Today’s column is about giving you some inside information about who you need to know.  The NCECA organization is supported by a stupendous staff of 8 led by our exceptional Executive Director, Josh Green.  There really just aren’t enough words to accurately convey the magnificence of Josh.  He has breadth of knowledge on a variety of topics not just related to clay, but also business and the running of a non-profit organization.  He’s eloquent, intelligent & thoughtful in his communications, and fun to have an informal chat with.   Our conference planner, Dori has been with the organization since the last Kansas City Conference in 2002, (when she was learning from our previous conference planner, Minerva Navarette (Minerva, by the way, still attends the conference each year!)) She makes the entire conference happen and does so with a calmness and grace that I can’t even fathom.   Kate is NCECA’s Projects Manager.  Among many other things, she works behind the scenes on the NCECA exhibitions, handles the Resource Hall for the conference, and proofreads EVERYTHING.  Candice is NCECA’s Communications Manager.  She began working with NCECA full time shortly after the Seattle conference.  Candice manages all of NCECA’s graphic design work, everything on the NCECA website and also the enormous task of the NCECA App  Jacqueline is the Office Manager…basically, she’s the person that handles just about everything the average member needs, from renewal of your membership to conference registration, and everything in between.   Our amazing Bookkeeper, Helen, does an amazing job of managing an extremely seasonal cash flow, monitoring expenses, investments, balance sheets….and that doesn’t even begin to go into the NCECA budget that she prepares each year.  Most recently, NCECA has been joined by our new conference assistant, Tammy Lynn.  She works extensively with all of the local exhibitions, conference registration and helps with the NCECA App.  NCECA also employs a tech crew for conference.  Most of them have been with NCECA for about 5 conferences and have been instrumental in adapting available technology to NCECA’s growing needs.  They begin working on all of the presentations about 2 weeks prior to the conference, meet with each presenter to go over their slides and see that everything is working properly and try to make sure everything goes smoothly during the actual sessions.  NCECA also hires some temp services to help with registration and check-in.  I’m excited to tell you that we have a new system this year which we hope will streamline and speed up the entire process.  Stay tuned for more detailed information about that!

Augmenting the work of our incredible staff, are thousands of hours of volunteer labor without which the conference simply would not happen.  If you haven’t already read them, you should peruse the board bios and get to know your volunteer working board….yes, volunteer….meaning we donate our time and talents to the organization.  (We also donate money as well…every single one of us poor potters and professors pony up to support the financial needs of NCECA)  The board members you may know (or meet) work very hard year round on a wide variety of projects not just limited to the conference.  I encourage you to ask them about what they do for our organization…(oh and thank them.)  If you have a question or concern at the conference, these are great people to ask since they had such a big hand in putting the conference together…but remember….volunteer.  We work hard and we do it for free, so keep that in mind and be kind…good words for life, I think.  You can find us as well as some past board members at the NCECA table, which will be near registration.  As NCECA increases its visibility across the internet, we have begun to build and expand our press team.  For years, Glen Blakely has been the conference photographer, and now we’ve added a social media team, headed up by Amanda Barr.  This group of folks will be helping us to document the conference, so be sure to smile!  You never know when the paparazzi may be right around the corner.  😉  There are also conference volunteers who provide a variety of services in exchange for a conference pass.  These folks prepare the packets of information you pick up at checkin, they help with bus tours, they check badges at the presentations, and much more.  Again, they are volunteers, so be polite and considerate of what they are giving to provide you with the best possible experience.  Say thank you!  But how do you know who these people are?  Check out this tip I gave last year (post conference):


But in addition to all of those folks that might be able to help you out and answer your questions, you are sure to meet a bunch of new friends, and it may be helpful to have a little heads up about who these folks are before they even say a word.


The NCECA name badge can be a very handy tool.

(for the full effect, you should read that in a deep, echo-y announcer voice, possibly with some hero-esque background music…you get the idea).

• It contains several lines of information to help people know a little bit about you:


(Click to enlarge)

(For me, it kind of makes sense that a coffee stain be part of my badge.)

The first line is what people call me (quiet down, peanut gallery), and for the first time ever, during registration, attendees had the option to put their social handle here instead!)

The next line is first and last name, followed by your affiliation – university, college, school, business, gallery, art center, non-profit etc.

Below that is your City and State, because it’s always fun to travel thousands of miles to meet someone who lives 10 miles away (this happens, seriously)

On the very bottom, I hope you see the word “Member” printed.   Please note that for years your membership was automatically renewed with your conference registration.  Because many people maintain their membership even when they can’t attend the conference, and because there are so many different levels of membership, it was separated out.
• Of course, you can also use the NCECA Name badge for your own benefit when approaching someone you met last year and can’t quite remember….a quick glance down at the badge will do the trick!  (Assuming it isn’t turned around backward….)

• Your name badge can also be a convenient place to keep your business cards to hand out, but please keep them in the BACK of the pocket.

• But there’s more to the badge than just what’s printed on it.  There are also the things that are hanging from it.  On many people’s badges, you will see ribbons hanging below the tag.  The ribbons are color coded, so you can tell, even from a distance, a little bit about the wearer.  Some of the colors represent multiple categories, so you also have to check the words on the ribbon:


  • Fellows of the Council –light blue (with the word “Fellow”)
  • Board member – red (with the word “Board Member)
  • Executive Committee – orange (with “Executive Committee”)
  • Exectutive Director –red (with “Executive Director”)
  • President-Elect – dark blue (with “President-Elect”)
  • Past president – bright yellow (with “Past-President”)
  • President – red (with “President”)
  • Press – green (with “Press)
  • Volunteer – green (with “Volunteer”)
  • Staff – green (with “Staff”)
  • Honorary member – bright yellow (with “Honorary Member)
  • Board Candidate – bright yellow (with “Candidate”)
  • Exhibitor – white (with “Exhibitor” or “Non-Profit Exhibitor”)
  • Presenter – Dark Blue (with “Presenter”)

• Of course, your badge can also be a bit of a fashion statement…I always end up with some bling on mine, from the marks I get from museums (like the Milwaukee Art Museum on my badge here) to buttons and pins I am given from some of my favourite folksIMG_7489 (like this Robin Hopper Making Marks Pin I got in 2008).  By the end of a conference, I think I’ve gained 5 pounds in pins alone, all adorning the string on my badge.  I often feel like I should work in one of those restaurants.

• Your badge can also grant you access to certain exhibitions and shows that might otherwise have admission fees.

• Your badge is required for all the programming sessions EXCEPT the Opening Ceremonies on Wednesday Night, so bring your friends to our fabulous Keynote and Randall Session!

• Your badge is required for entrance into the Resource Hall, however, if you brought some friends with you, they can still experience a taste of NCECA in the Gallery Expo area, which is open to the public.

WAIT JUST A MINUTE… mean I have to have my badge to “go shopping”?  What’s that about?  Shouldn’t the Resource Hall be free?

Good question,and one that is asked every year.  So for those of you loyal followers of this “e-column”, I’m gonna give you the inside scoop.  First of all, YES, the Resource Hall is kind of a three-ring circus of sales and specials:

  • Suppliers selling books, tools, and other small easily-packed items
  • manufacturers displaying the latest technology in kilns or the quietest wheel you will ever not hear
  • colleges and universities and now residencies and arts centers doing their best to attract students.
  • On top of all that are the reunions of old friends in the middle of an aisle, the demonstration in that booth over there, and the book signing by the well-known author in that other one over there and a drawing for a free thingamajig in that one in the back of the hall.

Hmm, I guess that’s 4 rings….Basically, pretty much all conference-goers will agree, that the NCECA experience is not complete without a visit or two (or twelve), to the Resource Hall.  And although initially, it might have been primarily a commercial area where you might speak directly to Robert Brent about his wheel or Phil Skutt about his kiln design, over the years, it has evolved into so much more.  The NCECA board and staff value our Commercial and Non-profit Exhibitors and appreciate the educational variety that they take it upon themselves to offer.  Because we all feel so strongly that this part of the conference is integral to the whole, we do not want to relegate it to being “the NCECA shopping center”  (or some, I’ve even heard refer to it as the ceramics flea market, which just makes me shudder).  While there is a commercial slant on it, there is a great deal of learning to be done in the Resource Hall.  Where else can you go straight to the source of “the Great Gerstley Debate”, or find out the current analysis (no not that one, the REAL analysis) of Custer (and what a good substitution is), research all the best brands of any piece of ceramic equipment in person, see a product you might want in action, solve a problem for something you already own, troubleshoot a glaze defect you might be experiencing, research a residency, get advice about grad school or make a social connection with non-profit?  The people with all of these booths and tables are an incredible resource for our field, and that’s a big part of why we officially named this area the “Resource Hall” several years ago (prior to that it was called “the vendor hall” or “exhibit hall” or sometimes “commercial and non-profit booth area”).   Still not convinced?  Okey dokey, let’s talk turkey… The conference fee that you pay includes a portion of the cost to rent the space that becomes the Resource Hall, the materials to divide the booths, the workers to set all that up and so on.  (meanwhile, where does that phrase come from???  “Let’s talk Turkey?”  hmmm)

Hopefully, this answers all the questions you might have not even known you had about your NCECA name badge.  If I missed anything, please be sure to comment below!  Gee, who would have thought that the badge blog would have been this long!  🙂