Our Successful Annual Conference: Words from MEDA Executive Director, Pam Ruff

WOW!  I’ve landed back at the office after 5 days on site at the MEDA Annual Conference (including planning meetings and program) and I can’t help but reflect back on the amazing event that brought economic development back together again, in person, for our first gathering since March 2020.  There were times leading up to the event when I wasn’t certain it would happen, but the MEDA team never lost faith and we continued to plan.  Our members did the rest by registering for the event and booking their hotel rooms.  When the arrival day was here, we were all ready.

I’ll leave it to the attendees to concur, or share a different opinion, if there is one, but from all that I observed, and all the conversations I had, the conference feels like a grand slam in the bottom of the ninth that wins the World Series.  Yeah, I went there.  I’m an Orioles fan so I have to win the World Series somehow!  Am I right?

OK, let’s get serious (a little).  The conference was attended by nearly 300 people who were witness to exemplary speakers and program content over the course of the 2 ½ days.  Sandy Dubay of Platinum PR stepped up and spearheaded the overall delivery of the content along with the Program Committee members led by Richard Griffin, CEcD, Tammi Thomas, and Kelly Robertson Slagle.  This dynamic team served throughout the last 8-9 months to get topic, content, speakers, concurrent versus no concurrent, and timing on the agenda that greeted attendees.  Fresh and insightful ideas were brought to the table and attendees were rewarded for their time spent – they learned a lot of useful information that can be applied to their day-to-day jobs.  A benchmark of MEDA programs.

Membership rose to 505 before the event ended, and the Membership Committee gets recognition for their work to deliver opportunities for members, turning their dues payment from a fee into an investment.  Margaret and Gwen get a round of applause for structuring a Membership program all year long that was worthy of the addition of so many newcomers to the association.  We don’t thrive by numbers; we thrive by the conviction and heartfelt involvement that our members bring to the table.  And we are thankful to all who work throughout the year to put this value-added association before you in our great state of Maryland.  Our co-chairs this year, Renée Winsky and Ebony Stocks, worked on new ways to engage members and their legacy continues.

We had a mighty team that worked on behalf of everyone at MEDA: members, sponsors, board, staff, etc., to make this conference an event to remember.  Now, I know we’ve been away from one another for a long time.  Our annual conference was last attended 3 years ago.  But I don’t think any of us miss the point that we cannot take these gatherings for granted.

What I saw, as I observed and surveyed the activities throughout the conference, were genuine interactions among attendees/members, heartfelt comments, engaging conversations, high fives, fist bumps, and yes, there were hugs.  Our new Board Secretary, Tammi Thomas put it very appropriately when she called it “love.”

I agree with Tammi.  I loved being with all of you.  Thank you for being there and for supporting MEDA.

Photo taken by Pam Ruff, Sunday, April 24th, 6:30pm, Hyatt Regency Chesapeake Bay. The first time MEDA members gather since March of 2020.

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