long run though, I felt that our conference was extremely successful and I had more people come up to me and tell me how well-organized the conference was and how valuable the workshop topics were. I want to thank Northwestern Law School for hosting us and especially Toni Curtis, Cecelia and Joe for all their help and support leading up to, and during the conference. Also, thank you to El Da'Sheon Nix, Toni Pullen, Karen Royster James, Cassina Sanders, and Keith Smith for helping with everything so that the conference ran as smoothly as possible. Thanks to SJ and Sarah our awesome interns from Korea who put together the conference packets faster than I've ever seen before and who were the best conference photographers ever. Finally Dan Bassill for making this conference happen in the first place.

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