You belong here….was the theme of the American Psychological Association’s “more than just an annual convention” recently at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center. Our team had the opportunity to participate and observe both the in-person and virtual event as the post-Covid rebound continues.
That theme manifested most successfully in:
- Intentional content and messaging delivered in the main stage rooms.
- The Gathering Place activation with interactive activities and short casual sessions. (The Gathering Place is an innovative space for attendees to connect with each other, experts and psychology. Attendees can gather there for informal meetups, engaging activities, debriefs with experts after the main stage, and sessions with APA leaders).
- A buzz-filled Solutions Center and adjacent Poster sessions. (The Solutions Center is a place to discover innovative solutions to everyday work challenges. A well-appointed exhibition to include a Poster hall, The Exchange, Publications, Membership Pavilion, Emerging Leaders, Technology and Innovation Hub).
- Virtual sessions with lively chatrooms, exclusive events and inclusion from the in-person stages.
My favorite session was “Hope as the Antidote”. Even for a non-psychologist, I found it compelling. The emcee of that session, Wajahat Ali of the Daily Beast (I’d hire him in a heartbeat) was remarkable, and the panelists, including APA’s President, Dr. Thema Bryant shared thought-provoking perspectives around hope as an action, not merely a feeling of optimism.
Bottom line: APA celebrated inclusion and belonging throughout the three-day event in their messaging, content and execution. I was impressed and inspired as someone who doesn’t usually love a theme. Kudos to the APA’S team for creating a place of belonging for your in-person and virtual audiences.