SANTA ROSA, CA – On November 13-15th, 2018, California Community Action Partnership Association (CalCAPA) hosted our annual conference in Santa Rosa, California at the Hyatt Regency Sonoma Wine Country. This three-day event included two sponsors; Community Action Partnership Sonoma providing an off-site tour activity and a networking event, and Mutual of America providing a bronze level sponsorship.

Celebrating California’s heritage of “Building Capacity Together,” experts shared the latest information about the roots of poverty; innovative practices; and perspectives of the past, present, and future of Community Action. Alongside federal, state, regional, and local representatives in attendance, the event was kicked off with an opening ceremony featuring Tony McAnelly, Brenda Callahan-Johnson, Jarle Crocker, Linné Stout and an informative keynote led by Dr. Jonathan Fisher, Research Scholar at the Stanford Center on Poverty and Inequality.

Overall Results

This conference hosted over 135 registrants from several agencies across California along with 35 presenters who led our well-received sessions, pre-conference, and conference workshops. The number of attendees for the conference grew by 42% over last year. Additionally, this was the first conference hosted by CalCAPA in recent history that turned a profit. The conference provided attendees the rich opportunity to explore relevant updates and issues within Community Action.


When asked the reason for attending the CalCAPA conference, many participants cited updates on critical issues, current trends within the field, professional development, and networking opportunities with like minds. There were numerous conference highlights cited by participants including the opening ceremony, the high-quality pre-conference
workshops and sessions, and superb networking opportunities. The sessions that received the most positive feedback were:

1. Un-conference topics
2. Off-site activity
3. All four parts of ‘Designing Systematic Transformation’ by Dana Pearlman and Sue Grinnell
4. Immigration Panel
5. Keynote Speaker, Dr. Jonathan Fisher

Based on the survey feedback, it would be worth considering expanding what we already have offered. Since the off-site event received such positive comments, the interest may be greater for the next Annual Conference, therefore providing 2-3 off-site activities would be a great option. There wasn’t much negative feedback. The sessions that received the least attendees were:

1. LIHEAP Helps CA Campaign by Liz Moreno and Julie Garcia
2. California Low-Income Energy T&TA by Randy Ximenex and Melissa Smith

These were both sessions from the “Energy” track that was added to the conference. Should we continue to offer this educational program it would be valuable to reconsider what topics are included to generate more interest and attendance.

Here are the takeaways from the debrief:

1. Needed clearer communication between all parties regarding roles and responsibilities
2. A full list of attendees in alphabetical order for registration to check off names as attendees pick up their badge
3. The registration table in one location throughout the conference
4. Provide snacks during the breaks
5. Possibly have one survey at end of each day to reduce the number of overall surveys and increase attendee participation in completing the surveys

We will be working aggressively at having a more robust sponsorship group for our next Annual Conference.