Founder Acharya His Divine Grace
A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada

ISKCON North American Leadership Conference, 2018
By Mukhya Dasi   |  Feb 02, 2018

The 2018 North American Leadership Conference was held last week at Camp Geneva outside of Orlando Florida with 27 temple presidents from the US and Canada attending. 

This year’s event was organized by three temple presidents – Mukhya dasi from ISKCON Alachua, Ananda Vrindavan dasi from ISKCON of DC, Sandamini dasi from ISKCON Tucson.  For the past year, they were guided through the organizational process of creating a new model for the annual meeting by Gopinath Bloch (one of the previous directors of The Sanga Initiative). 

Gopinath recently got his masters degree in Organizational Development and this knowledge base coupled with a lifetime in ISKCON and his personal desire to see Srila Prabhupada’s movement move successfully into the future made for a very exciting and eye opening process. The final outcome was two and a half days of North American temple presidents connecting, growing and relaxing in ways we have never done together. 

The meeting schedule and process was created by Gopinath and a colleague from his master’s program, Rebecca Mintz, who has been active in doing Organization Development for nonprofits for the past ten years.

The sessions were interactive and totally engaging, completely created around ISKCON leaders’ needs and purposes, such as building communication; finding common goal; sharing best practices; receiving wisdom from one another; large national and international changes; growing past crisis management and clarifying roles in temple management.

The participants took time to learn about one another, their management preferences, how to work with people who have different styles than they do, and from this base, they moved on into exploring issues that were important to different people. 

Temple Presidents discussed:

  • Succession Plans in ISKCON* and Harmonizing Lines of Authority  (Vedasara das, Atlanta and Nityananda das, Dallas)
  • Book Distribution and Harinama Sankirtan: how to keep these programs alive (Sarvatarak das, New Orleans)
  • Formal Education/Training for Newcomers (Jaya Krishna das, New Vrindaban)
  • An all-ISKCON NA Media Production Team (Deva Madhava das, Ypsilanti)
  • Helping temples become NACPO compliant (Mukhya dasi, Alachua and Ananda Vrindavan dasi, D.C.)
  • NextGen Council – provide training, mentors, funding for our youth worldwide  (Deva Madhava das, Ypsilanti)
  • How to give Krishna Consciousness to every person in their state (Krishna Kirtan das, Delaware)
  • Forming a NA TP council, (Manu das, Vancouver) this topic was merged with Succession Plans, and garnered a robust discussion
  • More Gurus with fewer disciples (Kalakantha das, Gainesville), great presentation on Srila Prabhupada’s position on taking disciples (“every boy, girl, man, woman should be an acharya”); discussions on why so many are reticent to engage in this service, why more could and should.  
  • Jaya Krishna (New Vrindavan) shared fundraising ideas
  • Kalakantha (Gainesville) shared great information about recruiting and training new devotees, which inspired everyone – especially our temples in NA that have ashrams specifically for this purpose (Denver, Ypsilanti) as well as other temples that are just developing the ashram and training programs. 

Several of the conference participants met to create a much-needed communication tool, an online Temple President-only forum that would allow them to throw out questions and get feedback from other TPs who might be experiencing similar situations. It’ll be a place to share best practices, warnings on dubious characters traveling temple to temple; request part-time help; and create a support office where they can look for group pricing on things they all need for their temples like insurance, travel and other purchases. 

All the onsite production of the conference was handled by second generation devotees and the ISKCON temple presidents were all so impressed and appreciative of their sweet service attitude, their capabilities of covering every detail, as well as their input into our discussions.  They were especially thankful to Ratish from Houston, Bhavin from Baltimore, Arvind from Alachua, and to the world-renowned Radha’s Kitchen from Alachua, who cooked the most sumptuous love-filled meals.   

All in all every conference participant agreed the meetings were a big success and everyone left feeling uplifted and hopeful for our future.

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