Membership Hack: The “I Am” Wall

Two associations in the hospice and palliative care field brought an inclusive spirit to their joint conference with a physical space where attendees, regardless of background or origin, could express themselves.

How to hack it? Association meetings often are accompanied by online chatter that appears in social media’s virtual spaces. Bucking that trend at their joint conference last year, the American Academy of Hospice and Palliative Medicine and the Hospice and Palliative Nurses Association built a physical wall where attendees could share in-person reflections about who they are and what they do.

The “I Am” Wall was positioned prominently in the convention hall, alongside high-top tables where attendees wrote “I am…” statements speaking to their personal backgrounds and beliefs.

Why does it work? The wall was a physical reminder that AAHPM and HPNA are diverse and inclusive organizations. Attendees from more than 50 countries attended last year’s meeting. Many statements were deeply personal:

  • I am “a lesbian liberal Christian social worker with a great life.”
  • I am “a mom with sons who have darker skin than me. I am worried about how they and others will be treated and what they will face.”
  • I am “looking at my own biases and working to change my thinking.”

What’s the bonus? The wall doubled as an impromptu meeting point during the conference, and the conversation it generated made its way back to social media with hundreds of tweets featuring the conference hashtag.


Tim Ebner

By Tim Ebner

Tim Ebner is a senior editor for Associations Now. He covers membership, leadership, and governance issues. Email him with story ideas or news tips. MORE

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