Regional Conference Structure

For more than 15 years, SMPS chapters have come together to coordinate professional development conferences to support our members on a geographic basis. Led by committees of volunteers, these events evolved to be known as the Heartland (HRC), Missouri Valley (MVRC), Northeast (NERC), Pacific (PRC), Southeastern (SERC), Southern (SRC), and Southwest (SWRC) Regional Conferences. (Note that SMPS is not organized formally by geographic regions). Throughout this time, the conferences have grown in attendance and quality, and more complicated to organize as the demands of our profession and conference planning have increased.

In response to this, the Society’s board of directors formed a task force, comprised of representatives from every regional conference, to explore the future of the conferences. Beginning in December 2018, SMPS HQ has hosted several meetings to develop recommendations and guidelines on how these conferences can support organizational goals, include every SMPS chapter, improve the attendee experience, and increase collaboration across the Society. Furthermore, with changes in technology, nonprofit governance, and legal liability, it was imperative to create more structure for the conferences.

One of the many notable outcomes was an agreement that every conference must be organized as a nonprofit corporation. When established as such, along with the goals above, the conferences will also improve their continuity of operations year after year, and provide enhanced liability protection for the volunteers, attendees, and SMPS.

On this page you’ll find the progress that’s been made on these objectives and related resources for conference leaders.

Timeline for Implementation

2018

December   

HQ hosted the first Regional Conference Summit. The summit served as a visioning workshop to explore how regional conferences and HQ can increase collaboration. It also provided an opportunity for conference leaders to share ideas. Representatives from all seven regional conferences were in attendance. A noteworthy outcome was the decision to develop a task force to continue working on goals and needs outlined during the summit. All seven attendees agreed to participate on the task force.

2019

August         

HQ met with the task force for the first time to give an overview of potential structure change. We also discussed ways SMPS HQ can support the regional conferences prior to the event and onsite.

September 

HQ presented the task force with the projected structure and received acceptance.

October       

HQ invited representatives from all 2020 regional conferences to our headquarters in Alexandria, VA for a planning meeting. The goal was to provide an opportunity for conference leaders to share ideas, understand how SMPS HQ can support their conference, and enhance the understanding and adoption of adult-learning principles and professional-level event management.

November   

HQ presented the task force with drafts of legal documents. Task force representatives provided feedback and potential edits.

2020

Spring

HQ will draft the regional conference articles of incorporation.

HQ will draft guidelines and policies to provide guidance on finances, authority of directors, and planning committee roles.

HQ will host an orientation webinar for chapter presidents to explain the structure and take questions.

HQ will work with the chapters to identify directors of the regional conference incorporation.

Summer

HQ will host the regional conference planning meeting for 2021 conference chairs to discuss goals and logistics.

A regional conference structure training event will be held.

A webinar will be held for all regional conference directors.

HQ will submit the articles of incorporation for all regional conferences.

Fall

Chapter/HQ affiliation agreements will be signed by chapter presidents.

Orientation webinar for new regional conference incorporations will be held.