Tuesday, April 3, 2018

Behind the Scenes

Catherine Johnson 
Director, EVAW International Board of Directors

Today is the eve of the 2018 End Violence Against Women International Conference on Sexual Assault, Domestic Violence and Gender Bias being held in Chicago Il.  As I sit looking out over the lake I reflect on the number of years I have attended this organization's conferences.

I attended my first EVAW International Conference as a young detective  in 2006 in Kansas City Missouri.  I can still remember the impact that first conference had and have had the privilege of attending all but one since.  

Prior to becoming a board member I had no idea what it took to put on a conference the size of EVAW International. I would simply show up to whatever city the conference was being held, grab my tote bag, then seek out new friends and familiar faces.  I knew the three days I spent at the EVAW International Conference were going to be well-spent.  I knew I would be provided with advanced skills and training that I could then take back to KCPD to help me and other detectives be more successful in our job as detectives in the Sex Crimes Unit.  I also knew I would leave the conference exhausted but with a renewed sense of energy, purpose, and excitement to put into action what I had learned.

Today, as a Board Director, I have a better understanding of the behind the scenes activities that go into putting on a conference of this magnitude. Over the next few weeks I plan to share with you some of the things you may not know about. I plan to post a glimpse from the trenches.  You will see photographs and videos, some from behind the scenes, as we prepare to bring you a stellar conference!   

Let's talk about what happens before the conference actually begins.  The work begins with the EVAW International staff way before we get to the location of the meeting.  I cannot begin to describe all that they do, but let me be clear - this conference could not be done at the level it is without the staff!   They are an amazing group of individuals and absolutely incredible team!

By the time the Board of Directors arrive, the staff has already started working at setting things up at the conference location, to include preparing for the annual in-person board meeting which takes place the Sunday prior to the conference. For some of us, this is the only time we get to see one another face to face.  As you can see by these photographs there are some serious conversations being had. I am sure a few of the world's problems are being solved!

The EVAW International Board of Directors is a working board in it's truest sense.  If you have ever attended an EVAW International Conference you may remember receiving a bag of conference-related materials to include a spiral bound notebook which contains the full agenda.  Those bags don't stuff themselves!  The Monday prior to the conference the entire Board of Directors (and as many volunteers as we can summons) meet to prepare the bags.  It is hard work, but there is usually music and a lot of laughter as we try to make it as fun as possible!  This year we stuff over 2000 bags and actually finished in a record amount of time (just under 2.5 hours).  As you can tell by the photo, everyone was extremely excited to be finished!  My hope is that our enthusiasm will be contagious!