This article comes from Guidepoints News from NADA Summer 2020 Issue. Sign-up to receive Guidepoints in your inbox quartlery. The Guidepoints newsletter is the only publication devoted to the sharing and dissemination of our NADA work on an international scale. Become a member to opt-in for a print copy. Check-out past issues.

On October 15, 2020, NADA held its first virtual conference titled Innovations in Healing with the NADA Protocol. The presentations featured the Southwest region of the United States, and included speakers from Arizona, New Mexico and Colorado.

“That was the best meeting I’ve ever attended.”

Although regional in focus, this meeting, with over 160 registrants spanning from Bermuda to North Pole, Alaska, had the most demographically and professionally diverse attendance of any NADA meeting organized in the past 10 years. For 70 percent of the registrants, this was their first NADA conference.

Transitioning an in-person regional meeting to a virtual space was a result of many months of planning and coordinating by the Arizona workgroup. This collective of NADA members was formed in the fall of 2018 in order to expand access to the NADA protocol on tribal lands in Arizona and across the state through legislative change.

“I found the day to be refreshing, re-energizing, educational and very enjoyable. I loved the format and the breakout groups. Great speakers and topics – it was hard to pick which speaker engaged me the most as there were so many that were fantastic!”

In collaboration with NADA staff, the workgroup developed the program and layout for the online event, which included small reflection groups after most panels to create a feel of “being there.” These 5-minute spaces ended up being one of the biggest hits of the meeting, with people asking for more time to be together at our next event.

One of the organizers appreciated the online space, because “it allowed people to attend since travel was not an issue.” Even when we come to a time when travel and gathering may become easier, we have learned that the space for meeting online is not going away – it is a strategy that builds access, one of NADA’s principal values.

Ticket prices to attend the Southwest meeting had two ranges: $10-$30 for anyone to join, or $30-$75 if you wanted to get continuing education credits for participating. The meeting was approved by the Arizona chapter of the National Association of Social Workers, by the National Certificate Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine, and by Taylor College which provides credit to nurses.

“I appreciated the clear compassion and willingness of the presenters.”

The strong meeting attendance, along with support from Acurea who sponsored the meeting, gave NADA the opportunity to make contributions to all the programs represented by the speakers at the meeting. This included: La Plazita Institute (Albuquerque, NM); The Haven (Tucson, AZ); Crossroads Acupuncture (Las Cruces, NM); Second Chance Center (Aurora, CO); and Stuck Community Acupuncture (Flagstaff, AZ).

Natividad Cano, a counselor at The Haven serving women in recovery, followed up after the meeting in regard to the contribution of support from NADA: “It will be used to purchase materials and supplies to continue providing services to our residents. They love acudetox! And Gabie, Misty and I love that we are able to do this.”

“I enjoyed this conference. While I didn’t know many participants outside of my co-workers, I feel a strong connection to other participants.”

We also received a message from The Haven’s director of clinical services, Frank Pallavicini: “Thank you so much for the generous contribution toward our efforts to provide acudetox to our clients. Nati, thank you so much for the advocacy and leadership you provide within our organization and within NADA as well.”

A special contribution was made to programs initiated by the late Arlo Starr. Phyllis Spears, a member of the Arizona workgroup, shared a beautiful remembrance of his NADA work for tribal communities: “I was not the original speaker for this presentation. It was Arlo Starr. He just passed from this world about a month ago. He was not only a trainer with me, he was a friend and like a little brother. He was also a Cherokee citizen. He worked in Native communities for many years, doing acupuncture and acudetox, most recently in Acoma, the pueblos and the Navajo Nation. He also worked with a veterans’ group in the Northwest Pacific, to do canoe journeys with the veterans to help with their healing. … He was such a treasure.”

“It was my first NADA meeting and I found it to be motivating and inspirational. A very empowered organization. Thank you!”

There have been many questions about when the next meeting will be since we are not gathering in person this spring for a national conference. We will keep the NADA community posted, through emails and Guidepoints, when we have dates identified for our next virtual conference.

The recording of the Southwest Regional meeting (2 ½ hours in total) is available in the Member Resources, under Conference presentations, there you can see the complete layout of the program, including some speakers’ PowerPoint presentations.