This month, hundreds of energy assistance advocates and leaders will gather in Phoenix for the 2018 NEUAC Conference. With a theme of “We Rise Together,” this year’s conference offers attendees new education tracks, keynote speakers, and special features on top of the conference’s core events and sessions. Katrina Metzler, NEUAC Executive Director, is planning to make this year’s conference one of the best ever.
“We have a lot to be excited about this year,” Metzler said. “We’ve learned so much from previous conferences and have been able to pack in a lot of really amazing content and events into this year’s lineup.”
In a quick sit-down with the Campaign for Home Energy Assistance, Metzler shared a lineup of seven must-experience additions to the 2018 NEUAC Conference:
- Walk In My Shoes Poverty Simulation: Offered as a no-cost special offering, this pre-conference session is an eye-opening experience. Participants go through an exercise that simulates the experience of a family member of a person in poverty. Every 30 minutes explores a new week and new challenges, like dealing with unexpected financial crises, payday loan situations, and various levels of personal crisis. Certified trainers execute the simulation, and participants are coached through their reactions and experiences to walk away with greater compassion and understanding for the challenges of poverty.
- Regional Solution Building: At the conclusion of the conference, NEUAC is again gathering an attendee favorite: the regional solution building networking and discussion session. Metzler notes that some of the most consistent feedback from previous conferences was the great experience of meeting fellow energy assistance leaders from the same region. To support networking and connection, this year’s conference will also feature a regional breakfast social at the outset of the conference on Tuesday morning. This early opportunity to meet and engage with others can then be enhanced at the conclusion of the conference, with plenty of opportunity to connect in between.
- Fiesta de la Union: It wouldn’t be a NEUAC conference without a colorful reception! This year’s reception adds a local flair to the conference’s theme of “We Rise Together” through the Fiesta de la Union reception. During the reception, attendees have the chance to chat and mingle in a fun, inviting atmosphere. “The reception is really one way that we’re showing the frontline staff members who support LIHEAP and energy assistance across the country how grateful we are for the help they provide to clients every day,” said Metzler, who is looking forward to the event’s 8-piece band, photo booth, and Latin American food selection.
- Hot Topic Education Tracks: Last year’s conference had one particularly much-discussed session: structural racism. The controversial topic was a welcome indication to Metzler and other conference planners that there is a continued need to address all topics—even the ones that stir up dissent—in an effort to address all perspectives and potential solutions for energy assistance. In addition, this year’s annual conference will feature a new track called Emerging Issues and Water Affordability. This new track is a result of last year’s special Water Affordability Summit, which was a post-conference special event. During the Summit, Metzler learned of the critical need to discuss how water and energy affordability connect and to involve more participants into the discussion.
- Speakers and Keynotes: The NEUAC Conference would not be complete without the compelling lineup of keynote and special speakers. Of personal interest to Metzler is Dr. Ruby Payne, a well-known speaker on the topic of poverty. “I first heart Dr. Payne speak when I was just 22 and back home in Ohio. Everyone now and again we all come across people who speak to our heart, and that was Dr. Payne for me. She talks about the differences between social classes and how are values and formed and influenced by our wealth—or lack thereof.” Dr. Payne’s presentation during the plenary session, “Bridges Out of Poverty,” will help attendees understand how to speak beyond their own social class to connect with individuals in other life situations. Leading the opening session, Lori Jacobwith will welcome attendees to the conference with her presentation, “Storytelling: Sharing Your Mission Powerfully to Cause ACTION,” to ignite energy in attendees as they work on their mission of change and progress in the field of energy assistance.
Be sure to check out these must-see presentations, speakers, events, and more at the 2018 Annual NEUAC Conference! There’s even more to experience on site during the three-day event. If you haven’t signed up for the conference yet, there’s still time. Head over to www.neuac.org to get the details and register today!