Posted on: October 13, 2021
Author: Casandra Blassingame, IACET CEO
The Wired-Side Chat: From the Desk of the CEO - October 2021 image

Happy Fall Y’all!

Sweater weather can’t come fast enough. It’s my favorite time of the year. I’m neck deep in all things pumpkin spice! If you’re like me, you couldn’t wait for it to hit the shelves. But at the same time, you’ll be glad when it leaves in a few months because you will have had enough!

What an amazing time we had at the 2nd Annual Conference for Continuing Education and Training! Whether in-person or virtual, thank you for attending and I hope that you are sharing the experience with your colleagues. Mike Veny, an IACET Accredited Provider, kicked off the conference as keynote with an incredible surge of energy with a discussion about the one topic that most people shy away from- but at the same time- the one that everyone really does want to talk about – mental health. As a person who struggles with mental health challenges, Mike shared his personal story of triumph and how he manages; the effects of COVID-19 on our society; and strategies for implementing self-care. Most of all, we were inspired to be comfortable with the uncomfortable and given the green light – to talk about it.

Karin Athanas came in and communicated the reasons and importance of standards development and the process. I think everyone walked away from that conversation with a greater understanding of how it works and encouraged to seek out opportunities to get involved in councils, committees, and consensus bodies. Our Director of Standards, Sherard Jones, was truly excited about this message as it makes his job easier in recruiting council and consensus body members!

Amazing presentations by IACETs resident marketing strategist, LaDawn Townsend, our very own Sherard Jones, Commissioners Norina Columbaro, Lori Schnaider, and Delaney King provided tools you can add to your own toolkit to implement growth in your organization. We ended with an awe-inspiring message from Dr. Henry Shannon, Superintendent and President of Chaffey College that directed us to focus on our creativity to use the crisis of COVID-19 to move forward and develop learning events of the future. Emphasizing that virtual learning is here to stay.

Speaking of a virtual platform, what do learning events look like for you today? Next year? In years ahead? I have always been a proponent of a virtual option to an in-person event. And boom! Here we are! Conference goers and learners who prefer in-person attendance are going to show up. In Study: People Prefer In-Person Conferences  Christopher Ruvo’s findings were that , “while virtual events have proliferated amid societal shutdown measures caused by COVID-19, more than seven in 10 (72%) respondents to a recent survey say they prefer in-person conferences to virtual ones.”  He further found that “about 73% of respondents 45 years and older are more partial to face-to-face conferences. Those who favored in-person the least were in the 35- to 40-year-old demographic, but even among that group 67% of respondents still preferred in-person events over virtual.”

So, what does that mean for organizations who plan conferences and other learning events? Simply put, people will show up. It’s a preference even for our technologically savvy millennials. I posit that the human touch/interaction is essential to our souls. We thrive and are re-energized as a result of in-person contact. Because of that, we should not be concerned with losing people to the virtual option for in-person events. We should be concerned with losing those who are not able to attend due to scheduling conflicts, budgetary or travel restrictions, illness, or - given our current climate- fear.

Knowing that change is the only constant in life, it’s amazing how uncomfortable change is for people. The struggle that the forced change brought on by the pandemic is real but, we cannot stay there in that place. Get comfortable with the uncomfortable. Use this crisis as a launch pad to unleash creativity and innovation within yourselves and make room for others to do the same. It couldn’t be a better time for collaboration and partnership. I strongly encourage you to take a serious look at what all of this means for your training organization.

Change is imminent and I remind you, it is constant. We have managed to pivot and continue our path to positively impact the continuing education and training industry worldwide through accreditation. IACET remains your partner in continuing education and training and stands ready to provide you with resources to strengthen your training organizations health and growth. As always, we look forward to working with you!

Best regards - Casandra

About the Author


Casandra Blassingame, MEd, is the Chief Executive Officer of the International Association of Continuing Education and Training (IACET).  She is a recognized leader in adult and continuing education and has over 20 years of experience in higher education, continuing and professional studies, and workforce development.  Prior to joining IACET as CEO, Casandra was the Vice President of Education Services for the American Gear Manufacturers Association where she led the organization’s effort in achieving and maintaining IACET accreditation.  She has also served as an IACET commissioner, reviewing dozens of applications, and an IACET Board Member.

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