2022 LifeRing Annual Conference Recap

2022 LifeRing Conference Recap

The Meeting of All Meetings!

 

LifeRing hosted our 2-day 2022 Annual Conference on June 4th and June 5th. Attendance was high for both days and the events were well received by the LifeRing Community. Following are some of the highlights of this conference and the reactions from some of our participants. A full agenda for both days can be found here.

 


The LifeRing Annual Conference is the umbrella term for this annual, two-day event. The Annual Conference is a virtual event and is  hosted through video conferencing. The Conference is open to convenors, volunteers, meeting members and the LifeRing Community.


2022 LifeRing Annual Meeting: Saturday, June 4th |  9:00am to 2:00pm Pacific

The LifeRing Annual Meeting was held on Saturday, June 4, 2022, and was the first day of the Annual Conference. At the Annual Meeting, convenors and the LifeRing Community joined together to hear speakers, participate in workshops and socialize with one another.

87 participants attended our first day of the 2022 Annual Conference. The majority of those in attendance were LifeRing convenors, volunteers, and community members. All also identified themselves as a "Big Fan!" of LifeRing.

The event opened with a slideshow illustrating the year in review. This was followed by the most popular feature of the Annual Meeting: The Keynote Address delivered by Dr. John F. Kelly.


Dr. John F. Kelly | Keynote Address:  The Mechanics of Behavior

Dr. Kelly is the Founder and Director of the Recovery Research Institute, a leading nonprofit research institute of Massachusetts General Hospital, an affiliate of Harvard Medical School, dedicated to the advancement of addiction treatment and recovery. Dr. Kelly's Keynote Address focused on The Mechanics of Behavior. This a subject that was deeply interesting to everyone in the LifeRing Community because it addresses the “active elements” or “mechanisms” for recovery and the trajectory of peaks and valleys along the recovery pathway. You can read more about Dr. Kelly here. Dr. Kelly's Keynote Address will be made available on the LifeRing YouTube Channel.


The LifeRing First Generation Roundtable

Another exciting feature of the Annual Meeting was the LifeRing First Generation Roundtable. This was a LifeRing 25-year historical perspective shared through the stories of LifeRing co-founders Marty Nicolaus and Tom Shelley. They were joined by First Generation LifeRingers including Carola, Chet, Craig, Kathleen, and Syl.

Second and Third Generation LifeRingers carried the storyline into the current year. Each participant brought color and a sense of wonder to each of the 25 years LifeRing has been supporting personal recovery. The LifeRIng  Roundtable will be made available on the LifeRing YouTube Channel.


Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction

Convenor and long-time LifeRing contributor Ewa brought the group together for a mindfulness workshop. Ewa writes:

So what is mindfulness? Mindfulness is nothing more than "paying attention, on purpose, in the present, and without judgment". And, like sobriety/recovery, mindfulness is simple but it ain't necessarily easy! And, as with recovery, mindfulness is a transformative process, and often most powerful within a group setting. So I was honored when Life Ring asked if I would do a MBSR workshop at the Annual Meeting!

The honor was all ours, Ewa! You can read more about Ewa's MBSR journey here. Ewa's Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction Workshop will be made available on the LifeRing YouTube Channel.


Breakout Sessions

Also included during the LifeRing Annual Meeting were two breakout sessions specific to LifeRing's main meeting platforms.

Tips for Promoting Your Meeting
Convenors interested in starting new meetings or promoting existing meetings were invited to explore ways to boost attendance and engage participation. Robert Stump and Lisa Swing-Corney presented ideas and resources for building up meeting attendance and group participation. Establishing and increasing attendance at a new in-person LifeRing meeting can be a challenge - especially if LifeRing is new to the area.  You can find Tips for Promoting Your Meeting slide deck posted here.

Zoom Magic Tricks
Best practices and unexpected surprises were revealed in this hour long Zoom review. Mark Fussell brought his colorful insight into the mysteries and mechanics of all things Zoom.


Feedback

The 2022 Annual Meeting received an overall approval rating of 8.1 out of a possible 10. This is a higher mark than we received in 2021, but leaves room for improvements in 2023.

Positive

  • The enthusiasm of the participants and hearing stories about the early days
  • .... All of it was much smoother and well-planned than I have been used to in these events
  • The enthusiasm, support, and inspiration from the members
  • Everything was fantastic!

Negative

  • Short break
  • More recognition for Volunteers
  • Not having access to all of Dr Kelly's slides during his presentation
  • I thought there was going to be more about what the Life Ring program is and how it works.

 



2022 LifeRing Annual Congress: Sunday, June 5th |  9:00am to 2:00pm Pacific

The LifeRing Annual Congress was held on Sunday, June 5, 2022, and was the final day of the Annual Conference. The Annual Congress is made up of the Delegates’ Assembly and the LifeRing Secular Recovery Board of Directors meeting.

Delegates’ Assembly is the first segment of the Annual Congress. During the Assembly, BOD nominees and proposed Bylaw changes are brought to the Delegates for review and consideration. Delegates also bring forward their meeting reports for the Assembly to review. You can read the Delegates Briefing here.

Board of Directors Meeting is open to the public and serves as the LifeRing Board Meeting for the month of June. You can find the June agenda here.

34 Delegates and 11 Delegates at Large registered to vote in the 2022 Absentee Election.  39 participants attended the 2022 Annual Congress. The majority of those in attendance were LifeRing Delegates, convenors, and community members. Most also identified themselves as a "Big Fan!" of LifeRing.

The event opened with the 2022 LifeRing Annual Report. This was followed by the most popular feature of the Annual Meeting: The Introduction of the BOD Candidates.


Board of Directors Nominees

Board members may serve successive terms without limitation. This year, the terms of five members of the Board of Directors are expiring. Board members  may be re-elected indefinitely: Casey Cannizzaro, George Gidaro, Paula Gillen, Christopher John Smith, and Lisa Swing-Corney. The Office of the Secretary became available at the end of the 2022 Assembly.

Four BOD nominees introduce themselves and outline their goals if elected. Casey and Lisa are running for an elected seat on the Board as are Michael Toel and Rafal Klopotowski. Their personal presentations were followed by a question and answer period open for Delegates to ask any questions that might support their decision. The BOD candidate statements can be found here.

The Executive Director also retired at this time.  LifeRing has appointed an interim ED and is actively recruiting viable candidates for the position. The full LifeRing Executive Director job description can be found here.


Proposed LifeRing Bylaws Changes

The next item of business before the LifeRing Delegates was the Proposed LifeRing Bylaws changes to Article 11.5: Executive Director Compensation. This was by far the most debated item brought forward during Congress. A Town Hall was later held by the BOD based on the time convenient for the majority of Delegates to discuss the proposal further. Details about the Proposed Bylaws change can be found here.


Delegates' Meeting Reports

Possibly the most fun event during the 2022 LifeRing Annual Congress was the reading of the Delegates Meeting Reports. Enthusiasm was high and reports ranged from profound to pithy. Questions were asked of the Delegates and complements were paid to many of the meetings represented that day. Delegates Meeting Reports can be found here.


BOD Meeting

Many of the Delegates stayed for the BOD meeting and asked questions of the Board members following the adjournment of Board business.


Feedback

The 2022 Annual Congress received an overall approval rating of 8.2 out of a possible 10. This is a higher mark than we received in 2021, but leaves room for improvements in 2023.

Positive

  • Hearing from the candidates for the board and from the delegates about their meetings. So much passion for LifeRing was shared.
  • Nice to meet everyone
  • Great slate of candidates
  • Seeing people. Putting names to faces I have only seen in electronic communications.
  • Wonderful People.
  • It was great to put faces and voices with names of people I've seen in the organization or have emailed and corresponded with in the past. I also really enjoyed hearing from other delegates about other meetings around the US and around the world, in all sorts of different meeting formats.
  • Seeing a larger segment of the LifeRing community.
  • I particularly enjoyed the last-minute chaos surrounding the by-law amendment. These have been a regular feature of many LifeRing Congress gatherings. Some things never change.

Negative
All negative feedback was based on the proposed bylaws change. This is a sampling representing the majority of complaints.

  • I should have examined the bylaw change well in advance. Mea Culpa....
  • It was a little disturbing that challenges were being voiced about a legal issue, which had apparently been vetted by the legal firm and a somewhat well qualified board member. The board member in question was not present at the time and the discussion continued for an extended time with no conclusion.
  • The voting process and ballot should be formalized before the meeting. I realize that voting on the Board of Directors nominees is pro forma, and they all seemed like great candidates. The change in bylaws language seemed potentially significant, however, at least if it has tax implications for the organization. I would've liked to have seen some written summary of the pros and cons of that prior to the meeting, and some clear sense of the potential tax implications, rather than just hearing people discuss it and disagree about it during the meeting. As a result, I did not feel informed enough to vote one way or the other about the proposed change.

Post-Annual Congress Town Hall

The Proposed Bylaws Changes Committee Leader was unable to attend the Annual Congress. In order to better address the concerns brought forward during the Annual Congress, the BOD held a special Town Hall to present additional professional evaluations conducted after the Annual Congress to further support the proposed change to current LifeRing Bylaws. The meeting was scheduled at the time most convenient for the Delegates and Delegates at Large.

The Town Hall was conducted prior to the issuance of the Absentee Ballot.

You can read Post-Congress Evaluations here.  You can read about LifeRing voting practices in our Election Guidelines and in our Delegates Briefing.

 


 

Please join us next year for the 2023 LifeRing Annual Conference!

 

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