Each year, the WCDA brings together career development professionals throughout the state of Washington for our annual Professional Development Institute. This year, due to public health guidance banning large gatherings due to Covid-19, the PDI planning committee asked the question: "how can we turn this challenge into an opportunity?" Together the committee re-envisioned the event to include components that would normally be cost- or time-prohibitive. With that in mind, the WCDA lowered the registration fee to be more accessible, expanded our search to speakers outside of Washington, and invited our neighbors in the Oregon and California Career Development Associations. The committee started over from scratch to develop an all-day virtual event to provide networking activities, offer affordable professional development, and address the impact of Covid-19 on our profession and the economy.
Presentations during the event covered topics such as an interactive networking demonstration, supporting clients during transitions, and an overview of service delivery platforms. We were also lucky to invite Anneliese Vance-Sherman from the Washington Employment Security Department to discuss the economic impact of Covid-19 and predictions for the State of Washington. Finally, Dr. Sue Pressman, a career counselor practitioner and incoming President of the American Counseling Association, joined us from the east coast to present a keynote on the topic of "Career Challenges and Opportunities: Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow."
The WCDA is very happy to say that almost 90 people registered from across Washington, making 2020 our most attended conference yet! Daniel Kelley-Petersen, 2019-2020 WCDA President, said of the event, "
participants of the 2020 WCDA Virtual PDI were engaged, curious, and collaborative career development professionals. Several people stated their gratitude and support for having a space to connect with colleagues and to learn as well as share resources and processes to support all of the people who are seeking career development support."
Feedback from attendees was also very positive. One new member wrote "the content was great. I really love this community, which I am new to. Thank you for making me feel welcome!" Other feedback praised the use of breakout sessions, the networking opportunities, and the timely topics.
Perhaps nothing better captured the WCDA's goal to broaden the event's scope this year than the impromptu musical performance at the end by Dr. Pressman's daughter Lele Rose, a professional musician and singer sheltering-in-place with family during Covid-19. After a full day of networking and education, it was truly special to watch colleagues from across the state joined by their children, partners, and pets to watch our own private live concert.
A special thanks to our 2020 PDI committee: Chuck Zimchek (Chair), Samara Reich-Thomas, Stan Pichinevskiy, and Hayley Leventhal; and to our volunteer photographer Jessey Allen.