Pre Con

2015 American Diabetes Association (ADA) EXPO Chicago

The ADA’s most visible initiative is linking diabetes to overall health and wellness.


This will be the 11th year that the ADA holds this one-day public expo in Chicago, offering everything from product demonstrations and education on prevention to lectures by prominent people living with diabetes. About 15,000 people attend. “Each year,” said Erin Callahan, the ADA’s EXPO chair, “our numbers continue to increase in terms of both attendees and sales.”


The ADA relies on sponsorships from vendors to support aligned sessions and demos — yet finding sponsors for new technology, a major ADA focus, can be tricky. For instance,“charging stations come at a cost from both the decorator and the venue,” Callahan said. As do digi- tal signage and a conference smartphone app, both of which the ADA hopes to introduce this year. Yet even if the organization invests in new technology, there’s no guarantee that attendees will adopt it. The majority have been diagnosed with adult-onset, Type II diabetes, and skew older than 35. “[Our attendees] are used to maps in their hands, not apps on their phones,” Callahan said. “They’re also not necessarily up for Facebook or Twitter or hashtagging.”


But the ADA’s most visible initiative is more overarching: linking diabetes to overall health and wellness, especially as the number of those who have been diagnosed with the disease climbs. That means an increased focus on cooking demonstrations and education sessions on mak- ing healthy decisions when dining out. “We really want to be the health and wellness expo,” Callahan said, “known for bringing that ethos to our show floor, and that [people with diabetes] can live full, exciting, and fulfilling lives.”

2015 American Diabetes Association (ADA) EXPO Chicago
April 18, 2015 McCormick Place East Chicago, Illinois


Convene’s Pre-Con/Post-Con series asks meeting planners about their challenges and how they intend to address them (Pre-Con), and then circles back around after the meeting has occurred (Post-Con) to see how well they worked out.

Kate Mulcrone

Kate Mulcrone is digital editor of Convene.