Columbus' big names to take the stage at ASAE annual meeting

This post was originally published on this site

Frederic Bertley hasn’t always lived in Columbus.

A native of Canada, Bertley moved here to work as president and CEO of COSI, a position he’s held since January 2017. But 2½ years later, Columbus has become his home.

“I’m not from here,” Bertley said. “But now I’m of here.”

When Bertley found out the American Society of Association Executives had selected Columbus to host its 2019 conference, he was proud of the “coup that it is that Columbus snagged ASAE.”

Get the news delivered to your inbox: Sign up for our morning, afternoon and evening newsletters

More than 5,000 association professionals, industry partners and other attendees will flock to the Greater Columbus Convention Center for the 2019 ASAE Annual Meeting & Exposition, which will be held Saturday through Tuesday. Organizers are optimistic that some of the attendees will be impressed with the city enough to bring their group’s annual meetings here in the future.

The weekend is packed with local entertainment, food providers and community outreach events, giving attendees from all over the nation and world a taste of Columbus.

Attendees also will hear from prominent Columbus figures drawn from various sectors of the city. The speakers will highlight the “intellectual capital” that Columbus holds, said Brian Ross, president and CEO of Experience Columbus. Bertley is one of those speakers.

‘Science is everywhere’

Titled “Neuroscience Revolution: Understanding Your Brain and Unlocking Its Potential,” Bertley’s ASAE seminar will highlight the rich connection between COSI and the science resources that Columbus holds, such as Ohio State University, Otterbein University and Battelle.

“Science is everywhere. You can’t get through the day without science,” Bertley said. “The hot thing in science is neuroscience, and I’ll be talking about the implications it has on learning and leadership.”

COSI will also host the ASAE opening reception Saturday, themed “High Five Columbus.” The event will provide food, drinks, performers and artists representing the five Columbus neighborhoods lining High Street: the University District, the Short North, Arena District, German Village and Franklinton/Downtown.

In addition to stunning attendees with the “spectacular” view of Downtown overlooking the Scioto River, Bertley hopes the opening reception helps attendees connect science with COSI, and ultimately, COSI with Columbus.

“Places like COSI, the art museum, the Franklin Park Conservatory, are the cultural anchors of the city,” Bertley said. “They’re part of the physical girth and power of the city, but also the heart and connective tissue.”

Game changers

Bertley is not the only key Columbus figure who will make an appearance at the ASAE event.

As a part of the conference’s “Game Changer” speaker lineup, Jeni Britton Bauer, founder and chief creative officer of Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams, and Joe DeLoss, founder of Hot Chicken Takeover, will take the stage together to address conference attendees.

Close friends, Britton Bauer said that she and DeLoss will hold a “fireside chat,” with each sharing how Columbus fostered the development of their business models. It will be a “love fest” for the city, Britton Bauer said.

“This community raised this company in a really unique and beautiful way,” Britton Bauer said. “It’s because we have a community of makers, growers and producers that surround us here.”

Columbus has been the “perfect host” for Hot Chicken Takeover’s business model, DeLoss said. The majority of the company’s more than 100 employees are people with adverse pasts, such as homelessness, incarceration or other employment barriers.

Spurring Hot Chicken Takeover’s growth is the continual enthusiasm and hospitality that Columbus has provided, DeLoss said, a narrative he intends to share at the “conference to beat all conferences.”

“There’s a spirit of collaboration that makes Columbus a really great place to be,” DeLoss said. “Our story is a testament to that, and I’m going to do my part to share that story.”

Homegrown business

Both DeLoss and Britton Bauer built their businesses from the ground up in Columbus.

Hot Chicken Takeover was born on a street corner in Olde Towne East as a pop-up chicken window.

“We had people waiting in the hot sun for chicken that was probably going to be poorly prepared because we were still learning,” DeLoss said. “The embrace from Columbus is what fostered our growth.”

The company has since expanded and now has locations in the North Market, at Easton and in Clintonville. Hot Chicken Takeover also has started construction on a site in Cleveland.

The North Market housed the original Jeni’s Splendid Ice Cream. Britton Bauer bought ingredients from other market vendors, and it was there that her company’s values, such as quality, creativity and community, were “solidified.”

“We still buy strawberries from the exact same farmer,” Britton Bauer said. “Now, we just buy the entire field.”

What makes Columbus unique is the desire to create a city distinct from other major U.S. cities, Britton Bauer said. Through ASAE, attendees will bear witness to a city “full of inspiration,” she said.

“Everybody who visits here gets it,” Britton Bauer said. “Everybody here just has a passion for the city and is ready to work together.”

[email protected]

@ceproctor23