Conference Spotlight: Chicago Metro Association for the Education of Young Children’s Opening Minds


Just over a month ago we had the pleasure of working with Chicago Metro Association for the Education of Young People (CMAEYC). The organization produces Opening Minds — a professional development conference that welcomes professionals from all walks of life who are working with young children in some capacity. The event welcomes some 5,000 attendees who attend 300 workshops covering 15 content areas during the 4 day conference. We loved working with this group. Here are three standout qualities CMAEYC possesses that you should to!

Opening Minds welcomes a diverse group of professionals from multiple sectors, nationally and globally – libraries, early childhood education, social work, mental health and more. Recognizing this fact the organization does an exemplary job of providing content that engages all attendees. The organization works hard to provide content that provides true professional growth opportunities for all. They also do a tremendous amount of data mining to deliver content that is also industry specific, but that is presented in a way that cross-pollinates over multiple sectors. This has resulted in the conference becoming a gathering place for professionals from all walks of life who are simply seeking exemplary professional development content.

Choosing the Right Partners
Often, as event professionals, we work with many who are focused on the bottom line to a fault. Don’t get me wrong the bottom line counts in a big way. It can make or break you and is essential in guiding your future planning. What many fail to recognize is when you choose partners who are not genuinely interested in your attendees it shows up in a big (and often catastrophic) way. CMAEYC respects it’s attendees at a level I rarely see. If you can’t present the case for how you benefit their attendees, you won’t have visibility there. The attendee is the priority with this organization.

Ongoing Outreach & Reflection
The organization takes the time to reach out before, during and after the events they produce. They’ve honed the skill of consistently maintaining a dialogue with attendees, vendors and presenters involved with the annual Opening Minds conference. Their high-touch way of gleaning information, reflecting on all feedback they receive and the flexible way they are committed to presenting their conference allows them to shift aspects of the experience to ensure the needs of their massive audience are being met. If there is a notion that something isn’t working as well as anticipated, they work in tandem with presenters to shift gears to address it immediately. Few have this level of commitment to ensure the satisfaction of all attendees.

What qualities do you find most important to making meetings & conferences successful?

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