From Thursday to Saturday of last week (July 26-28 for those calendar fans out there), I “took my show on the road,” so to speak, and headed to the annual IDP Coordinators Conference, held at the Hotel Allegro in Chicago.  As a new State Coordinator (not to mention someone who has held IDP at arm’s length since completing it), I figured that attending the conference would be a great way to explore this new role of mine.  Besides, any chance to get to Chicago (which, for my money, is the greatest city in the United States, hands down) is worth the trip.

I was expecting to learn a lot (which I certainly did), and make some new friends (ditto).  What I wasn’t expecting, though, was how much fun I would have.  For the record, I’m not just talking about our evening escapades.  (Don’t get me wrong, though:  that stuff was fun too.  The Architectural Boat Tour on Friday night was, as always, an excellent way to spend an evening in the windy city.  And a little howling at the moon (at Howl At The Moon, natch) never hurt anyone… who knew that so many State Coordinators were Tenacious D fans…??)

The conference was brisk and compact (no expo floor to get lost in) and well-focused on whats new with IDP 2.0, as well as NCARBs plans for the future of the program.  A pleasant surprise was the amount of levity that was introduced, courtesy of the dry wit of Harry Falconer (NCARB Director), Nick Serfass (Assistant Director), and Martin Smith (Manager)… for an organization that gets a little bit of a bad rap for being bogged down by rules and restrictions, the glimpse at its lighter side was incredibly refreshing (and maybe it’s just me, but I think that if more people got to see that aspect of it, they might have a different opinion on this process.)  I have to admit, being in a group of so many like-minded people, with unbridled enthusiasm for helping emergent professionals on their path to licensure, was really quite inspiring.  There was, quite simply, no apathy to be found here.  I had the opportunity to meet a lot of first timers, like me, who are new to their roles, as well as several who have been at it for many, many years; all of whom, however, shared the same commitment to promoting the value of licensure in our profession.  The energy level of this group was intoxicating.

The best part, for me, were the chances we had to talk instead of just listening. Yes, this was a conference, which meant a lot of group lectures and PowerPoint presentations.  But it was the smaller sessions, where my fellow coordinators opened up and shared their opinions on the program, the process, and the participants, that really opened my eyes to how IDP and ARE are handled.  Saturday morning’s breakout session for state coordinators, for example, was a very frank and honest discussion about our role in the process (including how the title isn’t really the best description for what we do, which involves so much more than just IDP).  I also had the opportunity to present at a round table session (on something that I’ve come to know a good bit about: setting up ARE prep resources in your local component, alongside Wisconsin’s state coordinator Russ LaFrombais).  Yes, even as a first-time attendee, I actually got to contribute something to the conference — and I really feel like people were interested in the advice I had to offer, too, which was the icing on the cake.

I treated the conference as my official “kick-off” for my term.  I returned home energized, excited, and thoroughly exhausted… and ready to begin!