Conference Excitement from the Leadership Team

Matt Dozier, EAST Initiative President and CEO

Matt Dozier, EAST Initiative President and CEO

I hope everyone is as excited about the EAST Conference as we are! We are within a month of the big event and our Leadership Retreat will soon be in full swing. The Leadership Team is integral to the success of the Conference and has developed over the years from a handful of true volunteers (students with a few minutes or just a desire to help out) to an interconnected team of over 40 students from across the EAST universe who provide an undergirding of support that sets the event apart….and makes it AMAZING!

The Leadership Team is comprised of four groups: the Ambassador Team, the Speaker Team, the Technical Support Team and the Documentation Team. Each has a specific set of tasks at Conference but taken together they are the “secret sauce” that makes the whole thing work.

group edit

We asked the team leaders to introduce themselves and share about their teams.

First is our Ambassador Team co-leaders Elise Fry and Caitlin Cothern.

From Caitlin:

My name is Caitlin Cothern, I am a senior at Jonesboro High School. I have been in EAST for six years, attended Conference five times, have been on the Ambassador team for five years, and this year I am one of the co-leaders for the Ambassador Team. I am so excited about Conference and my team this year because I get the opportunity to lead such a great group of students. Everyone is so smart and outgoing, and we all share the same love for EAST. My team is like a family to me; we laugh, we cry and we survive Conference together. I cannot wait for all the memories this Conference will create.

From Elise:

My name is Elise Fry and I am a senior at Batesville High School. I am so honored to serve with Caitlin as your Ambassador Team Leaders for EAST Conference 2015. The team this year includes 25 of some of the best EAST students, all of whom are extremely excited to help out and be a vital part of this your Conference experience. The 2015 Ambassador Team is dedicated to making Conference the best one yet by making sure all aspects of the event run smoothly. I know I speak on behalf of the entire team when I say one of our favorite parts of Conference is meeting our fellow students and learning their EAST story. Talk to us! Tell us about how you started in EAST and how you have grown. Visit with us about applying for Ambassador Team next year, it is an amazing opportunity and we would love share more about it. I look forward to seeing you all soon in Hot Springs!

Victoria Burton, a Senior from Springdale Har-Ber High, is leading our Speaker Team of four students who are the emcees for our large presentation events.

From Victoria:

I am beyond excited about EAST Conference this year and my Leadership Team because of the new bonds I will have the privilege of creating with different EAST students. I have been in EAST for three years and through this class I have developed relationships that will last a life time. I can already tell this Conference is going to be incredible because of the dedication and passion I have personally seen in the other leaders. Having the opportunity to work with students who share the same love for EAST as I do makes this experience so much more memorable. EAST Conference 2015 will definitely be one to remember

Rather than a student leader, the Documentation Team has professional mentors to make sure our video, photography, social media and other efforts are planned and executed.

The Technical Support Team also has co-leaders. This 10-member team gets a crash course in technical planning, implementation and trouble shooting. They also get a first-hand look at running in circles putting out fires and doing something I call “Whack-a-Mole Level 52.”

Returning this year is California Burmeister, a Senior at Jonesboro High School. Cali has helped to significantly enhance this team as a leader the past two years.

From Cali:

I am so excited for EAST Conference 2015! The Technical Support Team this year is going to be our best one yet. From talking to my teammates, I can tell they are going to be awesome. Conference is my favorite time of year because I get to put together and manage a team with my wonderful co-leader Justin. So much hard work and time is spent before Conference. Seeing everything run smoothly is the best reward for it all. The best part of being leader is seeing every members’ strengths and helping meld those strengths into one unit. We have got a smart bunch and we will be prepared for anything! 

Cali’s co-leader this year is Justin Martin from Cedarville High School.

From Justin:

I am excited for Conference and my team because every EAST conference I have attended has been better than the previous year. When you start out with an awesome Conference, improving every year is more than a good thing. I cannot wait to see old friends, meet new people, and make new connections. I am excited to see everyone’s projects, booths and ideas. This will also be a great year for the Tech Team. I am excited to work with Cali and the rest of the team. I believe the 2015 Conference will be the best Conference ever!


So, while you are reading most of the team is hiding deep in the woods of Ferndale, Arkansas, working through logistics, training and preparing for the thousands of Conference guests and attendees.

On behalf of the Leadership Team, the EAST staff,and the thousands of students preparing for the EAST Conference, let me extend an invitation to see the fruits of all that labor. We really hope to see you there.

Until then, I’m Matt and that’s that…


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