LeaDRS Update from Natasha Skea
As I boarded the plane to Las Vegas, Nevada I told myself it was going to be fabulous. Right? That’s what Vegas is? I had never been to the ASHRAE Winter Conference and wasn’t sure what to expect. I had packed a variety of run of the mill business casual clothes, a handful of granola bars and my game face. Luckily for me there were plenty of familiar faces on the plane from Regina and I was able to catch a ride to Caesar’s Palace. After checking in and wandering the glittering halls of the forum shops I turned in early, after all- I didn’t want to be late for my first day.
When I first met Keith I was scrabbling at the registration desk but his warm demeanor and big smile instantly put me at ease. He was headed to a few regional committee meetings and invited me to tag along. After dropping into Research Promotion (RP) and Government and Grassroots Activity Committee (GGAC) meetings I settled in for the afternoon at the YEA regional committee meeting. Sitting in the gallery I scanned the faces at the table. Of the twenty or so I recognized six. Some I had already met at the YEA Leadership Weekend (highly recommended) and some I had seen on the ASHRAE website. The YEA regional committee meeting is a gathering of all the YEA regional coordinators to talk about what their chapter chairs (aka me) are doing, and how they can make their chapters better. This very relevant content was riveting. They talked about the accessibility of programs currently in place for YEA members, training and opportunities. They talked about the LeaDRS program and asked for my input as a LeaDRS representative. The meeting lasted right through until the plenary session. Going straight there, I caught up with Keith. The keynote speaker, Adam Steltzer, gave a presentation on his work landing the mars rover. His account of events and his insights on teamwork and coordination were motivating and we could all take some notes on presenting from him.
Saturday evening there was a welcome party in one of the conference rooms at Caesars Palace. Since it was the Lunar New Year the theme for the evening was new beginnings and celebrations. Amidst the food and drink I ran into a few more familiar face and made some new friends.
Sunday morning saw some very empty technical sessions, but they seemed to fill up as the morning wore on. I met up with Keith again for the Leadership Luncheon. It was a bit surreal being in a room with ASHRAE’s best and brightest, along with members of the ASHRAE leadership there were also LeaDRS representatives from other regions and the Leadship U candidates. From there we went to the ASHRAE director board meeting. I sat in the gallery as Keith took his place at the table.
Over the next few hours the board reviewed concerns from the gallery and motions from the directors. The topics ranged from cultural sensitivity (having the conference fall during the Lunar New Year) to high level planning committee reports that were a bit over my head. After a short break the board went into executive session and the gallery was asked to leave. Needing a bit of a break anyway I went down to the YEA hospitality suite and spent some time kicking back with other YEA members. In the evening I was whisked away to the regional dinner to do some more networking. Since I had a 7am meeting the next morning I packed myself off to bed around midnight, not bad for the city that never sleeps.
I arrived at my 7am meeting a little tired but excited to hear the speaker. I had met Julia Keen before, at the ASHRAE Fundamentals training course. Though she helped develop the training course on technical content at this breakfast she was talking about women in engineering; not only how to get them there, but how to keep them there. The data she presented in her speech was alarming, and I am convinced that everybody needs to be playing a part in keeping women from leaving the profession. I left her talk conflicted, wondering how I could help. With nothing else scheduled until lunch Keith and I went for coffee and he regaled me with tales of ASHRAE and patiently answered all my questions about the hierarchy and structure. With such a large and complicated organization it sure helps to have a guided tour. After the presidential luncheon I was once again free to wander and I decided to head over the AHR Expo. The AHR Expo was enormous with over 2,000 exhibitors. Truth be told it was a little overwhelming and I didn’t make it through the whole tradeshow (I probably should have taken runners). I went back to the hotel to gear up for the vender events.
I had heard about the vender events but nothing could have prepared me for the large scale of these functions. We started out small at the TACO reception in the Renaissance hotel ballroom, and moved up through the Daikin party at the Paris rooftop patio to the ABB mega event/concert at the Hard Rock Hotel. Even though I was tired, it was hard to pull myself away just after midnight to make sure I would make my 8 am meeting with Keith.
8 am came early but I made it on time. This meeting was called the members council and it was made up of the chairs of the regional committee meetings. Keith and I both sat in the gallery as motions were made, discussed and ruled on. There were some hot topics and lots of discussions. Subjects ranging from redesigning the distinguished service pin to starting a new ASHRAE region in Europe. As this was my last scheduled event with Keith we left the meeting with fond farewells. I took in another technical session and headed back to my room to prepare for my last night in Vegas.
Not wanting to miss a beat I grabbed some takeout pizza and started making plans for the evening. Sadly, 4 nights in Vegas was enough to do me in and I fell asleep long before I could hit the town, but I was in great shape for the journey home.
So long Vegas, it’s been fabulous.
Regina Chapter, YEA Chair
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