Annual Meeting Memories
Hundreds gathered in the Imperial Ballroom of the Grand Hyatt Hotel on a cloudy Denver afternoon, huddled around tables, tittering in anticipation. Nervous laughs cut through the muddled din as darting eyes panned the cavernous room, seeking the cause of this storied convening.
Off to the side, Adam Liebling felt the gazes and heard the whispers. He drew his coat tighter and attended to his rapidly cooling coffee. “This kind of attention is hardly appropriate,” he thought. “The Grants Managers Network is about a group, not an individual!”
Not that the larger societal context wasn’t attempted. Michelle Greanias, GMN’s wonderful new-ish Executive Director, summarized the Network’s outstanding progress over the last three years. Her insightful and enjoyable presentation highlighted each of the GMN’s exhilarating leaps and bounds: receiving 501(c)(3) status; spearheading Project Streamline, the body of knowledge, and certification projects, and the 63% increase in membership. Adam felt a chill as he imagined the Network’s meteoric rise as a high-speed elevator ride.
Michelle then engaged attendees with tales of the future – how GMN will grow and grow through its members and volunteers to inconceivable heights. It would have sounded outlandish and improbable if not for the organization’s lush history of startling achievements.
The crowd was enveloped in the steamy heat of inspiration. Murmurs and nodding heads turned into whistles and stomped fists. But this excitement had a dark side, as impatient chants arose for the next segment – the minutes of appreciation for retiring board members and the election of new ones.
Current board members bid farewell to their colleagues in a teary ceremony. This bittersweet moment dampened the fever pitch, as voracity gave way to silent tribute. Adam reflected on the accomplishments of these retiring individuals and felt the enormous dual weight of gratitude and responsibility.
It was time. Jordan Faires stepped forward to the podium. Time seemed to slow into infinity as he introduced the candidates nominated to join the board: Sue Fulton, Jennifer Pedroni, and Cristina Yoon. There was one name left. The room felt like a vacuum as hundreds sucked in their breath. Sound became a faint, pulsing drone, images a washed-out blur. There was a moment, a very brief moment, such as just before a rocket blasts off, that last tense second before the New Year rings in, the gasping, airless space between nothingness and sudden everythingness, a Big Bang in Denver, Colorado.
“Oh, almost forgot. Another new board member is Adam Liebling.”
The world exploded. Cheers erupted. Confetti flew. Balloons were released. Sunlight poured in and the room spun in music and colors like a carousel. Outside, church bells rang and old women cried in the streets. Children fainted.
Hundreds of pairs of gentle hands picked up Adam and carried him to the front. As will be told in legends to come, Adam humbly accepted a floral lei, the key to the city, and a marble bust of his likeness. Schoolchildren (those that hadn’t fainted) sang “Ode to Joy” as Adam modestly turned red and stray tears ran down his cheeks.
At least that’s how I remember it. Don’t you wish you had attended?
The GMN Examiner is published three times a year through the dedicated efforts of GMN members and volunteers.