What I Learned at Conference

By Elaine Cicora

Cannabis Cuisine Panelists (from left to right): Jodi Hall, Jessica Tonani, and Tamara Murphy

It took me nine years to catch on to the LDEI Conference. Over that time, I found plenty of reasons to ignore it: The late-October date seemed dreary. The cost seemed high. There would be flights to book. And how the heck was I supposed to figure out all the registration details?

But eventually, I started to come around. Sure, Dame Carol Hacker’s oft-repeated claim that, “You can’t turn around at Conference without somebody putting a plate of food or a glass of wine in your hands!” sounded tempting. But it wasn’t until last year that it finally hit me: Conference and commitment to our mission could go hand-in-hand.

Of course it is possible to be a leader within the chapter and never attend a Conference. But – and this is a big one – it is almost impossible to overstate the value of sharing your successes, your challenges and your questions, one-on-one, with Dames from around the world, who have already traveled down those roads before you. What you learn at Conference – and you will learn a lot – makes you a stronger, smarter and more effective member of your chapter, and makes your chapter better for it.

Sales pitch aside, here are four quick learnings I brought back from this year’s Seattle Conference. They got me thinking about “best practices.” Perhaps they will do the same for you.

LDEI membership is a privilege. Everyone who applies need not be accepted. Recruitment efforts should be strategic, aimed toward finding the types of members your chapter needs, and focused on women who are ready to lead.

Fundraising need not be limited to one blowout event per year. Some chapters hold one or more small, ticketed events throughout the year, i.e., dinners, speakers, panel discussions. And don’t forget silent auctions; in San Antonio, the silent auction associated with their main fundraiser brings in 50 percent of their profits!

Many chapters regularly engage in community work, doing things like teaching healthy cooking classes at food pantries, and gathering and donating farmers’ market leftovers to soup kitchens. The San Antonio chapter holds an annual on-site, catered Holiday Dinner for abused children that includes tree trimming, gingerbread-house decorating, and gifts. “It feels so good to make someone happy, and we Dames just get tighter and tighter,” chapter president Blanca Aldaco told us.

And finally, this – not from fellow Dames but from presenters at one of our concurrent sessions: Cannabis cuisine is the wave of the future. Among the speakers was Jody Hall, founder of The Goodship, producer of delicious, and strictly dosage controlled, marijuana-laced cookies and candies. Want to make “tons” of money? Cannabis cuisine could be your ticket. “Make it delicious, make it low dose, and make it easy for people to take to a concert or a party,” advised Jody. Currently, marijuana is an $800 million industry in Washington, we were told; the rest of the nation can’t be far behind.

The 2019 conference is in Nashville, Oct. 24 through 27. Maybe this is your year to attend?

For more on the 2018 Conference, go here, and be sure to grab the Winter Quarterly when it arrives: It will be full of Conference stories.

A Message From Our President

From Beth Davis-Noragon

Hello, Cleveland Dames!

I know I speak for the entire board in sharing with you how pumped up we got at the National Conference in Seattle last month. It’s all about the connections we make there. For one lucky Cleveland Dame, this was her first conference. Others of us are starting to approach double-digit attendance. And even though each conference is unique in programming and entertainment, common threads continue to surface. We make connections and discover that we are not alone in our struggles.

The perfect metaphor materialized in our last evening there, at Emerald City Trapeze. This 20,000-square-foot venue is housed in the former Canal Boiler Works building. Heavy hors d’oeuvres were expertly prepared, and we even had our own signature cocktail, the “Oui, Chef” (each garnished with its own wee chef). But the real fun began as the lights dimmed and the security nets were drawn: our own, close-up trapeze show. It was thrilling. There were a half-dozen daring flyers, spinning and flipping through the air to the catcher as he cried, “Hep!” (which is trapeze for “go”). We screamed and cheered them on, and they made every catch until the last one. Oh, we were disappointed! But the flyer was not deterred! He tried three more times to make the most complicated flip of the evening, eventually choosing to call it off. The troupe worked together to make their connections, and even when one of them stumbled, the rest of the troupe was there for support. Why? They have all fallen into the net.

I encourage each of you to start thinking about National Conference 2019 in Nashville now. Work toward the Chapter scholarship. Think about how you can get there otherwise. Put away $75 a month toward the fees. Make the connections and share the struggles. HEP!