A Successful 2013 User Conference Wraps Up

By Greg Gagnon and Jessica Searles

Our annual user conference, Emphasys Users Connect, wrapped up Wednesday, August 21. Over 200 housing professionals, Emphasys staffers and vendors attended the event at the beautiful Renaissance Baltimore Harborplace Hotel in Maryland. It kicked off Sunday evening with a welcome reception at the Harborplace’s Watertable Ballroom, where attendees and Emphasys staff alike caught up with old friends and made new connections.


Keynote Address with HUD Panelists

The following morning, Larry Huckle, General Manager of the PHA Division, welcomed attendees at the opening session, and immediately after, he welcomed four distinguished panelists from HUD, who delivered the keynote address: Jane C.W. Vincent, Jeffrey H. Riddel, William Lavy, and Carol Payne updated attendees on current HUD developments relating to the funding, program administration and the future of public housing. They discussed the impact of sequestration on federal housing programs as well as what may be in store given the proposed FY2014 budget.

In addition, our panelists talked about HUD’s innovative ways to maintain and modernize the nation’s public housing through Capital Fund initiatives, the Rental Demonstration Program and the Housing Choice Voucher Program. The keynote closed with a moving talk from Baltimore’s Carol Payne who showed a video clip proving why the work our clients do is so very important and how it positively affects communities and society as a whole.

Educational Sessions

A busy afternoon of educational sessions included eight different tracks:

  • Reports & Letters
  • IT Technical
  • General & Management
  • Housing Choice Voucher (S8/HVC)
  • Low Income Public Housing (LIPH)
  • Finance
  • Product Demonstrations
  • Special Group Meetings & Roundtables

The packed agenda offered classes for everyone, including such titles as Batch Correspondence 101, Tax Credits – How to Manage in Elite, Elite Budget Importing, Crystal Reports – How to Easily Modify Crystal Reports and Make Them Your Own, and Current HUD Trends – Cost Saving Ideas Under Sequestration. We’d like to extend a big thanks to all the presenters from various housing authorities who took time participate.

A Howling Good Time!

Attendees brought their singing voices and their dancing shoes to our private party at Howl at the Moon Monday evening. Howl is a high-energy, dance-on-top-of-the-piano type of place where you can sing and dance along with the musicians. We’re proud to note that our attendees had moves like Jagger!


The fun didn’t end there, either. After a day packed with more educational sessions, sports fans had a great time at an Orioles game Tuesday night, where Joe D’Ascoli caught a foul ball in the 9th inning!

ENUG Board Election & iPad Awards

animated_logoENUG (Emphasys National User Group) held its business meeting on Tuesday, where Charleston and Boston were elected to the ENUG board. Congratulations to both organizations!

ENUG represents a strong and united voice in presenting issues and suggestions to Emphasys management. ENUG membership includes access to quarterly conference calls and a number of online resources. And, of course, ENUG members help make Users Connect a reality each year.

You can learn about membership today at www.myenug.net.

We also want to extend congratulations ENUG’s iPad winners. On Monday, Eartha Alexander won an iPad mini at the early drawing at Howl at the Moon. Doug Freeman won the other iPad mini while Paula Saba added a full size iPad to her winnings.

Post-Conference Workshops

The conference wrapped up Wednesday, but many attendees stayed on for another day to attend the popular hands-on post-conference workshops. This year, Emphasys presenters taught all-day workshops about VMS Reporting and the Elite Report Engine.

A Big Thanks

Emphasys wishes to thank all our attendees for making the time to learn and network with HUD and with PHAs across the country. We’re looking forward to next year!

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About Jessica Searles

Jessica Searles has been involved in various facets of housing industry software for more than 13 years, including Public Housing, Housing Finance, Treasury and Debt Management, Residential Real Estate and Loan Servicing Software. She writes for Emphasys Software, a leading provider of financial management and compliance software. Jessica is a graduate of Northern Michigan University.

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