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Reflection on Emerging Leaders Summit

This summer, the state officers attended the Emerging Leaders Summit (ELS). Although this event is usually hosted in person and would have been at Washington DC, the state officers were still able to attend this three day virtual conference. Keep reading below to get their reflections and insights! 

“I am so grateful that DECA, Inc. was able to host the Emerging Leaders Summit. It was an amazing experience, and I’m so happy we were able to take part in the current circumstance. My favorite part of the conference was being able to interact with other association officers from across the country. It was a great opportunity to not only network with others, but see what they are doing within their states to provide the best possible experience for their members. One of the hardest things about our current situation is the inability to interact with people face-to-face, however, by frequently utilizing breakout rooms, I was still able to form genuine connections.”
- Isha, President 

“The Emerging Leaders Summit was a special experience that increased my appreciation and love for DECA! Right from the beginning, a great vibe rang throughout the conference, where I met so many excited officers from other associations and learned from trainers who were excited to teach us!

On the conference’s first day, we were required to wear professional dress. While this may seem super formal and perhaps intimidating, we managed to have a relaxing and fun-filled time meeting other officers and learning important leadership skills. I even won first place in an “All About DECA” Kahoot, witnessing many other officers cheering for me in the chat! 

On the following two days of the conference, the dress code requirements slackened, but the fun continued. We continued to have breakout sessions with other officers, where we shared stories of our own DECA experiences and discussed certain leadership concepts. Many of us officers shared plenty of laughs and our trainers brought fun into our sessions to keep us engaged. 

While it was unfortunate that we had such interesting circumstances this year, I still found it a fun, engaging, and educational experience that will support my leadership journey this year. ELS has offered a plethora of tools that will help me and Team 60 promote a great year in DECA!”
- Vihaan Jain, Vice President of Career Development

“During ELS, I absorbed information like a sponge. All of the tools that I was provided to become a Next Level leader will be beneficial for the rest of my time as the Nevada DECA Vice President of Marketing and beyond.  One of the key tools I learned was centered around communication and cooperation with my fellow state officers. The Five Stages of Team Development showed me how far Team 60 has come in getting to know one another, Nevada DECA in its entirety, and achieving our goals for the school year. 

The first stage is Forming. This is when strangers who are implemented into the same team get to know one another. They form ground rules, roles, and responsibilities. Team 60 started to form a bond six months ago, initiating our plans for Nevada DECA and the school year that lies ahead of us. Storming is the second stage where conflicts begin to arise. Our team has had to adapt to COVID-19. We are making the most out of the situation by finding new ways to connect with our members, including hosting a virtual Trivia Night and promoting engagement on our social media platforms. The third stage is Norming where we appreciate each other’s strengths. Team 60 has reached the norming stage as we are productive and are progressing further as leaders. I appreciate Isha’s motivation, Naomi’s financial knowledge, Leyla’s inspiring spirit, Vihaan’s writing abilities, and Arianna’s creative nature. They all are wonderful contributors to Nevada DECA.

The fourth and fifth stages are Performing and Adjourning. Performing means that as a team, you are succeeding. Team 60 is achieving goals for the year while focusing on performance/results. Adjourning is when the team goals are accomplished and we set the stage for others to follow. We are looking forward to the rest of the year and hope to leave a lasting legacy in February when the next team of amazing leaders is elected. The five stages of team development can be utilized in all group settings whether that be through DECA competitive events or school projects. I will be using this newfound ELS knowledge to ensure that Nevada DECA and Team 60 stay on track for a productive and positive school year.”
- Christi Smith, Vice President of Marketing


“This year’s Emerging Leader Summit was truly unique and different from past conferences I’ve attended! Despite not being able to actually travel to Washington DC, I was still able to meet and connect with officers from states such as Arizona and Michigan! As someone who thrives off of human connection and interaction, I loved that I was able to still meet different association officers who share the same passion and dedication that I do! 

The utilization of several, smaller breakout rooms gave me the opportunity to converse with other association officers as we discussed questions that asked us to think deeper about the kind of ways we led. How does our specific leadership style impact the members we lead? How can we be the type of leaders who are approachable and as every bit human as the rest of the organization that we lead? Talking to other association officers made me realize that sometimes we get placed on pedestals which divides us from the rest of our association. With that, I especially enjoyed hearing one officer’s take on discussing political viewpoints with members as a way of engagement and a reminder that we too, have lives, opinions, and other endeavors outside of DECA. It was through these conversations that I was reinvigorated with a sense of purpose as why the work that my team does is so important in multiplying our leadership. 

Although Covid-19 has made it quite difficult to connect with others in person, it is always important to make the best of the ways we can still build connections and friendships. Learning and hearing experiences from fellow state officers on their struggles and successes through this unparalleled time gave me a sense of relief and hope for the rest of the year that we would all be just fine. 

After all, we are all in this together.”
- Leyla Lopez, Vice President of Leadership

“Though the DECA Emerging Leaders Summit was an incredible way to connect with fellow state officers from associations around the country and to learn more about what is in store for our organization in the months to come, my favorite part about the virtual conference was the sense of community that it established. As other members on my team have noted, it was amazing to finally see the faces and hear the voices of so many student leaders that I could relate to. We are all experiencing the same challenges and looking forward to the same opportunities together, and our collective presence at ELS served to unify our associations both regionally and nationally. 

Another very interesting part of the conference that became important to our understanding of how DECA will be taken to the “next level” was our introduction to the newly elected executive officer team. Though we had an idea of their goals and aspirations for the year, it was incredible to witness their resiliency and accountability in adapting their plans to a largely virtual year. 

In addition, in true DECA fashion, the weekend was filled not only with educational sessions, collaboration opportunities, and fun activities, but it was filled with friendly competition! Team 60 was very proud to see multiple Nevada DECA officers win and earn prizes in several contests, including my triumphant victory in the Goosechase Challenge (and, of course, Vihaan’s mastery of Kahoot!). 

Overall, my experiences with ELS made me even more excited for the year to come. Just like this conference, while it may look different, we must remain optimistic and open-minded in order to make the most out of this year in DECA!”
- Arianna Ophir, Vice President of Hospitality

“ELS was an absolutely incredible experience and a wonderful way to kick off my state officer term. The fact that it was virtual did not stand in the way of the lessons I was able to learn whatsoever. Of course, it would have been nice to connect with other Next Level leaders in person, but having such a large conference online made it clear that we are not forced to sacrifice experiences due to this pandemic- we merely have to adjust. 

One of the things that stood out to me the most were the “breakout room” sessions. Attendees were divided up into smaller groups and encouraged to discuss important topics. These sessions were such an innovative form of communication in times that make networking so much more difficult. I was also able to learn so much about various leadership tools from the multiple guest speakers we attendees had the privilege of listening to.”
- Naomi Kiel, Vice President of Finance