This was an effort to lift up and highlight the rich expertise of people in our field – from service providers to systems leaders, from people with lived experience to longtime case managers, from people who live in cities with millions to people who live in towns with thousands. Just as importantly, this was an opportunity to further demonstrate the Alliance’s commitments to equity and inclusion, and to ensure that we are providing every opportunity possible to showcase the voices of those whose perspectives may have been regrettably overlooked in previous conferences.
In total, the Alliance received more than 250 submissions from amazing programs and practitioners across the country. This week, we let folks know if they were selected, and I know some of you are disappointed. I want to say a few things about the process.
First, we were humbled by the number and quality of submissions we received. You know that feeling you get when you throw a party and are not sure if folks will come? That’s how we felt when we first announced the call for presentations. We have never done this before, and we weren’t sure what to expect. So, thank you to all who submitted.
Second, this was a rigorous selection process. I personally read every complete submission, as did a number of Alliance team members. We also received critically important feedback on the proposals from our Consumer Advisory Board, which is made up entirely of people with lived expertise.
Third, this process taught us so much about what is happening in communities and how you are innovating in your work to end homelessness. And that made the selection process extremely difficult.
Fourth, we made decisions not only on homelessness-related content but we also looked for new voices, geographic and population diversity, and a grounding in equity. As part of this commitment, we prioritized people with lived expertise as presenters.
For those who were not selected, please know that the Alliance is still in the process of finalizing the agenda, which includes some sessions that the organization is planning on its own. As we finalize that process, we will be calling upon many of you who submitted to be presenters in those sessions. And as we move forward, I am certain that we will apply the things we learned during this process to future conferences.
Once again, I want to thank everyone who submitted presentation ideas; we are so grateful. In the coming months, we will be asking for some feedback about this process so we can continue to improve your experience at our conferences.
I look forward to seeing folks in March in Oakland!