Kudos to the American Lighting Assn. (ALA) and the 2013 ALA Conference Committee on hosting a successful event on every level at the Hyatt Regency Lost Pines Resort and Spa near Austin, TX. More than 550 people participated, with 16 percent of them being first-time attendees.
I have a feeling that this Conference will not be the last one for any of them. ALA promised an “all-star” program and did not disappoint, from tried-and-true returning favorite speakers like retail guru Jon Schallert and communication expert Shari Harley to entirely new faces, concepts and technologies. When one of the very first morning sessions on LED dimming actually violated fire code (shhh!) because it had so many people standing on every square foot of floor space in the room, it set the tone for a higher level of topical relevance and engagement than we’ve ever seen at past Conferences — which were still quite strong in their own right.
In addition to wowing first-timers, I’m certain the top-notch agenda also impressed the increasing number of younger members in attendance. Although I have long since been disqualified for the under-40 Young Executives group, our rising star Managing Editor Nicole Bowling reports that their social reception had an incredible turnout. Having witnessed a previous “next generation” assume control of their businesses with the benefit of ALA relationships to support them, it’s great to see that tradition continue with Gen Y (the process fully documented on Instagram, no doubt).
After almost two decades of “The New ALA” — as the dedicated management team was called when it took over from a third-party association consulting firm — the organization has plenty to be proud of. So ALA President Dick Upton’s announcement at Conference that the search for his replacement has commenced was delivered with a clear conscience. The appointed Task Force has a goal for succession in 2015, with business as usual for ALA in the meantime. And by that, I mean the outstanding advocacy, education, networking and industry progress we have come to expect and appreciate.