Annual Gathering to Include Meaningful Workshops and an Event App for Keeping Up to Date

Louisville, Ky., waterfront

Among the many highlights of each CHHSM Annual Gathering are the workshops, offered by friends, members, and partners. This year’s event, “Forward Together,” will be held March 8-10 in Louisville, Ky., and features workshops ranging from staff development to justice and advocacy. And helping attendees navigate the many offerings will be the Annual Gathering event app, back by popular demand.

The event app has the latest Annual Gathering information and updates for attendees. This year, the app is co-sponsored by Care Purchasing Services (CPS), the group purchasing agent of the CHHSM Store — and CPS vendor PharMerica, based in Louisville.

“Participating with Care Purchasing to sponsor the CHHSM conference app was a natural fit for our organization,” said Dale Padgett, vice president of strategic accounts and partnerships for PharMerica. “We firmly believe providing local pharmacy support in CHHSM communities supports members in skilled nursing, senior living, and individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities — this supports our mission, ‘helping people live their best life.’”

The Annual Gathering will feature three sessions of workshops. Attendees will be able to choose from three offerings during each workshop session. The first session, held March 9 from 11 a.m. to 12:15 p.m., contains workshops on staff development and program.

Claude Robinson, Stephanie Franklin, and William Hall.

“Leading with Love through Crises” will be led by UCAN’s Claude Robinson, vice president of external affairs and diversity; Stephanie Franklin, UCAN’s senior vice president; and William Hall, director of faith and community at UCAN. The presenters will share various staff emotional support and engagement strategies that UCAN — based in Chicago — implemented which led to internal and external impact during the COVID-19 pandemic. They will use an interactive model to discuss various ways to show love and compassion to employees and to the wider community, especially amidst system and pandemic fatigue. The workshop will include visioning for the future.

“Leading with love in times of challenge and crises is essential to employee engagement,” said Franklin. “Love equals safety, and when teams not only know, but feel, that you have their overall well-being top of mind, it makes the situation more manageable and their work experience that much better.”

Hall, concurred, adding, “We want every participant to leave our session with various cutting-edge approaches to workforce and community engagement.”

The first session also will include a workshop on the CHHSM Store, run by app co-sponsor CPS. Natalia Hernandez, CHHSM’s CPS representative, said that the workshop will review the current vendor programs and solutions available to all CHHSM members.

“As a partner of CHHSM, we want to participate in the Annual Gathering and educate CHHSM’s members on the benefits CPS can provide,” said Hernandez. “Being a sponsor allows us to support the ministry, while having the opportunity to learn about other member organizations. We always look forward to the Annual Gathering, not only to strengthen those existing relationships, but to create new ones along the way.”

Nicole Havelka.

“Tackling Tough Conversations,” a workshop on building the basic skills needed to address racism, issues related to COVID-19, and other challenges, rounds out the first session of workshops. The presenter will be the Rev. Nicole Havelka of Nicole Havelka Consulting, and also will include mindfulness practices, listening activities that help build community within a team, and practices that help prepare people for difficult conversations.

“In the era of COVID and this generation of the racial justice movement, I’ve noticed that more and more of us are having to lean into the discomfort of having difficult conversations,” said Havelka. “I want participants to come away with strategies for using mindfulness practices to get through discomfort, develop skills for building teams that are resilient enough to have tough conversations, and take away strategies for giving guidance to those you work with on a regular basis.”

The afternoon of March 9 will include the second workshop session, from 3:30 to 4:45 p.m. One of the workshops, by Matt Wagner, vice president of institutional relationships for United Church Funds, will discuss organizational sustainability using the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDG). Wagner will discuss how faith-based service organizations accomplish sustainability.

Matt Wagner.

“Sustainability speaks both to how United Church Funds invests assets and also how we help our clients responsibly and efficiently utilize their assets,” said Wagner. “The goal of our workshop is to outline ways organizations can use sustainability concepts throughout their operations to fully live out their ministry and mission.”

CHHSM board and staff also will present a workshop in the afternoon session. “CHHSM’s RDEI Journey: A Case Study” will share the journey CHHSM staff and board are taking in their work to become an anti-racist organization and people. The workshop will offer a basic template for moving through RDEI work as an organization and will provide resources for CHHSM members.

“As our awareness of racial and other disparities in society has grown, and the number of violent deaths at the hand of law enforcement has disproportionately impacted persons of color, we knew we needed to take action to be part of the solution towards creating a more just, caring, compassionate, and equitable world,” said Michael J. Readinger, president and CEO of CHHSM. “We hope this information can help our CHHSM members in their work to become anti-racist.”

Kenney Washington, James Pennington.

The third workshop in the afternoon session March 9 will be presented Kenney Washington, Back Bay Mission’s director of client services and a CHHSM board member, and the Rev. James Pennington, executive director of Back Bay Mission in Biloxi, Miss. “Dispelling the Myths of Poverty and Homelessness” is the formal title of the workshop, but as Washington often refers to it, “We are all just a situation away from being in a situation.” The workshop will use Back Bay’s Shared Common Goal Statement as a springboard to discussing and deconstructing the myths and misinformation surrounding poverty and homelessness. Participants will learn the language and skills necessary to advocate for those who are unsheltered and poor.

“Poverty is embedded deep into the skin of many, but through no fault of their own,” Washington reflected, which is why dispelling the myths is an important step to advocacy.

Niquanna Barnett

The final workshop session takes place March 10 from 10:30 to 11:45 a.m. In a special advocacy workshop, Niquanna Barnett, community integrated services supervisor, and Stacey Parke, executive director and CEO of Orion Family Services in Madison, Wis., will present “DEI: Not just a Moment but a Movement — Implementing, Learning, and Moving Forward!” Barnett and Parke will share how Orion’s staff and board took steps to implement a plan to improve agency culture and operations regarding DEI initiatives, including the tools they’ve used to train staff in recognizing implicit bias and its impact on service delivery and agency culture.

“DEI is the hot topic right now, and we hope that it doesn’t fade into the shadows as just a fad,” said Barnett. “We hope that what people get out of the workshop is an understanding of how even the smallest agency needs to ensure that DEI is an active part of their establishment in order to provide the best support possible — not only to their staff, but also to the consumers they serve. We hope people leave feeling energized and ready to do the work needed to make the changes with their agencies. It will be an invigorating and hands-on experience.”

Essence Ellis

A second advocacy-related workshop will be presented by CHHSM and Justice and Local Church ministries UCC Fellow Essence Ellis. Ellis’ workshop on March 10, “Embodying Reproductive Justice,” will be interactive and will invite participants to discuss the ways intentional embodiment practices impact our relationship to reproductive justice. Participants will learn embodiment practices, and explore how embodiment and reproductive justice intersect.

“My hope is that people can learn more about what the reproductive justice movement is and why it’s crucial to stay grounded in our physical bodies as the world shifts,” said Ellis. “I hope people walk away with a better awareness of their own physical body, its needs, and how the systems we have in place often fail to meet those basic needs for many people.”

The third March 10 workshop is “Succession Planning: Building Organizational Resilience.” Led by Jeremy Kauffman, managing director of MHS Consulting — sponsor of the Annual Gathering sponsorships, the workshop will focus on developing an understanding of how succession planning can provide an organizational framework for developing and retaining staff, despite old ideas about succession planning being swept away by the COVID-19 pandemic. Participants will gain the tools and processes necessary for implementing a successful succession planning program.

Jeremy Kauffman

“Succession planning is about empowering people,” said Kauffman. “It’s an approach that fosters growth and development. Through this work, people are able to take on new roles and responsibilities, becoming more engaged and committed along the way. Organizations reap the rewards of greater stability and resiliency. I hope attendees leave the session feeling motivated and inspired to develop new strategies for increasing the capacity of their people.”

This year’s Annual Gathering takes place at the historic Brown Hotel in Louisville. In addition to the workshops, highlights of this year’s Gathering include:

  • The installation of the new CHHSM president and CEO at opening worship at St. John UCC, with preacher the Rev. Dr. John Dorhauer, general minister and president of the United Church of Christ.
  • Opening keynote by the Rev. Dr. Alton B. Pollard III, president of Louisville Presbyterian Seminary and well-known commentator about the Black Church.
  • Celebration of Mike Readinger’s leadership at a special dinner on Wednesday, March 9.
  • Closing keynote by Nikki Lanier, JD, CEO of Harper Slade, a racial equity advisory firm.
  • Time to visit the Muhammed Ali Center, where we will hold closing worship and consecration of the 2021 Nollau Class as diakonal ministers, with preacher the Rev. Dr. Jamesetta Ferguson, CEO of MOLO Village.

“This year’s workshops, worship experiences, and keynotes will create an inspiring three days for attendees to the Annual Gathering,” said Readinger. “We are looking forward to this first in-person event since COVID-19 arrived, and will relish the opportunities to share our stories and ministries as we move forward together.”

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