Cliona's Apra International Experience

It had been around twenty years since I’d been to a conference that required travel. The last one I attended was in Peoria, Illinois when I was working for a very small non-profit in Chicago. The accommodations were spartan, I think it was a Motel 6 and my colleague and I shared a room.

So, Pittsburgh was a total blast! I’d never been to Pittsburgh and never considered visiting it, but it was a lovely surprise. It’s small enough that getting around is easy and the city has a great atmosphere and plenty to do and see.

Cliona Alley.jpg

The above is a photo of an alley that is used as an art space. I had the good fortune to witness dancers use the space for a performance. Pittsburgh is a test site for driverless cars, so I also got to see a driverless car. I had great fun hanging out with the Apra members from Wisconsin. We met for meals, drinks, visited the Andy Warhol Museum and rode the Incline.

Networking beyond our chapter was a challenge, especially as all the sessions I attended featured a lecture format.  Nevertheless, it was great to network with the Wisconsin Apra members and a colleague from the College of the Holy Cross, whose area of expertise is hedge funds.

I will touch on three conference sessions that I found particularly interesting. Oregon State University, Brown and Concordia St. Paul presented research on using social media to track and qualify new prospects. They used familiar strategies for engagement, such as asking viewers to share wedding photos on campus. But they then tracked the responses and identified prospects for qualification. They were able to demonstrate that digitally engaging alumni increased donations significantly. Cornell presented case studies for business valuations, for both domestic and international businesses. The International example was a South Korean Egg Production company. Cornell made international research seem much less daunting. Granted Cornell has access to international research tools that most of us may not have access to, such as Factiva and Capital IQ. Rollins and the University of Denver presented research on creating pipelines for boards aimed at increasing diversity.  Roseann Fitzgerald from Holy Cross shared that they have a system for increasing diversity that they implemented in the seventies, whereby they cultivate student leadership for the board of trustees. The college has a seat on the board for a recent graduate and they serve two-year terms.

I want to thank Apra Wisconsin for awarding me the scholarship to attend Apra International. It was a terrific experience and I came away with aspirational dreams to add to my prospect research toolkit.