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'Working in Concert With Those We Support'; AM&P 2020 Keynote Leslie Mac Will Help You Make Your Best Impact

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by Ronn Levine


After listening to a short interview that AM&P 2020 keynote speaker Leslie Mac did last month for a show on TV station KTVU called Voices for Change, I can safely say that after hearing her talk you will approach life a little differently—in a good way.


While the words of this exemplary organizer/digital strategist/trainer—whose AM&P 2020 keynote is officially titled Defining the Work in These Times—inspire personal action, they also address your best business self.


“I really dislike the phrase, ‘Giving voice to the voiceless’ because nobody’s voiceless,” she said. “It’s about who we’re listening to, who we’re ensuring other people hear. And that’s the job allies and advocates have—making sure we’re working in concert with those we support and work in alignment with, and that all of the actions that we do take are in alignment with what’s already happening.”


Talk about breaking down silos. Mac may be talking to us virtually on the morning of Oct. 21, but she has the personality to come through the screen and de-Zoomify us a bit. She wants us to do.


“The great thing about the training is that it’s really built to give participants the tools they need to create an actionable plan by the end of the course [or in this case a talk]. It’s not focused on the learning; it’s really focused on the doing. And we want to help people build a plan, talk about the things they can research, [develop] the tools they need and [learn] how they can build support for themselves in the work they want to do.


“The biggest thing I tell [my class] is that you really need to get clear on what you are personally connected to, affect, tolerate and perpetuate these issues you’re willing to address. If you don’t get clear on that, your actions are never going to be as clear as you want them to be. So you need to look at the places you hold power, where the people near and dear to you hold power, and leverage those things for good—leverage those things for the places where you want to make an impact.”


“Allyship” is a word we hear a lot these days. Mac tries to clear up its meaning. “Being an ally is a verb, it’s not a noun,” she said. “So it’s something that we all continually have to do. And this is not just about race [or] just about gender. We have so many parts of our society that are marginalized in different ways, and how we show up for those folks, how we support what they’re doing [is what matters].”


One of my favorite phrases is, “perfection is the enemy of good.” Mac seems to agree. “What I try to tell people to focus on is accountability not perfection. We’re human beings, we’re going to make mistakes, and part of taking action is being willing to make those mistakes, and being willing to take actionable response when you mess up—not being defensive, not getting your feelings hurt, and to understand what’s being said to you when you do mess up. What are the lessons that you learn from the mistakes you make so that you can share them with others, so they don’t all into the same track that you did.


“I say all the time that we can have different strategies to get where we’re going, but we all need to be pulling in same directions so that we’re all advancing the cause together.”


As an appetizer in this amazing smorgasbord of editors, designers, publishers and other association media experts, Mac should prove enticing. But the courses that follow should be equally educationally sumptuous. (See the whole schedule here.) The Day 2 keynote speaker is Mario Garcia, a Columbia professor, founder of global consulting firm Garcia Media and author of the new book, The Story.


Other standout sessions include:

- How to Do It All: Execute a Digital-First Strategy While Maintaining a Strong Print Presence

- Event Branding & Marketing: How to Lure Them in Pre- and Post-COVID

- Borrowing Brilliance From Consumer Magazines

- Taking Infographics to the Next Level

- Get to Know Your Audience Through Data-Driven Insights

- What Consolidating Our eNewsletters Taught Us About Content Strategy


In addition, awards will be given out to Emerging Leaders, for the EXCEL Extra, and for the Mitch Mohanna Lifetime Achievement Award.


Registration is open at this link. We’re less than three weeks away! Focus on the doing and sign up now to join us for what I can also safely say will be an event like no other in AM&P annals.


Ronn Levine is the editorial director of SIIA. He can be reached at or 703.338.7494.