Despite the considerable disruption brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, IA's Chapters were remarkably busy throughout 2020. Thanks to steady leadership, ample creativity, and the hard work and decication of scores of volunteers, Chapters delivered to their members more than 75 hours of education and 63+ hours of networking in hosting 55 events. 

If you haven’t been involved with your local Insights Association chapter, you’ve been missing out. Check out what your local chapter was up to during 2020 and reach out to your area contact via the links below or contact our Director of Chapter Engagement Hilary Fischer to learn more about getting involved with your local chapter.

Thanks to all who provided the following highlights and kudos to the volunteers who made each gathering and learning opportunity possible.

Canadian
- Submitted by: Isabelle Landreville, President

What a record year in so many regards! We look back on it with pride as 2020 has been instrumental in setting up our Canadian chapter for great future success. Here are some of the year’s highlights…

We started by creating a balanced, engaged, representative board of forward-thinking Canadian businesspeople who are passionate and agile, and strive to collaborate and propel the insights industry forward. They are:

  • Catie Brooks, Strategy & Insights, McDonald's
  • Joseph Chen, Insights Lead, Chocolate, North America, Mondelez
  • Corrin Harper, President, Insightrix Research
  • Isabelle Landreville, President & Chief Insight Seeker, Sylvestre & Co.
  • Bernie Malinoff, President, element 54
  • Scott Megginson, President, Insights Division, Kantar Canada
  • Raj Manocha, Chief Revenue Officer, Delvinia; President, Methodify
  • Aileen O’Doherty, Head of Customer Insights, Home Depot
  • Alyssa Rodrigo, Director of Insights, AbinBev
  • Lee Vernon, Manager, Commercial Insights and Planning, Metro
  • Catherine Yuile, Executive Vice President, Insights & Analytics, Edelman

Our first order of business was to shape the direction of our association in Canada. Through thought-provoking discussion and collaboration, the Board crafted an inspirational vision statement centered around a mission to empower the Canadian Insights’ industry to create competitive advantage and make intelligent business decisions. Our purpose is now clearly defined; we exist to enable our members to thrive in and shape our evolving industry to drive business impact.

Then, we defined our brand strategy, identifying our three key pillars: Education, Networking and Thought-Leadership.

To build the association in Canada and fuel engagement, we hosted several industry events: The first Canadian CEO Summit of IA’s highly rated series, followed by an industry mixer open to all, and finally our first Conference. Then plans shifted slightly during COVID with a successful webinar “All The Things You Wish Your Partners Knew About Working With You”, and now we have ambitious plans for 2021, starting with a Career Social Connect on April 21, 2021.

Then, we happily welcomed and onboarded four new board members:

  • Dominic Atkinson, Co-founder, Dig Insights, Inc.
  • Zena Khamis Fabri, Manager Insights and Research, Manulife
  • Evans Lyons, Head of Analytics and Data Solutions, Ontario Securities Commission
  • Luke Stringer, Marketing Science Manager, Facebook Canada

Reflective of our progress, in the second half of the year, we worked on obtaining our Chapter status, which we proudly achieved as of December 15, 2020.

Lastly, we would like to thank the following board members for their contribution: Alyssa Rodrigo and Aileen O’Doherty.

2020 has allowed us to craft our vision and establish the fundamentals needed for our future success. IA’s Canadian membership continues to grow! Currently, over 330 Canadians are members of IA, either via Corporate or Individual memberships. We are hopeful that this next year will allow us to truly bring our vision to life. Here’s to 2021! 

Great Lakes
- Submitted by: Lindsay Bach-Moore, President-Elect

The Great Lakes Chapter was able to hold, what they later would find out, the final in-person event in 2020 before the pandemic hit. The GLC hosted its Winter Conference in Miami, Florida in January 2020. The conference kicked off courtside at a Miami Heat game where conference attendees were able to meet and connect. The conference brought approximately 50 insights professionals to beautiful South Beach with a theme heavily focused on diversity – researching minority groups, adapting research techniques appropriately when working with certain populations, navigating multi-faceted diversity in the workplace, and understanding diverse emotions and ways of communicating. Attendees were also introduced to a group of students from Northern Kentucky University who had worked with the GLC’s Diversity & Education committee throughout the year on a project focused on uncovering ways to increase member engagement within the GLC. The students presented their findings and were able to network with conference attendees.

A group of conference attendees enjoy an evening out after a day of presentations.

As 2020 presented us all with new challenges, the GLC board rose to the challenge of adapting all programming to be virtual starting in March. Board activity was excellent throughout the year and our engaged board was able to continue delivering valuable content to our members.

Our board conducted several webinars throughout the year on various topics, ranging from diversity and inclusion, the effects of COVID-19, working from home, call centers, connected data, and more.

With the help of a Q1 grant, the GLC conducted a four-touchpoint design thinking workshop series in October with Brianna Sylver of Sylver Consulting. This event drew 30 engaged participants to learn about design thinking over two weeks and collaborate with the use of Aha!’s online bulletin board platform.

The GLC was awarded another grant in Q3 that will be used to assist the GLC in working with universities’ minority student groups to create more awareness of the market research industry and gain interest in the field. 

Our D&E committee not only worked hard to deliver speakers and content for webinars, but also released the first “GLC Racial Equity Statement” and continued building partnerships with universities and student groups in the Great Lakes footprint.

The GLC is proud to have been able to increase revenue through sponsorships and event attendance through a pandemic year and is looking forward to carrying their passionate energy into 2021.

Greater New York
Submitted by: Dani Rissmeyer, Immediate Past President

The GNY Chapter began 2020 with the intention of hosting a series of in-person events across our geographic footprint. Kicking off the year with a mixer in NYC and followed by our post-Quirks networking event in Brooklyn, we had hopes of hosting future events in New Jersey and Connecticut. Little did we know that time together in Brooklyn would be our last opportunity to connect in person in 2020.

2020 GNY Board at our January Meet the Board Event 

In a collaborative effort, the GNY Board produced a montage video to let our members know we are all in this together. Missing the connection to familiar faces, we began to quickly transition and launched a series of virtual events for our members. These events spanned from webinars about combatting loneliness and sales tactics to networking Happy Hours.

In August, in partnership with NYAAPOR, we hosted a joint webinar presentation about the 2020 election and polling, followed by a networking session. Keeping our focus on the U.S. election, we hosted a webinar which took a deep dive into the state of uncertainty, anxiety and hope in light of the upcoming Presidential election.

Continuing our digital event momentum, we launched a new Inclusion & Diversity Panel series with an energetic and passionate roundtable discussion. This is an effort we will look to continue in 2021.


GNY board video to members.

Next, we celebrated the start of the holiday season with our charity Friendsgiving event. This included a virtual cooking class and donations made to benefit families, farmers, and restaurants struggling with the effects of COVID.

Last, but not least, we transformed our annual Holiday Party into a Virtual Gala with prizes for best dressed and best virtual background, along with fun games and big prizes donated by our generous sponsors.

Despite our hurdles in 2020, we are proud that we were able to produce a calendar full of events to engage, network, learn and connect us virtually!

New England
- Submitted by: Elizabeth Wilson, President  

The New England chapter started the year with 232 members and ended it with 370! We’re thrilled that in 2020 our membership grew by 59%. 

We celebrated the beginning of 2020 by reconnecting with old colleagues and meeting new ones at the Central Wharf during our winter holiday party. Together, we enjoyed hors d'oeuvres, drinks, a spirited trivia challenge, and a hopeful outlook on the new year. Little did we know that this would be the only time we’d meet in person in 2020 due to the global pandemic.

With hope and resiliency, we shifted our efforts online and were able to deliver a range of virtual events focused on:

  • Inspiration and Support: Our Virtual Research Rendezvous brought members together in a QualBoard to discuss the professional challenges they were experiencing because of Covid-19 and share their solutions. We also heard from Trent Theroux, a motivational speaker and leadership trainer who provided tips on how to strengthen one’s professional and personal resiliency in a challenging time.


    Trent Theroux brought some levity in “Resiliency is a Reflex”

  • Education: We offered scholarships to Research Rockstar, giving our members the chance to win access to online market research training courses.  We also partnered with Research Rockstar to provide a multi-day workshop – “What every Market Research & Insights Professional Needs to Know about Data Sources in 2020”. 
     
  • Job Seeking: Our “Diving for Pearls” event brought together Jewel Ascano (Monster Worldwide), Julio Franco (Zappi) and Susan Lustig (The FORUM Group) to share their thoughts on how to best navigate the current market and how to network in the new, virtual world.

    Jewel Ascano (Monster Worldwide), Julio Franco (Zappi) and Susan Lustig (The FORUM Group) participated in a job search panel, expertly moderated by Steve Lonergan (Dynata)
     

  • Current Events: Shortly after the election, we were lucky to meet with David Paleologos, director of the Suffolk University Political Research Center for a “Post-Mortem on the Presidential Election Polling”. David showed us how the Suffolk University Bellwether Model had accurately predicted the election results, and gave us some insight into what happened with other pre-election polls.
     
  • Networking: We had two virtual parties, both complete with tasty treats, entertainment, and prizes. At our summer party, with umbrella drinks in hand, Jane Mount challenged us to trivia with a regional and industry slant. For our holiday party, we came together with our ugly sweaters and holiday-inspired cocktails and played Name that Tune.

Thanks to our sponsors – Prodege, Dynata and InCrowd – we were able to offer our virtual events for free.  

In 2020, we also strengthened our relationship with QRCA by welcoming their members to our events and inviting our members to join in on their programming.

We’re hopeful that in 2021 we can continue to grow our membership, offer impactful online events, and finally see some of our new and returning members in person. We’re optimistic that we’ll be able move ahead with an in-person conference at District Hall in downtown Boston, where we will get the chance to reconnect and hear from an inspiring lineup of speakers.

Northwest
- Submitted by: Rebecca Elmore-Yalch, Immediate Past President

There is no doubt that most of us would like to see some or all of 2020 in the rearview mirror. But for the Northwest Chapter, 2020 proved to be a pretty darn good year and we have most definitely learned a lot, leaving us poised for a great 2021.

We started the year with a very strong board, and we focused on building a committee structure to support our strategic goals and plans. We had a couple of great events—including a well-attended and fun bowling night in Portland—remember bowling?—and attendance at the Southwest Chapter Annual Conference—remember flying, hotels, casinos? Many of the Northwest members attended and lots happened in Vegas, but we sure didn’t stay there. About two to three weeks later, COVID hit. Being in the Northwest, most of our members live and do business in states that initiated and have maintained very strict stay-at-home guidelines to reduce the spread of COVID.

Like everyone, we were surprised. We quickly pivoted and settled on hosting regular, chapter-wide virtual events—naming them Talking Tuesdays. Our first three events—April through June—were a mix of education and fun. We had three great panels that looked at what immediate impacts everyone was feeling and how they were responding. Our second panel focused on business impacts and responses. Our final panel focused on where we thought this might be headed. Every event included a Quarantini Happy Hour where we were all able to meet attendees from far and wide. More than 30 people attended our first event and attendance grew to over 50 by the time we took a summer break.

Talking Tuesdays were a big hit throughout the year!

We then focused on how we would handle our signature Fall Educational Summit. We settled on hosting the summit across four afternoons, two consecutive weeks. Every day had a specific focus and included panel presentations and hands-on workshops. Industry leaders from research and client companies participated on the panels. Our Equity and Inclusion Day was co-sponsored with QRCA. The Northwest Chapter received a Special Project Grant of $750 to support technology for the workshop. We settled on using Accelevants as a virtual platform to host the summit, allowing our sponsors and presenters a different way to exhibit and attendees more opportunities for networking.

We rounded out the year with a virtual holiday party. The highlight of the event was a presentation to our Chapter Volunteer of the Decade: Brian Fowler. A close second was a lively game of trivia.

We learned a lot from all of this. We learned that virtual events will definitely be part of our future. There are no geographic constraints, and they provided an opportunity to learn from and meet with people from virtually (pun intended) everywhere. We learned where to make investments in technology and when it didn’t work so well. And we learned different ways to communicate. We are looking forward to 2021 where we can build on our 2020 success as well as returning to some in-person events.

Philadelphia
- Submitted by: Liz Granahan, President

Wow! 2020! The Philadelphia Chapter started the year off with a board meeting full of grand plans, but COVID certainly changed or delayed many of them. Looking back, the board came together when possible and created some fun, virtual events.

In February, our board’s Immediate Past President, Caroline Volpe, and President, Jim Thompson, travelled to Las Vegas for Leadership Training. So much was gained from collaborating with other Chapter presidents and learning the challenges and successes other chapters face.

In June, we hosted our 3rd annual joint conference with the Philadelphia QRCA Chapter. This one-day, virtual conference ran for four hours and was entitled Walking on the Wild Side: Advancing Qualitative Research through Technology. Engaging speakers, networking and a partnership between our two chapters helped make this conference a success. In lieu of registration fees, we raised $1,151 for No Kid Hungry, surpassing our goal of $1,000! Thanks to the Philly QRCA chapter for helping make this happen.

To celebrate the end of the year, we hosted an online virtual escape room that was a big hit. Attendees worked together to solve the Mystery of John Smith through a number of challenging puzzles. Competition and teamwork fueled the event, making a creative online experience for all. At the end, we all came together and solved the mystery! 

Attendees of our virtual escape room after winning the challenge! From left to right: Caroline Volpe & daughter (Compass Market Research), our host, Brian Livell (Big Sofa Technologies), Rick Eisenberg (MSG), Hilary Fischer (IA), Laurie Shapiro (SHG), Jim Thompson (Temple), Victoria Waldman (Big Sofa Technologies), Lyndsay Sund (SyncScript), Meghan Surdenas (SyncScript), Trish Ellis (SyncScript), Ileen Branderbit (Schlesinger Group), Liz Granahan & daughter (SyncScript), Jamie Katzenstein (Schlesinger Group), Will Bruechert (C&C Market Research).

In 2020, we welcomed new members and worked together to navigate the changing landscape of business.  We certainly missed seeing each other in person, but we found new ways to come together, learn and have fun.

Thanks to our members who stepped down from the board at the end of 2020. While we are sad to see you go, we appreciate all you helped accomplish and thank you for your time and dedication: Caroline Volpe (Compass Market Research), Maleica Grant (Schlesinger Group), Rick Eisenberg (MSG), Jason Saylor (Maximum Research), Laurie Shapiro (SHG), and Angie Pack (Askia).

2021 brings returning and new board members and lots of opportunities!

Southern California
- Submitted by: Kim Atkins, Immediate Past President   

What a YEAR!!Despite the bombardment of lemons thrown at us throughout 2020, our SoCal insights community still managed to make lemonade (and maybe a few lemon drops?) through positive contributions to our members.

  • We started off the year with our continued partnership with the Southwest Chapter to sponsor, promote and participate in the Las Vegas Combined Chapter conference, providing the last 2020 opportunity for in-person networking and education for most attendees. 
     
  • We pivoted to virtual and had our first Zoom Chapter “mixer” on May 19th, where we had a bartender demonstrate how to make a “quarantini,” and then we followed with an educational webinar: Insights on How Companies and Consumers are Adapting to Life During COVID-19

  • We continued and expanded our Speaker Taskforce to provide insights professionals with speaking opportunities at the weekly club meetings of the Cal Poly Pomona Analytics and Marketing Insights Club (CPP AMI). Our speaker lineup also helped promote the Insights Association: Art Flanagan spoke to the students about the advantages of membership in IA, and on a separate occasion, Kim Atkins spoke to the students about the advantages of Chapter membership and participation in Chapter events and activities. Through this outreach, and through the alliance with Professor Jae Min Jung and Club President Patrick Ogaz, we now have over 30 student members from CPP.
     
  • We developed our Diversity and Inclusion Taskforce, which includes board members and Chapter Volunteers. This taskforce has planned a series of webinars to explore challenges to inclusion, and promote diversity within, our SoCal Insights Community.  The first in our “Spotlight Series” webinars was held on November 24, focusing on the path from student to young professional, and showcased the diversity of current undergrad students, and highlighted challenges to their career journeys.


     

  • We cross promoted CPP AMI club education opportunities to our members and had a successful partnership with the student club leadership (and helped at least one grad get hired within a local firm).
     
  • We also continued our endeavors to grow our membership through 1) having volunteer Corporate Ambassadors assuring all employees were included in the roster, and 2) actively encouraging students to take advantage of the free IA membership. We grew our membership from 337 at the beginning of 2020 to 536 at the end of the year. Not bad for a pandemic year!
     
  • We were thrilled to be awarded recognition from National twice in 2020:
    •  Q1-20 Special Project Grant for our Young-Professional Leadership/Members of Tomorrow Program--$500 incentive grant for providing speakers to CPP AMI student club. 
    • Chapter of the Year 2019—What an honor for us this was, and we were thrilled to have all the dedicated efforts of rebuilding a Chapter recognized.

We’re hopeful that 2021 will find us back to in-person networking, but we feel like we have navigated the lemonade stand really well!

Southwest
- Submitted by: Ellen Pieper, Immediate Past President

I am incredibly proud of everything we accomplished in the Southwest Chapter this year. Despite everything thrown at us, we pivoted, persevered, and prevailed!

We were lucky enough to sneak in our 34th Annual “Double Down on Insights” Las Vegas Conference at the Park MGM at the end of February, just before COVID hit. We co-hosted the event with the Northwest, Southern California, and Southeast chapters. We had two great networking receptions and some phenomenal speakers, including a keynote by Jamin Brazil, a brief introduction from IA CEO Melanie Courtright, and speakers from Facebook, Twitter, Experian, and Del Taco, among others. Given that we all love data, I’ll share that it was our highest-rated event ever!

We also held our annual charity raffle in Las Vegas. In 2020, it benefited the National MS Society and we sold $3,000 in tickets. John Zarrella and the Research Results team graciously matched everything we raised, so we ultimately were able to make a SIX THOUSAND DOLLAR donation, nearly 4x the amount we normally raise!

Board in Las Vegas before the world shut down: Bottom Row: Chris Connolly, The Logit Group; Greg Carter, Consumer Opinion Services, Inc.; Leslie Willis, Panasonic; Lisa Hazen, Nuance; Bethany Moffett, Delvinia; Julie Landers, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Texas; Jami Pulley, Veridata Insights / Top Row: Nancy Hernon, G3 Translate; Ellen Pieper, Research Results, Inc.; Nick Bambick, Sonic Drive-In; Alice Butler, M/A/R/C Research; Jeb Bullis, Voxco. 

We continued to host our quarterly webinar series throughout 2020 thanks to the generosity of our annual sponsors. We also added a virtual networking event during the summer, and a great time was had by all as we were feeling the effects of quarantine and it was nice to see each other’s faces.

We pivoted our annual Educational Forum to a virtual event this year. We had a bingo night, an avocado cookoff, and a wonderful lineup of speakers - including Heather Younger, whose TED Talk was shared followed by a Q&A on the topic of Transforming Adversity into Opportunity. We had over 100 people register, and event reviews were incredibly positive. 

Virtual Education Forum Bingo networking event.

Knowing what a difficult year this was for many of our members, we looked for ways to assist and give back. In our quarterly Cactus Call Newsletters, we began curating job postings and highlighting our members who were looking for work. And at the end of the year, we all voted on a charity and were able to donate $500 to “No Kid Hungry” on behalf of the Southwest Chapter and our members.

We want to take a moment to thank all of our wonderful board members and volunteers. We couldn’t continue to do what we do without them! Going into 2021, we have an amazing board that includes four new Directors at Large: Kelly Kitchens (ProdegeMR), Ari Zelmanow (Panasonic), Stephanie Napolitano (Consumer Opinion Services), and Joseph Wylie (Precision Sample). Despite the challenges of 2020, we had more interest in joining the board this year than ever before!

In March 2021 we will be hosting our 35th annual Las Vegas event, and this time it will be all-digital. Please consider joining us for “Virtual Vegas… Be There or V2”! Our fundraiser this year will benefit Three Square, the Las Vegas area's largest hunger-relief organization. We are looking forward to a time we will all be able to get together in person again! 

Upper Midwest
- Submitted by: Cathy Latham, President

As the newly elected president of the Upper Midwest Chapter, I would like to take the opportunity to introduce myself and welcome everyone to 2021.

I am an opinion researcher with the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency I am a longtime volunteer with the Upper Midwest Chapter before I was an officer. I live in Hudson, Wisconsin, just over the Minnesota border and like everyone I have been looking around my house and yard and seeing all kinds of things that needed doing. My kids and I put in a patio and new shade gardens and spruced up the house. We also took our rambunctious dog to every park in St Croix County this summer. I am really looking forward accomplishing great things this year with my fabulous board.

Like all chapters, the Upper Midwest Chapter had to do a hard pivot this year from our usual fun, in-person events to webinars. While learning how to operate in the virtual world, we were still able to provide great learning events for our members and members from across the country. Our presenters did a great job adapting to our new format.  We would like to thank those individuals and companies who so graciously shared their time and knowledge with us in 2020:

  • Learn about UX Research joint event with QRCA
  • Alex Leger and Craig Dormanen Market Cube - Fighting Bad Data - Technology Game Changers They outlined both the good and bad news regarding how technology is being used to attack and protect your online survey data.
  • Joan Naymark MACS 2020 and Howard Fienberg Insights Association - Why is the 2020 Census at risk and why should we care? The Constitution of the United States chose population to be the basis for sharing political power, not wealth or land. The webinar illustrated the multiple used of the Census data.
  • Rob Daves; Principal, Daves and Associates Research - Election polling: What we’ve learned from the 2016 presidential polls carries some cautions – and reassurances – for the 2020 pre-election polls. We reviewed the accuracy of the 2016 national polls and looked through the data lens to view quality of the 2020 pre-election polls. 
  • Rob Berger and Andrew Grenville with MARU/Blue - Can We Count on You? Assessing Reliability and Validity of Panels Around the World. The presentation measured the test-retest reliability and criterion validity of 30 panels in this 14-nation whirlwind tour of how research can go terribly wrong and how it can be refreshingly right.

We worked hard to bring new members to our 2021 board and are very glad to welcome five new board members. We are planning some wonderful events for 2021 and hope to have events in person by the end of the year to reconnect with everyone. It will be a great party!

We will be kicking off our 2021 calendar with a Feb 17 webinar which will offer a deep dive into Narrative Research. Tom Pearson of MarketResponse will be sharing a fascinating case study to illustrate real world application of this technique.