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 Equity Conference Was Love in Action

The annual Equity Conference had nearly 1,500 attendees log-in and participate each day of the four-day, virtual event. Behind the scenes there were three teams of San Diego County Office of Education (SDCOE) employees working to make sure the valuable learning was making an impact.

On social media, hundreds of attendees shared their thankfulness for this opportunity through posts, stories, and images that captured what stuck with them. [See the Twitter moment].

And their collective voice was loud. There were about 850 posts about the San Diego County Office of Education during the conference, with an estimated reach of 10.4 million. Each message contained #EquityisLoveinAction, the theme of the event, which was the focus of the conference presentations, but also came to represent the teamwork behind the event.

While Dr. Fabiola Bagula, Equity department director, was in front of the camera each day, synthesizing each speaker's message, there were more than a dozen SDCOE colleagues behind the scenes supporting the Equity Conference.

The Equity department team in Learning and Leadership Services began working on the conference line-up and sessions nearly a year ago. They held committee meetings with colleagues from across SDCOE to determine what topics would help students most, then set about coordinating speakers for a virtual event. The conference had been at the San Diego Convention Center last year, but was moved to an online format due to COVID-19.

The planning committee evolved during the pandemic to include team members from Media and Creative Services and Communications, and moved to bi-weekly meetings.

"This was my first time planning an event this large and well-attended. It was important to us to make it successful in a virtual format — taking into account educators' schedules, the shortage of substitute teachers, and Zoom fatigue — and impactful for our collective work," explained Bagula. "Thankfully we had support with the Media and Creative Services team members and Communications."

The Equity Conference planning meetings included: Andrew Baldwin, Bill Britt, Tammy Carpowich, Albert Hernandez, Candida Bothel-Hammond, Simone Russell, Susana Tsutsumi, and Jose Vallejo from Media and Creative Services; Bagula, Dr. Julie Goldman, Steven Dorsey, and Valentin Escanuela from Equity; Dr. Staci Block from Innovation; Samantha Womack from Communications; and Ivan Constantino from Enterprise Applications.

Business Services employees also helped bring the Equity Conference to life by managing contracts for the speakers.

Some of the projects leading up to the conference were multi-dimensional, such as determining which of the dozen speakers would be filming their presentation. Light kits were sent to presenters and the iTV Cable 16 crew scheduled safe recording sessions.

"We had packages here and there, changing information, and speakers working with unfamiliar equipment, so it was important that we were calm, informative, and ready with support," Baldwin, technology centers support analyst.

Another layered effort was promoting registration for the event. A conference website was designed by Hernandez and created by Tsutsumi with content from Communications. Womack wrote dozens of social media posts that reached thousands of followers across SDCOE's channels with artwork created by Hernandez. Womack's outreach plan also included articles on the website, targeted emails to educators and community members, and communication to SDCOE employees.