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Case study: How one association reinvented its 90-year-old annual conference

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For 90 years the California Water Environment Association had used the same basic format for its 2,000-attendee annual conference for clean-water professionals: A four-hour keynote kickoff session, followed by three days of mainly technical, peer-driven content offered in 12 tracks, organized by specialty. And it worked fine—until the Great Recession hit and attendance started to drop. As attendance began to rebound when the economy did, CWEA Director of Education and Training Julie Taylor, CAE, thought the time was right to grow the annual conference by giving it a much-needed makeover.

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