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MAVA Conference 2018
Volunteer Engagement Leadership: Next Steps and Beyond

Conference schedule and speaker bios
MAVA Conference 2018 Workshop Schedule is available for download. Review the courses and start planning your conference trip.
Read the presenters' bios here.

Conference schedule at a glance:



Wednesday, June 6th, 2018

11:30 am -12:30 pm Lunch Networking Session:Get the conference party started early by joining other conference attendees for lunch and networking. Local restaurants will host groups that will be assigned at a later date. 

***Please RSVP if you plan to attend.

12:30 - 1:00 pm Conference Orientation with Garrett Zaffke
  1:00 pm - 2:00 pm   "Stop Being So Bloody Nice"- Opening Session with Rob Jackson:Volunteer Resource Managers are generally nice people. That characteristic is typically a strength, but it can also be a weakness. In this keynote address, Rob Jackson will use Billy Ocean, Chuck Norris and the UK House of Lords to challenge us to be more bold, more forceful, more assertive and, frankly, a little less nice in pursuit of what's best for volunteerism in our organizations and communities.

Rob Jackson Consulting Ltd is a training and consultancy firm dedicated to engaging and inspiring people to bring about change. 
We have considerable experience working with civil society organizations with a particular specialism in volunteerism. We also have experience of working with public and private sector organizations.


You can find out more at

  2:15 pm - 3:45 pm   Breakout Session #1
  3:45 pm -4:00 pm
  Snack Break: Please visit our many sponsors and exhibitors
  4:00 pm - 5:30 pm   Breakout Session #2
5:30 pm -9:30pm *Quintessential Minnesota Americana: It has been a busy day, why don’t you unwind and relax and discover what the Twin Cities has to offer in terms of entertainment? Come watch the Minnesota Twins take on the Chicago White Sox at Target Field in downtown Minneapolis. Catch a great view of downtown, a frosty craft brew, or even a baseball! Tickets are $45 per person and includes game admission, food, and transportation.

Register for the baseball game here.

Thursday, June 7th, 2018

  8:00 am - 8:30 am   Before our sessions start, visit our fabulous sponsors and exhibitors!
  8:30 am -10:00 am   Breakout Session #3
  10:00 am -10:15 am   Snack Break: Please visit our many sponsors and exhibitors
10:15 am -11:45 am Breakout Session #4
11:45 am -12:30 pm Lunch: Please visit our many sponsors and exhibitors
12:30 pm -2:00 pm

Breakout Session #5

2:15 pm -3:45 pm General Session with Karmit Bulman - Call to Action: Promoting Job Equity for Volunteer Engagement Professionals:Come learn about MAVA’s groundbreaking study, which examines how nonprofit CEOs recruit, support, and resource four key staff positions within their organization, including volunteer engagement professionals.

Volunteer Engagement Professionals (VEPs) are often underpaid and undervalued and their work is often misunderstood. To better understand the issues facing VEPs, MAVA embarked upon an important research study in order to validate the experience many volunteer engagement professionals have described and to examine root causes. The study underscores that there truly are equity issues in how volunteer engagement professionals are received, paid, included and understood in the workplace. The research examines why there is a lack of true understanding about the essential nature of volunteers and those who lead them. This fun and interactive plenary session will include information sharing and strategizing. You will leave with affirmative steps that can be taken to address the issues. The session will be connected to and followed by hilarious performances from the Theatre of Public Policy.

4:00 pm -5:30 pm The Theatre of Public Policy Show:The Theater of Public Policy is Minnesota’s best know, most successful and favorite civics-inspired improv comedy company. It is also coincidentally Minnesota’s ONLY civics-inspired improv comedy company. At live events in the Twin Cities and across the country, they talk with thought leaders and newsmakers and bring the conversation to life through improv comedy theater. It’s been called “The Millennial answer to Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert,” and “surprisingly funny,” and “something to do.” 

Don't forget to visit our sponsors and exhibitors after the show!

6:00 pm After Party and Dinner at Best Western Como Park: A great chance to relax and network with fellow conference members. Only a short walk off the main campus of Hamline University, we will be hosting a full buffet dinner at the Best Western Como Park. Please RSVP to help confirm final numbers.

Friday, June 8th, 2018

  8:00 am - 8:30 am   This is the last day to make your visit to our many sponsors and exhibitors!
  8:30 am -10:00 am   Breakout Session #6
  10:00 am -10:15 am   Snack Break: This is the last day to make your visit to our many sponsors and exhibitors!
10:15 am -11:45 am   Breakout Session #7
11:45 am -12:30 pm   Lunch
12:30 pm -2:30 pm   Hands-on Action Planning- Put Conference Learning Into Action!- with Marla Benson:Every conference attendee since the beginning of time has been well-meaning in putting their new learning into action. And, many have been less than successful once they get back to their real worlds. Join Marla for this hands-on, action-oriented conference wrap-up.
  • Zoom in on best takeaways for your organization
  • Prioritize action-steps for implementation
  • Organize communication of ‘new ideas’ for organization leadership, peers and volunteers
Marla Benson, Volunteer Relations Consulting Group, LLC Founder and Principal Consultant has always been aligned and connected to the best-of-the-best throughout her career history. Always a leader and influencer, Marla's impact through workplace mediation, executive leadership coaching/advising, Customer Care consulting and training has been far-reaching over more than 25 years. She is proud to count amongst her clients such organizations as, Girl Scouts of Southeastern Michigan, Girl Scouts River Valleys, Girl Scouts Western Pennsylvania, Microsoft, Hoag Hospital, Kaiser Permanente, and many more admired and high-performing organizations.

Marla Benson's Customer Service track record has touched thousands of customer service professionals in Hospitality and Call Centers for 20+ years. Consultant and team member for organizations including Disney Resorts,, Ovations Food Services, Marriott Hotels, Anaheim/Orange County Hotel & Lodging Association, Shell Hospitality, The Mountain Winery and many more.

As Director of Training & Development for, Marla produced Customer Care training to align hand-in- hand with the mission and message of the organization - empathetic and individualized Care - and still maintain and exceed standards and metrics. Marla has been an annual Customer Service Speaker and contributing author for the prestigious Anaheim/Orange County Hotel & Lodging Association Quarterly Newsletter for more than 19 years.

2:30 pm -3:00 pm   Closing Remarks and Goodbye!

*Not included in conference price. Separate payment.