The Words of the LaGrotteria Family
Remarks to Annual IIFWP Staff Meeting
January 5, 2004
Westchester Marriott Hotel, Elmsford New York
IIFWP & WANGO Staff Photo taken January 5, 2004.
I am grateful to be here today and offer a brief report about the Conference Services Department of the IIFWP. I am also grateful for all the speakers who already reported and shared more of the "content" activity of our organization. We in conference services are more concerned with "structure" and "function" rather than with the actual content of the events. As I mentioned last year in my remarks, conference services is more the world of the "body" whereas the directors are more related to the world of the "mind" or the purpose of our activity. To hear reports about our actual activities are both informative and meaningful as they help us understand the value and impact of the work we are all participating in and the effect it is having in the world.
This past year the IIFWP Conference Services Department executed nine major international conferences and many smaller ones. The nine conferences we did execute do not include the two that were cancelled or re-scheduled. Rescheduling an event is almost as difficult as running the event itself! Rescheduling requires a great amount of careful communication and re-planning. Even now we are in the midst of re-planning and re-scheduling the Coronation Summit with the TP’s Birthday Summit.
If you divide the number of conferences with the number of weeks in the year, we had one major event approximately every 6 weeks. The sacrifice and challenge this gave to our families and overall organization was great and much can be said about what goes on behind the scenes to realize such a grueling public schedule.
A very unique dimension of our work this year involved various new collaborations and unprecedented inter-departmental cooperation. Here are a few examples:
Chung Pyung Lake: We collaborated with the staff and world wide membership last January to bring the international conference guests to CPL, have them wear holy robes, and create a section for them to comfortably participate in the Blessing ceremony.
American Family Coalition: We worked together on many occasions with AFC and ACLC leaders and contacts throughout the year. However in June we actually handled the logistics and on-site conference services for the American Leadership Conference held at the Hilton Hotel in Washington DC.
Sun Moon University: During the WCSF our conference services department was housed on the campus of SMU. Furthermore our conference guests spent one full day of the event on the 6th floor of the main building in the UN style meeting room and other meeting facilities. We worked together with SMU professors and staff to collaborate on this project.
WANGO: We worked together with WANGO staff and leaders to handle their annual conference held in Bangkok Thailand. Although we see our WANGO brothers and sisters each day, their organization holds one conference per year whereas IIFWP holds between 8-12. Thus to collaborate together we had to get into sync with one another even though IIFWP suddenly called a new event on the heels of theirs (IIPC).
Thailand Family: The bulk of the conference staff for the WANGO conference was drawn from the Thailand church family. Most of these members were young and inexperienced. Thus the collaboration took the form of education and training as well as executing the event. In addition to working with these staff members we also had a full day at the UN building in Bangkok, itself a new collaboration.
Family Federation: Throughout the entire year our staff worked with Family Federation leaders on many occasions and on many levels. Most often we collaborated with them on the invitation process for events throughout the year. However, by far the most direct collaboration came when we worked together in the New Yorker Hotel during the mobilization of over 800 members and the inaugural event of the IIPC.
As most of you already know Robert Sattinger, Bill Selig and myself were asked to work very closely with FFWPU leaders this past December. That particular collaboration was the most intense of all and raised many important issues and questions about the nature of the relationship between the two organizations and two styles of leadership and management.
UTS: During the IIPC with our team divided between the two events, WANGO in Thailand and IIPC in New York, we were short of staff members. We looked to UTS students, staff and alumni for support. Thus we were able to collaborate with Dr. Hendricks and the UTS community for an additional source of staff members for our area conferences.
Seil Travel: While in Israel we were placed into a situation where we had to collaborate with Seil Travel who was contracted by the Korean Church to handle the arrangements of their international peace volunteers.
Japanese and European Movements: In order to prepare and build a successful march and rally we collaborated together with leaders from Europe and Japan to prepare for their many hundreds of guests who arrived in Israel.
Service for Peace: We worked very closely with Mike Balcomb and Akiko Ikeno during the event in Israel. Both were mobilized to bring a Service for Peace component to the event as well as provide overall project management. In particular our collaboration with Mike Balcomb was one of the most successful ones of the many experiences we had in this regard.
IIFWP Israel: We worked together with Hod Ben Zvi, Dr. Abe and the members of the IIFWP/Family Federation community in Israel. The experience was one of providing management and leadership to a small and inexperienced movement. The IIFWP was placed in a position to provide some practical guidance and mentoring for such a large-scale project. Thus our collaboration took on a multi-leveled dimension.
IIFWP Field Representatives as Hospitality Staff: On a number of occasions during the year we began to draw hospitality staff from among our own field representatives. Under Dr. Walsh’s guidance we started recruiting various field reps to join our team thus helping bolster their association with the IIFWP and also their personal relationship with the guests.
We worked very closely with Rev. Kwak’s representatives in Korea from the IIFWP office there. On three occasions we held major events in Korea during 2003. In order to accomplish this we had to draw staff support from local members and leadership from the IIFWP foundation there. Of course there were many challenges, but in the end we forged a new relationship that will surely come into plan during the upcoming Birthday Summit later this month and the WCSF next summer.
Conference Services Staff Members
Each person in this room is a hero or heroine. I believe that each person’s story should be told as each person sacrificed and paid a huge price both individually and as families to bring about the many varied and diverse victories experienced this year. For me, those working directly in the conference services department all deserve a moment of recognition.
Dr. Walsh’s Leadership
As you all know our year is seldom planned in advance. Most of the time we are given 6-8 weeks notice before any major event, even large international gatherings. Thus many of our methods of doing things have come about in the context of "crisis management." One of our biggest complaints is that we do not have enough time to prepare well for events. After working with Dr. Walsh for the past 10 years I have to say that his manner of leadership has provided a model for using time in the most efficient manner. Dr. Walsh does not rush into crucial decisions, regardless of the time involved. At first glance this may seem as "indecisive," however on closer inspection his manner provides us with maximum flexibility and minimum liability. By holding off decisions that many of us would rush into he maximizes the amount of time available for research and proper evaluation. For example, by not choosing the first hotel that makes an offer, his method provides ample time to check all available options for venues and pricing. Because he will not rush to make the final decision, all the options remain open and the vendors know they have to be competitive to get our business. Because this has been a consistent pattern our business contacts know they have to engage in meaningful negotiations or they will not get our business.
In addition to this point, Dr. Walsh also tends to bring a voice of rational thought and order to an often chaotic and changing or even impulsive environment. We see that manifested in the many new conferences and projects that suddenly seem to appear throughout the year. Instead of being caught off guard, Dr. Walsh often convenes the directors, specific individuals or the conference services department to brainstorm and consider the best way to fulfill the new direction and goal.
I am sure no one expects that our organization will be any less impulsive and spirit-led in the coming years, but I must say that this form of leadership provides a measure of stability and thus sanity allowing all of us to be the most productive and successful under our adverse and challenging circumstances.
In conclusion, it was a great year and an honor and privilege to serve along side all of you in the many battles we fought and won. I look forward to the coming year with eager anticipation and hope for many new successes and new alignments of staff and resources to fulfill the goals and projections for this the 4th year of Chun Il Guk.