Summer 2020 Conference Will Not
Take Place in Providence/In-Person

Summer Conference Update from Executive Director Arthur Schwartz, J.D., CAEArthur Schwartz

I hope this message finds you safe and secure as we each navigate through this difficult period for our world, our nation, and our communities. As with many of you, I am working virtually from my home, attending to the business of the Academy via online meetings, conference calls, emails, and other media. It appears that this may be the new normal for longer than each of us would like. As we have each learned, it requires a variety of adjustments, but each of us has a part to play and I am optimistic that the Academy and our members and affiliates are up to the task. I want you to know that the members of the NAFE Board of Directors have been in constant communications with each other as well as with key NAFE committee chairs, focusing on pending Academy issues.

The greatest immediate issue facing the Academy and its members has been planning for the planned 2020 NAFE Summer Conference in Providence, Rhode Island (July 31-August 2, 2020) at the Hilton Providence. Since February, in light of COVID-19, the 2020 NAFE Summer Conference has been a major focus of NAFE leadership discussions. Throughout this period and until this past week, the NAFE leadership has had to consider and balance a variety of factors to both protect the health, safety, and welfare of the NAFE membership while at the same time continuing to engage the NAFE membership in meaningful ways.

After extensive discussions and negotiations with the hotel which was completed today, a unanimous decision has been made by the NAFE Leadership to postpone our commitment to the Providence venue. We will not be holding an in-person meeting for the 2020 NAFE Summer Conference (please see the final paragraph of this letter for additional information on alternative plans for the 2020 NAFE Summer Conference). Fortunately, the Academy was able to negotiate the postponement of this physical meeting in Providence without any contractual cancellation or termination penalties or other costs, thereby preserving NAFE financial assets. We look forward to hosting the 2021 NAFE Summer Conference at the Hilton Providence July 30-August 1, 2021-almost exactly one year from the original date.

(Please also note that the next scheduled NAFE conference will be the 2021 NAFE Winter Conference at the Hilton El Conquistador in Tucson, Arizona on January 8-10, 2021).

The decision to eliminate the physical meeting options for the 2020 NAFE Summer Conference was an extremely difficult decision for the NAFE leadership and was not taken lightly. It was deemed necessary by the NAFE leadership based upon the following considerations and factors:

  • Uncertainty for planning - With ongoing uncertainty and conflicting information now and projected into the coming weeks and months, planning education sessions, identifying speakers, projecting attendance, etc., became extremely difficult.
  • Health risks to NAFE members - Concern was expressed regarding the potential health risks to NAFE members and guests, particularly for those who may be part of an "at risk" demographic.
  • Transportation uncertainty - Current and projected transportation cancellations and delays are expected to continue to present serious challenges to potential conference attendees.
  • Physical Social Distancing protocols making it impossible to conduct the conference - With current social distancing protocols, a conference the size of the NAFE event would create a multitude of challenges to the hotel to provide food, beverage, meeting, hospitality, room cleaning, A/V, and other services both to attendees and hotel staff.
  • Financial impact on individual members. With uncertainty regarding the scope and duration of the crisis, concern was expressed regarding the impact financial disruptions would have on potential attendees and their ability to attend the conference.
  • Financial Impact on the Academy. The Board takes financial stewardship of the Academy's funds very seriously. With all of the concerns and uncertainties outlined above, the Board felt postponing our commitment to the Providence venue best limits financial risk to the Academy and its members.

With the decision to eliminate an in-person 2020 NAFE Conference now made, the NAFE leadership continues to explore and actively experiment with various online and virtual platforms to deliver educational and other content during the July/August timeframe for NAFE members to participate in meaningful and valuable continuing professional development activities.

Thank you for your understanding as the Academy continues to move forward!

Arthur Schwartz

NAFE Executive Director