When I was little, I wasn’t sure what conferences were, but I knew they were important because my dad would go to them all the time.

From how my dad described them, I understood that conferences were where smart people went to walk through fancy hallways in nice clothes and say hi to each other and talk about big ideas.

My dad was a professor of mechanical engineering at Cornell University, and his specialty was granular flow- literally the physics of how things like sand or snow flow down slopes. I knew studying granular flow was not for me, but when I imagined myself grown up, I would still picture myself confidently walking in a fancy hallway saying hi to people, talking about big ideas.

It’s funny how life works out. On July 21 & 22 at the Hyatt Regency in Phoenix, Prevent Child Abuse Arizona will put on our 26th Statewide Child Abuse Prevention Conference.

I love conferences, not just because they were glamorized in my young mind, but because they are a pause from our everyday grind to learn, reflect, and connect. Connecting to others, I’ve found, is my favorite part of conferences. Everything happens through connection. Ideas are shared. Visions are created. Systems get changed.

That’s why we made this year’s conference theme “Connection: The Power of Relationships.” We’ll talk about the power relationships have to prevent child abuse – not just relationships between caregivers and children, but also those between caregivers and other caregivers, parents and providers, providers and other providers, and all the layers of relationships that can make systems work for children. We’ll have a stellar lineup of workshop and keynote presenters to inspire our big ideas (including Prevent Child Abuse America CEO Dr. Melissa Merrick, and Dr. Robert Sege, researcher on Positive Childhood Experiences).

Registration opens on April 1. I look forward to walking down the fancy hallways in my nice clothes and saying hi to you.