The Region 7 Fall Conference hosted by the Polk County Chapter in Lakeland Florida, October 17-19 provided wonderful opportunities for every member in Region 7.
The event was held at the Polk County Community College and the Host Hotel was the Hampton Inn at Lakeside Village where the attendees could view the new shops, entertainment and eateries at Lakeland's "outdoor lifestyles mall".
The Polk County Chapters' Conference Committee staff included 27 volunteers from the chapter as well as a few volunteers from local businesses. Committee members were dedicated and busy working on the conference for the last six months; meeting every week organizing and planning this region event!
Early Registration with a meet and greet on Friday evening was followed with a dinner at Macaroni Grill. Following the dinner we all retired back to the hospitality suite at the Hampton Inn. Everyone agreed it was energizing to meet our many new chapter leaders and members and renew acquaintances with those we had not seen since the last Region meeting.
Saturday morning began with Registration for the Education Seminar and the Student Competition held at Polk Community College. Our morning keynote speaker, Dr. Eileen Holden welcomed AITP and extended her hospitality by opening the college to AITP Professional and Student Members.
The students headed off to begin their activities which included Network Troubleshooting where each team implemented and tested their network in a virtual environment. The Brain Bowl, which was formatted as a Quiz Game, involving a moderator, asking the competitors IT related questions. Some of the questions pertained to Software Development, Project Management, System Hardware, Network Design, Data Warehousing, and IT History. The student conference Chairs, Gary DeWitt and Cliff Bennett, provided many insightful activities that engaged not only the college chapters in attendance but the high school chapters.
Education Seminar attendees started their morning with a presentation from Kevin Vogl, Champion Solutions Group VP, on Virtualization Solutions V13 (VMware). Kevin has been recognized as an expert in Microsoft-based solutions designed hundreds of core Microsoft infrastructures for clients all over the county and has been chosen by IBM, Citrix and VMware to speak at their yearly technical conference.
Scott Sager was next on the schedule with his detailed presentation of virtualization and disaster recovery and how these solutions help IT managers reduce cost, complexity and down-time.
Scott Sample from Microsoft presented a wonderful session on Unified Communications entitled "Stay Connected, Stay Involved...Stay Home". Scott has been a primary draw at major and regional IT conferences with hands on training and delivery of keynote presentations. As a Technical Specialist for Microsoft, he is responsible for engaging customers and partners in understanding where IT resources can empower the organization to gain more effective support and achieve its goals as well as enhance the delivery of the services the organizations provides.
Each attendee of the Education Seminar was gifted with a variety of software to include, VISTA OS, Office 2007 Professional, MapPoint, Live One Care, Golf Balls, T-Shirts, Gift Certificates from Chili's, Starbucks, Olive Garden, Ruby Tuesday, as well as "green shopping bags, backpacks, water bottles, thermos and coffee mugs.
Later in the afternoon all in attendance attended a Leadership Workshop with presenter Deborah Lovell , EVP Association and Robin Ward, 2008 Charleston Chapter President. Topics included recruitment, retention and recognition and strategic planning.
Our Keynote Luncheon Speaker was 2002 AITP Association President Kevin Jetton. Kevin's topic of Information Technology Professionals: 10 Keys to Success was especially helpful to the many student chapters in attendance and ironically was validated by the other speakers that had already spoken or were about to speak as Kevin attended the sessions throughout the day and visited with not only the other speakers but conference attendees as well. The chapter was extremely appreciative of Kevin's assistance in all areas of the conference throughout the day.
Our evening continued with an Awards Banquet. Our keynote speaker was Deborah Lovell , EVP for the Association. Her topic to the 68 attendees focused on: Leading Change - Why Transformation Efforts Fail.
Our emcees for the evening event were Kevin Jetton and Maurice Myers, Birmingham Chapter. Kevin recognized the Region officers, the Region Directors, the Association Director and EVP, the Region 7 Conference Committee Members and the many Volunteers. The Polk County Board of Officers received a well deserved round of applause.
The following awards were given by PJ Glover, Chattahoochee Chapter and Region Awards Chair:
-PCS 2007 Awards were given to the Atlanta, Charleston, Chattahoochee Valley, Nashville, North-Central Florida and Polk County Chapters.
-COPA 2007 awards were given to Atlanta, Charleston, North Central Florida and Polk County Chapters.
-The ROCA 2007 Award went to the Charleston Chapter. The award was accepted by the Charleston Chapter Liaison, Sherry Deese, Charleston Chapter President 2008, Robin Ward and Charleston Chapter Past President 2008, 2007 President, Nadine Evans. Nadine expressed that this was truly a team effort by all officers, committees and members of the 2007 Charleston Team.
-The Emerald IPA Award was presented to Meryl Crews of Polk County, Gold IPA's Awards to Kathy Drew of Polk County and Nadine Evans of Charleston and Bronze IPA Award to Teri Campbell of Polk County.
-John Kosar, President of the Atlanta Chapter accepted an engraved trophy for having the most Professional Members in attendance and Adam Thomas of the Chattanooga State Technical Community College Student Chapter accepted the trophy for having the most students in attendance from a chapter
The Awards Banquet ended with a lively chapter gift basket auction with Brian Terrell, Polk County President acting as our guest auctioneer.
Both evenings offered a hospitality suite, provided for all members and guests by conference co-chairs, Kathy Drew and Nadine Evans. We were even entertained by musician Evan Eldridge.
Sunday morning was the annual board meeting. The following officers were elected for 2009: President: Maurice Meyers, Birmingham Chapter, Vice President; Kathy Drew, Polk County, Secretary; Evan Eldridge, North Central Florida Chapter and Treasurer, Steve Brooks, Atlanta Chapter.
The Chattanooga Chapter led by Mark Northern will host the 2009 Conference. The region board has asked each chapter to donate $100 toward the conference expense.
It was with much sadness we said goodbye but we are all looking forward to 2009 in Tennessee!