The Past, Present, and Future: A Pre-Conference Musing


Katelyn is a writer, copyeditor, and association professional who currently serves MSAE as its Communications Liaison. Her experience and background working in association management offer a unique perspective to MSAE membership.

The first industry event I ever attended was held in Chicago and I hardly remember anything about it except for all neon green swag and my sensory overload. It felt like one of those animated shorts where the protagonist is a newly hired, extremely overwhelmed Executive Assistant who is standing still as the world and their various to-do’s move in high speed around them. My second industry event took me to Detroit and once again, most of it is a blur, but I know I left with an absurd amount of cherry jam and activated charcoal (long story). In the decade since, I have attended many events as both a participant and staff member and while I do not wish to tempt fate: I finally feel like I have my sea legs – and just in time for the MSAE Annual Conference.

Traditionally, in the weeks leading up to an event I tend to feel apprehensive. Specifically, and since the pandemic upended every normal previously defined, I analyze everything from whether I will be hot in a suit-jacket to personal mask protocols and what kind of footwear is stylish and practical (because conference steps are no joke!) I might even be studying the floor plan or predetermining my own schedule to avoid day-of decision-making (which is a specific anxiety I know is not unique to me).

Even though I am still considering things like this, I am more focused on the people I will have the opportunity to connect with, and the information I stand to gain. Perhaps I shouldn’t cop to this, but it is as though it only recently occurred to me that there is a reason we come together, and it has nothing to do with pomp and circumstance and everything to do with what can only be defined as synergy.  

While not entirely absolved of stress and apprehension, I am taking stock of how enthusiastic I feel. I am sure some of this could be attributed to my role behind-the-scenes and subsequent exposure to the hype, but overall, my excitement is its own. I can feel a pulse and an energy. I have connected the dots. I can see the why. Before I felt a true belonging to community, an event was nothing more than a necessary evil – and you will have to forgive me for saying so. Now, it feels indicative of why we do any of this in the first place: each other. A pandemic swept the globe, and this community still made it a goal to gather again. I want to write that sentence one more time because it bears repeating. It is so important to us to assemble; there is so much benefit from convening that we show up for it every year – regardless of how. That is a genuinely cool thing to be a part of. See you soon!