Leadership Conference

2021 Leadership Conference

Thank you for your patience in waiting for more information on the Leadership Conference. We wanted to provide you with comprehensive information on the topics we will be covering over the weekend, as well as information on COVID-19 protocols for this event. Please be sure to share this information with your programs.

Leadership Conference Sessions:

We will be holding several full group sessions on important topics for Local Programs. We are not requiring pre-registration for 2021 sessions. These topics will include:

Strategic Plan:

Over the last several months, the Strategic Plan Working Group and our SOPA staff have been working to fine tune the proposed 2021-2024 SOPA Strategic Plan that the SOPA Board approved in June. We will be presenting all of the strategies, tactics and measurable that were put together for the upcoming plan.

Return to Activities:

This session will provide an overview of the 2021-2022 COVID-19 Return to Activities plan. We will provide an overview of the R2A plan, the approval process, and guidance on school based programming, meetings, social gatherings, and fundraising.

Regionalization: More & Better:

During this session we will share what we have learned, identify next steps in regionalization, and will have a variety of breakout sessions that will focus on the impact of regionalization in those areas.

Mission, Vision & Values: SOPA’s Focus on Fitness Session:

With an overall goal to:

  • Educate: which will be a whole group discussion on SOPA’s culture of fitness.
  • Motivate: also a whole group discussion in which we will hear from a fitness expert, SOPA athlete and celebrity.
  • Inspire: which will be three breakout group discussions in which participants can ask questions to staff and plan for local activation.

Small Group Sessions:

We will also have smaller sessions on the following topics:

  • Development Department Updates
  • Sports/Competition Updates
  • Training Updates
  • Athlete Leader Approach To Unified Leadership
  • Fireside Chat with CEO Matt Aaron and select members of our Board of Directors

Other weekend activities will include:

  • Annual Awards & Hall of Fame Banquet
  • 2020 & 2021 Athlete Leadership University Graduation
  • Saturday Evening Bingo
  • Sunday morning exercise opportunity

General Schedule: Session pre-registration is NOT required.


10:00am            Conference Registration - OPEN

11:30pm            Lunch

12:30pm            Welcome & Strategic Plan Session

2:45pm              Return to Activities Session

4:30pm              Small Group Sessions

5:30pm              Social Activity

6:30pm              Dinner & Banquet

8:15pm              Evening Event


7:00am              Exercise Opportunity

7:30am              Breakfast

8:45am              Mission, Vision & Values: SOPA’s Focus on Fitness Session

10:30am            Regionalization: More & Better Session

12:00pm            Closing Session

Conference & Hotel Registration – OPEN NOW!

To make your Hotel Registration, please call 1-800-233-7505 and ask for PA Special Olympic Leadership Conference or the GROUP CODE – SOPA21L

Program Hotel Reservation: Hotel Rate - $129.00 per room

Leadership Conference 2021 registration and hotel reservation are open as of now & we are using the same process as last year.

  • Hotel rooms made by one member of the Program Management Team for all conference attendees. This assures that the Program Management has agreed to the individuals attending the conference.
  • Please call 1-800-233-7505 and ask for PA Special Olympic Leadership Conferenceor the GROUP CODE – SOPA21L
  • Caller should give all program attendees first and last name with room needs
  • Please use the managers (or designee) email for contact information with the hotel.
  • Be sure to tell reservationist what program you are from to put in the reservation notes, so SOPA can send you conference details.
  • Reservations must be made by August 20th to be sure rooms are available.
  • Any changes or cancellations made 72 hours prior to arrival or you will be charged for a full stay.
  • Payment to the hotel from the programs at checkout.
  • SOPA will not bill out to the programs as per previous years.
  • Please use your SOPA issued program credit card to manage the charges
    • If you program does not have a SOPA credit card and would like to receive one please contact - Dennis Durkin, Controller, at

No Hotel Stay:

If you are not planning on staying overnight at The Penn Stater Hotel and Conference Center, please contact Carolyn at directly.

Early Conference Arrival:

Program Conference Reservation:

To register for the conference use this link:

The conference registration is directing all programs to register & pay for their conference directly with our fundraising software “CLASSY”.

  • Payment will be made for conference registration from the programs when you click “check-out” in the registration program.
    • Full Conference - $120.00
    • Saturday Only - $75
    • Banquet Only - $40
    • Sunday Only - $45
  • SOPA will not bill out to the programs as per previous years.
  • Please use your SOPA issued program credit card or a personal credit card to manage the charges
  • Programs may have 1 person register everyone at once or send the link to each person, but payment must be made before registration is complete
  • We are not asking any programs to make a donation to SOPA while registering, please ignore the “make a donation” page on the web site

Please follow this link –


  • Select (+) how many people you are registering for each ticket
  • Skip – “Add a donation” page
  • Answer each question for each “attendee” you are registering
  • Please have credit card information available at time of registration
  • Please Note – Credentials are pulled from this list (spelling & positions)

Contact Carolyn with any questions. Cancellations are honored until August 20, 2021. 


Special Olympics Pennsylvania is monitoring new COVID-19 cases daily per 100,000 people through the Pennsylvania Department of Health. The state of Pennsylvania must maintain a “low” COVID-19 community transmission rate of less than 10 new cases daily per 100,000 people or “moderate” COVID-19 community transmission rate of 11 to 15 new cases daily per 100,000 people.


All participants are required to complete and return the COMMUNICABLE DISEASES PARTICIPANT (ATHLETE AND VOLUNTEER) RISK ASSESSMENT, CODE OF CONDUCT, AND WAIVER. The form must be electronically signed and submitted via Google Forms prior to the Leadership Conference. This form will be sent via email to all registered participants within 14 days of the event. Any participant who does not sign the form in advance of will be required to sign on-site.

Positive COVID-19 test:

No participant will be able to attend the Leadership Conference within 10 days of a COVID positive test and/or 7 days of any symptoms. We will collect this information within the COMMUNICABLE DISEASES PARTICIPANT (ATHLETE AND VOLUNTEER) RISK ASSESSMENT, CODE OF CONDUCT, AND WAIVER.


Low risk: Unvaccinated participants are required to wear masks indoors and outdoors.  Masks are strongly recommended for vaccinated participants, especially when indoors. If we move into moderate risk: masks are required for ALL participants.


Unvaccinated participants from different households may not room together. If one individual is unvaccinated max of two per room.

Per the housing policy:  In hotel/motel environments, a maximum of two (2) athletes/Unified Partners under age 18 may share a bed (double size or larger). Athletes/Unified Partners age 18 and older will not share beds. Coaches/volunteers will not share beds, regardless of age.

Participants are expected to follow the housing policy. The full policy can be found here.


Public Transportation

  • When using public transportation, a rideshare service, taxis, or commercial air or train/rail for transportation, all individuals (or via their caregivers/families) should be educated about and willing to abide by any safety/masking requirements in place by the transportation operator.
  • Individuals should also be aware of the potential consequences of not following the operator’s required practices.
  • Hand hygiene/sanitization should be followed.
  • Strongly recommend wearing a mask

Personal Transportation

  • When securing personal transportation, SOPA recommends the following
  • When traveling with family, caregivers, or individuals with whom the participant lives, masks are not required.
  • When carpooling with someone outside of the household, masks and social distancing are recommended. 
  • Social distancing can be accomplished by limiting 4 per car maximum and 6 per vehicle maximum provided there are three rows of seats.
  • Encouraged as much as possible for local/regional events.
  • Hand hygiene/sanitization should be followed.

Special Olympics Provided Transportation (as recommended by SOI)

  • When traveling to SOPA sponsored activities in a carpool, masks and social distancing are required unless all riders are vaccinated.
  • Social distancing can be accomplished by limiting 4 per car maximum and 6 per vehicle maximum provided there are three rows of seats.
  • When traveling to SOPA sponsored activities in busses or vans, masks are required and social distancing must be followed unless all riders are vaccinated.
  • Social distancing requires an empty seat between each participant in a van.
  • Social distancing requires no side by side seating. Please note: School bus - one person per seat. Coach bus - one person per 2 seats
  • This will limit capacity and may require more vehicles than usual. 
  • Every vehicle must have a designated individual to monitor for compliance at all times.
  • On site screening of all participants must occur prior to boarding busses or vans.
  • No shared food, use only individually packaged items. Masks must be placed over nose and mouth whenever not actively eating or drinking.
  • Hand hygiene/sanitization should be followed.

Local Programs should thoroughly understand what COVID-19 safety protocols the bus company or third-party transportation vendor they are going to contract with is implementing. For example:  Are all drivers fully vaccinated and/or regularly tested (and how often, if so)? What are they doing to restrict/control entry onto the bus by others who are not cleared personnel or approved SOPA participants? What are their vehicle cleaning regimens? Will they/the driver play any role in enforcing COVID-19 safety requirements or would the Local Program be expected to do that?

If you have Leadership Conference questions, please contact me directly at If you have any COVID-19 protocol questions, please contact your Field Director.  We are looking forward bringing everyone together for a safe, fun and educational experience!

Thank you!

Carolyn Kushner

Manager of Volunteer Services

2020 SOPA Virtual Leadership Conference

On behalf of all SOPA staff we want to thank you for attending our Virtual Leadership Conference. We hope that you found the conference informative and worthwhile. The primary goal of this conference was to bring volunteers, staff, and athletes together to learn how we can continue to work hard to achieve the goals of SOPA over the next year.

If you missed any of the Conference or would like to revisit some presentations, please check out our Conference recording.

View the Entire Leadership Conference or use the below hyperlinks to view certain segments.

Opening Remarks

Welcome by Matt Aaron, President and CEO