Tuesday, November 24, 2009

The Tutor/Mentor Leadership and Networking Conference was a Success!

This morning I received a very nice e-mail from a conference participant. We talked about how his organization can work with the Tutor/Mentor Connection at the conference and he was e-mailing to follow up, but he also added this nice note:

" It was great to meet you at the Conference last Thursday. I found it as an excellent opportunity to meet some great people and get some valuable information. I found the last session of the day, on fundraising strategies: 10 Ways to Stay Ahead in This Economy, to be one of the best; I'm glad I stuck around for it."

I think this note sums up what a success the November Tutor/Mentor Conference, was. Sheer numbers-wise, we had around 155 people attend this conference - more than any November conference since 2001. We also had a lot of people from organizations that I had not seen participate before, and people from Wisconsin, Indiana, Iowa, Louisiana, and New Mexico. Also, since we were at Norris University Center on Northwestern's Evanston Campus, we were able to have the participation of students from Northwestern. Finally, we were able to hear from a DePaul Chicago Studies class on what they learned about tutoring and mentoring programs in Chicago. Hopefully these students from two fo Chicago's top universities will take what they learned from this conference and become the future leaders in the tutoring and mentoring communities.

The first day was a bit hectic due to having swine flu vaccinations in one of the rooms on the same floor that we were having our conference. This meant that we had to not only direct many students to the swine flu vaccines, but also that we had to have one of our morning workshops and our lunchtime keynote in the Block Art Museum Auditorium next door. Fortunately, Block were gracious hosts and really kind about letting us use their space. Norris also proved to be very helpful in making sure all of our technical difficulties were taken care of and that everyone had internet and working PowerPoint projectors in their rooms.

Due to dealing with swine flu vaccines, making sure people go to Block museum and back, and dealing with a slight catering snafu, the only workshop I got to sit on was the volunteer recruitment panel that I was moderating. However, I felt that particular panel was the best one that I've moderated due in large part to the fantastic audience we had, who all had great and probing questions.

Fortunately, the next day I was able to sit in on two fantastic keynotes. Our first was Isaiah Brooms, who is a former Cabrini Connections student and now is the Director of Admissions at the Westwood College Virginia Ballston Campus. I was absolutely riveted as Mr. Brooms told his story of going from living in Cabrini-Green during the 1980s at the height of the crack epidemic and being shot at by gangs on a daily basis, to being an administrator in academia. I think many of the programs felt like what they do everyday was put into perspective by Mr. Brooms' story and were inspired to continue to do the good work that they do.

The other keynote that I was able to listen to was Valdis Krebs and Jean Russell talk about mobilizing your social network. Unfortunately I was only able to hear a portion of their talk because I had to deal with some technical difficulties in another room, but from what I did here really energized me to consider who is in my network and who do those people in my network know in their networks. As I mentioned in a previous post, I mapped my network for the Chicago Marathon donations that Nick and I received, but I think it would be worth it to map other networks as well.

So, with this great energy coming out of the conference we enter the Holiday giving season. If you have been inspired by these posts and learning about our conferences, there are a couple of things that you can do:

1. Help plan the May 2010 Conference.
2. Help promote the May 2010 Conference and everything that the Tutor/Mentor Connection does leading up to the May 2010 Conference
3. Help fund the May 2010 Conference - we had 50 people request full or partial scholarships. We also gave all of the speakers and panelists free admission. This adds up but we strong feel that these people deserve to come to the Tutor/Mentor Conference no matter what their financial situation is. Just think - your financial support of someone attending the conference today will foster a future leader in tutoring and mentoring in the future.

Inspired? Let me know in the comments! Happy Thanksgiving everybody!

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