anncomptonAt this point in my career, I’ve attended more conference than I can count. That said, I’m not easily impressed. That makes my reaction to day one of #SHSMD16 all the more surprising. I was stunned Ann Compton’s opening keynote address. She was spectacular. For those of you who may not know, for decades Ann Compton served as a White House correspondent for ABC News.

Yesterday was the 15th anniversary of September 11th, 2001 – certainly a day most of us will never forget. It is definitely a day Ann Compton will never forget. You see, she was traveling with President Bush when the planes hit the twin towers of the World Trade Center in New York City. She was there when President Bush was notified of the attack. And she spent the remainder of that day on Air Force One, one of the few journalists who was allowed to remain on the plane after it refueled at Barksdale Air Force Base in Louisiana. From Louisiana, they flew to Offutt air base in Nebraska, then finally returned to Washington.

Ann told this incredibly moving story as part of her keynote last night. I don’t think there was a person in the room who wasn’t emotionally impacted by what Ann shared. It was truly an honor to be there in the audience and hear her account of that day. That presentation alone justified the cost of admission to this conference. Everything else is gravy from this point forward. I’m grateful to the conference planners, volunteers and SHSMD paid staff, for making last night possible. It was poignant.

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