2021 CEO Meeting: Navigating Through Times of Uncertainty

On February 8–10, CESSE hosted its 2021 CEO Meeting. This record-breaking event broke all previous CEO meeting attendance records!

When asked to write a post about the recent 2021 CESSE CEO Meeting, one of the first words that came to my mind was love. I really hesitate to use that word which is so often overused, and I certainly don't want to diminish its most heartfelt and spiritual meanings, but I love what this community means to me and so many others. 

So, thank all of you for that. 

  • Thank you to all of the attendees (125) for making this a priority and really digging in to engage over three days, thank you to our organizers and speakers who shared their experiences and helped us to learn, grow, and identify new ideas or concepts for our organizations.

  • Thank you to our partners who shared tremendous insights into the meetings space as well as various ways consultants can help us create value that we cannot create internally and who shared financially to make the meeting continue to feel fun, energizing, and affordable.

  • Thank you to the Board and other volunteer leaders steering CESSE in addition to their own organizations through these unprecedented times.

  • Finally, thank you to the staff (in their first full year with us) for making sure everything worked pretty much seamlessly and that CESSE members have had a great experience throughout the past year. 

I love the networking value of the meeting – even virtually (I already have 3 follow-up meetings scheduled w CEOs and their staff as well as 2 partner meetings in the process). 

2021 CEO Meeting Zoom I love that this year's DEI session was enhanced by the rigorous use of chat sharing insights and support for the panelists' and others' ideas - sharing that might not have happened in an in-person format. Many DEI programs large and small were shared including the 50K coalition and various cohort programs, yet we recognize the need to improve: voices yet unheard, constraints created by narrow definitions, needs for funding/resources, and the need for us individually and collectively to embrace being uncomfortable and open to being better and doing more. 

I hate that we're all in the same overcrowded and leaky boat in turbulent seas when it comes to meeting cancelations, virtual meetings, hybrid meetings, but I love how open we are to sharing our experiences, successes, and failures, and leveraging what we learn to help our communities advance science and engineering.  For meetings, in particular, Michael Moloney shared that Chris McEntee is chairing an AIP convened a panel to think about the future of science society convening - “Given the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on the physical sciences, how might scientific societies and associations re-imagine and optimize the meetings of the future to communicate science and serve scientists at all career stages?”

The unconference session had a few people a bit nervous when we put it on the schedule, but it was a huge success with too many topics to cover in our limited time but led by a list of ongoing issues/challenges/opportunities for remote work including moving state law/tax, pay, in-person contact and costs.  Many conversations were left unfinished offering opportunities for each of us to offer to host webinars with CESSE on these topics and/or utilize CESSE CEO Connect to continue the conversations.

This is a relationship business. Maintaining relationships through the pandemic and a primarily virtual world is tough.  There were many thoughts on this, and I loved Dresden's “we're all humans first” comment that resonates with me and many others. Supporting staff, volunteers, and personal relationships through the pandemic's impacts is one of our key (perhaps THE key) responsibilities as leaders.

Every year, we say our hellos (22 first-timers), congratulations (e.g. Erika Shugart to National Science Teaching Association (NSTA), and goodbyes (e.g. Karl Reid to Chief Inclusion Officer at Northeastern).  Through it all, this community has continued to grow. 

For those that were in attendance, thank you for sharing with all of us, and for those who were not, I look forward to seeing you at next year's 2022 CESSE CEO meeting.

Frank Krause, CAE
2021 CEO Meeting Co-Chair
Executive Director and CEO at FASEB 


We're About Trust

The keyword that comes up again and again at CESSE is trust. Our community members meet through our hallmark events and continue the conversations well beyond. Whether you are looking for a sounding board to help you work through a challenge, tips and advice on industry practices, or referrals to other people who have a solution you can use, CESSE is here to be, or become, your professional network of choice.

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