The 2011 HR Florida State Conference & Expo was a huge success, and I couldn’t be more proud and excited for our organization. Like those from our past, and also from our future, this year’s conference is the result of many years of lessons learned and a multitude of dedicated volunteers, both in the year leading up to the event as well as on site. I am honored to have led an amazing conference team in addition to having been a part of such a successful and rewarding conference. It was a great way to give back to the profession that I enjoy immensely!
Each of this year’s keynote speakers was truly outstanding. They provided us with phenomenal insight and ideas that attendees can take back to their organizations, as well as their own personal lives. Looking back now at the conference as a whole, it is inspiring to realize that there was a common theme throughout the entire event—the desire to be a part of something bigger and better!
Tying into this desire, I must mention how humbled we were that our attendees responded so amazingly to our call of support for two worthy organizations. Together we made record breaking donations to Kids Against Hunger and the SHRM Foundation. For Kids Against Hunger, we raised over $5,000, creating over 20,000 meals for hungry children in the state of Florida and throughout the country. This came at such a poignant time as the Orlando Sentinel published an article during the conference emphasizing the need for food within our own backyards. I am proud that we were able to bring light to such a worthwhile cause and organization.
We also raised over $6,000 for the SHRM Foundation through our silent auction in the exhibit hall, a 2012 conference registration raffle, and our “Sweet Suite Deal.” The SHRM Foundation produces publications and educational resources to advance the HR profession and we are excited to have far exceeded this year’s goal for donations.
Certainly conferences are designed to engage learning and generate new concepts to take back to the workplace. However, I also believe that it is equally important to have opportunities for networking and fun. Creating relationships that can be leveraged outside of the conference can help to enhance our knowledge and professional development. This year’s conference brought many fun opportunities— who knew we could have so much fun planking? We definitely have some talented plankers in the group. In addition to planking, our sponsors and exhibitors did an incredible job in providing a welcoming and exciting environment with all kinds of great activities in our expo hall. Of course, I cannot fail to mention our hilariously fun Tweet Up and the Tuesday night event “Laissez Les Bon Temps Roulez” (or Let the Good Times Roll). What an amazingly fun evening for all who came to enjoy the dueling pianos, DJ, food, and drinks.
I’m getting excited just thinking about this all over again. Honestly, the planning is already underway for the 2012 conference. We are very excited about our keynote speakers and will be adding to our array of concurrent sessions to make room for our record-breaking attendance numbers. I am honored to have served as the 2011 Conference Director, and I am privileged to serve once more in 2012—I can’t wait to see what’s in store. As always, thank you to all who continue to support HR Florida.