Whether NASBA’s 2021 June Regional Meetings will be virtual or in-person has not yet been decided, but NASBA’s Committee on Relations with Member Boards has started planning for the content. If NASBA cannot hold in-person Regional Meetings this June, then the Regional Directors have recommended that one combined Regional Meeting be held rather than the usual Eastern and Western Regionals. Addressing the NASBA Board of Directors on January 15, Katrina Salazar (CA) Chair of the NASBA Committee on Relations with Member Boards explained that while the in-person Eastern and Western Regional Meetings give attendees many opportunities for conversations with those from other states as well as NASBA leadership, similar networking benefits are not realized via virtual meetings. Several years ago, when in-person meetings were held, the State Boards had expressed their support for the two-meeting format. However, the current environment, including the travel bans many states have enacted, have made in-person Regional Meetings unlikely in 2021. The Board took no action on the recommendation.
In 2020 NASBA held both a virtual Eastern Regional Meeting and a virtual Western Regional Meeting. This meant the same plenary sessions were presented twice with slight variations. The unified format would present the same information to all with everyone able to hear responses to the same “chat box” questions from the audience. Whether there would be a single or two virtual Regional Meetings, the Regional Directors reaffirmed their support of extended virtual sessions for each of the eight Regions to meet with their neighboring jurisdictions.
Virtual meetings have allowed attendees to save travel time and expense, plus speakers are easy to hear and see when technical connections are working properly. Programs like Zoom also have advanced features that allow the participants to be divided among “breakout rooms” for smaller discussion groups. The plenary sessions can be recorded for people to listen to when it fits into their schedule. However, the benefits of face-to-face meetings, in terms of stimulating conversation and developing networks, were underscored by the Regional Directors.
Whether the June meetings will be in-person, or if there will be more than one Regional Meeting, has yet to be finally determined. However, the Annual Conference for Executive Directors and Board Staff and the Conference for Board of Accountancy Legal Counsel will take place virtually in April. More details will be provided on the NASBA website.
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