Annual Meeting First-Timer Attendee Guide

Welcome First-Timer AFA Annual Meeting Attendee!

The 2023 Annual Meeting will take place Tuesday, November 28 through Friday, December 1 at the JW Marriott Tampa and the Tampa Marriott Water Street properties, located in Downtown. As a first-timer attendee, we want to ensure you have all the necessary information to ensure you are maximizing the professional development and networking opportunities that await you. You are eligible to participate in a series of programs that will allow you to network with other attendees while you learn to maximize and navigate the Annual Meeting space.

Virtual First-Timer Orientation
The Attendee Engagement Committee hosted a virtual orientation session on Thursday, November 2. Topics discussed included: the Association’s purposes, AFA and Annual Meeting lingo, the Annual Meeting Planning Team and their roles, the professional development and networking opportunities offered onsite, how to use and navigate the Whova app, typical attire suitable for the conference, and tips and tricks for making the most of your Annual Meeting experience. 

If you missed the orientation, a recording will be sent to all first-time attendees the week of November 13. 

Annual Meeting Overview

The Annual Meeting is the hallmark professional development event that brings together a portfolio of programs and experiences designed to enhance and enrich the competencies, skills, talents, and overall effectiveness for the success of our members and those in the field of fraternity/sorority life.

The Annual Meeting experience provides a plethora of wide-ranging opportunities that include: educational programming blocks, Graduate Training Track, Exhibit Hall with educational partners who can help enhance your work with their services and programs, the IGNITE Showcase, roundtable discussions with umbrella organizations, Project Job Search for graduate students, regional meetings, and so much more.

  • Graduate Training Track*: This interactive and personalized experience will allow participants to develop their own professional development plan, assess their current skills, review personal goals, and engage in collaborative conversations that will guide them through their next steps within the field.
  • IGNITE Showcase: IGNITE offers an opportunity to spark your thinking and  learn from colleagues in 7 minute presentations about topics they are passionate about.
  • Roundtable Discussions with Umbrella Organizations: Join each of the umbrella organizations to learn the state of the organization along with news about upcoming initiatives and changes, and engage in dialogue around issues of shared interest.
  • Project Job Search*: For graduate students seeking internships or graduating soon: Project Job Search utilizes storytelling techniques and best practices to help you feel confident and prepared during your process.
  • Regional Meetings: Join the colleagues in your region, hear updates, recognize the AFA milestones of your peers, and network with others.

* Advance Registration is required for attendance at this event: registration links can be found here

To learn more about the programmatic offerings of the Annual Meeting, please visit the Schedule at a Glance.

Whova 101

Whova is the Annual Meeting’s “one-stop-shop” conference app and your central location for all conference activities.

Access to the 2023 Annual Meeting experience on the Whova App is provided to all paid and registered Annual Meeting attendees via email invitation a few weeks prior to the start of the Annual Meeting. The app allows you to create your schedule and plan out your conference experience in advance, connect with other attendees, join forums with other attendees, ask Annual Meeting organizers questions, provide session feedback, and so much more! 

The homepage of the Annual Meeting within the Whova app contains links to additional resources such as a listing of exhibitors, a floor map of the hotel, session Q&As, a directory of all session speakers, and surveys to provide session feedback.

The Whova app also provides access to the full Annual Meeting schedule, including descriptions for the educational sessions you may be interested in attending, a listing of all Annual Meeting attendees, and the ability to connect and network with them, as well as a tab to join various forums with other attendees to build further community.

Connections Kick-Off | Tuesday, November 28 from 3:00-4:15 p.m.

The Connections Kickoff is an interactive event designed to help first-time attendees, graduate students, and new professionals navigate and take ownership of their experience at the Annual Meeting. This experience will take place during the first day of the annual meeting prior to the opening keynote and will provide an opportunity to review content from the first timer orientation, meet Connection Captains, and begin the first series of networking opportunities that will take place throughout the Annual Meeting. 

Connections Captains

Connection Captains are returning Annual Meeting AFA members who are dedicated to enhancing the attendee engagement experience during the Annual Meeting. The purpose of the Connection Captains is to guide all first-timers through the Annual Meeting experience by answering questions, helping to identify ways to engage within the Association, and serving in a mentor-like role prior to and during the Annual Meeting.

Meal Meet-Ups

Join the Attendee Engagement Committee and Connection Captains to engage in networking and conversation during meals. Meal costs are at the responsibility of the participant. To reserve your spot, please sign-up via Sign-Up Genius

  • Lunch- November 29 at 12:00 p.m. (Noon)
    • Lunch Meet-Ups will be organized based on AFA regions. (Lunches are limited to 15 attendees)
      • Region 1- District Tavern
      • Region 2- Bernini of Ybor
      • Region 3- American Social
      • Region 4- Columbia Cafe
      • Region 5- Harpoon Harry’s 
  • Dinner- November 30 at 7:00 p.m.
    • Dinner Meet-Ups will be open to any member of the Association (Dinners are limited to 10 attendees)
      • 7th and Grove
      • Gaspar’s Grotto
      • Jackson’s Bistro
      • Watervue Grill

Annual Meeting Attire

Listed below are suggestions based on attendee attire from past Annual Meetings, but please dress in a way that will help you have an optimal conference experience!

  • Tuesday, November 28, 2023
    • Travel Attire while getting to the Annual Meeting site
    • Business Casual for the Welcome Reception 
      • Business casual is a level above everyday and snappy casual but not as dressy as business professional. Business casual tops include: collared shirts, well-fitted blouses or sweaters. Footwear are customarily dress shoes.
  • Wednesday, November 29, 2023
    • Business Casual throughout the day while attending educational sessions and other programming associated with the Annual Meeting.
  • Thursday, November 30, 2023
    • Business Casual throughout the day while attending educational sessions and other programming associated with the Annual Meeting
  • Friday, December 1, 2023
    • Business Casual throughout the day while attending educational sessions and other programming associated with the Annual Meeting
    • Business/Semi-Formal Attire for the Toast to Award Winners and Celebration Dinner
      • Semi-formal attire is similar to business professional attire, but less formal than black-tie attire. Outfit options include button-down shirts, dress pants, and dress shoes, and jumpsuits, tea dresses, and knee-length dresses.

Social Media Challenges

Join fellow Annual Meeting attendees in getting ready for our time onsite by completing daily social media challenges in the weeks leading up to and during the Annual Meeting. This will help you digitally engage with colleagues, peers, and friends. Use #AFAAM to have your challenge featured on the Association’s social media accounts.

  • Pre-Conference Social Media Challenges
      • Monday, November 13: Wear Your Letters or a photo with your institution staff/HQ team (if not affiliated)
      • Tuesday, November 14: Thank a mentor or someone you admire within the field
      • Wednesday, November 15: Picture of why you do this work (this could range from photos of family with a long legacy of being affiliated or the student community, etc.)
      • Thursday, November 16: Throwback to the first Annual Meeting you attended or an early FSL experience as a pro staff (ex. Yard Show, Bid Day, or an organization’s philanthropic event
      • Friday, November 17: Professional Advice (tidbit of knowledge that attendees wish they would have known earlier)
  • Week of the Annual Meeting
    • Monday, November 27: Share one story or post focused on what you’re most excited about for the AFA Annual Meeting
    • Tuesday, November 28: Wear your letters or institution’s logo- post a photo when you arrive
    • Wednesday, November 29: Get 5 photos with new people and post who they are, where they are from, and their affiliation (if applicable) – don’t forget to tag them! 
    • Thursday, November 30: Share something you’ve learned so far at the AFA Annual Meeting (can be a photo of a presenter – don’t forget to tag them!)
    • Friday, December 1: Group photos of AFA friends/colleagues (new or old)
    • December 4: Reflection on the AFA Annual Meeting experience (share one key takeaway)