Over the next few weeks, we will be featuring reflections on the 2020 Virtual Winter Conference. If you would like to share your experience, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Our second #NCLGBA20 Conference Recap comes from Brian Pahle, Assistant City Manager, City of Hendersonville.
In 2015, on a recommendation from Megan Powell, I attended my first NCLGBA conference. My first survey response was that I felt like people were not welcoming, especially the people with yellow ribbons on their nametags (Board Members! – looking at you Steve H. and Justin A.). By my second conference I started to get more involved during sessions and was then encouraged by Josh Edwards to start moderating. Little did I know what that entailed. I had started getting my legs under me when Josh then asked me to apply for an “At-Large Representative” position on the Board. Fast forward many e-mail communications with speakers, nights out getting dinner and frequenting a bar or two, stressing about speaking in front of an audience, running in a group 5k, interacting with vendors, and expanding my network, later…I now sit in the background working with a team of extraordinarily talented and compassionate individuals trying to execute [ed. note: succeeding at executing!] a second virtual conference.
The past five years engaging in this organization have been some of the most transformative of my early career. The impact the Association, Board, and people involved have had on my life is probably unknown to many. It is also probably unknown to many, how much of an impact engaging with one another can have on your own personal development. For example, I would never have the friendship with my good friend Paarth Mehta that I have now, if it were not for engaging. Nor would I have a couple great pictures of Paarth and I superimposed on bees or compared with greats like Bob Costas and DJ Khaled (a previously unimagined dynamic duo rivaling that of Batman and Robin). I now have so many uplifting memories with so many new friends and professionals.
This benefit in my life was heightened and highlighted during this extremely difficult year. I could not help but feel so fortunate and introspective while watching Heather Curry kick-off and lead our virtual conference. Even though we were all apart, the impacts of great friends and mentors was palpable in my living room the past week. Although I was Zoom fatigued, I look back on these past five years with the Association, and smile because I would not have the knowledge, confidence, and most importantly friendships that I do now if it were not for those little nudges to engage. Do not let a chance to engage pass you by. Trust me, I wrote that NCLGBA was not engaging in my first survey response, and then was forced to engage in ways I never could have imagined.
A huge thank you to my good friend Heather Curry for raising the bar as a master of virtual ceremony (MVC) and sharing her amazing talents and knowledge with me along the way.