#ASPA2020 Updates

March 13
From ASPA President Paul Danczyk

ASPA is canceling its 2020 Annual Conference. Our National Council’s unanimous decision is based, of course, on the unprecedented coronavirus pandemic, as well as recent government guidance issued by the State of California and City of Anaheim.

We value our members' and attendees’ health and safety above all other considerations. As we have known for some time, to hold this event at this time would be irresponsible. Due to a variety of factors, we were unable to share this sentiment broadly until now.

Some have remarked about the timing of the conference cancellation and asked why it had not been done sooner. Please know that we have been championing your health and safety for many weeks. The virus spread has been quick and our strategy had different phases, depending on its course.

In late February, I instructed the National Office staff to stay the course; identify alternatives for those who were from, at that time, the countries most impacted prior to the National Council meeting; and cease new registrations beginning March 8 until we better understood the virus’ path and received the Council’s guidance on how to proceed. I also instructed the team that we must make a final decision at least two weeks prior to the conference to allow enough time for attendees to cancel hotel reservations without penalty and mitigate travel losses. Bill Shields and team took the additional steps to hold off on non-essential expenses, including conference materials.

You should know that taking this course of action took tremendous behind-the-scenes work, the vast majority of which we could not share publicly, on the part of ASPA’s executive leadership team. Internal deliberations and negotiations on this action began more than two weeks ago. Had we cancelled the conference when some suggested, it would have resulted in a severe hotel penalty, placing ASPA in a critical state. Only in the past two days, following extensive back-and-forth, has the hotel proposed reasonable alternatives. We maintain that the force majeure clause of our contract applies and are in the final stages of bringing this matter to conclusion.

It is increasingly apparent that this strategy was the right call and we appreciate your patience as we work out the final details. While still operating at a loss due to sunk costs, we likely will be in a much better financial position than would otherwise be the case. Having our professional ASPA team guide us through the process made all the difference. We could not have weathered this initial storm without Bill Shields, Karen Garrett, Kay Lam, and Amy Omang’s direction. Please be sure to thank them. They will be in touch with you about refund options, and if you are so inclined, donating the registration fee as a tax deductible gift in the coming days.

I want to thank you for your patience as we have worked through this crisis—and will continue to do in the coming days and weeks. ASPA is who and what it is because of you. Your actions and support advance excellence in public service.

March 11, 2020
From ASPA President Paul Danczyk

I want to thank all of you for your patience as we continue to learn more about COVID-19, its spread, and its impact on our many personal and professional communities.

As you can imagine, our executive team is working diligently behind the scenes as it relates to the conference. Some of our messages were developed and scheduled weeks before the outbreak, like my video message, so the language may not be as reflective of current conditions as it could be.

No one knows the local impacts of COVID-19 in California more than those of us who live and work in California. I admire the many first responders’ efforts to mitigate its spread and bring stability under changing conditions. This includes the initial efforts of the state and many major cities to declare emergencies prior to the first case entering the US. Through their prudent efforts, personnel and resources were mobilized to plan for and target efforts that we now see activated.

Many of you have expressed support and personal updates to me and/or the national office. I appreciate your notes.

Our top concern is the health and safety of our members. While our messaging may not be as frequent as you may wish, you can appreciate the complexity and sensitivities involved as we determine next steps.

Since the National Council advises on the annual conference, we are planning to meet early next week to determine the best course of action. The Executive Committee will meet this week in advance of the call.

New information comes in daily—sometimes hourly—and before sending additional member updates, we want to make sure that we are working in unison.

As we go into this uncharted territory, it would be helpful for you to forward along any travel restrictions that your state, university, or organization has issued. We recognize that many announcements came out today. Please forward those to aspaconference@aspanet.org.

On a side note, we could not have a better National Office team in place. Their professionalism and judgement are top-notch, and they represent the very best in public service and nonprofit administration. We owe them much gratitude in guiding our international, nonprofit society during complex times and for their support to our volunteer leadership team.

The National Council and I will provide more information following our meeting next week.

March 5, 2020
With the Coronavirus and its impact on the minds of individuals across the globe, we want to share this update on ASPA's 2020 Annual Conference.

Rest assured: ASPA will hold the 2020 conference, as planned, on April 3-7 in Anaheim, California. We take the health and safety of our attendees, guests and staff most seriously and we continue to follow the direction, instruction and guidance of health agencies, including the World Health Organization (WHO) and U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC); federal, state and local governments; and professional groups like the Professional Conference Managers Association.

We are monitoring this situation very closely, particularly as it relates to its impact on health, travel, event attendance and best practices. This is a serious situation. Yet we are encouraged to see that of the thousands who have contracted the virus, the vast majority have recovered successfully. This gives us hope, not only for your wellbeing but for the safety and success of our event, as well.

We are working in partnership with the Hyatt Regency Orange County, our host hotel, to ensure preventative public health measures on site, including hand sanitization stations throughout the venue and increased surface cleaning and sanitizing in meeting areas. These steps will help ensure a healthy and productive conference.

We are asking individuals to be attentive to alert and warning levels issued by the CDC and follow its social distancing practices if:
  • You have travelled to/from/through Mainland China, South Korea, Iran or Italy in the past 14 days.
  • You have been in close contact with someone who recently traveled to/from Mainland China, South Korea, Iran or Italy in the last 14 days.
  • You have been in close contact with someone who has a confirmed COVID-19 diagnosis.
We have a fantastic program of events planned and we look forward to seeing so many of you there, while continuing to work to ensure the health and safety of all attendees and guests.

For more information, please contact aspaconference@aspanet.org. We also will continue to communicate with our attendees in the coming weeks as we get closer to the conference including via email, this website and social media.

For the most current information about the coronavirus, see these resources: