Meaningful Connections, Actionable Learning: First-Time Attendees on the ICE Exchange

Interview by Cindy Durley, Executive Director, Dental Assisting National Board (DANB)

ICE’s annual conference, the ICE Exchange, is an opportunity for credentialing professionals in the public and private sectors to gather, gain insight from industry thought-leaders, network with peers and take actionable learning back to their organizations. 

For those new to the credentialing industry, or just new to ICE, the Exchange is a chance to experience first-hand the value of a community that learns from each other and moves the industry forward together. We spoke with two first-time attendees from the 2017 ICE Exchange to learn more about their experience and what they took away from the event. Hear from Stephanie Runyan, Director, Product Development at the HR Certification Institute (HRCI) and Pete Etchells, RAC Manager at the Regulatory Affairs Professionals Society (RAPS), in this interview.

Why did you attend the 2017 ICE Exchange?

Stephanie Runyan: Dania Eter, Chief Global Credentialing and Products Portfolio Officer at the HR Certification Institute (HRCI) and ICE Board Director, is my supervisor at HRCI and encouraged me to attend the 2017 ICE Exchange. In addition, I worked for HRCI when current ICE Director of Accreditation Services, Linda Anguish, SPHR, GPHR was an HRCI employee. I have been interested in expanding my knowledge of credentialing and networking with other professionals in the larger certification industry and attending the 2017 ICE Exchange seemed like the logical next step.

Pete Etchells: I am relatively new to the credentialing/professional certification field. I was employed by an accreditation organization for five years, and though these concepts intersect, there is a lot to learn. RAPS’s professional certification program was scheduled to complete the re-accreditation process through the National Commission for Certifying Agencies (NCCA) in 2016. I reviewed the materials that RAPS staff developed to apply to NCCA for re-accreditation submission and in this way, I found out about ICE. I investigated ICE’s website, saw that the 2017 ICE Exchange was scheduled and decided to check it out to learn more about the credentialing industry.

What was one of your major takeaways from the 2017 ICE Exchange?

SR: I went to the conference to absorb all information available, without preconceived expectations. Once I arrived and began participating in the program, I was bowled over by the professionalism of all present: the ICE staff, vendors in the Exhibit Hall, speakers, and my colleagues.

More specifically, everyone was very collegial. People were active participants in the sessions – they asked questions, most of them relatable to all in attendance. I was also excited to meet directly with many of the vendors engaged by HRCI.

During the First Timers Mixer, I met Bob Blackwood, and he encouraged me to become an ICE volunteer, telling me how much he learned by “giving back.” I am now on the ICE Education Committee.

PE: I can think of two major takeaways from attending the 2017 ICE Exchange.

RAPS was thinking about making changes to its current certification program versus developing a brand new certification program. I searched for sessions at the 2017 ICE Exchange that might help me clarify ideas staff had about these potential options for program change. In doing so, I got some of my key questions answered. In addition, other attendees in these sessions raised questions I had not thought of yet, but applied to what RAPS was considering. I also found peers to network with regarding the pros and cons of developing a brand new certification program versus changing an existing one.

Another key takeaway from my time at the 2017 ICE Exchange was learning the broadness in scope of what a certification program is and can be, including the various ways certification organizations are governed, the variety of processes that can be implemented to arrive at a quality program, and how one can apply these processes and related strategic approaches to program governance and development to fit them to the needs of a particular industry. 

Did anything at the ICE Exchange stand out to you?

SR: I felt that all feedback I received – from ICE staff, Exchange presenters, my colleagues – was very sincere. I felt very encouraged about the ability to grow in my role as a certification projects manager (at the time) through the network of ICE services and its members.

The ICE Exchange app for my phone was excellent. It helped me stay organized by mapping sessions out and showing me  where I needed to go. I could take notes and access handouts throughout the conference from the app as well.

PE: My experience with vendors in the ICE Exchange Exhibit Hall yielded unexpected surprises. I was able to learn many things from these vendor interactions even if what they were providing was not directly applicable to my organization’s certification program at the time. For a relatively small group of certification organizations or membership associations with certification bodies, the ICE Exchange provides a wide variety of vendors all in one place.

Do you plan to return to the 2018 ICE Exchange?

SR: I have a strong desire to attend. My supervisor has told me that she will rotate staff attendance at the annual ICE Exchange through our department. I hope to return this year, especially since I now am a member of the ICE Education Committee.

PE: Yes, and I would recommend attendance by certification directors and any other staff members involved with certification in a given organization.


 The 2018 ICE Exchange will be held in Austin, Texas, from November 6-9. All levels of credentialing professionals are encouraged to join ICE for a 4-day exchange of industry trends and best practices through live education sessions and plenty of networking opportunities. Learn more here.

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