Excellence and Expertise Task Force
October 4, 2017
Commissioners Present: Lisa Laflin, Nicole Pellenz
Other members: Nichole Ernest
Absent: Janice Daku, Sean Ingram, Elizabeth Hite, Melik Khoury, Coleman Lapointe, Robert Liscord, Barbara Wentworth, Joe Young
Staff: Michael Ashmore
Notes: Blaine House report was moved up to the start of the agenda.
Blaine House Conference Liaison report
NE shared that registrations were down by almost 100 this year and that the committee had elected to cancel certain speakers with minimal registrations for their sessions. There were a number of ideas as to why, timing of the event in a busy conference period, change in venue, etc. MA noted that the conference relocation was partly a response to feedback from past participants in eastern and northern Maine that Waterville was too far. He also noted that registrations from these counties were lower than usual in spite of the change in venue. Member noted that stress on funding due to governmental uncertainty has made it a busy and uncertain time and that items like conference registrations are likely victims of intentional austerity.
Re-imagining the Blaine House Conference, brainstorming and input
The bulk of the meeting was taken up with this topic. Members discussed a variety of ideas concerning re-invigorating the Blaine House conference, including timing, planning, incorporating new components and others. MA shared a brief history of the Commission’s involvement with the conference noting that it was not always convened by the Commission and that it had been held in the spring.
The group considered whether holding the conference every other year would be a good idea. MA shared that the conference is a significant source of match for the Commission Support grant and so not hosting the conference would require the identification of match from other sources. Also discussed was the date. The group felt that changing to the spring was not a good idea and felt that the current date, which allows for it to be hosted on College campuses at a reduced venue cost, was important. It was noted that changing the date in the fall would potentially mean that it would conflict with one of many other larger Fall conferences held in Maine. The Columbus Day proximity was also noted as a draw for out of state presenters. It was noted that registrations for sessions put on by out of state presenters filled the most quickly this year.
Suggestions for improving the conference planning included the creation of an conference planning “handbook” to help planning committee members understand their role(s) and the tasks of each subcommittee. NP suggested increasing the number of planners. NE asked if there were more new committee members this year than in the past and how often planners stayed for multiple years.
The idea of incorporating the Governor’s Service Awards within the conference was raised and the group felt that it would create opportunities to increase GSA nominations, increase attendance by including those that typically attend that event, and would connect the conference outreach to the outreach for GSA nominations which occurs over months.
Members also suggested doing a follow-up survey with registered attendees, asking “what did you love about the conference? What would get more of your colleagues to attend? And what would encourage you to attend next year?” It was also suggested that individuals that can document referral registrations could get a discount and the need to foster a word-of-mouth campaign.
LL and NP asked how much outreach is done to corporate volunteer programs and their directors. Are they attending and encouraging attendance? Is there a strategy to connect this to sponsorships and is there a way to reach out to volunteer program funders and ask them to encourage attendance because improved volunteer management may increase the effectiveness of programs they support. NP felt strongly that for-profits active with volunteerism want to share what they do and that leveraging corporate partners could have profound impact. The group noted that it would require lots of legwork and identification of potential business as well as work to foster the relationships necessary. NP thought that asking the field would be a good start. She noted that her involvement with the board of JMG has gotten her agency involved directly in supporting their youth conference. Banks, she noted, have a requirement to directly support their communities.
Input on MOU language with affiliate Service Enterprise hubs
Given the limited time available, MA suggested tabling this item and having Task Force members review the materials posted. Most attendees did not have time to review due to the late posting.
Liaison reports – see above for BHCSV. No report from PIE
Updates on works in progress (SE Portland Cohort, CMV course, VGF & Targeted outreach
MA shared brief updates. Fall CMV session has started and is ongoing. Anne Schink has been contracted with to do outreach for a Service Enterprise Cohort in the Greater Portland area. Intended timing is late fall, though initial feedback from agencies is that after the holidays may be a better fit. VGF outreach has only just begun, with initial emails out to potential subgrant applicants with more information to follow. Targeted outreach is also in initial stages with
New Chair Update
Melik Khoury has expressed interest in chairing the Task Force