Opened with the New Orleans Jazz Orchestra, which was amazing, awesome, all those other nice "a" words. New Orleans CVB chief Stephen Perry also welcomed us to town. My favorite quote from him that is oh so true: "When you come to New Orleans, your molecules rearrange a little bit."
Another interesting note, this from PCMA head Deborah Sexton: More than 450 people volunteered to do three separate PCMA community service projects over the weekend. I know everyone who comes to town does community service anymore, but that's a lot of volunteers!
I wasn't expecting all that much from Stephen Lewis, the keynote speaker and co-director of AIDS-Free World, but I was the first to pop out of my seat to give him a standing ovation when he finished. I did not expect I'd be starting the day off bawling my eyes out. Seriously. He brought home the horrors, injustices, just plain wrong things in this world in such a visceral way that I felt absolutely obscene for not doing more about the AIDS crisis in Africa, the women being tortured, raped and murdered around the world, all the things he has seen and lived with in the course of his work. I wanted to quit my job and join an organization that can help do something, anything, to make this world a more equitable, safe, humane place. I still want to cry thinking about it.
I've heard that some people thought he was inappropriate because what he spoke about had nothing to do with meeting planning, but I disagree. It had everything to do with being human, and whatever our professions, that's what we are at the heart of us. And as humans, there's so much more we can be doing through our work, our lives.