by Michele Kersten-Hart
Oakland Community College
Bloomfield Hills, WI
On Oct. 1, I began my travels to each of NCMPR’s district conferences in my role as president. What better way to start than to visit my home District 3, which partnered with District 5 in a joint conference, “Changing Currents,” in Davenport, Iowa, on the Mississippi River.
Opening night started with a big spark of energy at the Figge Art Museum with guest speaker Chad Pregracke, who in 2013 was named CNN Hero of the Year and who was recognized by former President George W. Bush as a national “Point of Light” for his inspirational message on dreaming big, taking action, persevering, leading and collaborating.
Also on opening night, District 5 Director Erin Edlund, in all of her creative wisdom, issued a Twitter challenge to attendees, asking them to incorporate cats in their tweets about the conference. Why? I happen to love cats. It turned into a cat free-for-all, and we had a lot of fun with it. Greg Lopez of Milwaukee Area Technical College came up the winner of a gift card for his tweet and photo mash-up in which he inserted a picture of a cat – with glasses no less – in the conference logo. Who knows? There may be more cat tweets to come!
Monday morning started with guest speaker Audrey Roman, associate director of brand management for Deere & Company, better known as John Deere. She shared how her company’s brand has changed over the years and how the company has changed its approach to reaching ever-changing target audiences.
There were so many breakout sessions that it was hard to choose which ones to attend, but I managed to zero in on several of them and came home with many new ideas to implement with my marketing team.
The conference closed with a presentation by John Meineke, director of marketing and public relations at Black Hawk College. He started by sharing a list of major events that took place during his grandfather’s lifetime. Then, turning to the audience, he asked us to reflect on the changes that have taken place in our lifetimes. It was a real eye-opening experience. He went on to highlight many of the changes taking place in education. A couple of zingers: 1) 60 percent of the jobs that will be available 10 years from now haven’t been invented yet. 2) As many as 70 percent of today’s jobs will be done by robots or AI in 2030.
One thing I especially like about NCMPR conferences is the opportunity to visit with the great friends I’ve met over the years. I feel so blessed to be a part of this wonderful organization and so grateful for all I’ve learned at the district and national conferences. I’m looking forward to my next visit in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, for the District 1 conference. In the meantime, continue to share your cat tweets. I just love them!
Michele Kersten-Hart is the NCMPR president and the manager of multimedia and web services at Oakland Community College in Michigan.