Riki WilchinsA Conference—and an App—to Remember

By: Riki Wilchins In: 2013 Annual Conference| Media and Technology| Philanthropy

12 Apr 2013

I had a great time at the Council’s Annual Conference in Chicago. There were so many highlights and packed workshops, especially the lunch plenary featuring the mayors of Chicago, Philadelphia, and New Orleans.

One thing that made it especially fun was the cool new app sponsored by the Knight Foundation. When I first downloaded it, I didn’t get it. Where was the heavy, glossy-sided brochure we’ve all have to carry around at every type of conference for decades?

But once I got into it, it was a game-changer. It was a whole different experience.

For instance, I scanned all the workshops and presenters, clicked on the ones that looked especially interesting, and it automatically built my own personal conference schedule. No more notes scribbled in margins or post-its. It included a hotel map, evaluation forms, and updates in real-time with any changes. I downloaded and installed it on Apple and Android and it worked on both. Good work Council!

Another development that other conferences should adopt is the “speed dating” some workshops incorporated. We go to conferences to make connections, right? This is networking on steroids. Everyone sits in two concentric circles. You share your story and then the person opposite you does the same. Then everyone shifts a seat. Repeat until done. You quickly connect with many folks you might never meet otherwise.

One of the things I enjoy about the Council’s Annual is the affinity group events. I attended some very intense, honest, and often raw workshops by the Association of Black Foundation Executives. And Hispanics in Philanthropy put on a really nice reception right before the Council’s big event at the beautiful Art Institute of Chicago. I’m all ready for next year’s conferencein Washington, D.C.

Riki Wilchins is executive director of TrueChild

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