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Above: Over 100 delegates chose to attend a traditional Maori dinner.


imageWith its theme of “Friendship for the Future” and its infusion of New Zealand flair, the 2014 World Conference in Auckland was one of our most inspiring – and most fun – yet. Three hundred people attended, representing 15 countries.

The conference opened with a traditional Maori welcoming ceremony called a powhiri. A representative party of current and former FFI board members and FFI staff went forward to greet each of the Maori performers with the hongi, a gesture in which two people gently press their noses together. Following that, the performers demonstrated some of their traditional songs and dances – a delightful treat for everyone in attendance.

While Bob Duncan of FF Baton Rouge could not be there to personally hand over the World Conference Host Cup, he sent a video message to congratulate this year’s host committee. Ana Smulski of the FFI staff presented the Host Cup to Alan Milne (FF Kapiti Coast, New Zealand) on Bob’s behalf, and the conference was officially begun. Greetings from FFI President Joy DiBenedetto and Acting Mayor of Auckland Penny Hulse followed.

Delegates had the opportunity to attend four workshops throughout the conference, choosing from among 15 different topics. Led by successful Friendship Force volunteers, FFI board members and staff, the workshops were a platform for discussing FFI’s global goals, sharing successful leadership strategies, and learning new skills.

Click on “Presentations” in the yellow menu bar above to see materials and videos from the conference workshops.

The conference host committee treated everyone to a Sing-Along Musical Mystery Evening, in which guests sang along with some of their favorite songs and laughed uproariously at their hosts’ outrageous skits and jokes.

Day 2 of the conference got off to a great start with a number of fabulous guest speakers invited by the host committee. Comedian Pinky Agnew got everyone laughing and taught us the difference between New Zealand and Australian accents. Following that, two secondary school students shared with us their thoughtful reflections on the history and the future of New Zealand. Lastly, Grant Sidaway of SeniorNet impressed us all with his demonstrations of the most current technology.

imageJoy was then joined on stage by Strategic Planning Chair Cecile Latour of the FFI board. Together, they presented the findings of the recent global membership survey and discussed the insights it revealed into the future directions of the organization. Cecile also introduced several members of the NEXTGEN Youth and Mentors Councils, and described some of the ideas they have been forming to engage new and diverse members.

Thursday night’s gala banquet was a true show of New Zealand spirit. Delicious food and drinks started the night off well, and the music of the talented Royal New Zealand Navy Band got everyone on the dance floor right away. Many smiling photos were taken and many lasting memories were made - a great way to end the conference on a high note.

Excellence in Volunteerism and Leadership

At each World Conference, FFI presents awards to honor clubs and volunteers for their innovations, achievements and leadership. The following awards were presented at the 2014 World Conference:

Volunteer of the Year: Dave Kalan, FF Greater Milwaukee, USA
Club of the Year: FF Kaohsiung, Taiwan

Lifetime Achievement: Bobbie Jones, FF Lake Hartwell, USA
Lifetime Achievement: Colleen Potts, FF Newcastle, Australia
Lifetime Achievement: Kazuhiko Sasaki, FF Koriyama, Japan

Explore: Ray Troyahn, FF Sunshine Coast, Australia
Understand: Colin Ridge, FF Taupo, New Zealand
Serve: Van Nichols, FF Oregon’s Mid-Willamette Valley, USA

Remarkable Membership Growth Initiatives: FF Olympia, USA & FF Denver, USA
Fantastic Fundraising Efforts: FF New Plymouth, New Zealand

Honorable Mention: Jean Caddell, FF Fort Worth, USA
Honorable Mention: Tressa Youngbear, FF Cedar Rapids, USA
Honorable Mention: FF Norderstedt, Germany

Best Photo - Exchange: Jaap Schouten, FF Ottawa, Canada
Best Photo - Conference: Boya Marshall, FF Hamburg, Germany

Click here to read more about each of these remarkable award winners.

imageSpecial Thanks

FFI would like to extend a special thank you to the Friendship Force clubs of New Zealand and especially the host committee comprised of Alan Milne, Colin Ridge, Allan Brickland, Roz Bridges, Ann Campbell, Robert Campbell, Debbie Lattey, Audrey McLoughlin, Mary Milne and Ross Stevens. We would also like to thank all the volunteers who gave presentations and served on panels.

After the conference, six New Zealand clubs opened their doors for post-conference homestays. Thank you to all the hosts who gave their guests a wonderful Friendship Force experience!


The 2015 World Conference will be a one-of-a-kind event. Join us in Vancouver, Canada, August 28 to 31, 2015.

Registration will open in December. Until then, please direct your questions to Maria at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

imageLooking for Auckland conference photos?

Follow this link to the official Friendship Force flickr account where you can download copies for yourself!

Instructions for Downloading

1. Click on the photo you would like to download.

2. Click on the symbol of the downward pointing arrow in the lower right corner.

3. Select the size you would like to download.

4. The photo will then download to your computer so that you can share it!

You can still submit your own conference photos to be added to the FFI Flickr. Email them to .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).




Read the transcript: Joy’s Keynote Address: Friendship For the Future




Read the transcript: Joy’s Closing Remarks

Questions? Email Jillian at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

Please note: presentations may be large and take several minutes to download.

Read the conference program.

Conference Addresses from FFI President & CEO Joy DiBenedetto

Welcome Message
Keynote Address: Friendship For the Future
Closing Remarks

Auckland: The Place To Be

Presentation by Bobby Newson, Auckland City Council
Versions: PowerPoint | PDF

Better Than Ever: Ideas for Hosting

Presentation by Kay Price, Gayle Macready, and Warren Chambers
Versions: PowerPoint | PDF

How to Conduct a Global Themed Exchange

Presentation by Annette Watson, Tamworth, Australia
Versions: PowerPoint | PDF

Presentation by Shirley Hauck, Whidbey Island, USA
Versions: PowerPoint | PDF

Connect! Ways to Grow Your Club at Home

Presentation by Marilyn Peterson, Oregon’s Mid-Willamette Valley, USA
Version: PDF

A Picture Paints A Thousand Words

Presentation by Barbara Macken, National Capital Area, USA
Versions: PowerPoint | PDF

Strategy For Success

Presentation by Matthew Nidek, FFI Program Manager
Versions: PowerPoint | PDF

Call to Action: Moving the Friendship Force Forward

Presentation by Bobbie Mulholland, NEXTGEN Mentor Council, Adelaide, Australia
Versions: PowerPoint | PDF
Notes: Word | PDF

NEXTGEN Program Ideas

Presentation by Boya Marshall, Hamburg, Germany
Versions: PDF

Presentation by Serafina Haefeli, Solothurn, Switzerland
Versions: PowerPoint | PDF

Social Media for the Friendship Force

Presentation by Mike Matthews, Sunshine Coast, Australia
Versions: PowerPoint | PDF
Helpful Hints: Word | PDF
Notes: Word | PDF

“Good Ideas” Open Mic

Presentation by Colin Ridge, Taupo, New Zealand
Versions: Word | PDF

What’s the Story?

Presentation by Jillian Walters, FFI staff
Versions: Word | PDF

Strategic Plan Preview

Presented by Joy DiBenedetto, FFI President and CEO
Stay tuned! Information on the Global Survey results and the Strategic Plan is coming soon.

Questions? Email Jillian at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

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