Bringing the Excitement to L.A! #NAESM2016
January proved to be a very exciting month for NAESM and MSM Engagement! The 2016 National African American MSM Leadership Conference on HIV/AIDS and Other Health Disparities gave us the opportunity to bring together hundreds of gay black leaders from all across the nation to convene in one space to discuss concerns pertaining to our health. Driven by the theme: Live It, Be It, Own It: Taking Ownership of Our Health, we were granted the platform to unite as a community and empower ourselves in the fight against this epidemic. As an addition to the excitement, the conference took place in sunny Los Angeles, a west-coast dream destination!! Immediately after exiting my aircraft and entered LAX, excitement boiled within me and the anticipation of presenting an engaging and educational conference skyrocketed.
Once the conference began, one of my main functions was to attend to registering our guests. While working the registration desk, I was given the pleasure of meeting and greeting all conference participants and the positivity and energy received was compelling. I enjoyed the opportunity, while searching for name tags, to engage the participants with “small chat” to see what brought them to Los Angeles and their expectation for the conference. Most people simply replied that they had come to the conference to receive more information around the complexities we face as a community and to network, others came for work obligations. Some were there to present information on recent research, discoveries, and best practices. Even though the reason for attending varied, it was clear that the vast majority of participants were excited and ready to receive all that the conference had to offer.
In addition to interacting with our guests, my conference highlights would include the Opening Reception, PrEP Mini- House Ball, and the late nights/early mornings spent bonding with the team. The Opening Reception took place on Thursday night and was an explosive event with food, music, socializing, and fun. The conference attendees were able to “get their life” and interact with our staff through dialogue (and dance battles). Friday night, the Mini-Ball propelled the social fire of the conference, as we watched the KIDS vogue the house down and battle, while sharing facts about PrEP! The LA Ball Room Community came out in nice numbers showing their support, and it was greatly appreciated.
LA was the first opportunity for our staff to get outside of the office and truly get to know one another in a different environment. Pulling together to ensure that the logistics of the conference were implemented without flaw, created a positive organizational synergy that could be felt by not only the team, but also by those who witnessed our interactions. To continuously hear how professional and unified we were kept me smiling from ear to ear and enhanced my conference experience overall. Now that we are back in Atlanta, I am RECHARGED in this fight against HIV/AIDS, and I am looking forward to seeing everyone in Dallas next year!
#Liveit #Beit #Ownit