When LERA conferees gather for the 65th Annual Meeting in St. Louis June 6-9, 2013, they’ll be warmly welcomed by very hospitable volunteers from the LERA Gateway Chapter.
Gateway Chapter treasurer Eric Mooshegian (pictured at left), who in his day job is the business representative of the International Union of Operating Engineers Local 148, says he and other chapter members are already in full planning mode.
“The LERA national asked the Gateway Chapter to host [the first independent Annual Meeting on the new schedule] because we are a large, active chapter and have a central geographical location,” Mooshegian said. “We took the national LERA’s request that we host as a compliment, as a recognition of the Gateway Chapter’s ability to get the job done."
Mooshegian is confident that not only can the Gateway Chapter can pull off a successful rescheduled and re-engineered Annual Meeting but also set a high initial standard and put into place a model for the other LERA chapters hosting June LERA extravaganzas in future years.
”There’s a lot of enthusiasm among our board and members,” Mooshegian said.
LERA executive director Paula D. Wells and Emily Smith, assistant to the executive director, in April traveled to St. Louis to meet with the Gateway Chapter board. Wells said: "A great deal of thought and discussion have gone into this new meeting schedule independent of the American Economic Association. I think it's the biggest LERA story in years, and it will make LERA more inclusive and successful going forward. The Gateway Chapter board and volunteers are tremendous boots-on-the-ground assets in getting this new LERA direction off on the right foot."
Joining them for the St. Louis visit were LERA President and 65th Annual Meeting Program Chair David Lewin and LERA past president and 65th Annual Program Committee member, and subcommittee co-chair Stephen Sleigh (pictured, right). Lewin and Sleigh both came away from meetings with the Gateway chapter representatives optimistic about the possibilities and potentials of LERA's brave new beginnings.
Lewin said: "We have the opportunity with the new meeting schedule, and working with the Gateway Chapter executive board, to build stronger practitioner track; industry council and interest group track; and policy track at the 65th Annual Meeting. When you add the academic track, we have all the LERA voices represented in what, over time, will become a broader and deeper discussion and understanding of employment and work."
(Click here to read related story on calls and deadlines for papers, proposals and award nominations for the St. Louis Annual Meeting.)
Mooshegian said chapter volunteers will not only provide support in in substantive and operational Annual Meeting areas such as logistics and registration but also in the extracurricular area.
“With the new meeting schedule, there’s more time for recreation, so chapter volunteers will also be showcasing the city,” Mooshegian said. Early possibilities for activities for conferees include a St. Louis Cardinals baseball game; tours of the Anheuser-Busch brewery, Boeing manufacturing plant and the city's historic neighborhoods; a golf outing and the St. Louis Zoo.
Also on the early-meeting possible extracurricular agenda, said Mooshegian, are "tours of the Sheet metal Workers' and Painters Union's training centers to showcase labor-management cooperation."
Mooshegian said there’s also considerable interest among chapter members for the practitioner Annual Meeting full conference track.
“I’m a veteran of four national Annual Meetings,” Mooshegian said. “They were good, but some of us [on the practitioner side] felt that the Annual Meetings were dominated by the academics. With the new full practitioner track there will be more of a balance.
“I think we have the opportunity to bridge the chapter-national gap and become a stronger organization all around.”
— by Mike Lillich
(Editor's note: Look for updates in future LERA e-newsletters on the Gateway Chapter's preparations and plans for hosting LERA's 65th Annual Meeting in St. Louis. We'll post the next LERA e-newsletter in early September.)