Why I am stoked about the National Alliance to End Homelessness Conference

I love the National Alliance to End Homelessness conferences. Great networking. Great learning. Best conference there is on homelessness hands down. Did I mention that I have been doing presentations at the conferences for many years now? All around, super duper awesomeness.

I will probably blog about this more, but in the fashion of The Late Show, here is my Top 10 list of why I am stoked about this year’s conference:

10. It’s in Washington. When not at the conference there are amazing things to see and do even if the city was built on a swamp and the humidity can be intense. A couple of years ago I went to the Holocaust Museum. Changed me forever – and I am not easily moved. (Okay, so I cried at the end, but don’t tell anyone – and I am not Jewish.)

9. Cool cats. Movers and shakers. Industry leaders. Stalwarts of change. Motivation that all may be alright in the universe. Every year I meet that one person (or persons) who make me want to keep going for another year. Given my personality, these are not your usual touchy-feely burnt out social worker types. These are people who see the world from a different angle and see the beauty in problem solving.

8. Some of the best friends I have I met in Washington. In my adult life, I have always found making new friends to be hard. But something magical happens in Washington where I am exposed to people in a setting that helps me let my guard down and be open, honest and sharing. And then I get the reciprocal benefit.

7. Nan Roman. She leads the National Alliance to End Homelessness. She is a riveting tour de force. Even with knowing some of the “behind the scenes” thanks to my pals at the Alliance, her opening address in particular always leaves me writing furiously and thinking intensely.

6. Other Alliance Staff. Over the years people like Meghan Henry, Bill Sermons, Aisha Williams and Kim Walker have become trusted pals that I can bounce ideas off of, and they do the same. The Alliance has this unique ability to attract some of the best and brightest to work for them. That I get to know them, share meals with them and dream about the future with them is nourishing.

5. A Keynote that will Blow My Socks Off. In Oakland in February at the Conference on Ending Family Homelessness they got Robert Reich to speak. I mean, holy crap! This dude is the real deal and then some. Don’t know who he is and why getting someone like him to speak is important? Check out http://robertreich.org/

4. I Will be Taken Out of My Comfort Zone. At least once – either in a session or keynote or plenary – I will find myself out of my comfort zone. The more mature I get, the more I realize this is helpful for learning and discerning and caring and sharing and daring.

3. Existing Clients and Friends Will Be There. I remember when I used to work for the City of Toronto I sent out an email telling folks I had met in my travels that I was going to the NAEH Conference and they should consider going to. Well, here we are almost 5 plus years later and many of the people and organizations that I admire the most are there. I know that I had at least something to do with increased exposure of people in Canada to the work that the Alliance does and their conference.

2. Back by Popular Demand, I Will be Presenting “Data and Performance Simplified”. A couple years back in Los Angeles, I presented this at the Ending Family Homelessness Conference for the Alliance. I admit that at first I wasn’t wildly enthused about it, but early in consulting, I made the most of it. Well, because of such phenomenal feedback, I have presented it a half dozen times since. Not to brag or anything, but it is repeatedly one of the highest rated sessions at the conference. They call it an “expert forum”. I am a bit tickled by the acknowledgement, but have also come to realize I have something to offer when it comes to thinking about data and performance. Moreover, there are a bunch of communities that have entered into new relationships with us at OrgCode based upon this situation. (Or maybe just the jokes. I admit I use it as a bit of a stand-up opportunity – including apologizing for Justin Beiber as an order of Canadian Parliament).

1. I Get to Share Another Presentation with People & Organizations I Respect & Admire This Year. While by no means the only people I respect and admire, I am totally pumped to be having a second presentation this year, with some people that I truly hold in my heart and head with phenomenal respect. I am on a panel with Kim Walker from the Alliance (we shook things up in Nebraska together last year and she is one fierce thinker); Susan McGee from Homeward Trust in Edmonton (she is worthy of my highest esteem about a gazillion times over on what she has achieved in Edmonton); and, Amanda Sternberg from Homeless Action Network Detroit who – and definitely a woman after my heart – gave up the chance to be an Executive Director in exchange for being the person in charge of performance measurement and driving change through data and performance.

Well, that is just the Top 10. There are more. And these may not be in the right order. But in a nutshell, I cannot wait to get to Washington, DC and see so many people I know, respect and admire. I want to learn. I want to grow. I want to teach what I know. And I want to know I am part of a movement that truly believes homelessness can be ended.

If you want a copy of Iain’s presentations in Washington, contact us at info@orgcode.com

About Iain De Jong

Iain is a playful nerd, hellbent on ending homelessness, increasing affordable housing, creating vibrant communities, and expanding the knowledge amongst leaders that influence social issues. Having held senior management and professional positions in government, non-profits, and the private sector, Iain has a wealth of experience and has garnered dozens of awards for his work across Canada and internationally. His work has taken him across Canada, the United States, and to Australia. In 2009, Iain joined OrgCode as its President & CEO, and in 2014 assumed full ownership of the firm. In addition to his work with OrgCode, Iain holds a part-time faculty position in the Graduate Urban Planning Programme at York University.


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