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AAF Greater Rochester D2 Leadership Conference Recap

November 11, 2023


Hi there! It’s me, Liz, again. I’m here to share a few updates post-R/ADWEEK and the D2 Leadership Conference.

Right after the super fun 2nd Annual AAF Greater Rochester Spirit Showdown guest bartending competition (which was a huge success btw), our events co-chair Deanna Colombo and I got some Ziggy’s-fueled Zzz’s and then hopped right into the car on Friday morning, to head to Pittsburgh for the annual leadership conference where representatives from AAF clubs in District 2 get together to share updates, learn from one another, and connect as a community.

We checked into the beautiful Fairmont hotel and met up with friends (new and existing) from chapters in Buffalo, DC, Greater Lehigh Valley, Albany/the Capital Region, and of course Pittsburgh. Our gracious hosts were wrapping up their weeklong celebration of Pittsburgh Adweek – and their 100th anniversary as a club.

After a fantastic dinner at Christian James (where our table talked a lot about emerging AI trends, programming ideas, and the health benefits of mushrooms) we made our way to a pretty cool place called Barcadia, which featured a huge barcade and (my personal favorite) a spookeasy (a Halloween-themed version of a speakeasy).

Saturday was all about learning and the conference was packed with engaging speakers, informative sessions, and fantastic discussions about club best practices.

One of my favorite parts of the day was an “Ask Us Anything” conversation with two women who ran the Pittsburgh Ad Club for decades, leading their chapter through a lot of change — up until (and including) the pandemic. They’re both “retired” now (but still involved) and had a lot of really great wisdom to share, especially when it comes to asking for favors and donations. One of the guests of honor shared a story about a time their club really wanted a specific speaker, who was the CEO of a very large company. She wasn’t able to get him on the phone initially but kept being persistent and calling back until she’d eventually become pretty friendly with his assistant — who helped her out and put her through. And instead of asking how much he’d charge to speak at their event, she asked him what she could do for him. Sure enough, there was someone in town he’d been trying to get an introduction to for quite some time, so he told her if she could set up a meeting for him — he’d do the event. And I’m assuming Pittsburgh is a lot like Rochester because she knew someone who had a connection and they were able to set up the intro meeting, and the speaker they wanted did speak at their event — for a grand total of zero dollars.

Throughout the day we talked with other club leaders and came away with some ideas we’re thinking about trying out ourselves, including:


  • Bulk discounts for American Advertising Awards submissions 
  • Social events and mixers with other professional organizations
  • Co-working days for freelancers 


We also saw a super interesting presentation delivered by Mike Hennessy, the Manager of Learning and Programs at the nearby and recently opened  Moonshot Space Museum. If you’re at all interested in the moon, our future in space exploration (and habitation), or the emerging fields of space law and space ethics – it’s definitely worth paying them a visit. You won’t be disappointed.

Next year, Rochester is on the hook to host this very same conference and we can’t wait to show off our beautiful city and share our rich history of strong creative and advertising talent. 

Stay tuned for more on that, for sure.