Thursday, September 17, 2015

Meet Nicole!

Let me introduce myself to those of you who do not know me. My name is Nicole Cortichiato. Who is Nicole Cortichiato? Well, I’m a constantly evolving masterpiece, and more recently, my life-canvas has been collaged with VSA Texas. Let me tell you how my time with Opening Minds, Opening Doors (OMOD) began:

It all started with a phone call from Eric Clow in January of 2014. He called to tell me that the OMOD team reviewed my application and thought I would be a good candidate for helping out with their new six-week class and that this position would not be as a participant as a paid project assistant! This surprised me, but I was up for the challenge. Assisting others in writing their stories can help you become a better writer yourself, and a better writer was exactly what I wanted to be.

Group photo of OMOD speakers at the
2015 Texas Advocates Conference
(I'm the second from the left, poking my head in)
After the class concluded, Celia then asked if I would like to stay on as an assistant for Eric. I said, "yes,” and from there, I moved up to OMOD Project Facilitator. Now I have even more responsibilities, like finding conferences and writing conference proposals with our OMOD speakers.

First off, let me talk about the word “proposal.” This word can have a negative or positive effect on people. If you are proposing to get married, it can be a loving and memorable thing for many people. However, if you are writing a proposal for a conference, this may sound boring, difficult, and frankly, a nightmare – especially for the creative, non-business like person. For those of you who aren’t familiar with the conference proposal process, the proposal is essentially a form that you fill out, usually online, in which you propose a workshop or presentation idea that you would like to do at a given conference. Boring, right? Well, I’ve discovered you can add creativity into a proposal, and we've been doing that here!

At VSA, we have a unique team. Doing a proposal isn’t just a one-person job. Once we find a conference that we want to apply to, I start brainstorming titles and ideas of what we could do with some of our speakers. Then I’ll share the ideas and titles with April and Eric and see which ones they like best – or in some cases, which ones they will allow me to do. Sometimes my ideas go way out there, and they have to lure me back in from fun world. Once we have our idea and title, I write a rough draft of the whole proposal, which always includes these main parts:

  • Title: something catchy and fun (this is where I have the most fun)
  • Description: exactly what you will do in your workshop; anywhere from 25 to 500 words
  • The take-aways: things your attendees will learn, or “take away,” from your workshop

Once the first draft is done, I send the proposal to April and Eric. They make edits to it, and then send it to Celia for a final review. Once she okays it, we send it off and wait. Sometimes we hear back right away, and sometimes it takes months to see if our proposal was accepted.

Me posing for a photo with a butterfly in St. Thomas
So far this year, we have been pretty successful at getting into conferences, thanks to our smart team. Four heads is better than one, and we definitely have synergy here at VSA Texas! In the next few months, we will be presenting at the El Paso Our Lives, Texas Art Education Association, and We Are Girls conferences.

Bottom line: don’t be scared to attempt something new on the job! Sometimes things just sound scary or boring until you change your perception of them.

Until next time!

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