RISE 2024: Igniting Collective Action for a Thriving Roanoke Region

Experience Conference 2024 Event Recap

Over 200 attendees, speakers, and panelists gathered for the highly anticipated relaunch of the 2024 Experience Conference, held on May 2-3 at venues throughout downtown Roanoke. Showcasing the vibrancy of the region’s urban core, the conference spanned iconic locations such as the Taubman Museum of Art, Six and Sky Rooftop Bar, the new EYE planetarium, Hotel Roanoke, and the City Market Building.

Attendees hailing from 19 towns, cities, and localities across the Commonwealth converged at the event to delve into cutting-edge technology, engage with non-profit organizations, explore new avenues for community involvement, network with peers, and glean insights into the power of individual and collective action.

“Experience Conference never disappoints. Rishi Jaitly’s captivating talk on being a ‘Full Stack Human’, and his call to self-reflection to reengage with the humanities and liberal arts to add meaning and context to technology deeply resonated with me,” said John Park, co-owner of JPG Agency and a Get2KnowNoke ambassador. “As someone mid-career, I also gained a surprising amount of useful insights from the professional networking and communication session. I left feeling inspired and energized, with a renewed sense of what’s possible.”

Virginia State Delegate Sam Rasoul kicked off the conference with an impromptu speech that recognized local influencers in the room and highlighted the diverse, melting pot that now represents the city.

While the theme of this year’s conference was RISE, with the intention to RISE together as one, the recurring topic among many of the speakers and panels was transformation. From the Riverdale Project in SE Roanoke to the Melrose Plaza Project in NW Roanoke, to the innovation corridor investments and the introduction of their incubator on Jefferson Ave., to transformational tech like AI, and even in The Rookie Restaurateur live podcast session, they spoke to the energy of the region’s burgeoning culinary scene.

“There are so many transformational projects happening right now in the Roanoke Region which have brought us to this tipping point, said Julia Boas, event organizer and director of talent strategies at the Roanoke Regional Partnership. “It’s an exciting time to be working and living in the Roanoke Region, and together we can support these projects and community efforts in a variety of ways.”

A session inside the Taubman Museum of Art theater with a great crowd, ready for thought-leading discussion.

The 2024 Experience Conference tasked attendees to think deeply about how we can lift each other up within the community, and attract new talent to the region. How can we support non-profits, the arts, transformational developments, talent attraction efforts, higher education, small businesses, and infrastructure improvements? These unique elements are critical in making the Roanoke Region an ideal place to live and work.

Attendees were informed of the many exciting things happening around the region, leaving all feeling invigorated, inspired, and ready to support through collective action, information sharing, fundraising, volunteering, and more!

We were also reminded of the boundless potential in Virginia’s Blue Ridge and the power we all have to implement positive change. Change isn’t an abstract concept or beyond our reach; it’s something we’ve witnessed time and again in this beautiful place.

Live dance, music, and art permeated the conference adding vibrancy and beauty between sessions. Special thanks to the Roanoke Cultural Endowment and Local Colors for organizing.

Think about the landmarks we cherish today—the Blue Ridge Parkway, the Appalachian Trail, Explore Park, Elmwood Amphitheater, Daleville Town Center, Main Street Salem, Rocky Mount, or Vinton (just to name a few)— all of these projects started with a spark of inspiration and grew through collective action. From large-scale projects to our favorite local small businesses, each required the support of passionate individuals, supportive governments, and private-sector involvement. That spark is what Experience is meant to ignite.

As we move forward from Experience 2024, let’s carry forward this guiding premise. Change isn’t just possible; it’s inevitable and can be immensely positive when driven by informed individuals (like you). Let’s continue to dream, innovate, and make a difference because together, we have the power to shape the future of the Roanoke Region into something truly extraordinary.

We extend our heartfelt gratitude to all the attendees, speakers, partners, and sponsors who supported the conference and contributed to its success. Your enthusiasm and dedication inspire us to continue building upon this momentum for future years.

We invite you to join us in shaping the future of the Experience Conference, to participate in the committee, and to help us amplify its impact on our community. Shoot us an email if you’d like to host a program or join the Experience planning committee. Together we can make a difference!

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