Our 2023 Conference is taking place August 10-12 in Houston, Texas. Our goal is to give conference attendees a well-rounded perspective on the types of programs that can help their communities achieve their lifesaving goals, so we welcome presenters from different backgrounds and organization types.

It is essential that the topics we ultimately select cover a wide range of animal shelter and community programs and innovative and proven strategies to help save more lives.

Speakers with a diverse range of backgrounds and experiences will be selected, and we welcome first-time presenters to submit proposals.

We ask that speakers present an entire session directly related to their submitted proposal, lasting 45 minutes (please limit the amount of time spent on Q&A to be as minimal as possible). We may request that speakers provide additional time for roundtable discussions and question-and-answer sessions for conference attendees.

All breakout sessions will be limited to a maximum of two co-presenters, and information for both presenters must be included in the original submission. If submitting for a panel, we will allow one moderator and up to three panelists (please see “conference expenses” section for details on expense coverage differences). 

 

We welcome presentation submissions that cover the following topics:
 

  • Advocacy and community engagement
  • Cat-specific lifesaving
  • Culture and change management
  • Dog-specific lifesaving
  • Executive leadership and staff development
  • Field services and animal control
  • Fundraising and development
  • Lifesaving programs
  • Marketing and communications
  • Rescue group operations and administration
  • Shelter medicine and animal care
  • Shelter operations and administration

Timeline for submissions

January 4: Open the submission process

February 6: Deadline to submit proposals

March 8-10: Decisions finalized and communicated

If you are selected to be a speaker, you’ll access a speaker portal to complete your speaker agreement, provide a biography and head shot, upload any materials or handouts for attendees, and more. We will assign clear deadlines for each task in the portal.

Person speaking at a conference

Want to make your submission stand out?

We consider submissions on topics that are thoughtfully planned out, and we ask that you explain precisely what you intend to share with conference attendees.

Please write a clear and concise description of your proposed session, including what content and resources you have in mind, and what the key takeaways are for conference attendees.

Sessions should be informative and guide attendees on how to implement what you're teaching into their own organizations versus a showcase of things your organization has accomplished.

We don’t want sessions to be a sales pitch for a company’s products or services. So, while we welcome representatives from for-profit companies, we ask you to please refrain from submitting a session geared toward selling a product or service.

You are welcome to submit more than one session for consideration. You may also submit one session geared toward beginners and one geared toward experienced leaders. You’ll need to complete one submission form for each proposed session.

You should fill most/all of the 45 minutes of session time with content, leaving minimal time for audience question-and-answer periods (if any).

Smiling conference attendees watching a presentation

Speaker expectations

We're looking forward to receiving your proposal, and ask that before you submit, you understand what will be expected of you if selected:

Adhere to all deadlines provided in the speaker portal.

Communicate with Best Friends staff via email as we review your session title, description and biography for editing purposes. We will also review your presentation content to make sure it adheres to Best Friends’ guiding principles.

Provide materials, handouts and copies of your presentation electronically that attendees may download.

Rehearse your presentation as needed, especially if you have co-presenters, to fully prepare for event day.

Be flexible in terms of pandemic-related policies that may require changes to event protocols or schedules.

Best Friends believes in being kind to all, both two- and four-legged beings. Compassion drives our work to save the lives of animals. As a matter of procedure, a standard internet search, including reviewing publicly available information, will be performed prior to final speaker selection. 

Two people speaking at the Best Friends National Conference

Involvement at the conference

Best Friends will provide the official conference schedule in early 2023 so that you can plan your trip accordingly.

At the conference, we’ll provide you with a time to report to a speakers-only room to prepare for your session beforehand.

Following your session, we may ask you to participate in a question-and-answer session or roundtable discussion to further engage with attendees. We ask that you spend as much of your session’s time as possible on the content and not leave too much time for questions and answers at the end.

Smiling people at the Best Friends National Conference

Conference expenses

Each breakout session speaker, panelist, and panel moderator will receive a complimentary conference registration (providing you full access to the event) which includes three continental breakfasts, three lunches, and at least one evening reception.

Best Friends encourages speakers’ employers or sponsors to fund travel expenses. If that is not possible, a travel stipend and lodging reservations are available as follows: 

  • If you live within 200 miles of the conference venue, you can be reimbursed up to $300 for your travel expenses. If you live 201 miles or more from the conference venue, you can be reimbursed up to $400 for your travel expenses. 

  • We will reserve and pay for your lodging at the conference venue from an August 9 check in through an August 13 check out date. Speakers may extend lodging at their own expense. 

Panelists do not qualify for expense or lodging coverage beyond the complimentary conference registration. 

Additional benefits for conference speakers

Best Friends is grateful for all those who dedicate their time and effort to speak at our conference, and we want to make sure you have a worthwhile experience.

Our goal is always to provide additional benefits to all speakers. Benefits for 2023 include, but are not limited to, the following: 

  • Free conference registration 
  • Certificate of participation 
  • Travel stipend 
  • Half-day speaker workshop with head speaker coach for TEDxSaltLakeCity, Beth Wolfer 
  • Customized image with your headshot to announce you’re speaking at the conference 
  • Dedicated onsite speaker lounge