ACB's Golden Year

by Carla Ruschival

ACB's 50th birthday party was nothing short of spectacular!

The 50th annual ACB conference and convention, held in Reno from July 8-16, was busy and fun and fantastic. We rode a stagecoach in Virginia City, sailed on Lake Tahoe in a catamaran, and played blackjack and Texas Hold-'em in tournaments with braille cards. We explored our golden past through special audio interviews with our living past presidents and a highly entertaining ACB Trivia game at the convention banquet; ACB charter member M.J. Schmitt's candid remarks as part of a general session panel about our past were very moving and have prompted many positive comments. The exhibit hall was packed to overflowing with high- and low-tech goodies; the workshops, seminars and programs were outstanding and very well-attended; and the food was inexpensive, varied and delicious.

I want to take this opportunity to publicly thank John Ascuaga and his entire staff at the Nugget Hotel for their outstanding work on this conference. Whether it was early morning or late at night, the staff was always there, with a smile, working to make this a fabulous conference week. We knew it was going to be great when John Ascuaga, his son and daughter, and 735 of his staff attended our pre-convention training sessions. John Ascuaga electrified the Monday morning general session when he stopped by to welcome ACB to Reno and to the hotel, and he made us feel right at home as he greeted attendees in Rosie's Cafe and in the corridors.

Thanks also to the Nevada host committee for its hard work and for your special ACB spirit. Your welcome party with its blues band was great fun and set the tone for the entire week.

As ACB looks toward its diamond future, we welcome Janet Dickelman as our new convention coordinator. Janet was a member of the 2007 local host committee in Minneapolis. She joined the information desk team in 2008, and she assumed responsibility for the desk in 2009. Janet has also handled, almost single-handedly, the telephone pre-registration for the past two years. I know she will do a fine job as chair of the convention committee.

In closing, I thank my great convention committee that has made each ACB convention unique. Without you, it couldn't be done. You are each so very special. We were a team, but more than that, we were a family.

I also thank ACB for giving me the opportunity to help build the national convention into the complex week that it is today. In 1980, my first year as a member of the local host committee in Louisville, there were 36 exhibit booths; this year there were 77. In 1980 there were five tour venues; this year there were 22. In 1986, at our silver anniversary in Knoxville, general sessions were held for the first time from Monday through Saturday morning, and special-interest affiliates began meeting in the afternoons throughout the week.

Yes, there have been many changes over the years, but perhaps the biggest change of all was the advent of the national convention committee. Following the 1987 convention in Los Angeles, that hard-working local host committee, along with a few other people, became the first ACB convention committee. As a result, planning from year to year has been much smoother and more consistent -- a plan that has served, and will continue to serve, ACB well.

The 51st ACB conference and convention will return to the Galt House in Louisville, and we here in the Bluegrass State are so looking forward to your return. Even though ACB has held four previous conventions here (1965, 1980, 2000, and 2008), I can guarantee that you will experience an incredible week of new and exciting things to see and do. Convention dates are July 6 through 14; room rates are the same as 2008 ($85 for a standard room in the Revue Tower and $105 for one-bedroom suites in the East Tower). Watch the October-November Forum for details as to how to make room reservations.

For more information, call the ACB national office at (202) 467-5081 or 1-800-424-8666, or contact Janet Dickelman, chair, ACB national conference and convention committee, at (651) 698-5059 or by e-mail at