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Regional Conference Host Manual

Using this manual will assist Regional Conference Hosts (RCH), Regional Coordinators (RC), and Regional Conference Planning Team (RCPT) members in planning, organizing, and conducting a quality NODA Regional Conference.


Regional Conferences serve as a primary educational, connective event in each Region. These conferences provide the opportunity for NODA members to participate in professional and paraprofessional development, to share ideas, to learn new skills and to network with others within the Region. With opportunities to present educational sessions, to participate in social, educational and informational activities, NODA members of all experience levels can expect to gain from Regional Conferences (Board approved, Fall 2018).

The Regional Conferences are a major part of NODA’s service to its members and to the profession. Your leadership for your Regional Conference is greatly appreciated! As the gateway to our association for so many, maintaining high standards is important to the participants, presenters, and to the NODA OTR profession as a whole.

Each section of this manual addresses a specific component of the planning process. Looking at the past history of your region will help you in determining what you will build on to ensure a successful meeting. In general, Regional Conferences:

  • Are planned under the leadership of the RCPT with detailed guidance by the Association Office staff as outlined in the NODA Bylaws and Standard Operating Procedures. 
  • Occur in the spring and are intended to be provided in each region each year. In the event a Regional Conference Planning team is not identified or able to plan a conference, the Regional Coordinator will confer with the Association Office and Exec Board to guide the region to alternative opportunities (Board approved, Fall 2018).

Conference Goals and Objectives

Begin with the end in mind! How do you want to leave the conference? Most members want to go away feeling like their needs have been met; that issues which are top priority to them were addressed at the conference.

Regional Conference Learning Outcomes

(Board approved, Fall 2012)

Participants attending a regional conference will: 

  • Increase knowledge regarding trends and best practices related to the field of orientation, transition, and retention.
  • Increase understanding of current research in the field of orientation, transition and retention.
  • Benchmark programs/services with peer institutions in the region.
  • Increase formal and informal network with peers engaged in the field of orientation, transition and retention.
  • Enhance student leadership skills related to orientation, transition, and retention programs through participation in developmental learning experiences.

Also, understanding the Region members’ needs and interests, in addition to NODA’s overall strategic plan, will help the RCPT formulate how to meet the Regional Learning Outcomes. The effects of recognizing the priority issues and true concerns of prospective attendees will lead to increased attendance and interest at present and future conferences.

There are several methods of determining the audience’s needs and interests, including:

  • Surveys
  • Previous conference evaluations
  • Previous conference session attendance
  • Attendance at national conference sessions on certain topics
  • Examining current Region-wide issues

Roles & Expectations

The Region Coordinator (RC), the Regional Conference Host (RCH), the Regional Conference Planning Team (RCPT), and the NODA Association Office staff all play a part in planning and executing a conference that is of the most possible benefit to attendees. All members of the Regional Conference Planning Team must be NODA members.

Regional Coordinator’s Role: 

The RC is ultimately responsible for the activities of the Region, so involvement in planning the Region Conference is necessary. The degree of involvement may vary from region to region, but usually involves the following duties:

  • Coordinate the selection process for RCH(s) in conjunction with the Association Office staff
  • Provide support and guidance for RCH on Regional Conference guidelines and NODA resources
  • Assist in RCPT appointments in cooperation with the RCH
  • Review and approve the proposed conference budget before sending it to the Executive Office and Division Representative for approval
  • Assist RCPT  in the selection of the keynote speaker.  
  • Review of all activity contracts before they are signed by the Executive Office. This includes: hotel, meeting sites, entertainment, speakers, transportation, meal functions off site, etc. 

Regional Conference Host’s Role: 

The RCH(s) coordinates a majority of the details and elements involved in planning the conference. Responsibilities usually include:

  • Select and direct RCPT, all committees, and all conference activities
  • Identify host institution(s) and/or hotel, including finalizing site site selection of the facility. The Associate Office must handle negotiations and sign all contracts.
  • Develop and promote the program, including identifying keynote speakers and program presenters
  • Develop the conference budget in collaboration with the Association Office staff
  • Submit all paperwork and supplies to the Association Office
  • Coordinate arrangements for conference meals
  • Conduct the conference
  • Submit conference reports
  • Maintain regular meetings and work directly with Association Office staff

Other responsibilities include maintaining regular contact with the Regional Coordinator, previous conference hosts, and NODA Association Office/Event Coordinator(s). They will work with the Association Office to set up online registration. The Conference Host is also the conference liaison with the hotel personnel.  The Conference Chairperson/Host(s) is responsible for the entire conference and for delegating and doing the work to create a successful conference.

Regional Conference Planning Team Members’ Roles: 

Most regions use the RCPT as a group to make major decisions regarding the conference and then divide various responsibilities between the committee members to ensure a quality conference. Experience has shown that the scope of the work necessitates a group effort in order to complete all the tasks involved.    

Regional Conference Planning Team members typically are responsible for sections of the conference, which can include: 

  • Undergraduate Experience
  • Professionals & Graduate Experience
  • Returning Orientation Leader Institute/Regional Student Leadership Institute (ROLI)
  • Regional Graduate Student Symposium
  • Educational Sessions & Assessment
  • Marketing & Technology
  • Event Management
  • Volunteer Coordination
  • Awards

Association Office Staff Role: 

The Association Office Staff is experienced in meeting planning and is available to consult with RCH and RCPT. Specifically, the Association Office Staff will provide assistance in:

  • Finalizing and approving standardized contracts for Executive Director signature, after the RCH investigates facilities for the site of the conference, transportation, entertainment, and keynote speakers, etc. These contracts will include important safeguards for NODA (such as ADA requirements, reasonable cancellation clauses, etc.).
  • Distributing promotional announcements via email to NODA members, as directed by the RCH.
  • Updating Region and Regional Conference websites at the direction of the RC and/or RCH
  • Maintaining conference history and financial updates.

 In addition, the Association Office is responsible for the following:

  • Conference pre-registration
  • Collecting conference fees
  • Making nametags and lists of attendees
  • Ordering ribbons and evaluation forms
  • Paying all invoices & all accounting services
  • Leading a planning/training session for RCs & RCHs

Host Institution: 

The Regional Coordinator & the Region Steering Committee reviews institutions interested in hosting a NODA Region Conference and selects the most appropriate institution(s)/ locations.   Usually the “host” institution is the conference chairs, but in some regions the host may not be affiliated with the institution. Each institution will enter into a contract with each host institution to determine services provided for the Regional Conference. If an event sponsor is needed for the contract, a local NODA member can serve this role but must serve on the RCPT in some way. 

Program Planning General Timeline

Spring (2 years before event):

  • RC selects RCH and host institution

Spring (year before event):

  • RCPT applications open and are announced at the Regional Conference Closing Banquet
  • Set conference dates based on host institution availability 
  • Hotel block contract signed by Associate Office
  • Theme and logo design begins
  • Number of presentations and time slots is determined

Prior to Annual Conference

  • Budgets established
  • Registration details updated on website
  • Tentative schedule outline is posted on online
  • Keynote speaker(s) is selected

End of Fall Semester

  • Registration form is posted on website
  • Call for Educational and Highlight Sessions is announced 
  • Peer Reviewer application opens
  • Award nominations open

Spring Semester

  • Presenters are notified and confirm their participation 
  • RCPT schedules sessions
  • Schedule and abstracts are posted to website
  • AV Requirements are determined and arranged
  • Meeting rooms are assigned to specific presentations
  • Food and meeting functions are confirmed with host institution
  • Things are sent from the Association Office

Conference Happens!

A detailed schedule will be provided by the Association with timelines and deadlines specific to each region.

Zoom Access

NODA can provide a zoom meeting or webinar for its members to use for Association activities. If you would like to use the NODA Zoom accounts in conjunction with your planning or conference, you can submit a request with this form. Please provide the office with at least one week  notice if possible to check online availability.

Conference Program Components

The program is the nucleus of the conference and all other activities exist to support this part of the event. The sessions chosen and presented are the central focus of the conference.

Select a Theme

The determination of the theme of the conference will influence the content of the program and reflect the goals and objectives of the organization. Items to consider when selecting a theme are:

  • Past themes
  • Current “hot topics” in NODA OTR programs
  • Ideas from past evaluations
  • Ideas from Region members

Selecting a theme focuses primarily on the concerns of the NODA Region members. Remember to make sure the theme selected is broad, yet focused enough to spark the interests of those involved in NODA OTR programs.

Conference Speakers 

Keynote or featured speakers must be briefed regarding intended audience and expectations for content. Conference planners must ensure all conference attendees’ (student and professionals) needs are addressed by speakers either through common goals or multiple speakers. 

Educational Sessions 

The primary audience for a Regional Conference is undergraduate students. However, conference planners must include sessions which address the needs of professionals and graduate students within the program. 

Roundtable Conversations 

Each Regional Conference can offer roundtable discussions oriented to professional staff, graduate students, or undergraduate students. Roundtable sessions must adhere to guidelines established by the Educational Initiatives committee. These will be established by spring 2019 for implementation in spring 2020.

Diversity & Inclusion

NODA Regional Conferences are committed to equity, inclusion, and social justice by:

  • Fostering an inclusive environment that welcomes and embraces all attendees and guests. 
  • Offering educational sessions, featured speakers, and programs from diverse perspectives and topics.
  • Incorporating networking and community building opportunities to engage and celebrate all members. 

Required Sessions at Regional Conferences

Conference planners must ensure a core of educational components by specifically recruiting presentations addressing the following: 

  • Current trends in OTR
  • NODA Core Competencies
  • Student Staff development beyond icebreakers
  • Post orientation program opportunities for undergraduate and graduate staff
  • Career opportunities for students entering OTR post-graduation
  • Sessions that provide a clear discussion on application of topic to a variety of programs and institutions

Additional Conference Requirements

Each Regional Conference Must Include: 

  • An announcement of fundraising for the NODA Excellence Fund (i.e. pin sales, pledges, donations) 
  • A minimum number of 4 education session timeslots, with enough sessions in each timeslot to accommodate all participants. 
  • Presentation of regional awards as determined by the NODA Standard Operating Procedure Manual, any additional awards that are local to the region need to be approved by Regional Coordinator and NODA Association staff. 
  • Association required meetings
    • State/province meetings
    • Leadership opportunities session 
  • At least one casual networking event for each population (students, professional) 
  • A specific and clear connection to Core Competencies. Implementation will be at the guidance of the NODA Association staff. 
  • An opening session for all participants that includes greeting from Host, greeting from NODA Association Leadership members (if present). 
  • Specific and communicated safety plans appropriate for all conference activities. The plans will be developed by the Association Office and shared with conference host and planning team. 
  • All conference activities must abide by NODA Policies and be directed by the Regional Conference Planning team, in close collaboration with the NODA Association staff. 
  • An opportunity for Case Study participation (undergraduate student participants, graduate and professional judges and feedback).
    • Judges must be provided with orientation to expectations and type of feedback 
    • Regional Coordinators will work with Association Staff to develop standard judging instructions and forms, guidelines for who can be a judge, and sample case studies. 
  • An opportunity for experienced undergrads to participate in an enhanced learning Returning Orientation Leader Institute (ROLI) type of experience, with graduate and/or professional staff serving as presenters/instructors.

Including NODA Leadership in the Conference

You may have a representative from the NODA Leadership attending your conference on behalf of the association. This could be staff, board members, executive committee members, or Regional Coordinators. At the conference, please ensure the NODA Leadership representative has an opportunity to address or be addressed to the entire delegation of conference participants.  This usually occurs during the opening banquet or other plenary session. Other ways in which you can utilize the NODA Leadership Representative at your regional conference:

  • Introducing or being keynote speakers*.
  • Presenting an educational session*
  • Facilitate or co-facilitate the first-timer’s session*.
  • Judging regional skit and/or song contest.
  • Introducing educational session presenters and distributing evaluation forms.
  • Presenting “Leading NODA” session with the Regional Coordinator.
  • Assisting at the registration table*.
  • Being “informal” mentors to student or professionals*.
  • Shake hands with award winners*

* Please negotiate these roles(s) well in advance of the conference.

Things to Consider to Make Your Event a Success

Before the Conference: 

  • Think about what sort of information you’ll need from registration, i.e. dietary needs, religious holidays, ROLI, Case study, etc. 
  • Will you be doing any pre-event advertising or outreach to non-members? 
  • Have you recognized sponsors or key stakeholders in your program or elsewhere? If any NODA leadership will be attending please be sure to recognize them as well. 
  • Audio-visual equipment needs have been identified.
  • Consider all accommodations needed for any of your attendees (i.e. large-print handouts, ASL interpreter, handicap parking and space, gender neutral restrooms, etc.)
  • Talk with the Association Office about any potential sponsorship opportunities. Sometimes, organizations will offer to cover the cost of certain materials in exchange for recognition or a highlight session at the conference. 
  • Finalize food and beverage needs and keep track of the accurate number of participants. IMPORTANT: Keep track of any special dietary needs. Most Regional Conferences take place during the season of Lent; keep this in mind while planning meals. 
  • Establish a method to handle special dietary needs. Consider creating meal tickets for those with dietary needs. 
  • Establish a safety and emergency plan in the event of active shooters and natural causes.
  • Make sure to communicate with on campus administration regarding the event. How will you ensure that anyone on campus or visiting will be aware of your event ahead of time? How will attendees be notified of any campus-related closures or emergencies?
  • Keep an eye on your budget. Monitor it closely throughout the planning process via the Google sheets provided by the association office. Make sure you are not allocating funds between line items.

During the Conference

  • Make sure participants know how to access the Internet at your facility and how to download/use the conference app. 
  • Have a form of communication established to let attendees know of program and location changes or necessary information.
  • Make sure the emergency plan is printed out and is in an easily accessible location, which all conference committee members are aware of. Pertinent information should also be accessible to conference attendees in Guidebook so they are aware of what to do in an emergency.
  • Share information/announcements the Association provides, i.e. upcoming Annual Conference info
  • If you have volunteers, make sure that they are there to help with registration and/or other critical areas of your event. 
  • Make sure to include a welcome for first timers so they are aware of any specific conference events, (i.e. Swag Swap, Spirit Days, Roll Call, etc.). The Association office can assist in reaching out to first time conference attendees. 
  • Prepare and distribute thank you notes for key stakeholder (speakers, volunteers, committee, etc.)

Conference Traditions

Your region might have some traditions that they continue from conference to conference.  If you are not familiar with these traditions or if you are unsure as to how to fit these into the conference, contact your Regional Coordinator.  Traditions vary from conference to conference; however, a sample of traditions is listed below, you do not need to add these traditions if they are not already part of your region. 

  • Region Roll Call – Schools come prepared to sing or chant their school’s fight song, a traditional cheer, or create your own special “hello” to introduce your orientation team during the opening ceremony
  • College Sticker Exchange – Universities encouraged to bring stickers with their college logo or mascot on them.  This is a great way to meet people and to bring back a fun memento of your NODA experience
  • Orientation Shirt Day – Conference participants could be encouraged to wear their orientation or school clothing to show their school spirit and display their school colors with pride.
  • Swag Swap – Bring lots of items from your school to trade for fun stuff from other schools
  • T-Shirt Competition – Institutions are asked to submit a T-shirt used during orientation.  This is a great way to show your school pride and share ideas with other delegates.  Attendees will bring T-shirts to the on-site registration and after the conference, the T-shirts will be donated to a local charity in the area.
  • NODA Spirit Competition – This award could be selected on the basis of congeniality, interactions with other delegations, good sportsmanship, and overall participation in the conference.

Promoting the Annual Conference at Regional Events

We would like to invite each regional participant to attend the NODA Annual conference usually held in October or November.  For upcoming annual dates and conference details, consult the NODA website. An advertisement of the upcoming annual conference will be available for you to use in your regional conference program.

Network Activity During Regionals 

Ensure Network topics are being addressed at each Regional. When selecting conference programs, attempt to ensure that network topics are represented. Network members must follow the process for submitting educational sessions and are not guaranteed that their educational session will be selected to present.

Current NODA Networks are: 

  • Extended Orientation
  • First Generation College Student
  • GLBTA Issues
  • Graduate Student
  • Highly Selective Institutions 
  • International Student Orientation 
  • Large Institution
  • Multicultural Student
  • Nontraditional Student
  • Parent and Family
  • Small College
  • Transfer Services
  • Two-Year Institutions 

If programs don’t reflect needed network issues, then consider Roundtables/Network Meetings for these issues. If requested, conference hosts should add Roundtable/Network meetings to the conference within an educational session time slot. If available, have a Regional Network Rep (RNR) facilitate these meetings. If RNR is not available, have NODA leadership or another professional facilitate the roundtable.

Communication, Branding & Publications



The most efficient way to communicate with your region’s NODA members is through email. The Association Office has email templates with NODA branding for each region that can be utilized to send out messages to members. Messages sent from the Association Office go to all members of a region or can be targeted towards specific groups (eg. Just professionals). The NODA office is able to schedule emails to go out ahead of time. If you have any additional messages you would like to send out, please send your message at least two weeks in advance of when you would like it sent to the membership. When sending a message on behalf of NODA in your role, please send through the Association Office. Regional Conference Hosts and Regional Coordinators also have the ability to send messages through NODA Connect using their Admin privileges. Contact the Association staff for instructions.

Social Media

Social Media accounts are powerful communications tools that have a significant impact on organizational and professional reputations. Access to social media accounts is a privilege of current NODA members who are serving in leadership position and access will be given to leaders at the beginning of their terms, and terminated at the end of their terms. NODA will have access to all social media accounts in order to help with granting access to the transfer of leadership rolls. Access to regional social media accounts will be given to the standing Regional Coordinator (RC) and the Regional Conference Host(s) (RCH). If additional access would like to be given to other regional volunteers, permission will have to be granted by the RC or RCH. The Association staff will change the Regional Facebook & Twitter accounts branding to the conference theme during the regional registration and conference season. The NODA Association staff has the right to update or remove posted material if it is not up to branding standards or does not positively reflect NODA’s values. Conference-specific Facebook pages and Twitter accounts cannot be created from year-to-year

Because social media sites blur the lines between personal voice and Association voice, NODA has crafted the a policy for the appropriate use of Social Media by association members, to ensure that these systems are used in an appropriate, productive and lawful manner in accordance with all other NODA policies. The current Social Media policy can be found here.

Conference Themes and Logos

Themes and logos for Regional Conferences should be approved by the Association staff and should reflect the professionalism and integrity of the Association. The NODA Marketing team can assist with the creation of your conference logo, however it is the RCHs responsibility to generate ideas or concepts to be created. The creation of conference themes is the responsibility of RCHs. 

Publication Guidelines

If you choose to provide a printed program, utilize the conference app or other publications for your event, you should first consult with Association staff to ensure you are meeting the publication design standards developed by NODA as well as the timeline for program content. The official NODA logo must be incorporated in a masthead, return address, or other appropriate, highly visible location on conference materials. The Association staff  must approve all printed or electronic publications. Please provide at least one week for review.

Conference Budgeting & Finances

Budget responsibly. Regional conferences have a financial obligation to the Association.  Each regional conference is expected to make a return to NODA. The expected return is listed on the Association budget and is set by NODA leadership, not the conference hosts. You will work with the Association Staff throughout the conference planning process to ensure you are meeting your fiduciary responsibilities to the Association.

Creating Regional Conference Budgets

Regional Conference Hosts are responsible for submitting a proposed conference budget and expected expenses. The Association Staff will guide you through this process. The Association staff uses historical expenses and registration numbers from your region to develop your initial budget in partnership with the RCHs. Regional Conference fees are set by the Association Office staff once your finalized budget is in place.

Conference Contracts

Throughout the Regional Conference planning process contracts will need to be executed to secure goods and services for the conference. All contracts must be reviewed and signed by the NODA staff, volunteer leaders are not authorized to enter into contracts on NODA’s behalf. In some cases, institutional billing is required to receive discounted pricing and the host institution my enter into an agreement with NODA but a memorandum of understanding will be drafted first.

Hotel Contracts

The Association Staff will be responsible for securing hotel accommodations options for conference participants. NODA works with a contracting company called, Helm-Briscoe to identify the best rates/deals in the area. Options will be shared with the RCHs prior to signing contracts. Some hotel contracts provide complimentary room nights based on number of rooms nights booked. In cases where complimentary room nights are available rooms will be provided in the following order: Association Staff, RCHs, RC, then Conference Planning Committee. Complimentary rooms are not guaranteed. Approval of charges or changes to hotel agreements must be made by the NODA Association Staff.

Food & Beverage

Keep in mind potential dietary needs. Since most regional conferences take place during Lent or other religious holidays, some of your participants may request accommodations for meals. If you have questions about appropriate alternative options, please contact the NODA Association office. It may be helpful to provide meal tickets to attendees, especially for larger conferences. An example of meal tickets that NODA provides during the annual conference is provided in the appendices.

All hosts MUST be mindful of staying in budget when selecting food options. Work with the Association staff ahead of time if you have any concerns. Please notify them of the tax and service fee at your institution ahead of time to assist with the budget preparation. Meals should not exceed the federal per diem rate for that meal and location.

Budget Management & Reimbursements

All registration will go through the NODA Association Office. Even so, you are still responsible for maintaining your budget.  Make sure that you keep track of how much money is coming in, versus how much money is being spent. Check the Google planning folder for your region’s budget-tracking document as it’s being updated by the Association staff. 

In addition, regular attendance reports will be submitted to all Regional Conference Hosts and Regional Coordinators from the Association Office every Thursday after registration opens. Should you need additional reports beyond the scheduled reports, please contact the office. 

While the Regional Conference Host will be responsible for tracking expenses in the conference budget, however the Association staff must approve all charges over $200.00

Deposits, invoices and other expenses can be paid for in the following manner:

  1. Direct Invoice [Preferred]: NODA is able to directly pay the vendor. Please allow at least 2 weeks for check processing
  2. NODA credit card: Contact the Association Office staff in advance to review how your product/service/invoice may be paid. 
  3. Institutional or Personal reimbursement: You can access the Reimbursement Request form at https://www.nodaweb.org/page/reimbursement_form. You will need to be logged into the NODA website to access the form. Have your receipts scanned and ready to be attached. When you are finished, we’ll take your request and issue you a check. Submitting reimbursements does not guarantee approval, please notify the Association staff prior or immediately after purchase. This method of payment should be used as a last resort and with discretion. 

When submitting any invoices and reimbursements, please be sure to include as much detail as possible and include which line item this should be charged with in your budget and a justification. Example: Supplies for ROLI should be charged to ROLI not general office supplies. We require receipts when processing reimbursement requests. Receipts must be original or scanned original copies directly from the vendor. The more details the better. When possible, we need a copy of the receipt that shows a line-by-line breakdown of what was purchased. NODA purchases should be made separately from personal purchases. We do not accept receipts if any portion of it is cut off, so please make sure that all parts of the receipt are visible, including taxes and tips.

If making a purchase online from a site such as Amazon, we do allow screenshots of the confirmation screen, however, be sure to take a screenshot of the receipt, which includes information about what was purchased. We cannot process reimbursements for institutions and individuals on one form. If some purchases were made by an individual credit card and others were made by an institutional credit card, you must separate these into different reimbursement requests. We ask that you plan accordingly when purchasing items with different cards and recommend separate transactions.

When submitting receipts for reimbursement, vendor address/contact information, detailed breakdown of items purchased, payment date, and zero balance due after payment. Additional documentation should be provided when receipts are lacking the necessary detail. If you need a reimbursement for a lost receipt, please contact the NODA staff for assistance.

All open invoices and reimbursements should be submitted to NODA within 2 weeks following the conference. Any open invoices or reimbursements may not be approved after that time.

Tax Exempt Status

NODA has tax-exempt status in some states but not all states. For information regarding your state and tax-exempt status, please contact the NODA Association office at noda@umn.edu.  NODA is a registered 501(c)3 organization and NODA’s EIN number is 38-2526523.

Conference Operations


  • You must save one educational session for a presentation titled “Leading NODA”. The Regional Coordinator or Association staff member facilitates this session. The Association staff will complete an educational session proposal. 
  • Ensure that all regional publications follow the NODA Publication Guidelines which linked here.  All conference publications are to be approved by the NODA Association Office staff prior to printing and distribution. You must provide at least two weeks for review. 
  • No items may be sold during a NODA conference with the NODA logo, words, or conference logo on it, including vendor/associate members merchandise. 
  • Display or distribute promotions for the upcoming NODA Annual Conference. The NODA Association Office staff will email or send you information/materials ahead of your regional conference. 
  • All conference hosts and conference staff must have active NODA memberships and pay full conference costs with the exception that up to two conference host fees may be waived (board policy).  
  • Undergraduate students do not have to be NODA members but must pay full conference costs. Graduates and professionals must be members in order to receive the member rate at the conference. Professionals and graduates who are not members can receive the professional non-member rate. 
  • All educational session presenters must be registered for the conference.

Registration for Conference Hosts

All conference hosts and conference committee must have an active NODA membership and pay discounted conference costs covering the cost of consumable goods at the conference. The Association staff will provide you with the registration code that will allow you to register with the fee waived.

NODA Guidelines for On-Site Registration at Regional Conferences 

Approval for walk-ins or late registrations must be granted by the Regional Conference Host or NODA Association Staff

  • It is very important that the NODA Association staff is notified of the names, institutions and phone number of any “walk-ins” that are allowed to attend your conference.
  • The NODA Association Office will send you hidden links to the online registration pages, once registration has been closed on the regional conference web page. 
  • Please have a computer available to register walk in registration on-site (computer must have access to the Internet to access the registration page). 
  • The Regional Conference Host or NODA Association staff must approve walk-in registrants. If space (or other accommodations) is not available, you are not required to accept walk-ins.  If space is available at your conference, the guest may enter all registration information online and make payment via a credit card. 
  • To register at a member rate, they must sign into their membership first on the NODA website. Please make sure that your dues are current. If they are not, your registration will be processed at the non-member registration fee. Professionals and Graduate Students must be NODA members.
  • Volunteers are not able to accept check or cash payments on-site. Only NODA Association Staff are able to accept cash or check payments. If a NODA staff member is not on-site for your event, please contact the NODA Association Office, ASAP by calling 1-866-521-6632. If the member arrives after the office closes, please contact the Association staff member you have been working with

Weekly & Final Reports

Each week, starting the week your region’s registration opens, the Association office will send reports to regional conference hosts and the regional conference coordinator. These reports will provide current registration numbers and information you may need for conference planning. You will be emailed a final report template from the NODA Association staff prior to your conference. Please have this completed and returned to NODA 4 weeks after your conference is complete. 

All final reports must be submitted to the Association staff (copy your Regional Coordinator) within 3 weeks following the regional conference. All receipts/invoices, copies of conference materials, and copies of invoices should be included. The staff will email you a template to fill out – this constitutes your “final report.”

Regional Conference Evaluations

Final evaluations are streamlined through the association office. They are regional specific and conference hosts can choose to create questions specific to the conference. An email will be sent before your conference asking for regional specific questions. Specific questions must be submitted to the association office a month before the event to set up on campus labs. The association staff will set up the evaluations and they will be automatically sent to all conference attendees 1-2 days after the conference. Evaluations remain open for one month. After the evaluations close the association office will send a final report to the regional coordinator


All requests for regional conference refunds will be directed to the Association Office and be processed from the Association Office in accordance with the standard NODA policy currently in use. Conference cancellation policies will be included on the conference website and within the conference registration forms.

Educational Sessions, Awards & Evaluations

Educational & Associate Member Highlight Sessions 

  • Application: All Educational Session applications open the same day. The application process is a web-based form and the Association Office creates the content. 
  • Deadline: Applications close approximately 6-8 weeks prior to your event. If a later date is needed for any reason, contact the Association Office. Exceptions may be made on a case by case basis and will not be guaranteed.
  • Reviewing: Regional Conference Committees will use the same process for Educational Session selection as the NODA Annual Conference. Peer reviewers will be selected at the discretion of the Regional Conference Committee. Regional Committees will implement a double-blind review process. Association staff will create a “blinded” educational session submission report for use in the review process using wizehive. All regional conference educational session committees and reviewers will use the included rubric see appendices. The regional conference educational session chair will have access to full submission data (including personal identification). The chair will use this data to make final decisions about accepted education sessions, taking into account various institution types, topics, etc. We highly encourage the regional conference education session chairs to select a team of reviewers beyond the conference committee or regional leadership. If the chair does utilize a team of external educational session reviewers, these reviewers must have presented at a regional or annual conference in the past.  The chair will be responsible for disseminating the documents and setting timelines for feedback. 
  • Timeline and Notification: Each region develops its own timeline and communication strategies for communicating with applicants.  Please keep in mind that you will need to have your final selections and presenters notified and accepted in time to be added to the conference app. A detailed timeline is/will be available in the Regional Conference Host Training Google folder.
  • Number of Sessions: Each region chooses the number of sessions presented and the number of blocks, based on schedule and room capacities. Hosts must ensure that the minimum ed session requirements are met, per the Specific Recommendations for NODA Regional Conferences, previously mentioned in this document
  • Associate Member Highlight Sessions: Associate Member (AM) Highlight Session submissions will be sent for your review. AM Highlight Sessions are sessions that the AM pays to present, usually related to a product or service they provide. AMs must pay the AM conference registration fee in order to present. AM sessions are not required to be a part of the conference. The committee is not obligated to include Highlight Sessions. If more than one highlight session is chosen, do not schedule them during the same time block. These sessions are not reviewed through the ed session review process and should instead be determined by the conference hosts and RC. Hosts are required to inform AMs if their session was accepted or denied. 
  • Required Session: One educational session block must be saved for the “Leading NODA” session. The Regional Coordinator or Association staff will facilitate this session. The Association staff will complete an educational session proposal.
  • Presenter Registration Requirement: All presenters must be registered for the conference. No discounts are provided simply for presenting. Active professional and Graduate members must be logged in to receive the member rate.
  • Showcase Session Selection: There must be a process created prior to the conference to determine the “Regional Showcase Winner.” Contact the Association Office for assistance. See below for details.

Educational Session Evaluations

Evaluations: Educational sessions will be evaluated with a paper form. Please assign a volunteer to pass out evaluations to session attendees and collect them at the end of the session. A sample evaluation is provided see appendices. You may edit it to meet your region’s needs.

Regional Showcase Selection Procedures

The Regional Showcases are the two educational sessions selected from your regional conference as the best sessions based on evaluation feedback. Two presentations will be selected at each Regional Conferences, one presented by a graduate student and/or professional, and another presented by an undergraduate. The Regional Showcase educational session presented by graduates and/or professionals will automatically be accepted to present at the NODA Annual conference the following fall.  Undergraduates will not present at the Annual Conference, but will be honored at the Regional Conference closing brunch/lunch. 

The Regional Coordinator and the Conference Host determine the Regional Showcase winners.  Evaluation forms should be used in selecting the Regional Showcase Sessions. Remember that the graduate/professional session selected may represent your region at the Annual Conference. The selected sessions must be from amongst your region’s active members and cannot be an Associate Member or non-member.

In order to present a Regional Showcase program, the participants must be registered for the Annual Conference. No one is obligated to present at the Annual Conference if chosen. Conference registration, travel, etc. for the Regional Showcase winner will not be covered by the Association Office and is the sole responsibility of the presenter and/or their institution to cover. They must remain an active member in order to retain their spot in the conference program.

In order to ensure the information about your Regional Showcases get to the Annual Conference Host, the Regional Conference Host must complete all of the appropriate information on the final reports provided in this handbook and return it by the appropriate date.

Regional Conference Awards

All regional award forms are online and can be linked to through the NODA website. The following are awarded through regional conferences and only one winner per category, unless noted:

  • Outstanding Graduate Student
  • Outstanding New OTR Professional
  • Outstanding OTR Professional
  • Innovative Program Award (3 awards in O, T, & R)
  • Outstanding Undergraduate Student Leader Award (2 awarded, one for 2-year and one for 4-year)

The Association Office will facilitate the awards submission and selection process in conjunction with the Regional Coordinator. Award applications will open on the same day for all Regions. All applications are due approximately six weeks prior to your regional conference. Names of winners should be given to the Association Office staff four weeks prior to your regional conference. This will allow office staff time to assemble appropriate awards and ship to your conference. When you select your award winners, it is highly encouraged to save a copy of their award nomination information for potential usage during the award ceremony. Winners of the regional awards will automatically be advanced to consideration for the national award.

Risk Management & Emergency Plans 

Make sure to work with your team to review your event risks and inform your Regional Coordinator and NODA Association Office staff of your plan. You will be required to complete and provide the Association Office with a Regional Conference Risk Assessment Worksheet no later than two weeks prior to your conference. This worksheet can been found in the appendices.

Fields of Risk

  • Financial Costs exceeding projections, loss of revenue, unanticipated costs
  • Management – Poor bill repayment, sloppy registration processes, legal
  • Health and Safety – Accidents, crime, social disturbances, unanticipated emergencies
  • Environmental – Energy, waste management, weather disturbances

In addition to On-site (hotel or venue) incidents, consider a discussion on pre or post-event hazards that could occur and affect the people at the event. Post night drinking, road accidents on the way to the event, etc. These are not insurable risks, but they will impact the livelihood of the participants and should be addressed by the organization in some way.

Points of Contact in Crisis

 911 should be the first emergency call number if the wellbeing of any participant, volunteer or staff is at risk. All numbers should be contacted on this list if a high impact risk has occurred. NODA leadership will assess whether an attorney or other UMN personnel needs be contacted (i.e. Assistant Provost or Human Resources). NODA Board and possibly entire membership should be notified of incidence – as defined by NODA leadership. 

In the event that the press needs to be contacted, please notify the NODA Event Coordinator immediately before any contact is made.

Work with leadership to decide if the venue representative needs to report to their leadership (i.e. University President of the institution where the event is being held.)

Crisis Management Tips

  1. Remain Calm
  2. Be vocal. Define the steps you are taking to those inquiring or people affected, and follow up with those you have communicated with on a regular basis
  3. Gather the facts. Separate emotional sentiment from fact and be prepared to describe the details. What has happened? When? Who was involved? Is media or law enforcement present? Are responders on site? 
  4. Refrain from Speculation. Be prepared to validate information you have received.
  5. Choose a spokesperson. A spokesperson should be decided upon when dealing with questions from conference participants and host sites. The Association Staff, specifically the Executive Director, should serve as the spokesperson for the media, law enforcement, membership as a whole, etc. 
  6. Follow-up. Ensure that all constituents have been responded to and have closure when possible, regarding the crisis at hand. Make sure the Association Office is aware of situations that have taken place.

Risk Management Policy

Please be aware of the NODA Risk Management policy, taken directly from the policy manual.


NODA shall practice risk management in all appropriate Association activities and events. Risk management is a deliberate process meant to identify foreseeable risks, determine what levels of risk are acceptable, and to mitigate or eliminate risks where appropriate. Risk assessments shall be conducted for individual programs or activities as part of the planning process. In addition, the Association should undertake a broad periodic risk assessment of all aspects of the Association on a regular basis.  


The Association seeks to eliminate or mitigate risks related to:

  • Health and safety of its members, employees, or participants in Association sponsored events and activities;
  • Legal liabilities related to any associated event or activity;
  • Reputation of the Association;
  • Assets, physical and monetary, belonging to the Association; 
  • External circumstances which may reasonably be foreseen to have potential impact on NODA activities;
  • Any other types of risk that can be reasonably foreseen by Association event and activity planners and managers, staff, and leaders. 


NODA staff shall be responsible for developing risk assessment forms and practices related to individual events and activities to be used by event planners. NODA staff will work with appropriate NODA volunteers, such as conference planning committees, to carry out the risk assessments, and to insure appropriate action and follow up occur. NODA annual conferences and regional conferences must have a document risk assessment on file with the Association staff.  NODA staff shall be responsible for determining whether other NODA events or activities, particularly those with significant foreseeable risk, require a documented risk assessment.

Documentation of risk assessments must be submitted to NODA staff prior to the event or activities start, in compliance with deadlines established by NODA staff, and shall become a part of the records for each event or activity for as long as those records are held. Risk assessment documents shall be housed at the NODA Association office. 

Sponsorship Guidelines

At times, NODA Regional Conference Committees may have the opportunity to enlist outside financial support of conference events or products.  The decision to accept a sponsorship opportunity must be fully grounded in the mission of NODA, the Statement of Ethical Standards, and the core values of the Association with the best interest of the Membership kept foremost in the decision-making process. These opportunities should facilitate NODA’s efforts to support the roles orientation, transition, and retention plays in the lives of new students and/or their families.   

It is up to the conference host’s discretion to accept or not accept a conference sponsorship opportunity. Sponsorship opportunities vary by region. Please contact your Regional Coordinator to understand what your region has historically offered. Sponsorship opportunities could include: ROLI speakers fee waived, free or reduced rate undergraduate entertainment, conference reveal items, etc. 

We encourage you to include NODA Associate Members in the bid process for conference materials.  For contact information of current NODA AMs visit the Associate Member listing on the NODA website.

Local Vendors are always welcome to join the Association as an Associate Member for this privilege.

All sponsorship interests should be referred to the Association Office for consideration and implementation. Only Association Staff can enter into sponsorship agreements on behalf of NODA.

Provision & Use of Alcoholic Beverages – Policy 

This policy outlines appropriate use of alcohol for NODA and should not be considered as a cultural expectation for members. This policy applies to all Association sponsored events (e.g., conferences, workshops, seminars, leadership team gatherings). 


  • Alcohol may be served from a cash-bar only by professional licensed providers – who carry the necessary liability coverage to protect NODA – at Association sponsored events with the approval of the Executive Director. NODA funds may be used to cover the related costs of hosting cash-bars, such as set-up and staffing fees. 
  •  If alcoholic beverages are served at an Association sponsored event, nonalcoholic beverages and food or snacks must also be available. 
  • NODA will not allow the provision of alcoholic beverages at any event where a majority of the attendees are undergraduate students. 
  • Exhibitors, Associate Members, and/or Partners may not provide alcoholic beverages in conjunction with their participation at Association sponsored events without approval of the Executive Director. 
  • In special circumstances with prior approval from the Executive Director, NODA funds may be used to purchase alcoholic beverages. An example of a special circumstance would be NODA hosting a gathering with potential partners or sponsors. 
  • NODA will not accept donations of alcoholic beverages. 
  • NODA will comply with all venue and state law requirements regarding provision of alcohol at Association sponsored events. 


  • References to alcoholic beverage brand names will not be used in naming or sponsorship recognition for any NODA program or service. 
  • The appearance of alcoholic beverage brand names, logos, or trademarks on any mementos, souvenirs, or other items provided in conjunction with an NODA program or service is prohibited. Similarly, the NODA name or logo may not be used on any item that could be associated with the consumption of alcoholic beverages. 
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