Tuesday Update 2021 Conference Policies

Hey, friends!

Today, I wanted to talk about some changes to Conference Support for 2021! These will be put into place for all conferences starting in January. At that time, the information on the Conference page under MTG Resources will be updated to reflect the changes. Most of the conference support policies are the same as the ones currently in place, but I have posted them below and have expanded upon them:

Summary of Changes to Conference Policies

1. All Judge Academy supported conferences must be digitally run. This means judges organizing conferences or seminars will need to use a digital method to organize and execute their event, such as WebEx, Zoom, Discord, GoogleMeet, TeamViewer, or Skype. In areas where local laws, regulations, or guidelines have permitted, Judges attending an online conference may gather together in smaller hubs as long as they are following their local guidelines around social distancing. However, in addition to being safe and smart around social distancing, those who are able to safely gather are still expected to fully participate digitally, so consider technical limitations and requirements. If you are unsure if it’s safe to gather, don’t. It is important to us that, even in areas where local laws have allowed small gatherings, those attending online are going to be receiving the same level of experience and that no one feels obligated or pressured to attend anything in-person.

2. Description of Conference Roles:

  • Basic Attendee – A certified JA Judge or L3 Emeritus attending a conference who does not hold any additional role at the conference
  • Primary Organizer – The single point of contact for Judge Academy. This is the person responsible for distributing promos to participants after the event. There should only be 1 Primary Organizer for each conference.
  • Additional Event Staff – This includes any additional organizers, moderators for multi-track events, event assistants, etc. In general, there should only be at most 1 additional event staff per presentation track. However, if you believe your conference requires additional staff, please contact us as soon as possible in order to get approval.
  • Presenter – Presenters are expected to be prepared to deliver a quality presentation or workshop to attendees. Each organizer might have different deadlines for how early a presenter needs to have their materials prepared. In order to best manage a conference, it is recommended that organizers and staff members do not also take on the role of a presenter. If they choose to do so, they will only receive the promos support for one of these roles.
  • Back-up Presenter – In addition to staff and presenters, an event can have one Back-Up Presenter. This is an experienced person who is ready to jump in to help present if technical issues arise or a presenter loses connection. This person should be separate from the organizer or additional event staff. They should either have a relevant presentation of their own prepared or have access to the other presenters’ presentations prior to the conference. Regardless of whether or not this person ends up presenting, they will be counted as a Presenter when determining support.

3. There are two types of Conference Support packages:

    • One package includes conference promos for JUST the organizers/presenters and is intended for those without the ability to distribute promos easily or monitor participation/attendance in a way that they are comfortable with. For this, the primary organizer will receive a single package with 3 conference promo packets for them, and enough promos for each additional presenter to receive 2 packs, and each L3 at the conference to receive 1 additional promo packet.
    •  The other option includes promotional support for all JA Judges that attend the conference, in addition to the organizers and presenters. For this, each presenter/organizer still receives a total of 2 promo packs, each basic attendee will receive 1 promo pack, and each L3 at the conference to receive 1 additional promo packet. However, the added promo support for the Primary Organizer will scale based on a few factors
      • If a conference is under 50 people the primary organizer receives an additional 2 promo packs, for a total of 4 packs.
      • Since many of the logistical hurdles of running a conference begin to scale based on size, for each additional 50 people in attendance, the primary organizer will receive an additional promo pack.
      • Large International or Inter-regional conferences may qualify for additional support, if you intend to target your conference at a large international audience, please let us know in your application.

4. As a reminder, at the start of September we extended support for conferences to all JA Certified Judges in attendance. However, an organizer is encouraged to prioritize in-region judges in situations where there is limited space. Additionally, organizers are never required to accept every application. This means that if you apply to a small local mini-conference across the globe, you should not be surprised if the organizer does not accept your application. At the moment, we are not setting a hard cap on the number of conferences you are allowed to attend, but we will be monitoring numbers in case we DO need to begin setting a limit.

Additional Organizer Policies:

    1. In all of the options for support above, the primary organizer is responsible for the distribution of conference promos after the event.
    2. Conferences that do not offer support for all attendees should make sure that information is clear on the Event page when applications open.
    3. Conference Organizers may choose to require a feedback form or other deliverable, or a requirement to attend x number of seminars. These requirements should be clear on the Event page when applications open.
    4. Organizers are expected to send final numbers to Judge Academy within 1 week of the conference’s end date, and mail promo support to all eligible participants within 2 weeks of receipt of the promos from Judge Academy. *Please note that while basic shipping for attendee/presenters to receive their promos should always be free, some organizers may choose to offer Tracking or other Methods of shipping to attendees, and some of these options may come at an additional charge*
    5. So that all attendance numbers, roles, and levels can be verified, all judges will need to apply to the event or be added by the organizer via the Judge Academy Events Portal in order to receive promo support.

So what are the promos pack contents for 2021 Conferences? We’re still getting our ducks in a row to announce the rotation plan for conference packs and post pictures to announce the first wave of new promos, so keep an eye out!


  1. Nicolette Apraez Post author

    If they are skilled enough that you feel they are trusted to be educating Judges on a topic, then they are contributing and should get counted as a presenter. Especially if they are bringing in non-judge expertise. If they are presenting on a strictly judge topic, I’d be curious why they would be chosen to present over a Judge, but assuming they can justify to the attendees why they should care what this person is presenting, I don’t see a problem.

  2. Yud

    Hi, I have been told Hispanic America – South Conferences won’t handle promo distribution by the event organizer as described here but by a third party located in Argentina. Is there any particular reason this is not mentioned on this blog post? I just learned about this on Facebook, which I don’t consider a place for official Judge Academy announcements. I also wonder if this is gonna happen on other regions as well and the reasons behind it. I strongly believe conference participation not only comes from personal interest but also from the organizer having a level of renown, good organization or management skills and in many cases they are referred to inside the judge community. This makes any Hispanic America – South conference less attractive since it increases the amount of people you need to organize with.

    1. Nicolette Apraez Post author

      Last year, we utilized Logistic Coordinators in a number of areas where shipping from the US was not reliable, including LatAM, APAC, Eastern Europe/Asia, etc.

      For 2021 It’s really dependent on what the postal capabilities in an area are, and we have been listening to our members to determine when and if we need to make other arrangements, which are done on a case by case basis. It should not increase the number of people an attendee needs to work with, though, since the organizer should still be the one coordinating with whoever is responsible for shipping, whether they are in the US, EU, LatAM or elsewhere.

      That said, this should actually make organizing (and attending) LatAm conferences more attractive since it addresses the concerns and feedback those organizers and attendees have shared with us over the last year around issues with customs/shipping and lost/tampered shipments.

  3. orca-

    ” The other option includes promotional support for all JA Judges that attend the conference, in addition to the organizers and presenters. For this, each presenter/organizer still receives a total of 2 promo packs, each basic attendee will receive 1 promo pack, and each L3 at the conference to receive 1 additional promo packet.”

    I really feel the bonus value if a L3 is present at a conference, and not holding a presentation! (This is sarcasm)

    Remove this already!

    1. Nicolette Apraez Post author

      You might not feel it, but the majority of judges do!

      Many Level 1s are excited to meet and interact with leaders in their communities, and the idea of attending a learning opportunity with someone who is the highest level of Judge is exciting to them. There are also many times where we’ve seen evidence of presenters looking to the L3s in the audience if they get a question they are unsure of, or give some misinformation. It’s not exclusive to L3s, but they make up the majority of it, and their experience is something where we want to encourage their attendance, even in situations where they are not presenting, because they might stand back to give presenter opportunities to others. While this is mostly true at physical conferences, due to COVID we did not change digital conference support, so it is the same as what you would have gotten for a physical conference, since many areas do not have a choice at the moment between physical and digital.