Earlier this month we had the honor of hosting nearly 360 Members, partners and guests at DirectEmployers 2017 Annual Meeting & Conference (DEAM17) in Indianapolis. With a jam-packed agenda featuring some of the industry’s best and brightest, plenty of networking opportunities and a fun evening event, there was much to see and do! Take a look at these highlights and see what you might have missed at our best conference yet, and be sure to watch the video highlight reel here!

This year we had the chance to honor both individuals and organizations with awards for a variety of accomplishments. We kicked off DEAM17 with a presentation of colors from the local ROTC/JROTC followed by an awards ceremony in which we presented long-time Member and former Board Member, Jonathan Rosenberg, with the Breakthrough Award for his role in pioneering the compliance and recruitment marketing solutions at Phillips 66.

The second award was new for DirectEmployers. The Jennifer Seda Award which was created in honor of Jennifer Seda, an accomplished employment law attorney with Jackson Lewis and close friend of DirectEmployers, who passed away in November 2016 after a courageous battle with cancer. Charles Lilly, Talent Acquisition Program Manager with HUB International, was given this award for his passion, initiative and execution in driving diversity.

Our next award winner was a sweet surprise as we honored our new Executive Director, Candee Chambers, with the WOW Award and surprised her with a special guest, her mentor Mary Cofer, who presented her with her award. The following day our DirectEmployers Member Award winners were honored for their standout OFCCP compliance and recruitment marketing programs. Colorado Springs Utilities won in the OFCCP compliance category while Penske and HD Supply tied in the recruitment marketing category.

Our final award, The Diversity & Inclusion Award, was given to long-time board Member and DirectEmployers ambassador, Rebel Johnson, Recruiting Compliance/Taleo System Administrator at Camber Corporation, for her dedicated to diversity hiring and veteran programs.

DEAM17 was dubbed the ‘The Year of the Candidate’, so we were devoted to creating unique conference experiences for our attendees. What better keynote presentation than one which allowed everyone to get involved and literally put pen to paper? This year our keynote speaker was author, educator and TEDTalk speaker, Graham Shaw. In his interactive presentation he used drawing, a skill many believe themselves not to possess, to show how limiting beliefs hide our true talents from us. In other words, if you think you can’t draw, you’re wrong. He introduced a friendly character, Spike, and helped attendees work their way through a free-hand sketch of him, even calling attendees up on stage to assist him.

This year also marks the 10 year anniversary of the National Labor Exchange (NLx), a partnership established between DirectEmployers and the National Association of State Workforce Agencies (NASWA). To honor this milestone, we acknowledged all of the staff and Members who have worked hard to make this resource a continuing success and of course, there was cake. 🙂

We also understand and encourage the importance of networking to give our attendees ample time to build a network among their peers, we worked two receptions into our agenda. We started with our traditional welcome reception in the Demo Hall where attendees had the chance to speak with our underwriters and learn more about their products and services while noshing on treats from the chocolate fountain and delicious hors d’oeuvres! On Wednesday night, our attendees were treated to a cocktail hour with our non-profit partners before heading to our off-site evening event at Punch Bowl Social. Here attendees were treated to delicious street tacos and mini cupcakes before letting loose and playing a plethora of games including corn hole, ski ball, ping pong, bowling, arcade games and more–including karaoke!

We ended the conference with our annual board of directors/operations team panel discussion, allowing Members to get to know our key players a little better, as well as to ask questions about the happenings and future direction of the Association. Our attendees left the conference with plenty of knowledge and a snack pack in hand, ready to head back to the office and implement what they learned–another great event in the books!

Want to get involved in next year’s conference? Submit a speaking proposal by Monday, July 31, 2017 for your chance to be included in the DEAM18 agenda!

Kacie Koons
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