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 Southwest Conference    
  Quick Look  
2015 Super Regional Conferences 2020 2014
2012 List of conference cities 2006
2011 2008 2005
2010 2007 2004
2009 2016 2003
  2018 - Cincinnati  

Conference Cities

2002 New Mexico
2003 Houston
2004 Austin
2005 Fort Worth
2006 Oklahoma
2007 San Antonio
2008 Baton Rouge
2009 Dallas
2010 Rio Grande Valley
2011 Skipped because of fall 2010 international in US
2012 Kansas 
2013 Skipped because of fall 2013 international in US
2014 New Mexico
2015 Houston
2016 Austin
2017 Skipped; officers meeting only
2018 Cincinnati - Super Regional Conference

There was not a Southwest Regional conference in 2013 as the International Conference is in the United States. Regional meetings or social events for US club members were held in New Orleans on the afternoon of Friday November 22. This was our opportunity for our regional clubs to meet. Our Field Rep,Bob Duncan from Baton Rouge, hosted our event. Bob is at [email protected].

There was no Conference scheduled for 2017.
Conferences are now held with several regions participating.


Western Regional Super Conference
May 21-23, 2020
Shiloh Inn Portland Airport. 11707 NE Airport Way. Portland, OR 97220
Call 503-252-7500 for Reservations (Mention Friendship Force for special rate)
Hosted by the Friendship Force of Lower Columbia.
Cost: Fee if paid by February 15, 2020 - $ 150
Fee if paid between Feb. 16 and April 15 - $ 175
Gala Dinner (not included in registration) - $ 55
Journey # 20353
Participating clubs from the Pacific Northwest, Northern Rockies, Rocky Mountain, West Coast, and Western Canada Regions.
All Friendship Force members are invited.
Contact:Yvonne Pecha - [email protected]
125 spaces

Thursday, May 21st - 1:00 pm
Registration 3:00 pm
President’s Meeting 7:00 pm
Welcome Reception
Friday, May 22nd 9:00 am – 5:00 pm Conference Panel discussions; workshops
6:00 pm Gala Dinner. Presentations by Friendship Force International Staff
Saturday, May 23rd 9:00 am - 4 pm Conference workshops, and wrap up
Participate in fun, stimulating workshops for all members whether you are a new member, club leader, journey coordinator or just an enthusiastic member. Topics include New Member Q and A, Planning Global Journeys, Building Memberships, Future Planning, Vetting Ambassadors, Websites and much more.


Super Regional Conference for the Midwest,Southwest and Great Lakes Regions
The regional conferences are held every other year, alternating with the International Conference.

September 18 - 20, 2020

From edward perez, FF SW Field Rep

With regret and after much thoughtful consideration and planning of an excellent program, the Board of FF MN/Twin Cities, hosts for this conference, has decided to withdraw from hosting and to cancel their contract with Embassy Suites, thus CANCELING THE 2020 CONFERENCE. They do this on the grounds that recruitment of attendees should be happening now and it's impossible to do so responsibly with so much uncertainty around health and safety. Neither FF MN/Twin Cities nor Embassy Suites can guarantee at this time what the status of things will be in September. Plans for a future Regional Conference in 2021 or 2022 will be provided when available.

1) Conference registration - It's my understanding that no registration fees should have been paid to FF MN/Twin Cities. If you have paid a registration fee and it has not been refunded, contact  Rita Mays at [email protected].

2) Hotel registration - If a hotel booking was made, a confirmation should have been emailed to the registrant and from that, the reservation should be changed to 'cancel'. Doing this should also cancel the credit card information given to hold the reservation. OR, call Embassy Suites by Hilton directly at (612) 351-2554.

3) Of course, the pre-conference Explore Duluth and Minnesota’s Scenic North Shore for 9/14-17 is also canceled.

I would like to recognize and thank Rita Mays from FF MN/Twin Cities for her outstanding planning and leadership on this program, supported by chapter president Jane Bardon and others. Additionally, input was given by Dale Moore (Field Rep for the Midwest Region) and Karen Vingiello and Edward Perez (Field
Reps for the Southwest Region), Judy Hornsby of FF of Greater Cincinnati and Allison Lindsey of FF International.

Lastly, I would like to recognize and thank Great Lakes regional representatives Julie Vann (FF of Dayton) and Sonia Derge and Mimi Gingold (FF of Greater Cincinnati) who had agreed to be speakers at the conference.


2018 Super Conference

This meeting was held in Cincinnati, OH - April 20-22, 2018 and replaced our Southwest Conference.    

It included three provinces:  

Felicity Sentance reports:

I attended this conference for the Great Lakes, Midwest and Southwest clubs held in Cincinnati, April 20 – 21. There were about 105 attendees from all areas together with Allison Lindsey, Senior Regional Support Manager, from FFI.

Aside from all the social interaction – one can’t do without that at one of our conferences – there were breakout sessions on topics such as ‘Moving FFI into the future’, ‘Marketing Friendship Force in the 21st Century’ and ‘Strategic Planning’.

Prior to the conference I went to Dayton, Ohio for a really interesting 4 night homestay. Apart from learning about the Wright brothers, Orville and Wilbur (Orville was the snappy dresser, by the way), I discovered the soda and beer can tabs and the electric starter were invented in Dayton.

If you haven’t been to one of the conferences, Regional or International, I recommend attending.


2016 - Austin

The 2016 SW Conference was held in Austin TX - April 1-3, 2016.

Linda Buehlmann was Registration Chair.


The Conference was held at the Wyndham Garden Hotel, just south of downtown Austin. The Conference was attended by Dallas members Julia Cooper, Felicity Sentance, Mary and Lee Latham, Paula Rose, edward perez, Sharri McIntosh, Ray Enstam, Isabella Iverson and Mary Williams.

Thanks to the planners, volunteers, speakers and Hospitality Committee who made this conference a success. The Silent Auction gave everyone a chance to share their world collections and raise money for Austin.

Laurie Ann Scott, consultant and former staff member of FFI, was the major speaker on "How Do We Select Ambassadors for Exchanges?"

Workshops were on the topics of Member Retention, the Albuquerque Pueblo Exchange for 2017, Colombia, Best Asian cities, and Living in China and others.

Tom Garza (left), professor at University of Texas Austin spoke on Vladimir Putin and the impact of his policies in Russia and neighboring countries.

Kay Binder (right) from Austin is our new Field Rep for our Southwest region.

This was followed by several interesting workshops.

The banquet on Saturday evening featured a local band and dancing. Paula Rose and edward perez enjoyed it.

On Sunday tours were offered, led by Austin members. Shown here is Sally Scott from Austin at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.


Conference Sessions

Friday, April 1

8:00 - 9:00 pm Presidents' Meeting - John Heard, SW Regional Representative

Saturday, April 2

9:00 - 9:30 am Opening Session - Kay Binder - our new Field Rep

9:30 - 10:15 am Keynote Speaker - Dr. Tom Garza - Putin's Russia

10:45 - 11:30 am Morning Breakout Sessions:
Wendell Harwell - Living in China
Lynn & Susan Harrington, Kathy Smith - Attracting & Retaining Membership
Lenore Pardee - Themed Exchanges: Ancestral & Contemporary Pueblo Cultures

2:00 - 2:45 pm Laurie Ann Scott - Who Goes? Who Hosts? Who Vets?

3:30 - 4:30 pm Afternoon Breakout Sessions:
John Heard - Colombia - Drugs, War & Peace -
John Wood - Sights, Senses, Sounds - From Sapporo to Hobart, from Mumbai to Christchurch -
Barton Creek Room

6:00 pm - Buffet Dinner & Dancing - Entertainment & Dancing provided by SOUTHTOWN, a San Antonio Central Texas band.

Sunday, April 3

7:30 am - Birding Field Trip - Joseph Hunt
11:00 am - Lady Bird Johnson Wild flower Center - Sally Scott
11:00 am - LBJ Library - Randi Carter


2015 - Houston

The last Southwest Friendship Force Conference was hosted by the Houston club on March 27 - 29, 2015 at the South Shore Harbor Resort and Marina on Clear Lake.

Friendship Force members from nine clubs met for our almost-annual get together for exchange of ideas, inspiration and fun. Attending from Dallas were our president, Felicity Sentance, Paula Rose and edward perez, Isabella Iverson and Gerry Arens, Mary and Lee Latham, Pat Andeweg, Dale Klosterman, Sharri McIntosh, Patty Neimeyer and Mary Williams.

FFI Respresentative Ana Smulski spoke at general sessions on what's new at FFI and on progess on the strategic plan adopted recently. Cinda Clark from Northern Colorado Club and Field Rep for that region presented a workshop for Exchange Directors.  

Charles Bennett from the Baton Rouge club was awarded the Wayne Smith Service Medal for his volunteer efforts with his club.

Cinda Clark, Baton Rouge President Keith Corkern, Frances Bennett (a previous recipient) and Charles Bennett

Isabella Iverson and Gerry Arens presented their slides from Morocco in anticipation of the 2016 International Conference in Marrakech.

Isabella Iverson, Felicity Sentance, Patty Niemeyer, Gerry Arens and Oklahoma delegates

With the conference held on Clear Lake, south of Houston, the final banquet was a dinner cruise on a beautiful evening.

Astronaut and shuttle pilot Jim Weatherbee was the guest speaker and showed interesting photos and stories about the space program. 

Of special interest was the session on Special and Themed Exchanges. Geneva Hancock explained how the Oklahoma, Kansas and Nebraska clubs developed and implemented a themed program "Taming America’s Great Plains," with clubs each featuring specialties of their region: - OK – Cowboys and Indians - KS - Home on the Range - Lincoln – Neb territory, new land, new people - Omaha – Iron horse on the Plains This popular exchange had 30 people in attendance with a waiting list. These clubs were recognized as Clubs of the Year for this program. They will repeat it.

Edward perez spoke on attending the "Friendship in Action" exchange in Jamaica from a participant's point of view. (He gave a presentation to the Dallas club on this trip.)

Judith Mead from Albuquerque spoke on plans in progress for an exchange in 2017 - "Ancestral Puebloan and Contemporary Pueblo Societies in New Mexico." It will be about two weeks long with visits to museums, petroglyphs and nearby pueblos in Albuquerque and visits to Chaco Canyon, Santa Fe, Bandelier and several other locations to learn about this unique native American culture then and now.

Other special exchanges will celebrate the Wright Brothers in Dayton, the South Louisiana culture sponsored by Baton Rouge club, Quilters to Houston.
Next year the SW Conference will be hosted by the Austin club. More notes from the conference are available from Mary Williams on request.

The original guest speaker for the Sunday Dinner Cruise was Jim Wetherbee - a former Astronaut who has flown in six shuttle missions, one as pilot and five as commander, and has a list of accomplishments a mile long (here's his NASA bio: http://www.jsc.nasa.gov/Bios/htmlbios/wetherbe.html) He is quite an amazing gentleman. He gave an interesting presentation on the space and shuttle programs.

The optional NASA tour on Sunday, March 29th gave us a look at the Johnson Space Center Mission Control room and Saturn rocket as well as the interactive Visitor Center. It included a bus, picnic lunch and shuttle back to hotel. http://spacecenter.org/

NOTE: After hearing Astronaut Jim Wetherbee at our SW Conference dinner cruise, Ruby Reviere, a Houston members shared this with video with us; it is wonderful history - The Story of the first "Earthrise" photo. https://www.youtube.com/embed/dE-vOscpiNc. Check it out!


2014 - Albuquerque

March 21-23 - Albuquerque, New Mexico
Enchantment of the Southwest
Embassy Suites Hotel in Albuquerque
Fun and informative!

Conference Chair: Ruth O'Keefe
Registration: John Farris
Regional Field Rep: Bob Duncan (Baton Rouge)
The event was attended by representatives from the nine clubs of the region. Note: The Rio Grande club has closed.


Friday, March 21: Welcome Reception
Presidents Meeting at 8:00 pm with discussion led by Bob Duncan

Saturday, March 22:
Morning: Welcome Remarks from FFI President Joy DiBenedetto (right) and Laurie Ann Scott, consultant to FFI who updated the participants on trends in the organization and discussed results of a survey of club presidents in the US and Canada. They discussed clubs’ demographics, challenges, successes, exchanges and ideas that are working.

New Mexico Landscapes - Photos and video by Jeff Gilkey, our resident pioneering ultra-lite trike- video expert who presented photographs and video of the inaccessible canyons of New Mexico and Utah

Luncheon Speaker: Laurie Ann Scott, FFI Consultant: Good News and Recipes for Success. Summary of her 2013 survey of 100 US and Canadian FF club presidents.

Afternoon Breakout sessions:
A. Success as an outgoing ED - Judith Mead, New Mexico 2014 President and highly experienced leader for world travel with her experiences and lessons learned on an exchange to Nepal with extension to Bhutan
B. Photography on exchanges - Roger Baker, brilliant photographer and instructor.
A. Wildflowers of the Southwest - Larry Littlefield with slides from his recently published book on the subject.
B. Joy DiBenedetto and Laurie Ann Scott: Open dialogue on lessons from the FFI survey and other topics of interest - exploration of new ideas and feedback to FFI leadership 
General Session with Club Reports.  Bob Duncan moderated reports on club activities, exchanges and new ideas - including a revival of the weekend exchanges among SW Conference clubs.

New Mexico Mariachi musicians entertained at the Saturday evening banquet
Cash bar; Silent Auction
Sit down dinner in banquet hall
Keynote speaker - Benedicte Valentiner, former General Manager of Blair House in Washington, DC. She talked about her service to four US presidents, and caring for the historic house and visiting dignitaries. This was a fascinating presentation.

Sunday, March 23:
Various options for Mass and church services. San Felipe Church in Old Town conducts Mass in both English and Spanish. Docent led walking tour of Albuquerque's historic Old Town beginning at the Albuquerque Museum.
Some Conference attendees remained for an extra 1 or 2 days in homestay.

Mary Williams represented the Dallas club.


2013 - New Orleans

Nov 22 - New Orleans

Regional get-together for SW Conference members was held in New Orleans at on Friday November 22 preceding the International Conference hosted by the Baton Rouge club and our regional Field Representative Bob Duncan from Baton Rouge. 


2012 - Wichita

March 23-25, 2012 – Wichita

Nine Dallas members attended the Southwest Conference hosted for the first time by the Kansas Club in Wichita, which joined the SW Conference several years ago. 
FFFFI President George Brown conducted a meeting with club presidents on Friday evening and addressed the whole body addressing the Challenge of Leadership on Saturday. He also led one of the workshops on themed and global exchanges. Hearing George is always inspiring, reminding us of the good we do and looking forward to great adventures ahead of us.

Claude Puntel was the featured speaker. A French transplant to Kansas, she spoke on cultural differences. She noted that some language and body language differences can cause misunderstandings that perpetuate stereotypes and are unfortunate and sometimes dangerous. An example she gave was that the French tend not to smile in public settings, especially those living farther north. They are then perceived by Americans as being standoffish or rude, while the French see Americans as pushy and intruding on their privacy. Her workshop was practical and informative.

Other workshops topics included how to be an Exchange Director, recruiting new members, photography, use of Internet and social media to promote your club, and travel insurance including TravelGuard.
A hospitality room, luncheon and banquet gave members a chance to mix, mingle and meet new people from the 10 clubs in our region. The Hotel in Oldtown was a perfect venue, in a remodeled historic building in quaint and restored old town Wichita. Conference Chair Lottie Miller and her committee did an outstanding job of making the conference run smoothly. We appreciated the work they did on it. The Stahls also stayed for an enjoyable 4-day homestay following the conference.

Dallas group 2011

Dallas representatives: Stan and Taylor Parker, Jim and LaNell Naughton, Ed and Dora Stahl, Mary Williams, Carolyn Williams and Jim Bourn.


No SW Conference this year.


2010 - Rio Grande Valley

Feb 5-7 - McAllen, TX
Hosted by FF Rio Grande Club
Report from edward perez

In early February, Jim Bourn, Carolyn Williams, Dale Klosterman, Dora & Ed Stahl, Mary Suther, Paula Rose, and I traveled to McAllen, TX to attend the Southwest Regional conference hosted by the FF Rio Grande Valley. Although theirs is a small club, they held a great conference, with 70+ regional members and Dr. George Brown (FFI President).

George presented the current status of FFI (a 20% drop in exchanges during 2009 resulted in additional staff cuts) and future plans for expanding the reach of FFI (including starting 10 new clubs in 2010). Randy Thompson (FF Ft. Worth) gave a great "what if..." presentation on things that might happen when planning and running an exchange.

Vicki Vance (FF Baton Rouge) presented a great summary of the many kinds of exchanges FFI offers - mission, discover, and themed (such as the Spanish Language Exchange to Bogota, Colombia attended last year by several FF Dallas members).

George Gause, John Yochum, and Juli Klement [from the Rio Grande valley community] presented information about the area's history, state parks & wildlife refuges, and citrus and agriculture in the valley, respectively. Turns out that the valley is one of the most biologically diverse areas in Texas.

In addition, we were able to reconnect with friends from past conferences and exchanges, make new friends from our region's clubs, and understand how their clubs operate.


2009 - Dallas

February 6-8 - Dallas

Wendy Whaley, Conference Coordinator

The Southwest 2009 Regional Conference was a rip roaring success as close to 100 Friendship Force members from five states gathered at the Crowne Plaza Hotel February 6-8.  Friday evening attendees enjoyed ethnic dinners while the presidents of the clubs got to share information with FFI representatives Debbie Powell and Dave Kalan.


On Saturday morning guest speaker Michael Colatrella, director of SMU’s Dispute Resolution program, explained the process of managing conflict by first listening well, acknowledging what the other person is saying, refocusing by summarizing your understanding of the problem, and then asking questions to fill in important information.


Donald Winspear gave a preview of the Arts District of Dallas, which will be one of the largest concentrations of visual and performing arts organizations in the country. 



by Wendy Whaley

Hats off to FFDallas for being the best host of the 2009 SW Regional Conference! I have received many compliments on a job well done, and for planning a fun-filled weekend for our 93 attendees who came from the 10 southwest clubs, as well as guests who flew in from the Midwest, east coast, Hawaii, and Canada!

A special thanks goes to the conference committee (edward perez, Paula Rose, Mary Williams, Teresa Wilkin, Mary Suther, Ray Enstam, Mary Latham, Jim Bourn, and Ken Walker) and all the additional volunteers who helped make our conference a success. As the conference coordinator, I appreciated the opportunity to work with such a talented and organized group of volunteers!

If you missed the conference, you’ll just have to ask a member who can tell you about the wonderful small group dinners, the engaging special guest speakers from SMU and Dallas Arts District, the informative discussions with the FFI representatives, the meaningful workshops led by our members and other club leaders, the exciting raffle prizes, and the dazzling entertainment.

Workshops on a range of topics were presented. Many were lead by FFDallas members sharing their knowledge and experience, including Jim Young.

After an elegant dinner at the hotel, those attending were treated to a performance by the Tap Dazzlers, who proved that age has nothing to do with how high you can kick. At the end of the day the torch was passed to Rio Grand Valley president Wanda Boush, who is hopeful that she will get a little help from her friends in Dallas in putting together next year’s conference.


2008 - Baton Rouge

January 11-12 - Baton Rouge

The 2008 Southwest Regional Conference was held at the Holiday Inn Select in Baton Rouge. This was six days into the Mardi Gras season and Louisiana was gearing up for a good time.

Conference planners put together informative workshops and interesting activities.

A one-day homestay seeing the sights in Baton Rouge followed the conference. Bob Duncan was the Baton Rouge Conference Coordinator.

Pictured above: Jim Young, Berry Bock, Mary Suther and George Brown.

Dallas group attending: Teresa Wilkin, Paula Rose, Nishi Bhatia, Mary Suther, Wendy Whaley, edward perez, John Whaley, Mary Williams, Jim Bourn

Wendy Whaley, Jim Bourn, John
Whaley, Mary Suther, Teresa Wilkin
edward perez gets in the spirit

Mayor Kip Holden and President George Brown


2007 - San Antonio

January 26-28 - San Antonio

The 2007 conference was held January 26-28, 2007 in San Antonio at the Radisson Market Square Hotel. The theme of the conference was Friendship, Deep in the Heart of Texas. Thanks to the San Antonio club for hosting a wonderful event!


2006 - Oklahoma City

February 17-18 – Oklahoma City

Geneva Hancock, Conference Coordinator

The conference was held at the Clarion Meridian Hotel and excellent meals were served. Despite freezing temperatures and icy roads, the conference was well-attended and very informative. Attending from Dallas were Ray Enstam, Zia Shamsy, Mary Suther and Mary Williams .

FFI President George Brown and Ambassador Edwin Corr (Associate Director of International Programs at the University of Oklahoma) were the main speakers, sharing their experiences with us. Each club presented exchanges they are planned and workshops provided tips for exchange directors, club development and website development.

Thanks to Geneva Hancock, Conference Coordinator and her committee. Don Henderson is President of the Oklahoma club.


Contact Information
Postal address: P. O. Box 551151, Dallas, TX 75355
Phone and fax: 214- 699-7574 
E-mail: [email protected]
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/FriendshipForceDallas/
Webmaster: [email protected]