RECAP: Annual Chapter Retreat

Last Saturday, July 12th, we held our Annual Chapter Retreat at Syracuse University’s Warehouse Gallery, led by incoming president, Michelle Bersani.

During the morning session, our board worked hard to regroup, recharge and plan for the coming year. From big picture items like our chapter vision, to the nitty gritty details like event dates and locations, this year’s massive planning meeting had one clear conclusion—we’ve got big things ahead!

One very important item voted on and approved was a new board structure. The decision eliminated a general Programming Director position in favor of four region-specific positions, and added seven—yes, seven!—new director-level positions in total:

  • Albany Programming Director
  • Buffalo Programming Director
  • Rochester Programming Director
  • Syracuse Programming Director
  • Partnership Director
  • Public Relations Director
  • Social Media Director


“This major structural change is crucial moving forward,” Michelle said, because it best enables us to fulfill our chapter vision, support our community and deliver a top notch programming mix that inspires and educates.



Our afternoon session, which was open to the public, brought together members of our community to answer a very important question:

What is your ideal design community?

We had a lengthy list, but one word kept coming up: inclusive. But what does it mean to be truly inclusive? The group had plenty of answers.

Inclusive means engaging designers of all career stages, including emerging-, mid-, and late-career creatives and academics. Other voices confirmed, and added that it means being open and welcoming to everyone in our community.

Inclusive is also multidisciplinary—another word that made the final list. It means supporting designers of all disciplines—not just print, but interactive, web, and user experience designers—as well as engaging those in related fields.

We’re doing just that. This year, we have a very diverse board, including regional and national speakers, industry veterans, entrepreneurs, web designers, dedicated professors, an experienced game designer, and an insurance agent 🙂



We’ll also be working with other organizations in our communities, and Michelle announced some exciting future partnerships. Did you know our chapter is sponsoring a Hackathon in Syracuse AND a two-day conference in Saratoga this October? That’s just the tip of the iceberg.

One thing is for certain. Our board firmly believes our community’s presence makes Upstate New York a better place to work and live, and that it benefits everyone in our region—members and non-members, designers and non-designers, individuals and businesses, and organizations of all kinds.

“That’s why we’re more than a professional association for designers,” Michelle said. “And we definitely aren’t an exclusive members-only club. We’re the backbone of the design community. Our hope is to connect more people in more meaningful ways, creating a true sense of community, belonging, friendship and support that lasts.”

So, how does that sound to all of you? Where should we go from here? You tell us!

Published July 19, 2014
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