My biggest event of the summer is now over. While I am still attempting to recover from all my running around before and during the conference, I can happily say that it turned out to be a huge success!
The Future Forces in Food event that I’ve been helping to organize since my arrival in D.C. was hosted Tuesday at the Grand Hyatt’s Independence ballroom. The event attracted top-ranking executives from some of the nation’s largest manufacturing and consulting firms, including Coca-Cola, McCain Foods USA, IRI and so on.
As everyone was making their way out of the ballroom toward the post-conference reception, we saw a large crowd of reporters going into a press conference that was also being held at the hotel. In D.C., press conferences are the norm. This one, however, was pretty neat…it was Serena Williams who was talking to reporters before playing her first tennis match for the D.C. women’s tennis team. Just days before Serena had played, and lost to, her sister Venus at Wimbledon.
While I don’t follow tennis, it was pretty neat to be staying in the same hotel as Serena. Not only that, but the tennis match was going to take place in the stadium directly across the street from the Grand Hyatt. GMA gave me a hotel room for Tuesday night. My friend Ashley stayed with me, and from our window we had a spectacular view directly into the stadium. If I had gone to our room before going to dinner with Future Forces in Food attendees I would have been able to watch part of Serena’s inaugural match.
Wednesday morning GMA co-hosted an Import Safety Summit with 14 other trade organizations. Over 500 people attended; this was an incredible turnout for an event that was still on the drawing board when I got to D.C. eight weeks ago.
The event was incredible with moderators like Secretary Levitt of the Department of Health and Human Services and Doug Conant, CEO and president of Campbell’s Soup Company, leading expert panels comprised of other VPs and CEOs.
The first protest that I’ve seen in D.C.—hard to believe I haven’t seen dozens since I’ve been here so long and apparently live and work in areas where protests are a regular occurrence—was against the import summit. The Grand Hyatt security came to us and told the hosting trade associations that a few people from the steel workers union were protesting the event because they didn’t like imports, which mean fewer U.S. jobs. The protest lasted maybe 20 minutes; no one from the conference even realized what was going on.
The two days of conferences were wonderful, but by the end I was beyond exhausted.