The conference was free for Members and invited guests of DirectEmployers Association. It was a who’s who of attendees including decision-makers from IBM, Xerox, McGraw-Hill, AT&T, Hyatt, Pitney Bowes, Research In Motion, John Deere, Siemens Corporation, Kellogg, Wells Fargo and hundreds of others. Attendees enjoyed fantastic networking, sharing of best practices and several terrific presentations.

The Zen of Social Media Marketing author Shama Kabani shared insights and research about the best social media recruitment sources and implementation of the selected methods.

Shama Kabani

Shama Kabani shares her expertise on recruiting through social media.


All of the attendees had an opportunity to have their complimentary copies of Dominguez and Kabani’s book signed.


Wrapping up day one was the keynote address from Academy Award Winning Actress & Activist, Marlee Matlin. Matlin candidly shared her challenges and triumphs in growing up deaf. From an early age, her parents immersed her into society and she learned how to adapt to a hearing world. Her parents created an environment where she believed everyone else had the “disability.” She encouraged everyone to look at opportunities instead of adversities. Matlin ended by graciously answering questions, then made herself available for photos and networking.


Day two began with a lively and interactive “round robin” session where Members were able to “pick the brains” of the DirectEmployers Association staff about key products and services. Members weighed in on the things they love about our services and provided feedback for enhancements. As always, the Members were in the driver’s seat, collaborating toward bigger and better opportunities.

Shirley Olwine and James Emmett stop for a quick photo after their presentation.

A highlight on day two was a co-presentation given by Shirley Olwine and James Emmett representing Indiana’s Vocational Rehabilitation Department. This duo shared many of their successful programs currently in place with companies like TIAA-CREF, Walgreens, and UPS. Olwine and Emmett also provided expert advice on developing programs and employment services for people with disabilities. They both encouraged employers to take full advantage of an underutilized and virtually untapped pool of highly skilled candidates.

Richard Cho

Richard Cho showcases a contest used to recruit top talent for Facebook.

An engaging and interactive presentation by Richard Cho from the social phenomenon Facebook rounded out the morning of day two. Cho provided many great examples of how Facebook uses social media for own recruiting, and why they deliberately incorporate many other tools in their recruitment practices. His presentation gave the audience an inside look at life working for Facebook.


Following on their heels was our second keynote address from Acclaimed Special Investigations Correspondent and Host of CNN’s In America Documentaries, Soledad O’Brien. O’Brien has witnessed many injustices and segregation first-hand. She shared heart wrenching and unbelievable stories as well as heart warming and encouraging stories of inclusion and humanity embracing differences and diversity. O’Brien explained that she loves the CNN documentaries such as Black in America and Latino in America because they capture the unique and inspiring stories of everyday people, who are all too often depicted negatively in the press. Attendees asked intriguing and pointed questions of O’Brien about her beliefs and favorite interviews. She surprised the audience when she identified an interview with LeBron James as one of her favorites because of his entrepreneurial spirit, especially given his industry. Attendees were treated to a photo opportunity with O’Brien afterward.


DirectEmployers Association’s partner, the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE), is providing stronger, more enhanced relationships to colleges and universities. NACE’s Jennifer Rutt coordinated a panel of three colleges and three employers, moderated by NACE’s Board President, Tom Devlin. Devlin asked the college and employer representatives questions around the impact of the economy, best practices with reduced budgets, branding strategies and alternative recruiting methods.

Jolene Jefferies, VP of Strategic Initiatives for DirectEmployers Association provided an overview of the new Recruitment Regulatory Compliance Committee (RRCC). The committee is designed to help Members address the challenges companies face meeting compliance regulations. Their first meeting was held in Las Vegas the day before the conference began.

Gerry Crispin, CareerXroads Principal, challenged companies to take a much closer look at their candidate experience and shared his research findings from the past several years. Crispin has applied to many of the Fortune 100 under assumed aliases like Jimmy Knee Cricket. He has received many calls from desperate recruiters wanting to hire his fictional characters proving they haven’t truly looked at the content. Instead, they’re relying on keywords to trigger their response.

America’s Heroes at Work, helped the audience gain a much better understanding of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI). Dispelling myths, providing resources and sharing relevant information about the reality of these situations, Stern encouraged employers to educate their hiring managers. Instead of bringing our heroes home to prejudices and ignorance, Stern explained how to prepare and welcome them with the civilian jobs they deserve.

Overall, attendees were educated and enlightened on subjects varying from diversity in the workplace to the zen of social media, while networking with new acquaintances and reconnecting with previous contacts.

Stay tuned for news of our 2011 Annual Meeting & Conference, location, dates and agenda!

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