The technological capabilities of the Winthrop Rockefeller Foundation were certainly on full display at the recent 2013 Biennial Partner Convening – “A Gathering of Leaders” held at DeGray Lake Resort State Park on Thursday, September 5, 2013.
The introductory session:” Five Years Later: Moving the Needle in Retrospect” was a recap of the history of the Move the Needle (MTN) Strategic Plan. Attendees received a copy of Looking Back Going Forward: Moving the Needle 2008-2013 and a copy of Moving the Needle 2.0: Strategic Plan 2014-2019 in their registration packs. The entire WRF Board appeared to be situated in the audience, and one by one, introduced themselves by naming their respective hometowns and their personal reason(s) for wanting to serve on the Board. The transparency of the foundation was definitely evident with this grand gesture of openers. The organization’s staff followed suite by introducing themselves with a rare display of frankness and openness to information sharing, and answering impromptu questions from the audience.
The age of technology once again took center stage during the mid-morning segments entitled “Tactical Advisory Carousel” (where attendees participated in not one, but two “tactical advisory sessions”) and again during a quickly staged break-out session called the “Tactical Advisory Conversation”, (where groups went to different break-out areas to give their input on various aspects of the new strategic plan).
The entire segment was seemingly, flawlessly orchestrated with every required action beginning and ending almost like clockwork. Very impressive indeed. Kudos to WRF for designing such a non-fatiguing interactive period that literally grasped the audience’s input as if out of thin air, using everyone’s smart phone to text in quick responses, which was automatically tabulated and redisplayed within seconds on TV monitors around the room.
The afternoon segments also moved rather fluidly, even though these segments covered the rather heavy subject matters of “Moving the Needle 2.0: A Plan for More Progress”, and “Partner Response: 2014-2019 What’s on the Horizon.” The panel-style discussion by Dr. Sherece Y. West Scantlebury and Board Chairperson, Toyce Newton, was very humbling and intriguing due to both presenters’ out-right sincerity and dedication to work they both are unquestionably passionate about and committed to. With Cory Anderson’s closing remarks, in his usual matter-of-facts business manner, the day-long event came winding down to its’ scheduled end. It had been a memorable occasion, filled with a crescendo of data gathering and sharing, a gulp of technological inter-activity, and a double dose of organizational transparency on the side. Networking came over easy.
DCA’s Executive Director, Larry Williams and Operations Manager, Tasha Griffin reviewed and analyzed the entire event during the three hour ride back home to Greenville. Their overall assessment of the event was an “A” for effort; “A” for location; “A” for design; “A” for food, and “A” for Networking opportunities. According to Williams, “those scores are not an exercise in brown-nosing. They are, by far, not typical of every funder event we’ve ever attended. It was really a good event all around. Period. End of Story.”