The Leadership Development Workshop (LDW), hosted in October by PPAI and the Regional Association Council (RAC), reached an auspicious milestone by celebrating the 20th iteration of this annual event. This year’s event, held at the DFW Hilton in Grapevine, Texas, drew approximately 150 attendees representing the promotional products industry’s 27 regional associations and the Promotional Products Professionals of Canada (PPPC) for three days of education and networking, sharing ideas and forging new connections.

“This was my 10th LDW,” says Dana Geiger, PPAI regional relations manager. “For eight, I was an attendee, and this is my second as PPAI staff coordinating the event. This year was special, although truthfully, they have all felt special in different ways. Our focus this year was to curate content to fuel each attendee in a holistic way. To inspire their spirit, we provided knowledge that would feed their professional lives, and of course provided space for meaningful connections and collaborations with a community of like-minded do-gooders. There are always places to improve but all in all, I think we managed to do all these things. Plus, we had armadillo races and karaoke, so really, what more could anyone want?”

LDW kicked off with a reception and dinner for regional association executive directors, followed by an executive director symposium on Monday and a welcome reception and dinner Monday evening honoring this year’s PPAI/RAC Regional Volunteer of the Year Tom Carpenter, MAS (pictured near left). The two-day education programming for all regional leaders featured an extensive curriculum designed to provide numerous learning opportunities through general sessions, breakout discussions and idea-sharing activities.

“For me, this has been the LDW with the most impact so far,” says Silvia González, CAS, past president and director, Caribbean Advertising Specialties Association (CASA). “Having attended for the past seven years, every year I get back to Puerto Rico with my head full of ideas to implement, or at least try, but this year was really relevant to the fast changes the industry is going through.”

LDW drew 56 first-time attendees this year. Alan Rice, a multi-line rep from the Pacific Northwest and a member of the NWPMA board, was one of them. He says, “The NWPMA has gone through some board transitions and some evolving industry challenges that have been difficult and I think we may have found solutions to some of those problems. I don’t know if they’re all going to work or what we’ll implement, but I’m more hopeful now than when I came about what’s possible for NWPMA.”

LDW opened with an inspiring keynote presentation “Generate Passion & Purpose – The Key to Rising Above the Obstacles that Thwart and Constrain You,” from Dan Nevins, an Iraq war veteran and founder of Warrior Spirit Retreat, a place where warriors learn to heal the physical and mental wounds of military service. General session speakers at LDW also included SAGE CEO Eric Natinsky, who spoke on how technology is changing our lives; and Jonathan Isaacson, chairman and CEO of supplier Gemline, who shared insights on the global economy and financial and social change.

Alongside informative, inspiring keynotes that brought all of LDW’s attendees together, the conference featured a series of breakouts allowing regional association executive directors and volunteers to custom-tailor their experience. These sessions, presented by industry professionals and PPAI staff, examined subjects such as the use of video in marketing, using technology for engagement and collaboration, volunteer programs, drawing insights from survey data and more.


James Khattak is news editor of PPB.