2015 AHEAD Conference

AHEAD 2015 Conference logo

Saint Paul Minnesota, July 13-18

Welcome from the Conference Committees

Welcome to Saint Paul, Minnesota! The conference planners are busy putting together an engaging and exciting week centered around this year’s theme: Diverse Perspectives: Creating A Vision for the Future. Minnesota is well known for being a progressive state making Saint Paul the perfect place to focus on this topic. Education is a key value to Minnesota; the state legislature takes pride in having a college campus within 50 miles of every community statewide. Saint Paul ranks second in the nation for the number of higher education institutions per capita! Nonprofit businesses and organizations are also central to the Minnesota economy; one out of every nine people in the state work for one. We also have a large number of organizations whose purpose centers around working with or for people with disabilities. In addition to embracing disability as a form of diversity, cultural diversity is fundamental to Minnesota. Minnesota has become home to New Americans from all over the world, creating a rich culture, full of diverse perspectives. These individuals from all over the world who live and work in our state have helped to put Minnesota on the cutting edge of research and discovery. Minnesota is a progressive state with visions for the future that are abundant wherever you turn. We rank second in the nation for number of Fortune 500 companies per capita. Currently, 18 companies are shaping the future through innovation and groundbreaking discoveries. Companies like 3M and Medtronic are changing the lives of people across the world, including those with disabilities. With education, focus on nonprofits, working with a population central to our daily work, diversity, and innovation for the future, Saint Paul couldn’t be a better place to hold this conference.

These issues of Diverse Perspectives and Visions for the Future will be explored throughout the week with the myriad of conference events and activities. As our college campuses become more diverse and planning for the future becomes more prevalent each year, this conference will help you prepare for the years to come. During the conference, as we take an in-depth look at strategies that disability services providers can use to increase opportunities to enhance access and engagement while introducing diversified perspectives and directions at institutions of higher education regardless of office size or geographic location. Meet colleagues from around the globe to discuss the ever changing landscape of the field and effective measures to meet or exceed institutional expectations as well as departmental and personal goals.

As always, the week begins with Preconference Sessions Monday and Tuesday. The official Conference kicks off Tuesday night at the Welcome Reception, giving attendees an opportunity to network with fellow colleagues, new and old. Sessions begin Wednesday with topics that will challenge you to think about your perspectives and offices and how you can set yourself up for the future given the changes in higher education and our field. Wednesday afternoon will be the opening of the Exhibit Hall and the President’s Reception. Thursday evening will include a popular city adventure outing you will definitely not want to miss! The Friday Awards Luncheon is a great opportunity to enjoy a meal as one large group and celebrate the accomplishments of AHEAD over the past year, and the Closing Plenary on Saturday includes a presentation by a treasured local personality.

The RiverCentre, located in the heart of Historic Downtown Saint Paul, will be the venue for all Conference sessions, plenary presentations, and the Exhibit Hall. Downtown Saint Paul is located on the top of the bluffs of the Mississippi River near the convergence with the Minnesota River. Land now known as the City of Saint Paul was claimed by Pierre (Pig’s Eye) Parrant in 1838 and known as Pig’s Eye Landing. However, in 1841, a log cabin dedicated to the apostle Paul was built and eight years later, Saint Paul became the capital city of the Minnesota Territory. Saint Paul was officially named the state capital in 1858 when Minnesota became the 32nd state. Since the creation of our state, Saint Paul has been in constant evolution. Designated Conference hotels are all located within reasonable distance to the RiverCentre, and with recent renovations, they won’t disappoint. Minnesota’s green initiative will be showcased in the RiverCentre with their recently awarded LEED, APEX/ASTM, and Green Globes Certifications. With museums, theaters, entertainment, and food all nearby, there is plenty to do to occupy your free time. Be sure to soak in the beauty of a Minnesota summer night. With snow and cold for over half our year, Minnesotans know how to take advantage of every gorgeous moment. Saint Paul is a downtown with a small town feel, for those of you looking for more excitement, you will want to head across the river to Minneapolis for the nightlife and big city feel.

Whether you explore our great city during your free time or decide to spend a few extra days, there is something for everyone to do. For history buffs, the Wabasha Street Caves showcase the geology Saint Paul was built on and surrounded by. In the early 1900’s Gangster Culture was an integral part of Saint Paul’s history. Take a tour of the caves and get a history lesson about the mark the gangsters left on Saint Paul. Theater enthusiasts will relish in the rich theater culture of the city influenced greatly by Prairie Home Companion and Garrison Keillor. Stick around on Saturday night and check out the show live at The Fitzgerald Theater, just a few blocks from Conference hotels. For lovers of the outdoors, the Twin Cities has a nationally ranked park systems filled with trails, lakes, and open spaces to enjoy a summer day, all within the heart of the cities. Hop on the new Green Line Light-Rail System and take a ride to explore some neighboring sites. For the shopaholics, spend a day at The Mall of America or visit downtown Minneapolis for a different downtown culture and feel. Food fanatics, you’re in for a treat. With the Twin Cities being nationally rated as a top city for food culture and a leader in the nation for craft beer, you will find plenty of ways to indulge while you’re here. Be sure to try one of our food trucks in Rice Park during your lunch break! No matter what you decide to explore while you’re here, the Twin Cities will not disappoint!

We are thrilled to invite you to our wonderful city and hope you enjoy your time in Saint Paul!

Local Committee Co-Chairs
Rachel Kruzel, Augsburg College
Caidin Riley, Saint Paul College

Program Committee Chairs
Danette Saylor, Florida A&M University
Ann Knettler-Smith, Drexel University

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