One Attendee’s Experience: Getting the Most out of the Annual Conference

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May 17, 2018

One Attendee’s Experience: Getting the Most out of the Annual Conference

Members of Rise Against Hunger at the conference last year. From left to right: Lori Nelson, Rich Armenia, Andrew Sullivan, Ryan Tsipis, and Julie Savane

By Elizabeth Walsh

Director, Communications and Marketing

When Lori Nelson and four of her colleagues at Rise Against Hunger decided to attend Humentum’s annual conference in 2017—the last conference under the InsideNGO banner —their decision was prompted by a strong endorsement from a colleague.

“Our Chief Impact Officer Edna Ogwangi encouraged everyone that could to attend the conference,” Lori said, “telling us that everything she ever needed to know, she learned from InsideNGO.”

Before the conference began, Lori and her colleagues put some thought to how they could maximize the benefits from their attendance for their entire organization. Working together, they designed a spreadsheet that included the list of the different conference sessions they were interested in and the name of each person who would attend each specific session. During the conference, each person typed up notes from the session they attended, and then shared them with the others. Finally, back in the workplace, they shared their learning more widely on an internal blog for their colleagues across the organization.

“I’ve been to other conferences but this one was different,” said Lori. “I was greeted so warmly. And the people who were leading the sessions, their desire to help others succeed was so clear. Every presenter had an element of ‘how can you learn from our experiences’ in their session.”

Lori, who manages data, vendors, and contracts in Rise Against Hunger’s Raleigh, North Carolina headquarters, cited a presentation, “A Roadmap to Program Management Integration: Mercy Corps 6 Years On,” as one of the most helpful sessions she attended.

“That session was very impactful, with Lisa sharing her story about her own experience,” said Lori. “I identified with that a lot and I talked with her afterward about our organization in particular, which was helpful.” (Read Lisa’s blog on program management, written specifically for us after her annual conference presentation).

For her part, Edna Ogwangi is pleased that she recommended the conference to her colleagues, saying, “The team that attended the conference last year had a great experience. They are currenting utilizing the knowledge and skills (they gained there) in their day-to day work.”

Edna also reflected on the value Humentum has brought to her own work experience. “Humentum, formerly InsideNGO, provided an opportunity for me to be the best project manager and who I am today. The knowledge and skills that I acquired (as a member of this community) enabled me to create an operational excellence platform in programs that I managed and supported in the field. This made me love my job, and wake up every morning with a smile… Leadership isn’t a role I play, it is an extension of who I am and as long as I stay connected to the real me, others will learn from me and become leaders in their own right. The path to becoming a better example is through my work and being a champion of learning circles like Humentum!”

This year’s conference—the first under the Humentum banner—is taking place July 25-27 in Washington, DC. See a partial list of sessions here

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