Get ready with us to set sail for the URMIA 2023 Annual Conference in Baltimore from September 9-13th! Join host Julie Groves as she interviews chairs of the conference committee Rachel Pluviose, Tristan Tafolla, and Keesha Trim about all the exciting events everyone has to look forward to in Baltimore this year. They share thoughts on their most anticipated sessions, opportunities for volunteerism through URMIA Cares, and all of the amazing features Baltimore has to offer. If you are a first-timer to an URMIA conference, or you have been to an URMIA conference 10 times, we guarantee this episode will set you up for an amazing time in Baltimore. If you have not registered, there’s still plenty of time to do so. Join us to “B’more in Baltimore”!
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Rachel Pluviose, Senior Director of Risk Management & Insurance- Johns Hopkins University
Tristan Tafolla, Director of International Risk Management- Columbia University
Keesha Trim, Senior Director of Risk Management & Insurance- University of Richmond
Julie Groves, Director of Risk Services- Wake Forest University
Jenny Whittington: Hey there. Thanks for tuning in to URMIA Matters, a podcast about higher education, risk management, and insurance. Let's get to it.
Julie Groves: Hi everyone. I'm Julie Groves, Director of Risk Services at Wake Forest University, and current URMIA president. I'll be your host for this episode of URMIA Matters. Today, we're going to be talking about the 2023 annual conference in Baltimore. Joining me are Rachel Pluviose, the Senior Director of Risk Management and Insurance at Johns Hopkins University, Tristan Tafolla, the Director of International Risk Management at Columbia University, and Keesha Trim, the Senior Director of Risk Management and Insurance at the University of Richmond. Welcome to you all. Thank you so much for being on the podcast today. So, before we start into the juicy details about the annual conference. Why don't you each give us a little bit more info about yourself and just give us a little background on your URMIA involvement? So, Rachel, why don't we start with you?
Rachel Pluviose: Sure! As mentioned, I'm the Senior Director of Risk Management and Insurance at Johns Hopkins. I've been in Baltimore much longer than I care to admit. I am a originally a New York native and NY do or die, but I've been in Baltimore really long time. I started at Hopkins about seven years ago and ever since then, I've been a part of URMIA. And really just appreciated the networking and the education opportunities. I've learned a lot, being a part of URMIA, and excited to have URMIA be in Baltimore this year.
Julie Groves: Well, great. Thank you, Rachel, and Tristan, what about you?
Tristan Tafolla: So, I'm the Director of International Risk Management at Columbia University, primarily focused on travel risk management and operations. So, Colombia has a pretty big global footprint, keeps us pretty busy. Like Rachel, I've been there almost seven years now. It'll be seven years at the end of this month. And I've been actively involved with URMIA for the last seven years, particularly on the International Committee where I currently serve as the chair. I'm glad that I am able to participate as the co-chair for this year's annual conference.
Julie Groves: Thank you, Tristan. And last but not least, Keesha.
Keesha Trim: Thanks, Julie. I have been in Higher Ed Risk Management for 17 years now. I've been at the University of Richmond for 9 years. I joined URMIA in 2007. My first conference was actually Washington, DC in 2008. Over the years, I've volunteered with URMIA in many ways. At the registration desk as a moderator, conference speaker, and I'm actually in my last few weeks as a board member.
Julie Groves: Washington was my first. conference too. So that was an interesting experience. The hotel was supposedly being renovated and it was supposed to be done, but it wasn't. There was a lot of plywood on the floor everywhere. So, but it was a great conference. So well, thank you all. So, the annual conference is coming up September 9th through the 13th in just a little bit over a month. It's hard to believe. Can you all believe it's almost here, but it feels like you've been planning this for years and years and years and years. So, Keesha, why don't you tell us what you're most excited about happening in Baltimore?
Keesha Trim: Well, I'm excited about seeing everyone. It's always a great opportunity to get together with people you haven't seen in a year. But another thing I'm excited about is URMIACares, and all the volunteer opportunities that we have available for this year, we have something for everyone. The regatta is going to be a unique sailing opportunity. Then we have the mural painting, which is my personal favorite since I am an aspiring artist. Then we have volunteering off-site at a community garden or a food pantry, or if you want to bring a book and we even have opportunities for our virtual attendees as well to contribute and participate through Amazon lists or donations.
Julie Groves: Rachel or Tristan, anything you all are particularly excited about?
Rachel Pluviose: Like Keesha, I'm also very excited about the regatta, the location that we'll be in is such a beautiful location right off of the water and I'm excited that we're able to really utilize that and kind of have that be a part of our URMIA experience this year.
Julie Groves: I had an opportunity to go to the Conference hotel and it is lovely right down there on the waterfront. So, it's a great location. Tristan, anything you would add?
Tristan Tafolla: Yeah, I'm really excited about top golf. Not a golfer. But I like to get out there and do the Happy Gilmore thing, where you can try. And hit it as hard as I can, but no don't, but I think it'll be a fun variation of the golf tournament that we have. So, we have a really great lineup this year like always. But with respect to the general sessions, we've got some really interesting speakers. So, one of them that we have is specifically dedicated to sustainability and our very own Keesha Trim will be part of that panel and we'll be talking about giving advice on navigating sustainability journeys and how different projects can impact the evaluation of property portfolios, so it will be, I think, a really interesting session, particularly given the trends over the last several years for green type buildings and those sort of initiatives on campus, a lot of us are dealing with. So, I think I'm really looking forward to that one. Another one that we're going to be able to feature is a senior government official that's going to talk about the cybersecurity threat landscape. Can't reveal the name just yet, but I think it's going to be a great session that's going to be very impactful to a lot of us, as we're all dealing with the same sort of threats of ransomware and other things. And then finally, I think our keynote is the President of the NAACP, Derrick Johnson, and it's just ecstatic that we're able to snag him and get him as part of our lineup. I think it's going to have a lot of interesting perspectives to share with the audience, particularly, given all the movement related in this space in highlight over the last several months, in particular last year, not to mention you know the SCOTUS decision recently about affirmative action. But I think there's a lot to unpack there.
Julie Groves: Yeah, definitely. So, this all sounds great and we're going to be looking forward to that. So, Rachel, as you've already mentioned, Baltimore is your hometown. So, what kinds of things should folks be excited about? I mean, obviously, we're on the waterfront, but what else can folks look forward?
Rachel Pluviose: We're on the water, which is great, and also the area that will be in it's called Harbor East and there's a lot of exciting things to do even off-site from the conference. There's a lot of nice restaurants in the area. There's also some shopping. Baltimore is also I joke it's a big, small town, so anywhere you go, if you've been driving more than 30 minutes, you’re lost if you haven't arrived to your destination. So as one of the nice features about Baltimore and contrary to popular belief, people in Baltimore are also very friendly. I think we have a lot of great venues as well lined up for some of the off-site dinners and things. And I'm especially excited about going to the aquarium, which is all within walking distance. That would be a great venue for our closing and there’s a lot of wonderful, good things to see in Baltimore.
Julie Groves: Well, great. Yeah, I think Baltimore is going to offer a whole lot to folks. There's a lot to do, especially right around our hotel. So, I think people will find that it's very accessible. You can just walk to a lot of places. So that's always appreciated. So, Keesha, what advice would you give to someone who is attending the conference for the first time, or maybe who hasn't been to the conference in a number of years?
Keesha Trim: I would say don't be shy and to take it all in the best part of URMIA is meeting peers, sharing experiences, seeing, and attending all the activities. It's just a unique experience. Everyone is friendly, so just get out there, engage.
Julie Groves: It is a great way to connect. I mean, we're so used to virtual now and you know, so it'll be great for a number of us to be able to see each other in person. But you know, speaking about virtual, we do have a virtual option so folks can attend virtually if they would like to. So, Rachel, what can those attendees expect?
Rachel Pluviose: Sure. Well, they'll be able to attend all of the general sessions, about 65% of the breakout sessions as well. You'll also be able to, as you mentioned, participate virtually in URMIACares activities. There's virtual yoga or virtual 5K, so we're really trying to make the virtual experience as robust as possible. So even if you're not physically there, you will probably still feel pretty much like you are there.
Julie Groves: And our virtual attendees get a special little goodie box that has all of the conference swag in it. So, if you are attending virtually, be sure to be on the lookout for that. So, before we wrap up, is there anything else you guys think listeners should know?
Rachel Pluviose: My model has been it's going to be the best conference ever, so definitely plan on attending and enjoying yourself, networking. And one thing I'll also add to something Keesha said, ask questions, right? Especially if you're a first-timer. Even if this is your, you know 10th time coming, asking questions, being in an environment where you can find other people going through similar experiences has been so helpful to me. And coming up with different ideas, I've been able to take back to the university, so don't be shy and ask questions. There's always someone willing to help or connect you with someone else who can assist.
Julie Groves: Great point. And you know, for those of you who have been to other conferences like NACUBO or RIMS, but you haven't been to URMIA, it's a very low-key event. We don't have an exhibit, we don't have an exhibit hall, you know, and our affiliate members to folks who work for companies in the industry, they're there just like we are to attend. It's not a pushy sales saying. Everybody there is, you know, really friendly and they all want to just make you know, connections and answer questions. So, it's not as intense as some of those other large-scale conferences are. So, any other thoughts? Before we wrap up.
Tristan Tafolla: I would say if you like seafood come hungry. We did a site visit, was it in February or March? I forget, but the food is fantastic.
Julie Groves: February. It is. It is.
Tristan Tafolla: Yeah, so. I'm really looking forward to that as well.
Julie Groves: Yes, there are options for certain people that don't like seafood, but there is a lot of great seafood there. So, I know that it's going to be a great conference. If you haven't registered to attend either in person or virtually, there is still plenty of time. To do that. So just head on over to the URMIA home page links to all the info about the conference can be found under the Professional Development section of the website. So, thank you all again for being here today. I'm very excited about the conference. I know you all have been working hard on it for quite some time and like I said, it's hard to believe that it's here and it will be here before we know it, but I'm looking forward to it and I think it's going to be great. So, I'm looking forward to seeing you all in person there and all of our other URMIA friends also next month in Baltimore. So, this wraps another edition of URMIA Matters.