Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Random Thoughts on the Conference

Equality NC Foundation's second annual Equality Conference and Gala convened this past Saturday at Duke, and it was a resounding success. We got great reviews on the evaluations, many people told us directly that they were very happy with the program, we had good numbers at both the conference and gala despite the collapsing economy, and we raised thirteen thousand dollars(!) for our educational efforts. It took a lot of time and energy and the efforts of a bunch of people, but it was all worth it. Now that we're in the aftermath, I've had a few random thoughts and observations:

  • We had a great number of students and transfolks in attendance. These were two audiences we'd been wanting to cultivate since last year, and it's great to see that we did. I understand the trans summit from Sunday also was well-attended and well-received.
  • The food this year was great. I mean, Cafe Parizade did a super job last year and I thought the food was good, but this year it was simply delicious.
  • I had never actually been in a gender-neutral bathroom that was being used by multiple genders before. It was cool, and the best part was I didn't even think about it until after the fact.
  • ENC has great interns. They were intrinsic and invaluable parts of the conference and gala this year, and several people specifically commented on them. (I also learned one of them is straight and two of them are Jewish. ENC is even more diverse that I initially thought!)
  • ENC has great staff. Rebecca is the quintessential community organizer, being dynamic and engaging even while fighting off a cold. Ian is smart and visionary, always thinking ahead and strategizing ways to advance the movement forward, always presenting his case in a calm and cogent manner. Kay throws herself heart and soul into her work, pulling off feat after feat of fundraising and programming.
  • ENC has great supporters. I've helped behind the scenes of many, many conferences, and the folks who come to ours are easily the most enthusiastic, friendly, and easy to work with. It's our community that drives the movement, and our community is simply amazing.

We were fortunate to have had so many great people at our conference, both attending and presenting. Given how well things went this year, it's exciting to think what the next year will bring.

-T. Shawn Long

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