PPAI’s Leadership Development Workshop returned to Grapevine, Texas, on Monday, creating networking opportunities and educational panels for regional association leaders.

  • Regional’s executive directors and board members gathered on Monday for the event, which included a three-hour roundtable meeting specifically for their executive directors.
  • PPAI also hosted the 2023 PPAI Rising Stars, who joined the event on Tuesday and participated in panels and educational sessions through Wednesday.
  • This marked the 24th year that PPAI has hosted LDW for the promotional products community.

There was even a late-night karaoke competition between promo veterans at Bonnie & Clyde’s Hideout, the conference hotel’s bar.

“It’s just like every other PPAI event where it’s a giant family reunion,” says Kara Keister, MAS, Regional Relations Committee delegate to the PPAI Board of Directors and co-owner of distributor Social Good Promotions. “These are people I’ve had the pleasure of working with and traveling with and learning with for so many years that it’s really exciting to see everybody and collaborate.”

Educational Opportunities

PPAI packed LDW’s schedule with learning opportunities for attendees looking for actionable or big-picture takeaways to bring back to their personal careers, co-workers or immediate business.

“The Leadership Development Workshop is a great setting for PPAI to provide educational opportunities for the leaders of our regional community and our emerging leaders in the industry,” says Jill Begun, professional development manager at PPAI. “On one hand, just bringing these influential figures of promo together, they are bound to learn through shared practices, but it is also our responsibility as an association to create panels and breakout sessions with expert speakers and relevant or forward-looking topics.”

Tuesday’s panels and sessions were tailored to the regional association leadership. Topics included:

  • Recruitment and retention strategies for regional associations.
  • Creating events that extend beyond the typical trade show.
  • Advocacy expectations and responsibilities for regional associations.

Also on Tuesday, Ellen Tucker, CAS, CAE, PPAI’s vice president of revenue and expositions, hosted an afternoon town hall on behalf of the Association in which she addressed questions and previewed improvements that will be made to PPAI in 2024.

Wednesday’s sessions took on a broader approach to leadership strategies and takeaways.

  • Morning panels included “Characteristics of a Successful Leader” and “Leadership Development Workshop Forum.”
  • Organizational Psychologist Dr. Jason Jones spoke to the conference on evolving and thriving.

A Chance To Foster Relationships

Most LDW attendees seemed to agree that just as valuable as the scheduled educational content was the chance to get together with peers that exist in different parts of the country.

“What I can take back to my board is that this is a shared vision of what we all want to do in the industry,” says Bob Levitt, acting director, Specialty Advertising Association of California (SAAC). It doesn’t matter what state we’re coming from. We’re all doing the exact same thing.”

For regional association leaders and emerging leaders in promo, the opportunity to network in coordinated spaces or just mingle at lunch or in the hallway can be a clarifying experience about how this industry really thrives.

“Our industry is all about relationships,” says Kendra McDougal, MAS, brand merchandise consultant at HALO and board member of the Viriginia Promotional Products Association (VAPPA) and the Chesapeake Promotional Products Association (CPPA). “Even though you walk in here as a board member, you make the sort of relationships that are either going to help you in your board duties or your personal business duties.”

Levitt says that getting specific with other regional association leaders, especially those who had served in the role for many years, provided him with a clear idea of how to move forward with SAAC.

“It is understanding the difference between a governance board and a working board.”