LaShawn Sidbury, CMP, CAE, 38, works in Rockville, Maryland, as director of meetings and special interest groups at Association of Schools and Colleges of Optometry. As a 2019 40 Under 40 honoree, Sidbury discusses her passion for the events industry.
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What I do: I own strategy and execution of in-person and online education programs and meetings. I develop and maintain budgets, leverage data to improve the quality of programs and events, as well lead the organization on identifying and implementing new and innovative technologies that improve event planning, increase member engagement and reduce operational expenses. My favorite part of the job is working with volunteers to implement new initiatives that assist members in becoming more successful in their positions at optometry schools/colleges.
How I got here: I began my career as a project assistant at The National Academies, where I was responsible for planning complex, scientific meetings. Excelling in my role, I was promoted to senior project assistant and then to program associate. Looking for additional challenges, I moved on to the Association of Schools and Colleges of Optometry as program manager and executive assistant. I was later promoted to meetings manager, followed by director of meetings and special interest groups.
Greatest career accomplishment: I am most proud of implementing numerous firsts in technology at my association that improved event planning, increased member engagement, provided value-added member benefits, and reduced operational expenses. I am also proud of becoming an ASAE Diversity Executive Leadership Program scholar and obtaining the Certified Associate Executive designation the same year.
Impressive stats: I implemented electronic conference/meeting materials, which resulted in a 50% reduction of printed materials; improved efficiency of events while increasing participation between 25 to 50% in the last three years; implemented event growth and retention strategies leading to year-over-year sold-out events for the Summer Institute for Faculty Development and Future Faculty Program.
Specific improvement I’ve made: I led the way on implementing the association’s first event management software, association management software, online community management software, webinar and online conference software, as well as electronic agenda books and conference materials. These tools have reduced error rates, saved staff time, reduced operational expenses, and provide value-added benefits to members.
What I am working on now: I’m excited to be working on implementing a new learning academy for senior-level faculty and administrators. I’m also excited to be working on hiring a contractor to assist us with our meetings portfolio.
What I do outside of work: I spend time with my children and pets. I volunteer for the Association for Women in Events and serve as the co-chair of the sponsorship and partnership committee, as well as member of the nomination and awards committee.