VPO and the 2016 Convention - by Jessica M. Mieles

  • 19 Oct 2016 12:47 PM
    Message # 4313589
    Mariana Fradman (Administrator)
             VPO and the 2016 Convention - by Jessica M. Mieles

    Happy Fall! For some of us it's sweater weather. Others indulge in Pumpkin Spice and everything nice. Some of you may enjoy the changing of the leaves or better yet the National Federation of Paralegal Association's 2016 Convention! I took the time to interview one of the host state's coordinators, Corinne Deering, RP of the Vermont Paralegal Organization and here's an inside look at what it takes to make a Convention happen. We are hoping this will motivate you to go to a Convention in the upcoming years and/or visit the great state of Vermont.

    Jessica M. Mieles (JM): Why did the Vermont Paralegal Organization ("VPO") decide to host Convention and not the Joint Conference?

    Corinne Deering (CD): We usually budget for our delegates to attend Convention and not the Joint Conference unless it’s being held geographically nearby. Although it would be great to go to the Joint Conference, it’s more of a budget issue. We're a very budget conscious group and we try do things to benefit our membership.

    JM: How long ago did you pitch convention?  

    CD: We submitted our bid in 2012 at the Convention in Alaska (we were up against Miami). There’s a brief video of the announcement of the VPO winning the bid on our  website “http://www.vtparalegal.org/2016-nfpa-convention.html” . In 2013, VPO members attended the Connecticut Convention  where the Connecticut, Texas, Hawaii and Vermont Convention Planning Committee members held a brief meeting to discuss how to prepare their logos, how to develop their tag lines for their respective conventions, and shared tips and tricks for planning a successful convention.

    JM: What made you choose your logo?

    CD: The board wanted to offer the opportunity to create our logo to a graphic arts college student. We reached out to several colleges to see if any students would want to do the graphic for a class project, but unfortunately we had no luck. Kristen Provost, a board member, penciled out the draft idea which was the base for the logo. The sketch was given to a high school student and her graphics teacher, and she created the logo as a school project.  Additional formatting had to be done by a former co-worker and IT “expert” from Corinne’s office. He prepared the logo so it could be resized for various media formats. NFPA then asked to slightly modify it and to change the coloring. It cost the VPO between $100-$150 to Chris Broe, the IT guy, then additional payment in beer and burritos to make the additional revisions. Lol. The VPO advice: Budget for a professional! Think simple but classy. Think of the Hawaii logo. You really should not skimp on the logo design and preparation, because you’ll pay for it later if you do.

    JM: How many hours a day would you say you have to put in for Convention?

    CD: An hour during lunch and then at home about another 2-4 hours a night, with additional time on the weekends. The work consisted of going through emails and preparing further emails reaching out to potential sponsors and exhibitors, preparing press releases, trying to locate exhibitors and sponsors, preparing for convention committee meetings and conference calls with NFPA, sorting through papers and through convention items in an attempt to stay organized, and keeping up with social media to promote convention.

    JM: How long has it been non-stop?

    CD: Probably since January 2016. We received our timeline shortly after the Hawaii Convention. We were trying to get our notices out to potential exhibitors and sponsors prior to their preparations of budgets for 2016.

    You really need to start a full year in advance if not earlier. You need to get on the company’s radar early the year before so they can budget to attend your event.

    We obtained a lengthy list of the chamber of commerce members and tried to determine who from that list might be the most likely to have interest in attending the event and/or sponsoring part of convention. 

    We started using a project management database called TeamWork to try to manage and collaborate on convention planning. It worked for a while, but some committee members  did not like the multiple steps to access the documentation, and  did not have time to learn a new program.

    JM: Nitty gritty of convention.

    CD: It’s been challenging and sometimes trying. Some people have volunteered and stayed for the long haul, and some have tapered off because life happens. It’s difficult to find willing exhibitors and people who are willing to volunteer to seek out financial assistance and support. I spent many of my lunch hours making phone calls to potential businesses and vendors to try to find willing exhibitors and sponsors.

    NFPA is helping out with contacting national exhibitors and sponsors from previous conventions and potential corporate sponsors.

    Sometimes being creative with your timing is very important. Speakers and people of interest have schedule changes and flexibility on timing  of activities and creativity comes into play to make a successful convention.

    JM: Are there any guests that you'd like to let us know about?

    CD: Our Keynote Speaker is Howard Dean. He was the former governor of Vermont for six terms, the former Democratic National Committee chairman in 2003, and a presidential candidate and physician. Currently he works as an independent consultant focusing on health care, early childhood development, alternative energy and grassroots politics around the world. We are also lucky to have Robert Burd, an independent paralegal from Ontario, presenting on regulation and licensure of paralegals.  We are pleased to have in attendance, as a VIP guest, the new executive director of the Vermont Bar Association, Teri Corsones.

    JM: Well Corinne, I look forward to visiting you and your lovely state in October. Happy Convention!

    Check out the VPO Convention Page on Facebook:
    "We Believe #ParalegalsSweetenVT"

    or their website:

    or NFPA'S website:

    Last modified: 21 Oct 2016 12:18 AM | Mariana Fradman (Administrator)

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