Our regional summits are growing! This year’s West by Midwest (WxMW) Leadership Summit was our biggest and best ever. For the third year in a row, we’ve invited members from the Western states to join us at what used to be the Midwest Leadership Summit. Thirty people (and one stuffed bison) representing fourteen organizations met in Chicago for two full days of learning, networking and strategizing.
The Summit had everything: a rock/paper/scissors tournament, FEDtalks – our famous 5 minute presentations featuring the work to win equality, and even a game show. The agenda was packed with workshops on everything from fundraising with a social justice lens to HIV criminal law reform. Equality New Mexico presented on their immigration work, and Equality Ohio and Equality Michigan teamed up to share their municipal strategies. This type of member-led content made the Summit feel much more relatable to the needs and realities of Federation members in the region. The regional focus and a more intimate environment sets this and our Southern regional summit apart from our much larger Leadership Conference, though the goals of relationship building and resource sharing are very much the same.
Working alone at an LGBTQ statewide advocacy organization can be an isolating experience and WxMW helps connect people from as far away as New Mexico and Pennsylvania. Established relationships are strengthened through a shared meal, a connection in a workshop or even a late night conversation in the hotel lobby. New relationships are built to provide much-needed personal and professional support throughout the year. The real beauty of these convenings is that they help us welcome new members into the fold. We truly are a Federation family!