connections conference news

March 2017
Vol. 16, Number 2

Management News
Conference News
Chapter News
Committee News
SIG News
Member News

Congratulations to the 2017 QRCA Award Winners!

QRCA congratulates the 2017 award winners recognized at the annual conference in Los Angeles.

Susan Sweet

Congratulations to the 2017 Maryanne Pflug Spirit Award Winner Susan Sweet!

The Maryanne Pflug Spirit Award upholds and celebrates QRCA’s cultural heritage of member collegiality and commitment to the organization.

Susan Sweet, former board member and committee leader, was recognized by nominators for her “fresh, young energy...when the association tries to settle into status quo”; giving a committee “life...when it starts to slog”... and her embodiment of ”Maryanne's qualities of friendliness, passion, and unconditional positive regard for all.”

Lynn Greenberg

Congratulations to the 2017 President's Award Winner Lynn Greenberg!

The President’s Award is given to a volunteer member for exemplary service and dedication to QRCA. It recognizes contributions within the past year and/or during a career/lifetime of work.

Lynn Greenberg has served as president, was the first annual conference chair, and currently leads the Sponsorship Committee.

Among her nominators, Lynn was described as ”An Olympic-class collaborator...a dynamo... an inspiration who constantly keeps growing, learning, re-inventing...and a powerhouse of energy...”

Tory Gentes

Congratulations to the 2017 Qually Award Winner Tory Gentes!

The QRCA Qualitative Excellence Award is the premiere award in the industry, awarded annually to a practitioner or practitioners who exhibit a mastery of qualitative methodology and thinking.

In past years, this award was presented for a previously executed project. This year, the award was based on the best response to an RFP for a hypothetical client.
Submissions were made by QRCA members and voted on by QRCA members.
Tory was recognized for her creative and innovative proposal addressing transportation challenges in California and received a prize of $1,000 USD and a trophy.

Anya Zadrozny

Congratulations to the 2017 Rising Star Award Winner Anya Zadrozny!

Introduced in 2009, this award recognizes QRCA’s newer, younger members for their leadership and contributions to QRCA.

When presenting the award to Anya, QRCA president Manny Schrager noted her many achievements, including a significant contribution to several committees, “Anya is super talented and an ‘overachiever’ for QRCA, including producing a video that communicated the new QRCA brand position, and coordinating videos that will be used to promote QRCA in the future.”

Anya is a past Young Professional Grant winner and is an active Marketing Committee member.

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2017 Maryanne Pflug Spirit Award Winner: Susan Sweet!

Marta Villanueva,

It was an honor to present the Maryanne Pflug Spirit Award to Susan Sweet. This award upholds and celebrates the QRCA cultural heritage of collegial commitment, and honors the memory of Maryanne Pflug and her many contributions.

Susan exudes the qualities and characteristics Maryanne Pflug embodied: friendliness, creativity, commitment to QRCA, leadership, optimism, humor, mentorship, a passion for life, and unconditional positive regard for all.

Some of the comments from colleagues about our “sweet” Susan in support of her nomination included:

  • “When the association tries to settle into status quo, she pushes for fresh, young energy. When a committee starts to slog, she gives it life. I can't help but like her and want to be on every committee she's on. I'm not sure if Maryanne knew her, but I'm quite sure she would have hustled her to the bar to share a drink at the first opportunity...”
  • Her enthusiasm and passion are infectious. I have served with her on the board of directors and have seen her in action at multiple worldwide conferences: she energizes the room!”
  • “Someone who embodies all that is right with the QRCA. She's worked in the business from a variety of angles and brings that to the empathic way...she deals with everyone in our industry. Also, she's ridiculously fun and can navigate a bourbon list like no tomorrow.”

Susan could not hold back tears while receiving the infamous Maryanne Pflug Spirit Award trophy, a HUGE martini glass, in honor of Maryanne’s favorite drink.

Congratulations, Susan, on receiving the 2017 QRCA Maryanne Pflug Spirit Award! And thank you for your passion and leadership on behalf of QRCA and its members!

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“A Wild and Precious Perspective on Listening”

Jane Pepe,

Teen Press

The description of the film Teen Press at a local film festival was intriguing:

“When revolutions are at hand, be they cultural, technological or political, the change-makers often come in surprising shapes and sizes. Teen Press introduces us to eight fairly typical middle school kids doing something remarkable. Inspired by a charismatic teacher, they are learning the ins-and-outs of journalism, and focusing their inquiry on what kind of world they will be inheriting.”

Along with the film, teacher John Boettner and some of his students attended the festival.

The relevance and impact was immediate and powerful: A story about students learning and practicing the principles and skills of qualitative research and, in the process, becoming confident, thoughtful, respectful young people.

Fast forward to the 2017 QRCA Annual Conference. Teen Press, along with a presentation from John, and a Q&A with two of his students, was the keynote session.

Teen Press was created in the Santa Barbara Middle School, by two teachers whose vision was to teach young people how to find and elicit stories, discover what others had to say, and how to listen.

Teen Press believes a successful interview is the result of knowing their subject, establishing a connection, and demonstrating care.

Students learn how to research their subjects, write and practice questions, listen for answers and develop follow-ups. They learn to master a proper introduction, a handshake and direct eye contact.

First interviews were with well-known entertainment personalities. The scope widened to include people in business, government and beyond. What started as one or two questions for film actors on the red carpet evolved into hour-long in-depth interviews with people from all walks of life, conducted by eleven and twelve-year-olds.

Following John’s presentation, the film highlighted the importance of:

  • Asking questions that make people human.
  • Recognizing that a long pause is part of the answer.
  • Using shared experiences.
  • Keeping in mind the interaction is less an interview and more a conversation.
  • Being present in the moment of storytelling.
  • Remembering that listening is about sincerity and a desire to connect.

In a follow-up heartfelt email, John voiced his appreciation for the opportunity to be part of the conference:

“I can’t begin to thank you for inviting Teen Press to your conference. What at first seemed rather strange matchmaking became heavenly alignment for the kids and me. I have so many stories that I have told of your conference since. Words [that] have found their way to my mailbox...continue to convince me that Teen Press provides inspiration and a path towards more of us looking up and connecting in meaningful ways...”

Many of the Teen Press interviews are posted on YouTube.

To learn about Teen Press, visit, and contact John Boettner, Chief Enchantment Officer

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