Vince L. Rodriguez: ‘I Like to Challenge Myself to Continue to Learn and Grow’

Job Role: Director, Member Meetings & Conferences

Department: Education, Training and Events

Tell us a bit about yourself. How would your friends and family describe you? What are you passionate about?

Vince Rodriguez

Friends and family describe me as gregarious, friendly and nice. A former colleague described me as the “Tom Hanks” of conference and meeting planning and development profession, after the program that I was directing at the National Minority AIDS Council won the Best Education Program Award on consecutive years. Being a fan of the actor and his work, I took it as a compliment. 

I thoroughly enjoy meeting and getting to know people, which is why I’m passionate about traveling the world.  I have been fortunate to visit and spend time in 32 countries and always find that we, human beings, have more in common than separates us.  Hence my passion for social justice, inclusion and equity. Anyone who knows me well knows that I’m also passionate about the performing and visual arts, my spouse, family and friends.

Describe your career at NRECA. What is the core function of your current role, and how does it support the mission of the organization?

I started my career at NRECA in January 2008, as the program manager for the Tax, Finance and Accounting Conference for Cooperatives (TFACC).  In less than a year, I added NRECA’s conference dedicated to cooperative communicators (known as the Connect Conference) and the administration of a communications certification program (the Certified Cooperative Communicator program) to my scope of work. During my tenure, I have served as program manager for a series of conferences including the Interact Conference (formerly known as the Human Resources Conference), the Legal Seminar and the Safety Leadership Summit, and assisted in the management of the Directors Conference. 

The core function of my current role is to oversee the design, development, production and execution of multiple NRECA conference and events including NRECA’s PowerXchange, Regional Meetings and all staff-level conferences (except the CEO Close-Up, Directors Conference, G&T Legal Seminar and Interact Conference). 

What drives you professionally, and what do you feel are the keys to professional success?

I’ve always been driven by excellence. I strive to do my best with every position I’ve held.  I enjoy learning new ways of getting the work done.  I don’t enjoy being stagnant and doing something the same way because ‘we’ve always done it this way.’  I like to challenge myself to continue to learn and grow.  I am driven by seeing ideas become conferences that provide members with the knowledge, skills and competencies they need to succeed.

In my opinion, innovation, adaptability, lifelong learning, emotional intelligence and collaboration are the keys to professional success. 

What inspires you?

I’m inspired by seeing ideas, thoughts and plans become programs, services and products that meet human needs; professionally and personally.  Additionally, I’m inspired by kindness, unselfishness, politeness, acceptance, inclusion, diversity, empathy, gentleness, understanding and confidence. In other words, by seeing individuals reach their highest and full potential and become the best version of themselves…and then pay it forward.

What brought you to NRECA?

After working on government and private-sector grants for a couple of decades, I was looking for a position that was fully funded and not dependent on political administrations’ and private-sector priorities.  I was looking for a position where I wasn’t writing grants to keep me and my staff employed.

What keeps you at NRECA? What is your favorite thing about your job and NRECA as an organization?

I’ve been recruited away from NRECA twice, first to the National Association for Home Care and Hospice and then to the Council on Foundations. While both organizations provided good professional opportunities, I didn’t feel their organizational cultures played to my strengths. I voluntarily left after two years and 18 months, respectively and started looking for new professional ventures. I was very pleased to learn of opportunities back in the Education, Training and Events department at NRECA and humbled to be given several chances to return. 

One of things I like most about my job is the collaborative nature of it.  Developing professional education conferences is not a solitary activity.  It is a collaborative effort that requires many individuals to bring their best to the project to consistently deliver educational experiences that meet or exceed members expectations. 

One of the greatest, if not the greatest, asset any organization has is its staff. NRECA attracts some of the most dedicated, professional, and yet, friendly staff I have had the pleasure to work with. It also offers outstanding benefits, some of which are no longer offered by most employers.   

If you had a piece of advice for someone who was just entering into the job market, or starting a job search, what would it be?

Do your best in all that you do and be open to and embrace change and lifelong learning.  

Is there anything else you would like to share?

I am proud and grateful to be working for an organization that is committed to diversity, inclusion and equity and has invested treasure, time and talents of many throughout the enterprise to ensure that every employee brings their full selves to work. 

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