Published: October 22, 2021
By Todd Philbrick, CAE, I.C.E. Chair of the Board of Directors
The annual I.C.E. Exchange is always a highlight of my professional year, and I am looking forward to the upcoming 2021 conference, taking place Nov. 15-18 in Nashville, Tennessee. For well over a year, the I.C.E. Exchange Program Committee, Board of Directors (the Board) and staff have been planning for a safe and exciting in-person I.C.E. Exchange, and have been developing contingency plans for a virtual component.
We have been closely monitoring the status of COVID-19 cases — primarily due to the emergence of the delta variant — along with national and local conditions/regulations, industry trends for fall meetings and I.C.E. members’ preference for in-person events. As a result, the Board made several key decisions to allow more of our community to safely participate in the Exchange, such as:
- Adding virtual attendance for selected education and general sessions
- Requiring proof of full vaccination or proof of a negative COVID-19 test
- Requiring attendees to wear face masks if attending the in-person event
The discussions related to adding a virtual component to the in-person Exchange, which occurred over several months, were robust and included arguments for and against every conceivable option. Given members’ desire for an in-person conference (as evidenced in a survey conducted in September) — even with the unpredictability of infection rates and the safety protocols put in place for attendees and exhibitors — the Board ultimately felt comfortable moving forward with an in-person conference.
While there is a strong desire for in-person, there is also a portion of the community that is not able to travel for a variety of personal and professional reasons. As a result, the Board strongly felt it was our fiduciary responsibility, as well as our commitment to the entire attendee audience, to offer a virtual option to the I.C.E. Exchange.
While in many ways this year’s conference decision making was more challenging than last year, given the unknowns related to the delta variant, the hotel has been understanding of the concerns of our community. Further, they have been an effective and informative partner as I.C.E. staff and the Exchange Program Committee continue to plan and adapt strong health/safety practices.
I want to commend the I.C.E. Exchange Program Committee members, chaired by Amine Issa Jr., MA, GPHR, PHR, on creating an excellent program and for their nimble thoughtfulness in accommodating the impact of adding virtual participation to the conference. I also want to commend I.C.E. leadership as this was a classic case of good but challenging decision making in the face of unprecedented uncertainty. As many of you know from working with your own governing bodies, information can sometimes be imperfect and yet decisions must be made. In the end, I believe we made the right decision given all the parameters.
The I.C.E. Annual Business Meeting will again be held virtually on Thursday, Nov. 4, just prior to the I.C.E. Exchange. While the session will be recorded, the speakers and the Board will be online to answer your questions in real time, and we look forward to your participation. A recording of the meeting will be made available shortly after.
This will be one of the first in-person conferences I’ve attended in quite a while and can’t wait to connect with many of you. See you in Nashville.
Register for the I.C.E. Exchange
Register now and join I.C.E. leadership at the 2021 I.C.E. Exchange in Nashville, Tennessee, Nov. 15-18. Unable to attend in person? Click here to learn more about particpating virtually in this year's event.