Greetings PACE Members!

I have missed my interaction with so many in the PACE community very much in the past few months.  You have all been on my mind constantly as we, the inhabitants of the planet Earth, face some of the most unpredictable and unforgiving challenges of our lifetime.   I think you will all agree that the Coronavirus has impacted almost every element of our lives in 2020, from the way we work, to the way we go to school, to the way we interact with family and friends, to the way we gather.  So before I say anything more, I want you to know that the health and safety of our PACE members and your loved ones is always our highest priority and at the forefront of everything that we do.

I know that it probably appears that PACE has been quiet, perhaps dormant, over the past few months.  I can assure you that nothing is further from the truth and I am grateful for this opportunity to share many important updates with each of you today.

While the Coronavirus has hit all of us with unprecedented change, the world has also responded with amazing courage and innovation.  Our industry was challenged to find the balance between our priority for our employee’s health and safety while remaining dedicated to our customer support commitments. We have all gone to great lengths to innovate on how we deliver on this promise in the light of these new challenges.  I am certain that many of your business discussions have focused on how to quickly deploy a work from home strategy and perhaps now on how to safely bring everyone back to the office while maintaining social distancing and safety protocols.  Perhaps you have been focused on how to best utilize technology to support customers as well as  how to create a community of emotional support and continuity for your employees facing personal stress all while learning how to navigate the financial challenges faced by companies and individuals.

I am an optimist and always looking for the bright side.  I think this virus has caused us all to be a little more human, to prioritize communal responsibility as we come together to quarantine to prevent others from getting sick and our hospitals from being overwhelmed.  As the mother of a hospital RN, this part is very personal to me.

This virus may isolate us in our homes but it brings us closer together as a community as we are all going through this together.  We are united in our challenges and we are all focused on rising above this by leaning on each other.  This is where PACE comes in.   We are a membership based community that has been built on a fellowship principle.  We help each other, we learn from each other, we rely on each other, we teach each other, we hire each other, we keep each other out of trouble, we partner with each other and we stand united as a community.  This has always been the DNA of PACE but now more than ever, I am appreciative to know that we, as PACE members, are not alone.

PACE has not been immune to the challenges of 2020.  As a non-profit trade association, we operate in a very lean environment and rely heavily on revenue from events and membership dues to allow us to offer education and advocacy benefits on behalf of our members.  Our decision to postpone our flagship event, ACX’20 (Annual Convention and Expo), that was scheduled to occur in Florida this past April, created numerous business challenges for PACE but was a unanimous decision focused on the well-being of our attendees.   Not only did we need to re-evaluate ACX’20 but also the inaugural CX Council Leadership Summit which was a special event scheduled to occur in front of ACX for members and potential members of our PACE CX Council, including some of the nation’s largest brands.

We previously announced that ACX’20 was postponed until August however, as more information unfolded on the sluggish recovery of our country, ongoing travel restrictions and the logistical challenges of social distancing, we regrouped and innovated and are excited to announce that ACX’20 will be offered in a completely safe and virtual environment to occur in conjunction with Customer Service Week – October 5-9, 2020 (specific days and agenda are being finalized).  This comprehensive virtual ACX’20 will also incorporate the 2020 Washington Summit as well as the much anticipated inaugural event of the CX Council Leadership Summit.  With this model, we offer world class education and networking to an expanded audience under the umbrella of Customer Service Week as we acquired the brand rights earlier this year.  This will be an opportunity to celebrate the full scope of our resilient PACE community.

We are currently working through all of the details and we see tremendous opportunity.  This virtual ACX will allow us to expand the content and programming as well as bring on even more amazing thought leaders and speakers to provide a first class agenda.  We will be updating our website to reflect this change and I promise that there will be regular communication to keep our PACE community informed on what to expect.   Personally, I am so excited because without the concern for travel safety and expense, I can now bring additional leaders from my team to experience the benefit of PACE, from breakout sessions specific to their business needs to networking with our Supplier community for their procurement needs.   This event will not be bound by any of the traditional limits of a live event.  And, we will pay special attention to incorporate a social and networking element so that we maintain the magic of community that PACE is famous for!   I promise that we are working hard on all of this and many of us are volunteers, so I do ask for your patience and support as we finalize these plans.

What I have learned from the many health, financial, societal and moral challenges that we have faced in 2020 is that change may be uncomfortable at times but if we lean in with open minds and good intention, we will create unprecedented opportunity.  Along these lines, I would like to share some new updates on the PACE team.

As you may be aware, Stuart Discount’s last official day with PACE will be June 30 but he will continue to assist us with a few projects over the next few months.  Stuart has dedicated many years to the mission and growth of PACE and we are all deeply grateful for his ongoing commitment to our members.   We hope that Stuart will remain part of the PACE community and be involved in our events for a very long time.   Please join me in thanking Stuart for all that he has contributed to the success of PACE.

Additionally, in June, Chris Haerich started a new role working for a long-term PACE member.  Chris has been an integral part of every aspect of PACE for many years and a dear friend to so many of our members.   I am thrilled that she will remain in our PACE community and I am grateful to Chris for her many years of commitment and support of PACE and wish her the best of success in her new endeavor.

As we move toward our exciting future I am also pleased to announce the following new resources joining the PACE team:

Marnie Valliere will join us in the role of Director of Strategic Programs.  Marnie is a former ATA member, having worked for many years for HSBC before leaving to start her own successful business as well as as serving as a strategic development consultant for another membership based business.   Marnie will be focused on leading several Board driven initiatives projects and will be contributing to the organization of the virtual ACX as well as our value delivery for CX leaders, including the CX Council and the CX Leadership Summit.

Craig Sell will join us in the role of Director of Association Development.  In this role Craig will be responsible for association growth, including sponsorship and exhibit sales, member acquisition and retention.  Craig comes to us with many years of contact center experience in sales, client services and relationship building with leading companies, including PACE members.

Sage Johnson will join us in the role of Director of Member Communications and will deliver on our commitment to ongoing member support.  Sage will be responsible for the PULSE newsletter, DNC alerts, monthly emails and webinar support.  Sage comes to us with non-profit membership communication, marketing and contact center experience.

Kayci Vincent and Susan Burt remain as valuable PACE team members and are here to support our goals and serve our members, as do our business partners Michele Shuster as General Counsel and Jim Rembach in Marketing.

Throughout the last few months my heart has been touched by the many industry leaders who have come forth and offered to help; whether through donating their time and subject matter expertise or advocating to others for the benefit of PACE membership or sharing their ideas about exciting new value-add initiatives for which they would volunteer to support.  Additionally, our ACX speakers and sponsors have been overwhelmingly supportive of our need to pivot in our convention strategy.  My gratitude overflows for the support from our community during this challenging time.

I would also like to express a huge thank you to the  PACE Board of Directors, and especially for my fellow  members of the Executive Committee who have worked relentlessly  over the past year to build the foundation that will allow us to grow, evolve, and  identify new opportunities.

So many of you have asked “how can I help PACE”?    In the very near future we will be announcing the virtual ACX ‘20 agenda for National Customer Service Week.  When this information is published, your assistance in spreading the word to any/all contacts would be a huge benefit.  Without the restrictions of travel and with this aligning with National Customer Service Week, we believe this creates a great opportunity to introduce PACE to people who have not experienced it before.  We would greatly appreciate your help in spreading this message.

If you have questions about any of this, please do not hesitate to contact me or any member of the PACE Board of Directors.  We are here to serve you.   Please be safe and I can’t wait to virtually see everyone in October.


Lori Fentem

PACE, Chair of the Board of Directors

Ring/Amazon, Head of Third Party CS Strategy & Operations