If you’ve looked at the schedule for the NAFSA 2022 Annual Conference & Expo—and if you haven’t yet, check it out!—you know it’s easy to get overwhelmed by all of the offerings. Among the hundreds of sessions, workshops, networking events, speakers, exhibitors, special events, it can be hard to know where to start.

We asked NAFSA staff members to tell us about the hidden gems and can’t-miss events at #NAFSA2022. See below for the inside scoop, and dig into the full schedule to start planning your days at the conference.

Shaina Dorow
Program Manager, Conference Program

Can't Miss: We recently added a new virtual special event with two higher education professionals from the Kyiv School of Economics called “Ukraine in Focus.” Join Kalpen Trivedi, chair of the International Education Leadership Knowledge Community, as he moderates a discussion about the challenges facing the country and how global education can support Ukraine.

Hidden Gem: Check out the “Just for Fun” page on the online planner! Whether you're attending in person or virtually, the page provides information compiled by our Local Arrangements Team to bring the excitement of Denver right to your fingertips. Explore the page to get lost in the sights and sounds of Denver, Colorado.

Dale LaFleur
Senior Director, Academic Affairs and Internationalization

Can’t Miss: The Symposium on Leadership is a can’t-miss event this year! Included in the conference registration, this event features former Governor of Colorado, Bill Ritter, Jr., as he reflects on his own international experiences and the impact they had on his career. He’ll also discuss the sustainability challenges facing the world today and his work in the field of clean energy.

Hidden Gem: The poster fairs are a hidden gem in the annual conference program. Learn more from scholars in the field on a range of topics addressing all aspects of international education. Poster fairs are available virtually and in person with opportunities to engage with presenters throughout the in-person conference.

Chad Goeden
Director, Programs and Training

Can’t Miss: The opening plenary! Priya Parker’s book, The Art of Gathering, has forever changed the way I plan for and prepare all of my classes, workshops, presentations, programming, meetings, and even personal gatherings of all kinds. Planning and acting with intention is critical for all gatherings and is on the top of my mind as the NAFSA annual conference community gathers in person again for the first time since 2019. I'm so looking forward to hearing Priya Parker speak to us this year!

Hidden Gem: The presenters for the “Empowering Underrepresented International Education Professionals Through NAFSA’s RISE Fellowship” session were all part of the initial cohort of NAFSA RISE Fellows. Their commitment and contributions really helped to shape this program. In this session, they come together to share their experiences and how they identify and develop strategies, from individual to institutional, that support underrepresented professionals in their career advancement.

Erica Stewart
Senior Director, Advocacy and Strategic Communications

Can’t Miss: "NAFSA Advocacy 101: Making the Case for International Education Year-Round" is a workshop led by a panel of NAFSA public policy staff and international education advocacy superstars: Deb Pierce, Shannon Bedo, and Stephanie Kelly. They break down the current policy landscape in Washington, D.C., NAFSA's top asks of Congress, and all the essentials for communicating effectively with lawmakers and campus leaders. This workshop is especially geared toward those who have never participated in a NAFSA Advocacy Day before.

Caroline Donovan White
Senior Director, Education Abroad Services and Volunteer Engagement

Can’t Miss: The EA pin! Each year, it's the tradition of the Education Abroad Knowledge Community (EA KC) to release a new pin that captures the spirit of EA and the annual conference. These become collectors’ items! For 2021, the EA KC leadership opened a competition for the design process, and that effort was repeated for Denver. The 2022 winning design is from Gary Graves, tenured professor of business management, successful entrepreneur, passionate artist, and a “volunteering enthusiast” at Fullerton College. He also has served on the study abroad committee of Fullerton since 2015. The pin will be available in Denver in the Education Abroad Community Center (room 205) until supplies last. To be inclusive of the virtual-only attendees, the pin is also available on the EA KC network as a digital icon.

Hidden Gem: The shared interest sessions. I love that they span roles and ranks and have a little something for everyone—from new to experienced professionals. If the pandemic has shown us anything, it's that we have more in common than not. I think attendees often miss out on shared interest programming because they filter content only by their familiar knowledge community content. Try on a new filter! Learn something new with shared interest.

Alena Palevitz
Associate Director, International Student and Scholar Services 

Can’t Miss: “The ABCs of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion for International Student and Scholar Services Offices” session. Implementation of DEI initiatives is a major priority for ISSS offices, and this session offers the opportunity to learn and share with others. Several KC ISSS workplans have prioritized this topic, and the session offers another important forum to continue the conversation.

Hidden Gem: Knowledge Community (KC) Community centers. These meeting spaces are open for the duration of the in-person conference and provide a friendly gathering space for attendees and KC leadership. The community-led discussions that take place here foster camaraderie and resource sharing, especially for those new to the conference.

Lauren Newton
Associate Director, Professional Learning Services

Can’t Miss: This might seem like low-hanging fruit, but I am very excited to hear Priya Parker speak at the Tuesday plenary. I've never recommended a book more often than her book, The Art of Gathering. I’m not very big into self-help or how-to genre books, but this one really changed my work life. I incorporate lessons from that book into meetings and trainings of all types and sizes. Her pandemic podcast, Together Apart, was similarly insightful. For all those reasons, I’m very excited she was invited to speak at the annual conference this year. I can’t think of a more interesting or timely speaker. Her advice on gathering better has changed the way I design, prepare for, and execute all kinds of meetings, and I think my NAFSA volunteers and colleagues have noticed the improvement.

Hidden Gem: “Empowering Underrepresented International Education Professionals Through NAFSA’s RISE Fellowship.” This session created and led by the fellows from the inaugural RISE Fellowship class. I encourage anyone who is interested in applying to the RISE Fellowship’s 2023–24 class to attend. The session will include first-hand stories from particpants on how the program impacted them for the better and strategies to help you get started on planning your own application. Regardless of whether you’re eligible for the RISE Fellowship, this session will provide you with tips and advice on making your own campus or institution more supportive to underrepresented professionals, something all of us should be engaged in.