Professional Development Committee: Regional Forums

A Regional Forum is a non-conference event that brings together MBA CSEA members and prospective members for networking and programming. MBA CSEA hosts a number of Forums throughout the year to meet the following goals:

  • Take advantage of other events MBA CSEA members and prospective employers are already attending (i.e. mid-year board meeting, diversity conferences). 
  • Provide additional professional development and networking opportunities outside of the conferences, in locations that might be more affordable and convenient to members.
  • Promote the organization to prospective employer members in the area close to the meet-up.

Regional Forums  committees use online collaboration tools to assist with timeline management and historical documentation. 


Site Selection 

The locations and dates for the forums are discussed and recommended by the Professional Development Committee leadership (PD Committee Chairs, Regional Forum Chairs and Executive Director) and then voted on by the board each year, based on the following factors:
  • Regions where conferences will be held. Generally, Regional Forums held in the U.S. will be in different regions than the Global Conference in an effort to spread out geographically.
  • Regions/locations where Forums have not been held within the past few years, in an effort to spread out and broaden attendance.
  • Regions that have a high concentration of members with easy access to the Forum location. This ensures high attendance and minimizes financial commitment.
  • Locations where a company, school or vendor is interested in both hosting the event and sponsoring the catering expenses. This helps minimize the financial commitment.
  • Locations with access to speakers who would speak for low cost or in a complimentary capacity.
  • Careful consideration is given to the resources available (including both staff and volunteers) when determining the timing and number of Forums to conduct each year.

The following details should be prepared and presented to the board for a vote:
  • Maximum capacity fo the venue, including the number of rooms availalbe for our use and the capacity of each one
  • Proxomity of the venue to major transportatoin that attendees are likely to use (airport, train, etc.)
  • Number of members within driveable distance from the venue
  • Ability of host site to sponsor the room rental and catering fees
  • Proposed dates, including the reasons those dates are recommended
  • Additional information deemed important by the PD Committee leadership team

Venue Criteria

The following criteria are considered when selecting a forum venue:
  • Minimum capacity
    Average attendance at Regional Forums in the U.S. is 50 attendees; maximum is 75. For forums open to all members, a minimum space capacity of 75 should be secured, in order to accommodate growth. Room set-up should be considered when looking at capacity (theater set-up maximizes space, but another set-up might be preferred based on the session type). 
  • Catering options
    Ideally, catering would be availalbe at a reasonably low cost. Menu offerings should be broad and diverse, and the caterer must be able to accommodate dietary needs in order to ensure a positive experience for all attendees. 


Event Parameters

  • Events are open to all school and employer members, as well as prospective members in the local area. Students may not attend unless invited to speak as part of a professional development session. If invited to speak, they may attend for the session in which they are presenting only.
  • Registration fees are set by the board each year, and are typically consistent across all locations. Discount attendance may be offered based on strategic objectives of the organization and the events (for example, for prospective employer members).
  • Affiliate members of MBA CSEA can attend the event as a sponsor if feasible, based on the nature of the event. Sponsorship menus are put together by the committee and Executive Director. Sponsorship menus for Regional Forums will be similar across all events.
  • Where possible, at least one board member will be present at the event to introduce the event and represent the board.


Committee Responsibilities

Regional Forum Chair
A Regional Forum chair is selected by the President and Executive Director. The chair puts together a volunteer committee for each forum, typically consisting of both members located in the local area, and members from the Professional Development Committee to provide continuity for each event..The Regional Forum chair is a member of the Professional Development committee and reports to the committee regularly. The Chair is preferably someone who has experience planning MBA CSEA events (forums and/or conferences) and has attended one or more Forum in the past. Attendance at the Forums by the chair is encouraged, but not required.

The chair’s responsibilities are as follows:
  • Puts together a volunteer committee for each Forum (with the help of the Executive Director), typically consisting of members located in the local area, as well as Professional Development Committee members.
  • Is a member of the Professional Development committee and reports to the committee regularly about planning progress, seeking assistance from the committee as needed.
  • Schedules regular communications with the Forum committee via phone and email.
  • Ensures all individual committee members are fulfilling responsibilities and the timeline is followed.
  • Creates and maintains a budget for the Forum. Budgets are approved by the board. A budget will be presented and approved before any expenditures are made. Any exceptions will need approval from the Executive Director. Complimentary speakers/panelists should be sought whenever possible.
  • Creates PowerPoint slides for the conference, including schedule, committee recognition and sponsor recognition.
  • Creates introductory information for the emcee to use, including information about MBA CSEA for prospective members, sponsor recognition, and speaker introductions.

Local Arrangements

The Local Arrangements Committee is typically located in the area where the Forum is held. Note: when the Forum is held in conjunction with the mid-year Board meeting, the Executive Director typically handles the hotel arrangements.
  • Except when held in conjunction with the mid-year board meeting, the committee maintains communication with and makes arrangements with the venue, including food and beverage selections, room selections, audio/visual arrangements, etc. Sends food and beverage selections and budget to the Executive Director for approval before finalizing.
  • Prepare information about the local area that may be useful to attendees, such as travel information, driving directions, etc.
  • Creates nametags and check-in lists.
  • Arranges for local volunteers (and/or Forum committee members) to manage the check-in area at the event.

Marketing

The Marketing Committee works closely with the Executive Director to ensure Forum publicity and communications are coordinated with the organization’s overall communications plan.
  • Works with the Executive Director to create marketing communications to promote the Forum to members and non-members. The committee creates the content for the communications, and the Executive Director distributes them to members.
  • Develops a communications plan to promote the event to non-members in the area near the Forum. If feasible,, creates an outreach list for prospective employer members in the local area. Note: all committee members and board members are encouraged to invite employer contacts to the event.

Programs

The Programs Committee secures speakers and selects programming topics for the Forum, with the assistance of other committee members as needed. Topics for Professional Development sessions will be selected based on the strategic goals of the organization and the needs of the membership, varying by region if applicable.
  • Arranges for speakers (complimentary, when possible) and topics for programming. MBA CSEA school and employer members will be approached to participate on panels before non-members are approached. Affiliate members/vendors must register for the event in order to present, as well as co-present with a school or employer members.
  • Communicate with speakers in advance to obtain on-site needs such as A/V and communicates those needs to the Local Arrangements Committee or Executive Director.

Executive Director
  • Is a member of the Regional Forum committee, and should be included on all committee communications.
  • If the Forum is hosted at the hotel where the board meeting is located (in December), the ED serves as the main hotel liaison.
  • Creates the registration web site and sends all official marketing communications (with assistance from the Administrative Assistant, as needed).
  • Provides historical information and advice for all Forum planning as needed, including food and beverage selections, programming, space allocation and promotions activities.
  • Approves menu selection.
  • Sends registration list to local arrangements committee for nametags.
  • Sends a pre-event communication to attendees with last minute details and reminders.
  • Conducts follow-up communication with attendees, including the post-event evaluation.
  • Manages Sponsor packages, including initial solicitation and communication, and makes sure package items are fulfilled.
  • Creates and orders signage, including sponsor and other recognition.
  • Creates fliers and other promotional information about the organization for prospective members to receive at the event.
  • Assists with decisions regarding policy and other aspects of the event, such as complimentary participation, sponsorship packages, budget, etc.