by Dominique Turrentine
The 2011 NASCSP Annual Training Conference was held September 20-23, at the Seattle Sheraton in Seattle, Washington. CSBG and WAP directors from all over the country came together to expand their insights into their respective programs and to strengthen their understanding of our overall purpose- responding to poverty at the National, State, and local level.
The Conference kicked off Tuesday morning with an opening address from Timothy Warfield, NASCSP Executive Director. He was followed by a welcome from our local hosts from the Washington State Department of Commerce: Dan McConnon, Assistant Director of the Community Services and Housing Division; Steve Payne, Managing Director of the Community Services Housing Division; and Merritt Mount, Executive Director of Washington State Community Action Partnership.
After the welcome, fish mongers from the World Famous Pike Place Fish Market came to teach participants about their philosophy of team work and play for generating success into their work environment. The session started with a motivational speech from Pike Place owner, John Yokoyama, and ended with participants getting an opportunity to put what they learned into action by tossing fish themselves. Participants left this session wide awake and reminded of the importance of keeping a positive attitude and work environment in these tough times.
After a quick beverage break, participants got down to business by attending the NASCSP Member Services, WAP, and CSBG committee meetings. These meetings provide program information, legislative updates, and information about current and upcoming NASCSP projects and initiatives. As the day progressed, participants were broken up into their new regions and elected CSBG and WAP Regional Program Representatives for the NASCSP Board of Directors. These individuals are responsible for representing their region at the NASCSP board meeting twice a year as well as keeping track of the important CSBG and WAP issues in their regions.
Wednesday started with the NASCSP business meeting, followed by a message from our Federal partners. LeAnn Oliver, Program Manager for the Office of Weatherization and Intergovernmental Programs spoke for the U.S. Department of Energy and George Sheldon, Acting Assistant Secretary of the Administration for Children and Families spoke for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Immediately following, was a joint session hosted by The National Alliance for Sustainable Communities (NASC) where panelists discussed various Washington State initiatives in using energy efficiency and renewable energy to promote economic security.
During Wednesday’s luncheon keynote, Milenko Matonovic, Executive Director of the Pomegranate Center, spoke to participants about the magic that happens when art, creative thinking, and community join forces. He described the Pomegranate Center as an effective model for bringing people together to build better communities throughout the U.S. and abroad.
Following lunch, participants broke off for concurrent sessions then boarded buses for an offsite visit to the High Point Center. The High Point Center is a community action agency that promotes a myriad of sustainable and environmentally friendly features. The Center maintains a surrounding community that is home to individuals from all economic backgrounds working to keep their community safe and sustainable. During the visit, participants were given a tour of the High Point Center facilities followed by a reception with light, locally prepared refreshments.
On Thursday morning, prior to attending their respective concurrent sessions, participants again met in regional roundtables for networking and continental breakfast. Participants reconvened at lunch for a message from national partners Jo-Ann Choate, Board Chair of the National Energy Assistance Director’s Association, and John Edwards, Board Chair of the Community Action Partnership. Conference sponsors—Avista, Washington State CAP and Libera, Inc.—were acknowledged and vendors were offered some time to describe their goods and services. At the close of the day, participants were given the opportunity to participate in a Photowalk, led by Steve Payne who provided a tour of downtown Seattle and pointers on taking great photos.
The NASCSP Fall conference closed Friday morning with a performance by Swil Kanim, a Native American storyteller and musician that intertwines his music with poetry, storytelling, and audience interaction. He gave participants a glimpse into his early life in the foster care system and how he used his talents to cope with some of the setbacks of moving from home to home. Swil Kanim’s message resonated with participants and they left with a renewed sense of purpose and understanding of the importance of the work that they do.
Thanks to all who attended the 2011 NASCSP Annual Conference. We hope you enjoyed the week as much as we did and look forward to seeing you all at the 2012 Mid-Winter Orientation and Training Conference, February 27 – March 2, in Washington, D.C.