This week I interviewed Michael Spigler, who is the Program Director of the International OCD Foundation. I wanted to interview Michael to see what he is working on now for the conference, and also get a look into all the hard work it takes to run the annual conference!
How many conferences have you been a part of?
will be my fourth. I started just before the 2008 conference in Boston.
It was such an amazing experience and I was fortunate to learn from
Denise Egan-Stack, one of our Board Members and Co-Chair of our
Conference Planning Committee. Since then, we've been to Minneapolis,
Washington, D.C., and now San Diego.
How many people help with the conference
The IOCDF only has six
staff members, so with a conference of this size, it takes a lot of help
from volunteers before, during and after the conference. We are very
thankful that we have the help of a dedicated Conference Planning
Committee, local task force, and volunteers in our office and at the
How long does the conference planning take?
the conference takes all year. Immediately following the conference in
July, we begin crunching the numbers on all of the evaluations we
receive and start incorporating the information in them into next year's
Since the fall is the slowest time of the year for
the conference, we also use it to start working on finding a host city
and hotel for the conference three years ahead. So, this August we'll be
back on the West Coast looking for a host for our 2014 conference!
After that, we are already gearing up for the 2012 conference and before
we know it, we're accepting presentation proposals and working on the
next year's registration brochure.
What is the most challenging part of running the
The conference has a lot
of moving parts and it takes very careful planning to create the high
quality experience that everyone expects. However, I think the hardest
part is selecting the presenters and sessions that are included in the
This year, we had over 200 proposals-the most
we've ever received. Since we only had 96 open spots, it meant that we
had to say no to more people than we accepted. All of the proposals we
receive are fantastic, so it is heart-wrenching to give people the bad
news. However, it means that only the best-of-the-best are accepted and
makes for an even better program for our attendees.
What are you most looking forward to at this
Seeing all of the
hard work that we've put in coming to fruition and making a difference.
No matter how stressful the days may be, all it takes is hearing from
one person that the program has made a positive impact on them. Luckily
for us, this program is so life-changing for so many people that we get
to see this several times a day.
What are you least looking forward to at
this year's conference?
The lack of
sleep. With breakfast opening at 7 AM and support groups and evening
programs running into the night, our days begin at about 5 AM and end at
about 11 PM every day once we arrive in San Diego. (And this year, the
jet lag won't help!) Most people only see the programs listed in the
conference brochure, but we are also attending board meetings, affiliate
meetings, and other events throughout the weekend.
What are you working on right now?
just finished a lengthy article about the conference for our upcoming OCD
and now we are following up with all of our current and
potential exhibitors to make sure they have everything they need for a
successful event. Next up is starting to work on the enormous, 60-page
Program Guide that we give to all of our participants who attend the