Promoting Connections, Community and Diversity through Experience

Two years ago, after the murder of George Floyd, a grassroots group of members presented the National Board with recommendations on Black community support within NACE. These recommendations formed the core of the Action Plan for Black Community Support, Equity and Inclusion, adopted by the board that June. That plan energized the board’s existing work on DEI and included a broadening framework for NACE to expand its reach and member service through new communities. One important component of this plan was the member-led formation of a NACE Black Caucus.

As a part of the Action Plan, it was established that other underrepresented or marginalized groups within NACE would have the opportunity to self-organize and build connections and community virtually and to harness the power of in-person events like our Evolve and Experience conferences.

After the postponement of Experience in 2020, we were thrilled for the first in-person meeting of the NACE Black Caucus at Experience 2021, which facilitated networking and the exchange of ideas among Black members of NACE.

This year we received two additional requests for community space at Experience, from Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI), and Neurodivergent members. Together with the Black Caucus and the long-standing reception sponsored by the LGBT MPA, we now have four community spaces for celebrating, respecting, and building our vibrant and diverse organization.

These communities provide a space for people to network and talk about industry topics important to them. They add to the strength of NACE by giving members a way to self-organize community where they find it beneficial, and they add to the value of NACE and help us grow our membership.

The response to these communities is encouraging and it tells us that members truly value NACE and see NACE as an organization that offers them something others can’t. We should be energized and inspired by our members’ belief in NACE and what we offer as a diverse, inclusive, and welcoming community.

At Experience we will launch a new form of community groups with the introduction of Business Interest Communities for members who share industry specializations. We will start with Business Interest Roundtables for event partners, caterers, meeting planners, venues, wedding industry and social event planners. The roundtables will also have online communities for ongoing sharing and conversations and for participation by members who don't attend the conference. Like the communities I mentioned before, these add to the value of NACE and deepen community connections.

This may only be the beginning of many more community groups to come. Community groups are self-organized and self-managed by NACE members. If you have interest in creating a community group, please reach out to me or any national board member.

James Filtz, CPCE, CMP, CHE
NACE National President