Mac and I were some of the lucky few invited to attend the first ever annual frank Conference last week at the University of Florida in Gainesville. A gathering place for social change communicators, frank is named in honor of Frank Karel (pictured), former vice president for communications at the Robert Wood Johnson and Rockefeller Foundations, and a pioneer in the field of public interest communications.

frank was unlike any conference I’ve ever attended–so unlike other conferences, that I signed myself up for the planning committee for frank 2015 on the spot!

frank was dynamic and interactive and bred collaboration. It was full of life and laughter and good ideas. When it was time to leave, I didn’t feel like I was leaving a professional event, I felt like I was leaving summer camp!

Here’s what you missed if you missed frank this year:

  1. An opportunity to define the field of public interest communications. Mac and I collaborated with about 250 peers to refine, define and redefine what exactly it is that we do, so we can talk more intelligently about it to our families next Thanksgiving.
  2. The chance to meet some of the most astute, motivated and generally awesome young people in our nation. Millennials often get a bad rap, but the college students we sat with and those who spoke at the conference put some of the more accomplished professionals I know to shame. These kids ROCKED IT! The Who wasn’t lying–the kids are alright.
  3. David Bornstein, Piper Kerman, Lizz Winstead and Shankar Verdantam. In the flesh. Four of our industry’s most well-known leaders sat among us, collaborated with us and even shared some of their secrets.
  4. Great swag. No stress balls at this conference! The smart folks at frank sent us home with glass water bottles and umbrellas–what better swag could a couple of Oregonians ask for?
  5. Some of our field’s greatest minds—at work and at play. I always suspected we work with really smart people but I have never been more certain about that then when spending the day at Gainesville’s Hippodrome black box theater, learning from more than 40 innovators, creators, instigators and change-makers. Bonus: We all got to drink wine together later that night!
  6. The most inspiring conference i’ve ever attended. Mac and I came back with a renewed thirst for driving change and actively investing in our industry, work and clients. We reconnected with old friends, made new friends and forged fresh alliances. 2014 is going to be great!
  7. Palm trees and fried pickles. With all its Southern intricacies, Gainesville is a wonderful place to spend three days! Who knew?

To all my new frank friends–STAY COOL! To everyone who missed it, hope you can make it next year! 

>> Check out the frank tagboard for more fun: