I recently attended the Maryland Chapter’s 11th Annual Fraud Conference, April 28-29 in Baltimore. In addition to enjoying some of Maryland’s famous crab cakes, I was also treated to watching the chapter put on the biggest event of its kind among chapters in the United States.
Chapter President John Grimes, CFE, led the dedicated team of board members and volunteers to another successful event with more than 550 attendees, 10 speakers and 10 exhibitors at Martin’s West in Baltimore.
Using the list of members provided to the chapter through ACFE.com, chapter leaders increased last year’s conference attendance by nearly 20 percent.
“I was curious as to who was not attending our conferences. I found that more than 800 CFEs and Associate members who live in Maryland were not members of our chapter and had never attended our conference. I reached out to them via email, which resulted in 142 new attendees this year. This year we had a record attendance of 550, the maximum number the venue could accommodate,” Grimes said.
The chapter successfully capitalized on the increased attendance to announce one of its new initiatives: an outreach program to help Maryland senior citizens identify and combat fraud. During the conference more than 100 chapter members signed up to volunteer for this new program. Volunteers indicated their availability to teach tips and techniques to this often targeted group, schedule outreach events, or help with marketing this public awareness campaign.
Attendees from as far away as California and Canada earned 16 CPEs during the event and enjoyed presentations from keynote speakers like Robert Pearre, Baltimore City Inspector General; John F. Sopko, Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction; and Chris Mathers, President at ChrisMathers, Inc.
Grimes said the success of the conference is due to the standard of excellence set by past presidents Frank Abel, CFE; Todd Sheffer, CFE; and Brian Tanen, CFE.
“This being my first year as president, I just followed in their footsteps. However the real credit goes to the chapter board members and other volunteers whose dedication, enthusiasm, pride and tireless effort resulted in a quality event,” Grimes said.
Grimes shared some advice for other chapter leaders hoping to put on an event of their own:
- Start early. As soon as your fraud conference ends, begin planning for next year’s conference.
- Find and retain speakers early on. Keep in touch with them throughout the year.
- Have a budget. Figure out what the event will cost and how many attendees you need to bring in to cover expenses. One can lose sleep worrying about this.
- Do not reinvent the wheel. If you have not done this before, see if you can employ the services of an event coordinator.
See pictures of the event, courtesy of chapter photographer Mathew Karmel, on the ACFE Chapters Facebook page.