Opening General Business Session an Emotional Affair
The first general session of this year’s Convention packed an emotional punch. First, it saw GAWDA President Robert Anders took the stage to recount all that has been accomplished during this past year. He reflected on the goals that he set out when he first took the stage in San Diego and beamed with pride when recounting all that GAWDA and our industry has achieved since then. But before that, Robert acknowledged the unbelievable tragedy that Maui suffered in August. He then welcomed Zeke Kalua, executive assistant to the Mayor’s office, to the stage, who gave a heartfelt thank you to the entire assembly for coming to the Convention and for the economic impact they would make on the entire island of Maui.
Robert then welcomed his wife Missy and middle-son Kyle to the stage to discuss the recipient of the 2023 GAWDA Gives Back Award, the Malama Family Recovery Center. Missy discussed how the charity was near and dear to the family’s heart before turning the mic over to Kyle who gave an incredibly raw and powerful speech about his own history with substance abuse and how he was able to escape the other side of the darkness. When he was finished, there wasn’t a dry eye in the house.
Then, representatives from the Malama Family Recovery center came to the stage for the presentation of the GAWDA Gives Back Award. And GAWDA Members outdid themselves this year, raising more than $325,000 for the charity, leaving the representatives nearly speechless. The Center’s Program Director gave an effusive speech thanking members for their generosity and gave a traditional Hawaiian thank you to the assembled crowd.
Robert then introduced GAWDA Industry Partnering Committee co-chairs Justin Johnson and Terry Scanlan. Justin and Terry introduced a new initiative that will be debuted at the 2024 SMC in San Antonio, the GAWDA “Best in Show” award, which will be judged by members of the IPC on several criteria for booths during the Contact Booth Program.
Then, Robert acknowledged the recipients of the Women of Gases & Welding scholarship award: Clarissa Brawn and Mallory Davanzo. Thank you to all of the incredible sponsors who made this scholarship to the University of Innovative Distribution possible.
Finally, GAWDA acknowledged the smash success of the first-ever GAWDA MBA Program and announced that it will be returning in the first quarter of 2024. Thank you to all who participated in the GAWDA MBA.
The session concluded with general session presentations from Annabel Chotzen and Galen Emanuele. Annabel’s “Put Your Dreams to Work” was an inspiring and uplifting presentation focused on helping people become more effective, efficient, productive, and happier in their work and personal lives, while Galen discussed the tenets of improv, honed through his work on “Whose Line is it Anyway?” and how the “Yes, and?” core tenet of improv can be used in business.