UC19, Blackbaud K–12's annual user conference held in Washington, D.C. this summer, brought together 733 independent school professionals, industry experts, Blackbaud team members, and partners. The wide distribution of nearly 650 school attendees across academic, admission, marketing, IT, business, and development teams highlights how Blackbaud is driving digital transformation across all school offices with The Cloud Solution for K–12 Schools.
"Every year this event culminates the work we do and our passion for the K–12 space," said Travis Warren, president and GM, Blackbaud K–12 Solutions, in his opening remarks. "We're excited to be here."
Travis Warren speaking on the main stage at UC19.
Day one of the conference, traditionally the training day, was enhanced based on attendee feedback at UC18 to include more advanced training sessions, a digital marketing bootcamp, shop talks with product owners, and a best-practice track for IT professionals. The morning keynote also had a different twist.
"We've decided to gamify the morning activities," Warren said. "Every year people get up on stage and present, and you guys probably aren't aware of this, but behind the scenes, there's a contest to see who gets the loudest applause. ... So we've decided to have what we're dubbing the D.C. Showdown."
The D.C. Showdown featured Blackbaud team members presenting on the recent product initiatives that they believed were delivering the most impact for our schools. Topics discussed covered the gamut from transcript builder to admission candidate recommendations.
Jackie Christensen as the D.C. Showdown MC.
The competition for applause was indeed fierce, and for a while it looked like Sales Manager Hugh Robbins was going to win with competency-based education until Professional Services Business Analyst Jacqui Wishart stole the show with do-it-yourself data imports.
Day two of the conference, filled with best-practice sessions, began with Warren taking a retrospective approach in the morning keynote by self-assessing the initiatives unveiled at UC18. This recap led into the vision moving forward.
Peter Baron of the Enrollment Management Association encouraging Unconference attendees to submit ad hoc session topics to the boards.
Day three featured the popular Unconference where attendees propose session topics based on subjects that they want to learn about or cool things they want to share with their peers. At the conclusion of the Unconference, everyone gets together one last time to share their feedback on the conference.
"I want to say that this was a great conference," one attendee who stepped to the mic said. "We have two reps from our school here this year, but next year I really think there is enough substance and content for us to have six or seven people. ... This year you really blew it out of the park."
For anyone who missed this year's conference or those who want a recap, the keynote recordings and breakout session presentations are available here. You may also enjoy perusing our day one, day two, and day three image galleries.
Alas, the excitement generated at the conference was dampened for many travelers as severe thunderstorms blanketed the east coast, resulting in many flight delays and cancellations. Even still, Blackbaud Product Manager Sarah Bienvenue was able to find a silver lining. According to Sarah, a full day of flight delays resulting in a 10 p.m. cancellation, followed by her 6 a.m. flight the next morning getting rerouted, were all "Totally worth it!" because she was able to take a selfie with Kevin Richardson from the Backstreet Boys.
We can't wait to see everyone again at UC20 in Los Angeles at the Westin Bonaventure Hotel. Please save the date for July 8–10!