The show must go on this summer

By Debbie Wise
AAC Board President

If you had asked me a year and a half ago what Zoom was, I couldn’t have told you. Now, it seems, online meeting platforms have become part of our everyday lives. There was a learning curve for everyone involved in orchestrating and participating in online meetings. But we adapted to this technology to help us through the worst of the COVID-19 pandemic. Still, technology is no substitute for the personal connections that are so important among elected officials. There also is a higher level of learning that comes from interacting in person versus on a computer screen.

That’s one of the reasons I am looking forward to this summer’s continuing education meetings and the 53rd Annual AAC Summer Conference. Those events were canceled last year. But now that vaccinations are available — and more people are fully vaccinated — we can return, not necessarily to normal, but to a new normal that includes taking precautions as outlined by the Centers for Disease Control.

June will be a busy month for our member associations. Seven groups of elected officials will gather to reconnect with their colleagues and to share their expertise with one another. Two groups will meet in July to do the same.

Then we all will gather Aug. 18-20 for the much-loved (and much-missed) AAC Annual Conference. The theme for this year’s conference is “The Show Must Go On.” There are some changes this year. AAC Senior Executive Assistant/ Event Manager Anne Baker has worked tirelessly over the last year to streamline the registration process for attendees, as well as for exhibitors and sponsors. I applaud her for taking on that project, and I am proud of how well it has worked.

While the conference registration process might be new, there is much you will recognize from years’ past: our Southern Fish Fry, the Dinner Dance, and a slate of breakout sessions that are both informative and fun. In 2019, the AAC Risk Management staff led an educational program specifically for jail personnel. That Jail Track Training, which was so popular two years ago, will return this summer.

In The Great Gatsby, F. Scott Fitzgerald wrote, “And so with the sunshine and the great bursts of leaves growing on the trees, just as things grow in fast movies, I had that familiar conviction that life was beginning over again with the summer.”

I am optimistic that this summer marks a turning point. I am not sure when we will be able to fully embrace our pre-pandemic lives, but I’m ready to take a step in that direction. Step by step, we will get there. Think of it as a marathon, not a sprint. I do know this: the show must — and will — go on.

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