I’ve met a number of people that share my professional background. I earned a Ph.D. in English with little hope of finding a tenure track job, but I had loads of teaching experience and a passion for student success. Searching for an alternative career, I sort of stumbled into the world of faculty development, and I haven’t looked back since.
My first meaningful job in professional development was at the (then) Learning Technology Center at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee in 2010. I started working with Tanya Joosten, who is now an OLC Board Member. She was (and still is) a fabulous mentor and thought leader, and I owe her big time for helping to shape my career. Tanya was the person who introduced me to the (then) Sloan Consortium by basically volunteering me to present at the Blended Conference. Here I am, 13 years later, telling you that it was a fabulous and memorable experience.
Since then, I’ve attended as many OLC conferences as my former institution could afford (things were a bit better back then, budget-wise). Although I’ve been to several perfectly lovely conferences run by other organizations, I can say without hesitation and with complete candor that my favorite (and the best) conferences have always been OLC conferences. They have been among the most impactful professional development experiences of my career (OLC’s IELOL program is in there as well). I’ve connected with folks who share my interests and values. I’ve learned from people way smarter and more creative than me. I’ve gained insights that I never could have being siloed at my institution. I’ve felt welcomed and, as I’ve heard others put it, “at home.” Plus, my institution felt that it was a worthy investment, given the innovative and effective practices that I would bring back to share.
I now have the privilege of working at OLC as the AVP of Learning, and I carry with me the same enthusiasm for OLC conferences that I did before joining the organization. Some of you may remember that old commercial from the ‘80s that goes something like: “Not only am I the President of Hair Club for Men, but I’m also a member.” Along those lines, I consider myself a member of the community first and an employee of OLC second. I mean, I joined this fantastic OLC team in large part because of my connections to OLC’s diverse, forward-thinking, and friendly community of colleagues.
That is why I am so excited to attend OLC Accelerate 2023 on-site in Washington, D.C. We have a great lineup of speakers and panelists, and our concurrent and discovery sessions are as rich and thoughtful as ever. I know that times are tough out there in higher ed. Budgets are tight. I totally get it. But at the same time, I believe there is no better investment than the networking, the idea exchanging, and the professional development opportunities you will gain from attending our conference.
So whether you’re an OLC first-timer or old-timer (or somewhere in between), I invite you to join me at Accelerate 2023. Come and participate as a member of this wonderful community. I look forward to seeing you there!