By Brittney Lanni and Rachel Schwerin, O’Keefe Communications

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The theme of this year’s LeadingAge PA Annual Conference and Expo was Life on Purpose.

As the association’s production partner, O’Keefe Communications designed the general sessions based on this message. The look, feel, and overall affect of each element echoed their thematic goals.


Associate Producer Rachel Schwerin sat down with Producer Brittney Lanni to debrief the event.

Rachel: Hey Brittney – thanks again for giving me a ride to Hershey for the 2018 LeadingAge PA Annual Conference! What was a highlight of the week for you?

Brittney: Thank you, Rachel – your road trip podcast playlist was quite a hoot!☺ LeadingAge PA added a brand new event this year: the Celebration of Service Gala. Not only a fundraiser for LeadingAge PA’s scholarship and fellowship program, the dinner recognized the tireless efforts and dedication of those who have gone above and beyond to serve Pennsylvania’s aging service community.

From live entertainment to a gorgeous graphic treatment, stunning animations and even a drink for the crew, this inaugural event was absolutely breathtaking – there wasn’t a dry eye in the house!

Rachel: Thursday morning’s session began with a jaw-dropping vocal performance by Broadway-star Alton Fitzgerald White. What else caught your attention?

Brittney: The thematic installation you dreamt up added a unique element. When attendees interacted with the “Purpose” station, they transformed from passive viewers into activate participants. It was wonderful to see so many individuals engaging with the conference theme, connecting and sharing what drives their own work. Many thanks to our friends at Event EQ for turning this concept into a reality!

Brand New Thing

Rachel: Every spring, a class of Fellows graduates from the Leadership program. How does O’Keefe make something that happens every year fresh, unique and memorable?

Brittney: In a series of photos, each fellow shared their own response to the prompt “What does purposeful leadership mean to you?”

After the last photo, the house lights dimmed. Scattered throughout the audience, Fellows stood and held up glowing orbs. A dozen neon dots across the ballroom were shining marks of their accomplishments, and transformed a run-of-the-mill annual segment into a meaningful shared experience.

Rachel: This is a lemons/lemonade-type question: were there challenges you felt the team faced and solved expertly?

Brittney: There are always going to be curveballs on site. We pride ourselves on keeping cool heads under pressure, and this time was no different. The afternoon before the big Gala, I noticed one of the award recipients lingering in the ballroom, chatting with friends and colleagues. She had a broken foot. And was s/b accept an award on stage that evening. Cue Producer alarm bells! 🔔🔔

LeadingAge did you know

Knowing that venues are required by law to have ADA ramps, we could turn to the simple solution. But, as audience advocates ever devoted to aesthetics and atmosphere, we worked to find a better solution. Instead of the recipient going up to the stage to accept her award, the presenter would go to her. We coordinated with the client to have her reserved seat moved to a table closer to the stage, and rehearsed the plan with our presenter, so he knew exactly where to go and when. When the moment came, the recipient had the experience her achievements merited. Win win!

This blog was reprinted with permission from O’Keefe Communications, it originally appeared here.

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Brittney Lanni is Senior Creative Producer at O’Keefe Communications. She is a bilingual Producer with over 10 years of experience in production and stage management of high-profile events and live shows. Brittney is highly skilled in a range of tasks including creative development, staging, speaker coaching, and project management. She takes pride in fostering work environments that are purpose-driven and collaborative. Brittney graduated with a Master of Fine Arts (MFA), Stage Management from the University of Cincinnati, College-Conservatory of Music.  

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Rachel Schwerin is Associate Producer at O’Keefe Communications, one of her primary capabilities is as a storyteller. A Master of Fine Arts (MFA) at Columbia University, Rachel was an Instructor of University Writing, a course designed to help undergraduates read and write essays in order to participate in the academic conversations that form Columbia’s intellectual community. The course gives special attention to the practices of close reading, rhetorical analysis, research, collaboration, and substantive revision. Instructors work closely with students through a multi-draft process, providing extensive guidance and written feedback in order to foster broad intellectual engagement and aptitude. Instructors help students built a foundation for future success