After two consecutive years of being held in a virtual format, the Leadership Development Workshop (LDW), hosted by PPAI and the Regional Relations Council (RRC), returned to Grapevine, Texas Tuesday for a live, in-person event to bring together regional association leadership.

This week marks the 23rd year of LDW fostering relationships among regional associations.

“Everyone’s excited to be back on site in-person again and to be able to see each other face-to-face,” says Jill Begun, PPAI’s professional development manager. “Everyone was ready to come.”

While the event, held at the Hilton DFW Lakes Executive Conference Center, took on a traditional conference format on Tuesday and continues Wednesday with roundtables, breakout sessions and guest speakers tackling specific topics, Monday’s registration was followed by a three-hour roundtable training session held for regional executive directors only.

This session was an informal but fairly exhaustive informational session going over topics that executive directors of regional associations confront routinely. Bob McLean, chief financial officer of Axiom Plus and former vice president of PPAI, joined the roundtable to go over tax requirements, allowing each executive director in the room to ask follow-up questions and clarifications.

“It is vital to the executive director community to have this time to talk and share ideas,” says Sue Selseth, executive director of the Upper Midwest Association of Promotional Products (UMAPP). “This is how we learn things. We work so independently. We don’t have IT departments. We don’t always have co-workers to ask for advice, so this is where we learn from each other.”

Executive directors from New England to California and regions everywhere in-between are using the week’s training sessions to discuss hyper specific logistical issues and broad practical concerns that allow for both comparing of methods and expert advice. 

“This is the only opportunity we have all year long to all be in one room and idea share,” says Cassondra Franze, executive director of Promotional Products Association Southwest (PPAS). 

The Executive Director Roundtable Session was followed by an opening dinner attended by the PPAI Board of Directors and staff. LDW continues Tuesday and Wednesday with guest speakers and roundtable sessions tackling many of the core issues that PPAI believes the promotional products industry should remain focused on, including corporate social responsibility and digital transformation.

“It’s a wide variety of topics,” Begun says. “Everything from legal guidelines to best practices for digital marketing. It’s going over Promotional Products Work and sustainable practices. It’s kind of encompassing everything.”

Between those educational sessions and during lunches and dinners, however, regional association executive directors will continue to take advantage of the in-person networking opportunities, according to Franze.

“The best part of LDW is all the side conversations and all the networking that happens outside of the education,” Franze says.