Mario Sikora, President,
IEA Board of Directors
Back to the future, indeed.
"Back to the Future" was the theme of the 2012 IEA conference in Long Beach, which concluded this past Sunday. The past, present, and future were all on display throughout.
The pre-conference event featured a day of learning with David Daniels and Russ Hudson, two founders of the IEA who have been steady presences since the first conference in 1994. Seeing these two masterful teachers from different schools teach together highlighted what I found to be most notable about this year's conference: the spirit of good will and collegiality that permeated the event.
Zen teacher Cheri Huber gave the keynote address on Friday morning. Cheri is a friend, and I've seen her speak a number of times over the years. She is always good, but I've never seen her with such a large group and I was amazed at how she held and uplifted the audience. She delivered a message of compassion and self-forgiveness, of the value of keeping things simple but doing the work, in a way that left the audience both wanting more and deeply satisfied.
Starting with a wisdom tradition - zen Buddhism - that is centuries old, the conference ended with the cutting edge of modern science as neuroscientist Dario Nardi talked about his research on the brain and his (admittedly very) preliminary findings on correlations between Ennea-type and regions of the brain. Dario was both informative and entertaining, and the audience left the conference just as inspired as they were after Cheri's keynote.
In between were informative and entertaining breakout sessions by presenters from all over the world - some faces new, others well-known. Of particular note were two new additions to the conference format this year: the Creative Caf� and the "How-to" stream of training sessions. At the Creative Caf�, conceived of and overseen by Charlene Taylor, attendees had the chance to express their inner artist. The "How-to" stream was a series of sessions to help attendees gain expertise useful in helping them build their professional practices. The sessions were led by experts in marketing, writing, and social media and were practical, useful, and helpful according to all the attendees I spoke with.
While not officially part of the conference, the IEA held its General Assembly of Affiliates on Wednesday. Delegates representing 21 countries gathered to discuss activities in their affiliates over the past year and to plan for the IEA's future. Listening to each representative helped the attendees remember what a truly global community we are and how exciting the IEA's future will be.
I can't help but share a few pieces of feedback that I received at the conference. One presenter took me aside and said, "I think this is my 8th or 10th IEA conference, and this one was the best." An attendee took me aside and said, "I've been to five professional conferences on a variety of topics this year; this one has been by far the most rewarding."
Such success comes from cooperation among the whole and gratitude is due to many people who helped bring about such a successful conference. We start, of course, with the attendees who-each and everyone-came with open hearts and open minds. The IEA board is also grateful to the presenters and volunteers, without whom we could not have a conference. Finally, to conference coordinator Kathryn Grant, who along with IEA administrator Sandy Hatmaker, spent the past year planning each and every detail of the conference with an eye to making it a seamless, enjoyable, and informative event for everyone. She succeeded.