Better Because We Will Be There

Many of our clients have had to navigate unchartered waters as venue contracts (that were secured years ago) are now being questioned and challenged by members in states that have adopted discriminatory and women’s health laws that go against the mission and values of the association.

In response, we posted this article back in April to provide decision-making resources and examples of communication strategies for boards facing these very difficult decisions.

Creating a Safe and Welcoming Environment

Last week, the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA) hosted a one-hour webinar led by key staff and volunteer leaders openly addressing their member’s concerns for their safety and wellbeing at their 2024 annual conference in Orlando. They also invited two executives from Visit Orlando who shared their commitment to making everyone feel welcomed and safe. They were both very active in chat addressing members’ questions and concerns directly.

AOTA’s interim Executive Director, Charles Jeffers, opened by sharing that the board decided to approach the decision to keep or cancel the Orlando contract the way an Occupational Therapy Practitioner would face a challenging situation; embrace the challenge and figure out how to adapt and problem solve it.

I was very impressed with how AOTA laid out plans for attendee safety, inclusion and allyship. They shared details on local non-profits representing marginalized communities in Orlando that they will be actively supporting.

Over 400 members participated live and the recording of the webinar is now on their website and posted here on YouTube. If your organization is hosting a meeting in a “hotbed” state, I would encourage you to watch the entire hour. Here are a few of my recommended highlights on the video:

  • 9:25-Watch the Mayor of Orange County and his passionate commitment to creating a safe and welcoming community.
  • 22:14-OT student representing two marginalized communities shares about one of the non-profits AOTA will be supporting in March. Her passionate statement of how OT’s have a long history in social justice and standing up for the marginalized was a mic drop for sure.
  • 25:50-Watch Mike Waterman and Stan Rubins with Visit Orlando share the rights you have as a lessee of the convention center and their commitment to safety.

AOTA also has posted on their website their latest safety information and their updated FAQs, two great resources as well.

It was amazing to see the hundreds of comments in chat in the final 10 minutes of the webinar stating how their fears and concerns were addressed and how many were now looking forward to attending in March. The overwhelming feeling was, “let’s leave Orlando better because we were there.”

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