Who Can Organize

We’ve said that many different kinds of organizations, groups, and institutions might find themselves in the position of organizing a conference. Some of the more common examples are:

1. Professional associations and organizations:
These might include associations that represent:

  • Academic disciplines (economics, education)
  • Licensed or certified professions (psychology, social work, nursing, law)
  • Special interest groups within professions (environmental law, family therapy)
  • Line workers within professions (home health aides, independent living advisors)

2. Government agencies:
Government agencies at many levels run conferences for their own employees, usually for purposes of training and information-sharing. They may also run conferences as funders – bidders’ conferences to help potential funding applicants understand a bidding process, for instance, or conferences to explain new regulations or other important information to funded groups.

3. Coalitions:
Whether at the local, state, or national level, coalitions often find that conferences are good vehicles for highlighting and strategizing about issues, planning for the future, or motivating advocacy.

4. Individual organizations:
A local organization such as a mental health center, a hospital, or a parenting teens program may host a conference focused on its issue, or on a community-wide problem that concerns it and other organizations and agencies as well. A statewide or national organization may organize a conference for its own members.

5. Educational institutions, or departments or groups within them:
In addition to academic conferences, educational institutions may host conferences that grow out of their work. A high school that pioneered heterogeneous (mixed ability-level) grouping in classes, for instance, held a conference to introduce the concept to high school teachers around the state, and followed it up with training conferences to help other schools learn how to apply the concept in the classroom.

6. Advocacy or community activist groups:
These groups may hold conferences to publicize or to educate the public about their issues, or to train advocates or activists.

7. A group with a stake or interest in the subject of the conference:
A citizen's group – the community health educator trainees described at the beginning of this section, for example – might organize a conference around an issue that affects and is important to them.