Our first Demo Hall, Veterans Career Fair and awards program helped raise the bar of DirectEmployers’ Annual Meeting & Conference. OFCCP compliance, recruitment, technology and leadership tracks highlighted Member company best practices and offered actionable takeaways for attendees.


DirectEmployers 2013 Annual Meeting & Conference – Operation DEAM13 – took place in San Diego at the stunning Loews Coronado Bay Resort. While the location was certainly breathtaking, I was more blown away by the caliber of presenters, enthusiasm of attendees, and overall positive vibe that has resonated with DEAM13 even two weeks later.

Member Severn Trent Services at Veterans Connect Career Fair

Member Severn Trent Services at Veterans Connect Career Fair.

This year brought about some unique challenges including the execution of a Demo Hall and a Veterans Connect Career fair. Not to mention we wanted to incorporate our first Member Awards Competition. But thanks to help from partner organizations, underwriters, Members and staff dedication, we pulled it off.

The Veterans Connect Career Fair kicked things off on Monday, October 21, and received wonderful support from the local California Employment Development Department (EDD). Nearly 200 attendees poured into the event hall from 10:00 am to 2:00 pm to meet with organizations about employment opportunities, get assistance on their resume, receive interview coaching and learn how to use the Veterans.jobs military skills translator tool.

The event was so successful that several news organizations including KPBS News covered the event! Check out the media coverage – you might see some familiar faces!

The National Association of State Workforce Agencies in the DEAM13 Demo Hall.

The National Association of State Workforce Agencies in the DEAM13 Demo Hall.

The Demo Hall opened immediately following the career fair and gave attendees the ability to learn more about relevant industry tools and technology from various service providers and partners. Our staff was also available to help companies take advantage of all DirectEmployers and .JOBS benefits. To add variety, we included our photo booth, the awards display and hosted evening receptions within the location. Our biggest priority was making it a valuable learning environment where members and key organizations could network.

The Member Awards Competition recognized winners and runners-up with the aforementioned display in the Demo Hall plus a dedicated session Tuesday afternoon. You can learn more about the award recipients from the official press release.

Member Awards display at DEAM13

Member Awards display in the DEAM13 Demo Hall.

DEAM13 sessions began Tuesday morning and concluded Thursday afternoon. General sessions included Association update videos, which quickly summarized 2013 milestones and shared individual department details. Then Heather Hoffman and Seth Flater of the Digital Strategy team shared new product features, compelling statistics and future plans for the .JOBS top-level domain.

Our partners at the National Association of State Workforce Agencies (NASWA) and the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) followed and discussed partnership successes and future plans for our organizations and collaborative efforts.

American gymnast and Olympic gold medalist Mary Lou Retton was our keynote on day one. Attendees enjoyed the nostalgia of reliving the moment she won the gold in 1984, and valued her message on overcoming obstacles by taking risks. Mary also engaged with DirectEmployers and other attendees on Twitter throughout the day!

Mary Lou Retton keynote address at DEAM13 and Twitter interaction.

Jaime Fall of HR Policy was the final general session on day one sharing an update on Jobipedia.org, a public service provided by the HR Policy Association to help new entrants into the workforce find jobs. DirectEmployers has many Members involved in this project and powers the job search component.

After lunch we broke into concurrent sessions for the remainder of day one, in addition to the first half of day two. Sessions were categorized into four tracks: recruitment, compliance, leadership and technology. I’ll be posting a blog about each track individually over the next several weeks.

Tweet with Carey Lohrenz

Tweet with photo of keynote Carey Lohrenz.

Day two included general session from Employ Media on the .JOBS top-level domain, and special guest Renjun Bao educated us on the progress of .JOBS in China. Christy Merriman of DirectEmployers and Charlie Terrell of NASWA moderated a panel of individuals from state workforce agencies and Member companies, including Camber and Penske, to help conference participants gain a deeper understanding of the National Labor Exchange (NLx).

Keynote Carey Lohrenz, the first female F-14 fighter pilot, shared her unique journey and lessons learned involving judgment, leadership and integrity. Like Mary Lou, Carey was very personable and energized the entire room. Her passion for veteran outreach and support was infectious, and we were thrilled to receive her praise for Vetrans.jobs and the military crosswalk tool. Check out the photos of her with our guests.

Wednesday evening’s reception was at the world renowned San Diego Zoo. Dinner, a caricature artist and networking were all part of the festivities that wrapped up day two.

Evening reception at the San Diego Zoo.

Our final day was centered on OFCCP compliance and the new regulations. Matt Carmardella of Jackson Lewis LLP helped participants make sense of the Final ruling. Then we allotted time for people to write down questions around VEVRAA and Section 503 which were eventually addressed by a panel of experts including Nita Beecher, Mercer; Matt Camardella, Jackson Lewis LLP; David Scheffler, Pinnacle Affirmative Action Services; and James Emmett, Poses Family Foundation.

Panel of experts discussing OFCCP compliance and new regs.

It’s difficult to truly capture the essence of this year’s event in a blog post, but you can review the conversation on social media by searching for the #DEAM13 hashtag. Event photos have also been posted online at http://app.ly/DEAM13. Presentations are available on Pipeline for Members.

Stay tuned for my posts over the next few weeks for a deeper dive into each track. We are also excited to announce DEAM14 is moving to March and will take place in Washington, DC. Speaking proposals are now being accepted at: http://deam14.directemployers.org/presenters

My sincerest thank you again to everyone who helped make DEAM13 a success. Did you attend DEAM13? If so, what were some of your favorite memories or takeaways?

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