2017 Keep America Beautiful Conference




Keep America Beautiful National Conference took place in Washington D.C. from January 24 through January 26, 2017. Keep Akron Beautiful staff, Jacqui Ricchiuti, CEO, Cindy Pantea, Communications and Office Manager, and Helen Dauka, Communications and Volunteer Project Manager, were all fortunate enough to attend the conference this year. Over the course of three days, KAB was able to network and share ideas with staff, board members and community partners from the 650+ affiliates from across the country!


Each year, the conference renews my purpose in the work that we are doing in Akron, OH. It is inspiring to see and meet old/new friends- and to learn about what programming is working (and sometimes not working) in their cities across the country.– Jacqui Ricchiuti, CEO


Cindy Pantea started off her first conference experience by attending the Pre-Conference New Executive Director Training. During this session, participants get an in-depth look at the history of Keep America Beautiful and the Behavior Change Model.”The workshop was great for meeting people and finding out what types of problems exist in different areas of the nation,” Cindy reflected. Cindy had a chance to work in groups to go through steps to solve a problem by identifying stakeholders and aligning available support.

Becky Lyons, Keep America Beautiful Chief Operating Officer opened the conference along with Mike Rosen, Keep America Beautiful Senior Vice President, Marketing & Communications, who shared the conference theme: E Pluribus Unum (Out of Many, One). They shared a great video to showcased the impact Keep America Beautiful and its affiliates have which help our communities #DoBeautifulThings.

Jacqui, Cindy and Helen saw a keynote presentation on “Conversational Intelligence” where they learned strategies to have open conversations with people that build relationships that leave long-lasting impressions with people that lead to positive behavior change.

Later that evening, the KAB staff attending the National Awards Dinner where fellow Ohio Affiliate, Green Youngstown, was honored with the Affiliate Award of Excellence for the 30,001-100,000 population category.

On the second day of the conference, Jacqui, Cindy and Helen heard from a panel of experts in the fields of behavioral science who weighed in on the Behavior Change System and the new additions.  Later, the staff attended three different breakout sessions on the following topics: End Littering, Recycling- Getting It Right, and Beautifying America’s Communities.

During the President’s Circle Recognition Awards Lunch, Keep Akron Beautiful received the Presidents Circle Award for the 14th consecutive year. “I am thrilled to be a Presidents Circle Award winner! Being an exemplary affiliate is something that we should be very proud of,” Jacqui stated.  

The Awards Lunch featured Chad Pegracke, who left a huge impression on the entire KAB staff! Chad Pergracke started cleaning up right in his backyard (which just happened to be the Mississippi River) in 1997 the rest is history. Chad went on to start the nonprofit organization, Living Lands and Waters, a year later, and is credited with removing over 7 million pounds of trash from U.S. Rivers!


 It reminded me that one person can do so much to change littering in America- and that we are strong and mighty in Akron, doing just that through our work with volunteers, our work on litter removal each day with our crews, and our work in the summertime with the parks crew.– Jacqui


 During the afternoon, the staff attending a Build and Grow session, spending time working on a project for schools in Washington, D.C. During the project, they were able to work side-by-side with Lowes Heroes (from across the country) and let them know how important their support of our work is!

On the final day of the conference, Keep Akron Beautiful had the opportunity to learn about innovative programs from a multitude of affiliates during the Steel This! session. Cindy had some great takeaways from the session of ways to incorporate more beautification around expressway ramps and ways to better implement recycling at large events.
At the end of the conference, Helen felt refreshed and ready to return to Akron and get to work!

Day-to-day, each affiliate works hard to do beautiful things in our community, and that looks different from city to city. This conference gives us the opportunity to take a break, take a step back from the issues we are facing, and listen to what is happening around us. There are so many chances to learn and gain new perspectives when we give ourselves the time to look at things from a different angle. — Helen Dauka, Communications & Volunteer Project Manager

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