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IFVP’s Fall Check-In

Contributed by Sunny Benbelkacem
Wow! 2018 has been a whirlwind! Summer has flown by and we are quickly approaching the cusp of fall. I, Sunny, your humble reporter and Board President, wanted to take a moment and reflect on all we’ve planned, done, and what is still to come. I hope you’ve noticed the flurry of activity, movement, and momentum these last 8 months. Let’s review the great work this volunteer board has been focused on. Here we go!

Board of Directors: Things are Changing

In January, we announced that Sunny BenBelkacem was stepping into the Vice President role, working with President Jenny Trautman. On August 1st, Sunny officially took the reins of President of the board. Jenny served the board for five years and as president for three years. Jenny was a strong administrator, bringing a measure of business acumen that drove establishing and documenting processes to support IFVP in some good old, scalable growth. Her experience as a technology consultant benefitted the IFVP in the form of strong leadership in implementing platforms to support our strategy of connecting our community with curated content. Strengthening the back office systems to allow better support of the organization and members is her greatest gift to the organization. In partnership with Phil Bakelaar, IFVP’s CIO, her vision drove many of the changes that you now, and will continue, to see on the newly revamped IFVP website.
Jill Greenbaum served as a Director on the board for 4 years as well as the board secretary for two years. Jill developed and laid the groundwork for things like Regional chapters, affiliate marketing, learning and development projects, as well as doing the initial legwork on the discovery and exploration of the benefits of 501c3 and by-laws, recently ratified by the membership in May. During our board meetings, she was our by-law expert, often bringing us back to earth with reminders of what we could and could not do. She also contributed to the design of annual conferences and as well as teaching tapping and various personality and team assessments. Her contributions to IFVP are too long for me to list here (seriously) but Jill gave a lot to IFVP, and continues to do so as a member and volunteer for the Board Nomination committee.
As the new acting president, I want you all to join me in thanking them for their time, effort, sweat, and vision in helping to bring us to where we are today. Because of Jenny and Jill’s efforts, we now see an invigorated and refreshed IFVP ready to support a growing membership. Thank you for your service. You are appreciated in more ways than you realize. We wish you the best in your future endeavors and wish for you to continue to contribute to the IFVP community with your unique and amazing talents.
Elena Urizar and Renatta Algalarrondo have renewed their terms on the Board of Directors. We are lucky to have them continue their service. If you only knew what these two have been up to. Well, read on to find out!

BOD Nominations: We’re getting some fresh perspectives soon

When we ratified our by-laws, we also changed how we nominate Directors the Board. The new by-laws added an infrastructure to ensure transparency in the process. We have convened a nomination committee made up of Directors and Members and they are currently in process of designing a review and election process for members to vote on nominees. Keep your eyes open for more information in the nominees and the voting process. Thanks to Jill Greenbaum, Avril Orloff, and Leslie Salmon-Zhu for joining the Board Nominations committee.

New Kids on the Block: Welcome the soon to be European IFVP Regional Chapter!

You had to know I wasn’t talking about the famous 90’s boy-band, right? IFVP extended its hand in the spirit of friendship, collaboration, and knowledge sharing to the European visual practitioners who came together last year to explore how to build, grow, and maintain a visual practitioner community. After many meetings, calls, emails, and air miles, IFVP is happy to announce the creation of our first regional chapter!
Building on the work of many people, the idea of regional chapters is something the BoD has dreamed of, discussed, designed, and developed over the years (just ask Jill!). There have been many initiatives around this idea but it never grew legs until last year. At the EuViz conference in Rungstedgaard, Denmark, the IFVP hosted its Annual General Meeting (the AGM) and announced that we will be piloting the first regional chapter in Europe.
There was a lot of work behind this and many people are and will continue working hard to make it a reality. Renatta Algalarrondo, IFVP Board member and Board Liaison to this project, with the help of an army of people like Elena Urizar, Jenny Trautman, Christine Hemmingsen, Mara Callaert, Bea Broskova, Oliver Jacques Célestin Pesret, Matthew Buck, Ausrine Balkaityte, and so many others, is finally seeing it to fruition.
Next steps are to work with our website contractor to build out capabilities to support a regional chapter and to design the relationship between the IFVP Board and the regional chapter board. Renatta has been consulting governance and policy experts and working with the European Community Core team to make sure the structure of the chapter should be suited to the needs of the organization and a thoughtful growth plan will help to ensure the long-term success of this endeavor. There are many complexities that must be worked out and for this, join us in thanking those who are doing this work.

You said you wanted more: Fireside chats, Graphic Jams, Airtables and the Newsletter

This year also saw the debut of monthly IFVP Fireside chats and graphic jams.
Fireside chats are simply a online chat forum to discuss what is important to members. We encourage members to pitch us ideas and co-host the fireside chat with a Board Member. It can be about what is most important to you, what you are expert in and want to teach others, or topics that you want to explore with your fellow visual practitioners. It doesn’t have to be in English either! It can be in your native language. We want the I in IFVP to flourish!
If you cannot join us for a Fireside chat, never fear! If you are a member, the chat is available on the IFVP website under the For Members tab. You just need to be a paying member with a log-in to the website. Also, if you are not familiar with the term fireside chat, it comes from the FDR presidency (US). You can learn more about them here:
Graphic Jams are an IFVP staple from the early days of the organization. Members would get together, brainstormed terms, expressions, and metaphors and threw them in a jar or hat, selected a word for each round where everyone drew their visual representation, and then they shared their work with each other, learning and adding new icons to their lexicon. At the end of the jam, all the drawings were then compiled into a book members could purchase at the annual conference.
Think of our graphic jams as the creation of an online visual lexicon of ideas for your reference. We are hosting a monthly graphic jam on the first Saturday of every month. At the end of each session, we invite all participants to upload their drawings with a hashtag to an Airtable database. This visual database is available to IFVP members only by logging on to the website. Join us on the first Saturday of the month for some visual calisthenics.
View the Graphic Jam gallery:
Submit a graphic jam drawing - don’t forget to give it a hashtag (see the link on the same page as above).  
Again, none of these sessions need to be in English. They can be hosted in your native language. We will provide you with the platform and the tools to promote your session. This is about creating content you want, letting you share your expertise and knowledge and connecting with your peers and colleagues. It’s also about facilitating ways for you to build networks and relationships with your fellow practitioners and colleagues.
Phil has created an AirTable that is now a page on the IFVP website, under the tab "For Members”. It is a collection of resources, from books to training to associations helpful in the development of a visual practitioner. Currently, it is available to anyone as it is a collaboration from many different people in the field, not just the IFVP. You can add resources to it but we hope to transition to a member-only list of resources.
Speaking of connecting members, did you know the newsletter’s mission is to inform members, improve the member experience, and endear members to one another? Brandon Black, our Newsletter editor, IFVP member, and Cincinnati-based visual practitioner, has been doing a phenomenal job bringing you member highlights and interesting ideas to think about. If you are keen to share your experience, an idea, or draw an illustration for the newsletter, reach out to Brandon here:
You may have noticed an increase in communications these last few months. Well, I think a lot of that has to do with the work from Board Members Kim Dornish and Katerina Bogina. Thanks to their working in creating an overarching communications framework and calendar, we’ve been able to more easily create content that spans across channels. Oh, and you should know, a lot of the writing you receive in email communications is often from the pen of Board Member Nitya Wakhlu. She is a great writer and communicator, who spends considerable thought about how to best write and share with the membership.

The Next Get Together: When & Where

At the EuViz conference, we announced our 2019 conference location, at Montclair State University in Montclair, NJ. Montclair is about 25 minutes west of NYC and the train delivers you into the middle of it all at Penn Station.
Using a learning institution as a place to host our conference is a new model for us. Campus housing will be available but there are many hotels and AirBnBs available in the area. We hope you are willing to join us on this journey of conference innovation and exploration.  We are still in the initial planning stages with Montclair so we cannot share a lot of details for now but keep your eyes and ears open for more information. What I can share with you is that Phil, Renatta, and I are going to Montclair the week after Labor Day to visit and determine the spaces we will use. Until you hear more, go ahead and block the dates on your calendar: July 29th to August 2nd, 2019.

EuViz in Denmark: The #FOMO was over the top!

It was interesting to watch the conference from afar. As incoming president of the IFVP, I was really excited to be there to meet everyone, to build relationships, and get feedback on what’s important to the visual practitioner community. Unfortunately, that was not to be. A family issue kept me from attending and I watched my feed with a mix of dismay to be missing the fun but also delight in what was showing up in my feeds.
I will leave the recaps for those who will write about it but there is a ton of media to review to inspire and motivate you. Check it out below.

Website updates/Back end Tech

Phil has been hard at work, improving functionalities and efficiencies for backend platforms, and creating features members have suggested for website improvements.
Please be sure to visit the website, sign in and fill out your profile in the Google format (google your address and enter that address) and check your map pin on the google map. Send any problems or feedback to Phil and he will get back to you quickly.
Tul, Elena, and Kim have been involved with the UI/UX of the website redesign. Kim has been working on the requirements and prioritization, as well as testing. Brandon, our tireless newsletter editor, has been re-writing content on the website. There are new capabilities available. Log on to and check it out now.

The IFVP Institute:

Renatta and Phil have been working through the summer with lawyers to complete the incorporation of a new 501c3 for the IFVP. A 501c3 is a US corporation that allows for tax-deductible donations that support its educational, charitable and scientific endeavors. The IFVP itself is incorporated as a 501c6 which is a business promotion organization.
The IFVP Institute will allow us to seek grants and sponsorships that will allow us to expand our work on behalf of visual practice and perhaps allow us to reduce the costs associated with the conference. The initial board for the Institute will consist of Raquel Benmergui, Renatta, and Phil. The board will signal when they are ready for board expansion, so expect to hear more about the IFVP Institute.


The social media committee (SMC) has undergone some changes. Bec Savic–SMC Chair and Facebook and Twitter admin, and Gerri Dickson–SMC member and LinkedIn admin, are moving on after five years of service. That is a long time to volunteer on an essential and critical task.  Thank you to both Bec and Gerry for their generous efforts and time in building our digital footprint and brand message.

Currently, the committee is made up of Raquel Benmergui, Julie Gieseke, Ben Crothers, Heather Leavitt-Martinez, and Laurens Bonnema. The SMC is looking for a few good social media lovers to assist and guide IFVP’s social media strategy in building an audience and communications cadence. I’d also like to thank the current SMC members for their continued service to the IFVP Social Media Committee.

Member and Professional Development: A Code of Ethics and Badges

Board member Nitya started the conversation about a code of ethics with a survey. We received a round of feedback and continue to comb through the results of the survey and fine tune for next steps. Also, don't forget about the stylish Member Badge designed by Ben Crothers. You can download it directly from your member page if you haven't already done so.

Volunteering Opportunities!

The IFVP only works if people volunteer to help make the IFVP grow and thrive. My vision as president is to create opportunities for members to engage as they want, capitalizing on their expertise and knowledge. My dream is to see members teaching and coaching other members. We are a community made up of a HUGE number of inordinately talented people in a myriad of practices and skill levels. Sharing what we know to enrich others and grow is the goal. That’s what I want to see happening in our community. So consider, what talents do you possess that you can contribute to our current list of initiatives?  
Agile volunteering
Social Media committee: chair, LI admin, FB admin, Twitter admin
Write an article for the newsletter
Graphic record a Board of Director meeting (second Saturday of every month, 9 am - 11 am EST - USA)
Pitch and co-host a Fireside Jam
Co-host a Graphic Jam
Join the newsletter committee
Diversity and Inclusion discovery and recommendations?
If you are curious, piqued, have questions, maybe a concern, send an email to and she will connect you to the right person.


IFVP is getting bigger and better!

This is a great coverage of all the goings-on, thanks Sunny. We missed you at Runstedgaard! But I know that the 2019 conference will still be huge and special in its own ways. Plus, it's great to see the extra global activities going on, like the fireside chats and graphic jams. As we know, it's the people who make this special. Thanks to you and the others on the board for all your work and support.