The annual Leadership Development Workshop (LDW), hosted by PPAI and the Regional Association Council (RAC), is under way this week in Grapevine, Texas. Now in its 20th year, the four-day event supports regional leaders and fosters relationships between the regional associations in the promotional products industry with comprehensive training and networking opportunities. LDW welcomes 150 regional leaders, including 56 first-timers.

LDW kicked off Sunday with a reception and dinner for regional association executive directors, followed by an executive director symposium on Monday and a welcome reception and dinner Monday evening honoring this year’s PPAI/RAC Regional Volunteer of the Year Tom Carpenter, MAS. Read more on Carpenter below. The education programming for all regional association leaders continues today and tomorrow with an extensive curriculum designed to provide numerous learning opportunities through general sessions, breakout discussions and idea-sharing activities.

This morning, LDW begin with an inspiring keynote presentation, “Generate Passion & Purpose – The Key to Rising Above the Obstacles that Thwart and Constrain You,” presented by Dan Nevins, an Iraq war veteran and founder of Warrior Spirit Retreat, a place where warriors learn to heal the physical and mental wounds of military service. Nevins, himself a double amputee, conducts retreats nationwide for veterans and their families, and has helped thousands live a better life coping with the wounds of war. Read more about Nevin’s session below.

After the opening session, PPB Newslink caught up with a few attendees to find out what brought them to LDW this year and why they find it valuable. “Every year I come away with some really good ideas and some new friendships,” says Lisa Bibb, executive director for Georgia Area Promotional Products Professionals and Virginia Promotional Products Association, who has attended LDW for the past 13 years. “If I weren’t here, I would have the worst FOMO [fear of missing out], so I’m very happy to be here.”

Kara Keister, president of Ohio Promotional Products Association, is a third-year attendee. “Every year I leave here with amazing knowledge and experiences. I get to listen to my peers and learn. Two years ago, we made it a board initiative that our entire board would come together every year as long as we could afford to do so. The education that we get from this experience is top-notch; it has increased our board productivity extensively.”

The workshop continued this afternoon with more education programming, including a general session on how technology is changing our lives with SAGE CEO Eric Natinsky, and will close with a Q&A session presented by PPAI staff members, followed by dinner this evening. The workshop gets started on Wednesday morning with yoga led by Dan Nevins, followed by a variety of education sessions and will wrap up on Wednesday afternoon.