Reflections from our 1st President, Karen Thompson

Wow!  Has it been ten years since SoACE has been in existence?  I can remember so many things like it was just yesterday.  In the summer of 2007, specifically August 1-3, the team of experts that had worked together in some form or fashion with the merger met at Wrightsville Beach, North Carolina for three days of intense work.  Our goals were to move the newly formed Southern Association of Colleges and Employers into action and collectively commit to the success of the newly formed mega association.  After two plus years of research, legal work to dissolve two corporations, form a new corporation, write bylaws, create a fiscal policy manual, write standard operational procedures and develop a leadership team with stamina, vision and leadership charisma, the team met with much anticipated excitement.

Officers participating in the first official meeting included:

  • Donnie Brown-President-Elect
  • Matt Berndt-Past President/Secretary
  • Patricia Blum-Finance Director
  • Curt Schafer-Director External Relations and Communications
  • Toni McLawhorn-Director Professional Development
  • Jay Killough-Director Technology
  • Dana Smith-Director Employer Membership
  • Nash Montgomery-Director College Membership
  • Karen Thompson-President

A couple of pictures from our meetings:

To get to that first meeting, I would be remiss if I did not share a bit about the preceding years of work that took place to even have a SoACE.  Following conversations with the two previous groups – SWACE and SACE  – two prior groups laid the foundation for the merger, they included a strategic planning committee and a merger team committee.  A few of those members included:

  • Kasey Arceri
  • Matt Berndt
  • Randy Wilson
  • Tracey Powers
  • Patsy Hammett
  • Kent Phillips
  • Tony Magaro
  • Therese Steifer
  • Donnie Brown
  • Karen Thompson
  • Curt Schafer

So what was the first conference all about? 

A few quick facts included:

  • There were four conference chairs – Two from each previous association
    • Patsy Hammett, Milliken & Company
    • Shelly Garcia, St. Mary’s University
    • Sue Martin, East Carolina University
    • Woody Wentworth, Enterprise Rent-A-Car
  • Conference Theme – Synergy in San Antonio
  • Approximate number of attendees – 920
  • Key Note Speakers-
    • Jason Dorsey – Small Actions Lead to Big Synergy
    • John Alston – Building Synergy: In Your Life, In Your Work & Your Service
  • Conference Dates: Wednesday, November 28 – Friday, November 30 , 2007
  • Largest Sponsors were: Enterprise, Boxlight Corporation, Milliken and Company, Tindall Corporation, Auburn University, First Investors and Vector Marketing
  • Exhibitors – 26
  • Gala Theme on the final night of the conference – “Denim & Diamonds” held at the Sunset Station Depot.

The first conference exemplified the commitment of individuals, colleges and corporations to create a new association and support its success. A tremendous amount of time, talent and resources created the synergy.  Conference attendees left with confidence that the SACE/SWACE merger decision was the right thing for our future and the opportunity to build upon the talent of corporate and college professionals throughout the new region.



Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *