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  • Wednesday, November 29, 2023 11:00 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    My favorite tool of 2023 is Canva!

    Canva makes it easy to create social media posts and graphics of any size. I love using the pre-made templates and altering them to fit my needs. In my role as an instructional designer, I use Canva daily to create eLearning graphics.

    There is a brand hub, where you can upload logos and colors to access in all of your designs. In addition to graphics, you can create videos, gifs, and presentations. Canva is simple and intuitive to use, and their newly added AI features makes it easy for anyone to make captivating designs. It is well worth the subscription price!

    Canva has definitely enhanced the quality of my eLearning content.

    Brooke McMillan - VP Marketing & Communications

  • Wednesday, November 29, 2023 10:57 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    One of my favorite resources is my membership to Harvard Business Review.  They provide daily articles that are relevant to all topics in the workplace from mindfulness to procrastination to being a better leader.  The articles are abridged versions that contain excerpts from more in-depth articles.  Not only are these articles a source of continuous learning for me, but I use them to support the topics that I train on.  It also exposes me to great authors and business leaders that I can learn from. 

    In addition to their daily digest, my HBR offers me access to their monthly magazine filled with business scenarios and success stories.  The website also offers templates for creating training and presentations, graphics, data, podcasts and more.  Many of their articles can also be found on LinkedIn for free.

    Jeni Becker - VP of Membership

  • Wednesday, November 29, 2023 10:54 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    My favorite tool is Session Lab! This tool allows facilitators and designers to quickly and easily create agendas, "Day-at-a-glance” (or Run of Show) overviews and it will map out an entire workshop from beginning to end.  It has an automatic timing calculation, so it will automatically calculate timing as you make changes to your agenda.

    This has been a lifesaver for me!  

    I utilize this tool for every workshop I create for my clients.  It has a visually appealing and easy drag-and-drop agenda planner that has helped me stay on time during delivery, as well as be able to plan for an extra topic or activity in the event I had extra time in a workshop. It has colored coded modalities (lecture, activity, debrief, Q&A, Video, for example) so I can quickly glance at my agenda and determine if I have too much lecture and not enough activities for example, which allows me to create content in a flow that is geared toward the learner experience.

    I also love that I can revisit, adapt, drag and drop components of one workshop into another one quickly and easily which helps me to eliminate the feeling of “recreating the wheel” every time I plan out a workshop. It also has a content library where you can search ideas and templates for workshop topics.

    I highly recommend Session Lab for anyone who is regularly creating content for workshops.

    Tracie Cornell - President

  • Wednesday, November 29, 2023 10:47 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    My favorite learning tool/resource I leverage extensively is old-fashioned books, particularly titles like Peter M. Senge's 'Fifth Discipline: The Art & Practice of the Learning Organization.' With its comprehensive insights into fostering a learning culture within organizations, this book has been invaluable in my continuous learning journey.

    Its positive impact in a Learning & Development (L&D) environment is multifaceted. Firstly, 'The Fifth Discipline' offers profound principles for fostering a learning-oriented culture. It delves into the importance of systems thinking, personal mastery, mental models, building shared visions, and team learning. These concepts are foundational in shaping effective L&D strategies.

    Moreover, the book provides practical frameworks and strategies for creating an environment conducive to continuous learning and improvement. This directly translates into actionable methodologies that can be integrated into L&D programs. For instance, Senge's emphasis on shared vision aligns with the need for cohesive learning objectives in training initiatives.

    Additionally, the book challenges traditional notions and encourages a shift towards a holistic perspective, urging L&D professionals to consider the interconnectedness of various elements within an organization. It prompts reflection on the systemic nature of learning and development, encouraging practitioners to adopt a more comprehensive training and skill enhancement approach.

    Overall, Senge's work has been instrumental in shaping my approach to L&D by providing theories and practical insights that can be adapted and applied effectively in creating robust learning environments within organizations.

    Kristy Tyson - President-Elect

  • Sunday, April 23, 2023 9:24 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    ATD Buffalo Niagara Celebrates Arab American Heritage Month

    Christa McAuliffe was born in Boston Massachusetts, coming from Irish and Lebanese decent. She was the great niece of Lebanese American historian, Phillip Khuri Hitti.

    McAuliffe is well known for being a teacher and astronaut, who tragically lost her life on the Space Shuttle Challenger mission, on January 28, 1986. After her death, several schools have been named in her honor and she was posthumously awarded the Congressional Space Medal of Honor in 2004.

    In 1985, McAuliffe was selected for the NASA Teacher in Space Project, TISP was a NASA program announced by President Ronald Reagan in 1984 and was designed to inspire students, honor teachers and spur interest in mathematics, science, and space exploration.

    Farouk El-Baz is an Egyptian American space scientist and geologist that worked with NASA in the scientific exploration of the Moon and the planning of the Apollo Program. El-Baz was born in Zagazig, in the Kingdom of Egypt.

    Currently, El-Baz is a Research Professor and Director of the Center for Remote Sending at Boston University in Boston, MA. In addition, El-Baz is an Adjunct Professor of Geology at the Faculty of Science, Ain Shams University, Cairo, Egypt.

    From 1967 – 1972, El-Baz was the Supervisor of Lunar Science Planning at Bellcomm Inc. for the NASA Apollo Program and had a key role in helping NASA determine the ideal Moon landing site for the Apollo 11 mission in 1969.

  • Monday, March 06, 2023 10:27 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Belva Ann Lockwood (née Bennett), was born October 24, 1830 in Royalton,  NY.  The second of five children, Belva was not born into wealth nor status, she was raised as the daughter of farmers. These humble beginnings however did not deter Belva's ambition. 

    By the age of 14, Belva began her career as a teacher at a local elementary school. Belva spent many years as an educator or administrator and began raising awareness about women being paid less than men. She is an early advocate for women's pay equity. 

    In 1870, Belva attempted to apply to the Columbian Law School but was refused admittance because of her gender, with the trustees fearing she would distract male students. Later, Belva was admitted to the new National University Law School (now George Washington Law School) and completed her studies in May 1873 only to be refused her diploma,  again because of gender. Not one to being deterred, Belva lobbied President Ulysses S. Grant, ex officio of the school. She was granted her bachelor's of law by the fall of 1873.

    Belva went on to practice law, and became the first woman admitted to the bar of the Supreme Court of the United States in May 1879. Not done yet, Belva became the first woman* to run for President in 1884, and 1888. Although she did not win, Belva remained an advocate for women's suffrage and women's legal equality to name a few. Belva died in May 1917, two years before the passing of the 19th amendment in 1920, she had a 43 year career as a lawyer.

    *Victoria Woodhull ran for President in 1872, however was not of the constitutionally mandated age of 35.  

  • Wednesday, March 30, 2022 10:41 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    In honor of Women's History Month, ATD Buffalo Niagara celebrates the talented, brilliant, and unique women leaders that make up the Board of Directors. We asked the board to share some of their favorite accomplishments during their tenure...and more! As the month comes to a close, we encourage you to think about the women that inspire you in your own life, and what contributions can be made towards furthering women's equity.

    What accomplishment are you most proud of during your time as an ATD board member?

    I am proud and immensely grateful to serve alongside the talented board of ATD Buffalo Niagara. Their commitment to the Chapter inspires me daily. 

    How can women support other women in their organization?

    Women can support women by intentionally advocating for their upward mobility in society and organizations. The first part of this journey is awareness and discovery about women’s talent and career development journeys and staying in touch with resource like Equal Pay Day Today. 

    What accomplishment are you most proud of during your time as an ATD board member?
    Successfully helping to execute a virtual conference this past December. The entire conference team worked so hard on the conference for over a year and through a pandemic. As a chapter, we were able to provide quality programming to talent development professionals in the WNY region. I am proud to be part of a chapter with such dedicated and passionate talent development professionals.

    What advice do you have for young women just starting in your industry?
    When someone approaches me about joining the industry of talent development, I always tell them to do their research first. It's so important to learn what the industry is about by studying ALT, Bloom's Taxonomy, Kirkpatrick, etc. Start attending local chapter events to network and learn directly from people currently doing the work. If they decide they want to pursue a career in training, then join a chapter and get involved. Attend local Toastmaster events to get some experience in public speaking if you lack that skill. Attend conferences, invest in a power membership or ATD national certification. Get a job as a new trainer to further facilitate the growth of your skills. Lastly, never stop learning, continue to cultivate and expand your knowledge and expertise in the field.  

    What accomplishment are you most proud of during your time as an ATD board member?
    There are numerous achievements I am proud of as a chapter leader, yet most recently, I am most proud of being part of an amazing team that facilitated our first ever full day virtual conference. It was an amazing success!

    What advice do you have for young women just starting in your industry?
    My advice is to get involved! Although you will learn and grow as a member of the organization, you will absolutely accelerate your development by being actively engaged as a volunteer, board member, presenter, etc. The hands-on experiences helped me surpass any and all learning where I was a passive participant. Dig in! You won’t regret it!

    What accomplishment are you most proud of during your time as an ATD board member?
    I joined the Board of Directors for ATD Buffalo Niagara Chapter in 2020 right after the pandemic started. I am fortunate and grateful to have worked with a talented team to not only overcome the financial challenges we encountered, but brought our chapter to another new level of commitment to our members and the community by connecting and supporting each other with our strong vision and values.

    What advice do you have for young women just starting in your industry?
    The job market today is competitive, dynamic, and diverse. It’s important to recognize that some things may not go exactly to plan as you embark on your career. Stay positive, cultivate a robust professional network, and embrace life-long learning opportunities. 

    What accomplishment are you most proud of during your time as an ATD board member?
    I am most proud of getting to know many incredible professionals around WNY, expanding my network to include so many people I would never have met without ATD Buffalo Niagara!

    Who has inspired you most?
    The women who have inspired me most in life are my mom, my aunt, and my grandmothers. All these women are so resilient and strong, but never let life harden them against being kind souls. All these women are intelligent and wonderful conversationalists, full of charisma. Most importantly, they taught me never to take myself too seriously.

    What accomplishment are you most proud of during your time as an ATD board member?
    I am very proud that I have met and worked with the people that I share ATD responsibilities with. I love helping the group with ideas and organizing the ATD requirements that are necessary for making our chapter successful. I am proud to be working with our entire group, meeting and knowing each other, and working together for our love of learning and creativity.  

    How have you built confidence and/or resiliency over the course of your career?
    I have worked with many different people for a few different companies and each experience has given me the opportunity to understand and learn about different personalities and perspectives. Having passion for my work and my career has taught me that not everyone works the same way with the same passion. Tempering and understanding my talents and passion to work with the unique talents of others have given my confidence in my ability to work well with people. Collaboration is a great gift but it is at its best when you share your passion and understanding with others

    What accomplishment are you most proud of during your time as an ATD board member?
    I am most proud of having the opportunity to collaborate with such a creative and passionate group of talent development professionals. I have learned so much during my time on the board, and really enjoy seeing the successes of our teamwork. Serving on the ATD board is a uniquely valuable experience that I am grateful to have.

    How have you built confidence and/or resiliency over the course of your career?
    I have built confidence and resiliency through making mistakes and overcoming obstacles, as well as committing to a path of continuous reflection and self-improvement. Setbacks are always part of your journey, but they don't have to define it. Staying open-minded towards feedback and leveraging it from the perspective of a 'teachable moment' has helped immensely. Surrounding yourself with supportive peers and mentors that help navigate career complexities is invaluable.

  • Friday, July 03, 2020 2:28 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    I attended the very engaging webinar: 3 Tips for Creative Massive Participant Engagement in Virtual Training featuring International Speaker and co-author of Speak for a Living, Sardek Love. I left with some amazing new ways to make sure the virtual experiences I create are unforgettable.

    Photo by Avel Chuklanov on Unsplash

    That is what we are going for, right? Creating learning experiences that will have lasting impact and are memorable. The move from in-person learning to a virtual space does take some planning, yet will fall into place a bit more easily if we remember that at the core of every virtual experience is how much we can engage the participant throughout the experience.

    Would you like to sit through an hour-long lecture of a talking head on a screen? No? Then why do we think we can just talk at people during a webinar and believe that they will be thrilled by what we said and remember it always.

    The three tips that Sardek shared were very simple, don’t include too much content, don’t underestimate the amount of core knowledge your participants already have, and don’t forget to include the hands-on component. Your learners need to have time to practice what you’re teaching them, so they will be able to more effectively apply it in the real-world.

    Content: Find new ways to explore the content you are going to cover. Only include what is absolutely critical, i.e. what must the learner be able to know how to do immediately following the training. Everything else can be included in a job aid, procedure, a video, an article, etc. All of which can be reviewed outside of the live training event. Essentially, you want to include asynchronous content as resources along with your synchronous learning event.

    Foundational Knowledge: One of the core components of Malcom Knowles Adult Learning theory of Andragogy, is the importance of tapping into the knowledge or your adult learners. Adults love to share their knowledge! Checkout this article 3 Adult Learning Theories every E-Learning Designer Must Know by Karla Gutierrez for more background on this topic.

    Practice, Practice, Practice! This is important. Passively learning about something does not help the learner to actually complete the task. It will provide knowledge about what they need to know, yet the real impact comes from attempting the task on their own, in the safe environment, ideally several times. Plan time away from the webinar to have the students practice, and then bring them back for a debrief on the experience and/or to provide more training reinforcement.

    Ok, so know we what to how to structure our virtual learning, next we need to plan for to engage the learners throughout the experience. First, Mr. Love suggested scheduling your virtual learning events for 2 hours or less. If you must go longer, take breaks often. He suggested at least a ten-minute break within a 2-hour span. In my experience, providing a 5-minute break each hour, has been very successful.

    He also shared that we should engage our learners in some way every 4 to 5 minutes. I had heard that it was every 90 seconds, so this does help provide a bit of a breather. At most, every 8 minutes, the learners should be asked to do “something,” rather than just passively listening.

    How do we engage our learners? Through questions!  And ask questions often. This can be accomplished by asking full group questions via chat, polling questions, breakout session activities or discussions in duos, triads, or quads, or, depending on your group size, you can set up games through a variety of tools such as Mentimeter, Quizlet, or Kahoot, just to name a few.

    Lastly, Sardek stressed that the debrief is the most important part of a learning event. If you hold a discussion or do an activity and skip the debrief, you miss a very important component of the learning: The connection between the what, why, and how. Learners may miss out on the a-ha moment if the activity is not capped with debrief discussion. Check out this article for examples of debrief questions: The 15 Most Insightful Reflective Questions for Debriefing Learning.

    Be creative and have fun with your classes!  Your students will appreciate the effort you put in and you will be well on your way to designing memorable virtual learning experiences.

    Article by Kim Stahl, Senior Business Line Trainer, ATD Buffalo Niagara Past-President and Adult Education Masters Student. July 3, 2020.

  • Thursday, June 20, 2019 10:26 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    There is nothing like the kind of book that reels you in within the first few chapters. The best ones can do that instantly with just a word or sentence. You know the book. You just can’t put it down.

    I did not understood the pull of the Harry Potter series until I began reading them to my daughter. Boy was I hooked! The details and characterizations were enthralling. My husband would have to stop me each night, otherwise I would continue reading well past her bedtime.

    Can a leadership book do this? Can a “self-help” book really be so engaging that you just can’t put it down?  The answer is yes and it happened to me recently. Two books captured my attention and time melted away.

    First, a book with a very unique name: Fish Rot from the Head Down by Gretchen Fierle volumes I and II stole my attention in May. Each book contains bite sized morsels to help you reflect on different components of leadership. Each “chapter” has discussion questions to assist the reader to begin the journey toward possible changes and solutions. (I put chapter in quotes because each chapter is only page). They are not tomes with big words and highfalutin management speak – they are quick, impactful lessons about leadership from Gretchen’s experience and research.

    Moving on to June, I tore through an advance copy of Scott Miller’s new book, Management Mess to Leadership Success (released on June 18, 2019). Scott is an Executive Vice President with Franklin Covey and hosts their weekly OnLeadership Webcast. The book includes 30 daily challenges centered on a story from his life. Each story is very relatable and based on a tenant of Franklin Covey culture. His candor was very refreshing. Much like Gretchen, he was open about his failures as much as his successes. The book was engaging because he didn’t try to sound like he had all the answers or was perfect at his craft, just that he tried something, reflected on it and learned from the experience. 

    You can tackle each challenge in order or jump around, your choice. If you prefer to focus on a specific set of topics, the challenges are grouped into three parts: Lead Yourself, Lead Others, and Get Results. I enjoyed the relaxed nature of the book and appreciated the additional resources he shared throughout to promote further exploration and learning.

    I plan to use both Scott and Gretchen's books as quick “reading assignments” and discussion starters with my colleagues, professionals’ group, and Lean-in Circle. They are both leadership treasures.

    So, what’s on your book list this summer?  I’m looking for my next “can’t put it down” book.


    Photo by Alice Hampson on Unsplash

  • Tuesday, April 30, 2019 11:38 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    When "Lara"* was hired, she was sent to a full day onboarding event. She filled out paperwork, got her ID badge, and enjoyed ice-breaker activities. She learned about the company's health plan and 401K options, and a little bit about where she fit within the organization. She wished she had left knowing more about what her priorities were, but at least the one day she had was better than the alternative she experienced at a previous employer, where there was no formal onboarding program.

    Like many organizations, a few years later her new company decided to decentralize the onboarding process within the business units, hence, no formal day one program. Even though there was an “Onboarding Checklist,” employees in one department were onboarded differently than another. Some managers fully engaged in the checklist; others did the bare minimum. The culture was gravely affected by a lack of cohesion felt by employees.

    "As I reflected on my initial experience, I am happy that, at the very least, I received the same experience as everyone else on their first day."

    Fortunately, the company began to focus on our organizational culture and the importance of the onboarding experience. The onboarding process was once again centralized and a robust program was developed that expanded the experience from the moment the employee was hired to well after their start date. The onboarding process became a priority and a way to build and nurture the culture, shining a light into the abyss.

    Does this sound like your organization? You welcome an employee and then dump them into the void hoping that they will understand what is expected of them? Do you believe that they will inherently know what their priorities should be? Or do you plan and execute your onboarding program with a strategy that will build culture, enhance business results, and create an amazing experience for the employee?

    According to Michelle Baker of PhaseTwo Learning, “Successful organizations leverage the new employee experience as a competitive advantage and a driver of business results. The secret to getting there….to truly unlocking the results you’re seeking…is to find a link between onboarding and business goals and priorities.” (retrieved from

    Perhaps it’s knowing where to start. On May 7, 2019 onboarding expert Michelle Baker will share a strategy for success during ATD Buffalo Niagara’s Webinar Series Event: Driving Business results Through Strategic Onboarding

    Webinar participants will analyze the impact (good or bad!) of their existing onboarding programs on business results and explore the results of a case study with simple strategies that can be applied to a new or existing program. Participants, including those who do not currently utilize strategic onboarding in their organizations, will walk away with an arsenal of must-capture metrics to consider when getting started with onboarding program development or modifying an existing program.

    More Resources!

    Onboarding Tools for HR Managers – by Michelle Baker

    *name changed to protect privacy

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