“Think Forward” was the theme of the 2021 Leadership Symposium held by the National Child Support Enforcement Association (NCSEA) deep in the heart of Texas in its capital city, Austin. This was NCSEA’s first in-person conference since the NCSEA Policy Forum held in February 2020. Virtual conferences have taken place since then, but this was the first opportunity for child support leaders at all levels to gather in person. More than 500 attendees from around the nation came out in-person to learn, teach, and network with a focus to the future.
And much networking took place! The atmosphere was more like a family gathering or a class reunion. Precautions were taken in the form of wearing masks and social distancing. Attendees were given three buttons to wear announcing their level of concern – green, yellow, or red. Others respected these buttons by maintaining safe distances and giving waves or fist bumps rather than hugs. Rooms were set up appropriately, too.
Plenary sessions and workshops mirrored the theme by looking to the future. A plenary session entitled “Pandemic Decisions Impacting Future Service Delivery” was led by Conduent’s own Kim Newsom Bridges. Leaders from Texas, Wisconsin, and Minnesota spoke about how lessons learned during the pandemic changed their thinking about the future of child support. Findings from a study conducted by Conduent in July 2020 and later published in a white paper formed a foundation for this session. Then the speakers took it further to explore the “new normal” in current and future service delivery.
Conduent’s Kim Newsom Bridges discusses how the decisions made during the pandemic are expected to impact future service delivery with child support leaders from Texas, Wisconsin, and Minnesota.
The opening session entitled “Leading with the Heart” was led by David Daniels, a Chick-Fil-A owner and operator from Georgia. His presentation was a reminder that when things have been tough, leaders need to serve and support others with an understanding heart.
At some conferences, you might hear occasional comments about sessions that don’t measure up, but that was definitely not the case here. Here are of few of the workshops that fit the theme:
- Leading with the Brain in Mind – Understand how others think and respect differences
- Think Forward to Address Vulnerability – Consider how stress and uncertainty affect others
- Empathize with Purpose – Create an environment to boost morale and impact customer service
- Innovations Worth Keeping – Look for solutions in customer service, management of remote teams, and professional development from a distance
All of these and many more sessions hit the mark for learning and growth that will help child support practitioners “think forward.” Conduent is proud to be a Platinum Corporate Partner of NCSEA and proud to support great learning opportunities like the annual NCSEA Leadership Symposium. We are already looking forward to next year!