Downtime in Dallas: An After-Hours Guide to the 30th Annual AJLA Conference

Welcome to Texas
Image by Mikey Burton | Texas Monthly

AJLA states will convene in Dallas for the 30th Annual AJLA Conference in just a few short weeks. From Tuesday, July 17, to Thursday, July 19, we will enjoy true Texas hospitality at the historic Magnolia Hotel located within the Main Street District in downtown Dallas. We’ve lined up great local speakers and sessions where we can discuss regional and national workforce initiatives and to grow as professionals together. In addition to a great conference agenda, we’ve also gathered information on local attractions for you to visit in your downtime.

Giant Eyeball Sculpture in Downtown Dallas
Photo by Sharon Mollerus | Flickr

Directly next to the Magnolia Hotel is the Pegasus Plaza, which features a hot spring fountain and is often the site of special events. Grab a pastry at the Flying Horse Café in the Magnolia and enjoy one of the various nearby restaurants or food trucks during your lunch. Don’t forget to keep a look out for the Giant Eyeball located about a block away.

Evenings are yours to explore all that Dallas has to offer. The Central Dallas area is composed of the Downtown, Uptown, Design District, and Deep Ellum areas. Each is bursting with things to do whether you like the arts, green spaces, fine dining, or luxurious shopping.

Downtown Dallas has a beautiful arts scene with many museums to choose from fine dining and nightlife and tours. Consider spending time at one of the following local destinations:

You can also create your own unique experience with the Downtown Dallas Experience tool by searching the Main Street District around the hotel or one of the other nearby districts. For ratings on popular places, take a look at TripAdvisors’ list.

Staying over Friday? Consider booking a free walking tour through DalWalk, but if walking isn’t your thing, consider the Dallas Segway Tours or Trolley Tours.

We look forward to seeing you in Dallas and hope you’re excited as we are about the conference and the surrounding attractions. For more info about the conference, visit the AJLA Events page.

Boston-Bound: A Preview of the 29th Annual AJLA Conference

Set your course by the stars, not by the lights of every passing ship.The countdown has begun: in 29 days, AJLA states will convene in Boston for the 29th Annual AJLA Conference. From Tuesday, July 25, to Thursday, July 27, we will enjoy the hospitality of The Langham – Boston and the opportunity to network with workforce development colleagues and AJLA–TS staff.

During the days, we’ll be charting the future of AJLA applications, hearing workforce development updates, and collaborating to share strategies on workforce policies and programs. Join us for a great lineup of great speakers, including:

  • Tim Martin, Director of the Office of State Systems for ETA Region 1
  • Christina Graff Eckenroth, Executive Assistant to the Regional Administrator for ETA Region 1
  • Ken Messina, Rapid Response Director for the Massachusetts Executive Office of Labor and Workforce Development, Division of Career Services
  • Steven Trueman, Vice President of Workforce Development Operations for the Regional Employment Board of Hampden County
  • Stacey Thompson, Workshop Facilitator, Career Center of Lowell, MA
  • Freddie Velez, Deputy Director of Youth Options Unlimited (YOU) Boston
  • Charlie Terrell, NASWA Project Manager
  • Francheska Atchison, Jobs for Veterans State Grants Program Lead for USDOL/VETS

Evenings will be free to enjoy the sights, sounds, and tastes of Boston. We recommend checking out the Boston Calendar or browsing through our Pinterest board for the conference, which is full of suggestions. We’ll also be using the Topi app for the days of the conference for an interactive agenda, speaker list, and photo stream.

We’re counting down the days til we see you, so book your hotel room and register now!

Color Me Stress-Free: The Adult Coloring Trend at Work

Have you noticed stacks of coloring books in the magazine racks in the grocery store? Have you seen patrons at coffee shops, book stores, or libraries with pencils or crayons spread out around them? Did you notice Twitter and Instagram were inundated with the hashtag #NationalColoringBookDay this past Wednesday? Well, if you can answer yes to any of these questions, you are likely aware of a new trend that’s taken hold across the U.S.: adult coloring books. Maybe you’re familiar with the trend; maybe you’ve even bought a coloring book for yourself. Maybe you’re wondering why we’re writing about coloring on a workforce development blog.

Coloring page from AJLA ConferenceAt the 28th Annual AJLA Conference in San Francisco, the theme was Collaborate – Create – Captivate. One goal of the conference was to encourage attendees to be creative and to develop new perspectives, like learning how to take graphic notes. Each attendee received a pack of colored pencils and a coloring and doodle sheet (download your own here). We did this not just to be cool and trendy, but also because coloring has been proven to reduce stress, increase mindfulness, and to contribute to an overall more healthy life.

As Tom Roston of writes, “…there is something calming about engaging in a familiar, low-impact activity that requires minimal thought and bestows a clear sense of progress.” The benefit of taking a quick coloring break at work is that this simple task allows you to hit pause on your self-consciousness, resetting your focus and potentially jump-starting your creative problem-solving skills (Tate). Studies have even demonstrated a clear reduction in cortisol (stress hormone) levels after participating in an art task (Kaimal, Ray, & Muniz).

While we’re not advocating for you to ditch your responsibilities at work in favor of coloring a masterpiece, we do suggest you find what works for you to reset your focus and increase your creativity. Maybe it’s taking five minutes or a lunch break to color or draw. Maybe it’s watching a funny cat video. But whatever it is, we hope you find that essential balance between work and play so that your productivity and creativity increase and any stress and anxiety decrease.

Top 10: After the Conference Day Ends

We know you’re coming to the 28th Annual AJLA Conference because it’s a fantastic professional development opportunity—a chance to get updates on workforce issues, hear guest speakers’ unique perspectives on the workforce, network with other workforce colleagues, and pick up strategies for creativity and collaboration. But what happens at the end of the conference day? We’ve made a list of some ways you could occupy your downtime.

Top 10 Things To Do When the Conference Day Ends:

10. Relax in Dolores Park or in any of the beautiful Fog City parks.

9. Buy a souvenir or treat at Union Square.

8. Indulge your curiosity at the Exploratorium, a museum of experiences.

7. Swim (or take a ferry) to Alcatrez.

6. Take a trip back to the 60s in Haight-Ashbury.

5. Eat some Ghiradelli chocolate (they even have chocolate cable cars!)

4. Survey fine art at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art.

3. Browse the nation’s oldest Chinatown.

2. Ride a cable car and take in the City by the Bay.

1. Take a picture at the Golden Gate Bridge.

Top Ten Things to Do in San Francisco

For a collection of other things to do in San Francisco, as well as websites relevant to the conference, check out our 28th Annual AJLA Conference board on Pinterest. You can also review the agendaregister, and reserve your hotel room on the Events page. See you in less than a month!

Try Out Topi: Annual Conference App

Topi App LogoAre you going to this year’s 28th Annual AJLA Conference in San Francisco? We sure hope so! The theme this year is Collaborate ­– Create – Captivate, and we’ll be using innovative ways to engage attendees and generate opportunities for creative collaboration. To this end, we’re excited to announce an app for our event! Topi is a free event organizer that you can visit online or download for Android or Apple devices. Topi will give you mobile access to the schedule, speaker information, and other great conference content. It also doubles as a fantastic networking opportunity, allowing you to chat and connect with other attendees through the app.

If you want to get a head start, you can download the app before the conference, or at least preview the web version.

Download the App

Topi App Join Screen
Figure 1: Join the event using “ajla28”
  1. Download the free Topi app from Google Play or the iTunes App Store on your tablet or smartphone.
  2. Open the app and log in with your Facebook or LinkedIn credentials.
    • If you do not have or would prefer not to use Facebook or LinkedIn credentials, we can create a unique login for you. The downside is that you would have to manually build up your profile information. If you would like us to create a login, just contact us.
  3. Before the event starts, you can access the event by typing in the code “28AJLA” upon login (See Figure 1).
    • Once in San Francisco, the app’s geo-fencing feature will suggest the conference for you.
  4. Select Event Info in the expanding menu to view conference information, the conference agenda, speaker and exhibitor info, surveys, and more (see Figure 2).

Exploring the Event Info

Topi App Event Info Menu
Figure 2: Event Info Menu
  1. Select Information for an overview of the conference.
  2. Use the Live Chat to schedule lunch or dinner with a few colleagues.
  3. Open the public Social Wall to comment about the conference, or to leave pictures!
  4. Check out the color-coded Agenda, with information on sessions and pictures of speakers.
  5. Find out more about the Speakers, see when they’re scheduled to speak, give a rating to their presentation, and bookmark them as favorites.
  6. Learn about the companies our four special guest speakers work for in the Exhibitors section.
  7. Answer Surveys and see the results live. (Some surveys may not open until their respective presentations.)
  8. Use the Bookmarks to view agenda items, speakers, or exhibitors that you’ve marked as favorites.
  9. Share on social media! In Event Info, use the Twitter hashtag #ajla28 to tweet about the conference (connects to Twitter if loaded on your device).
  10. Use the Private Notes feature to type, record audio, or draw notes about the conference.
  11. In Documents, see presentation files, URLs for Prezis, and more.

Visit the Website

  1. If you don’t want to download an app, you can view a web-based version of the app at
  2. Use the web version to access the schedule, speaker and exhibitor information, and AJLA social media. Dynamic features like the live chat, social wall, surveys, and note taking are not available on the website.

We hope this event app will captivate your attention and spark creativity and collaboration. If you have any questions about the app or about the conference, just let us know. See you in San Francisco!

Got the Date for the Golden Gate

28th Annual Conference

We’re excited to announce that registration is now open for the 28th America’s Job Link Alliance (AJLA) Annual Conference in San Francisco, CA, July 19–22. This year’s conference theme is Collaborate – Create – Captivate, and we’ll be exploring the power of creativity and collaboration to captivate job seekers, employers, staff, and agency partners.

This four-day event begins on Tuesday, July 19, with the Annual Business Meeting, where we will review AJLA business, elect a new AJLA Executive Committee, and discuss product enhancement requests in sub-committee meetings. The following three days are packed with guest speakers and presentations by leaders in workforce development. By the end of the conference, our goal is that you will:

  • Network with speakers and other AJLA members;
  • Discuss WIOA final regulations and updates to TAA, UI, RESEA, and other programs;
  • Learn about upcoming updates and enhancements to AJLA products; and
  • Get inspired by the conference theme, sessions, and new perspectives on workforce issues.

For more reasons to come, and to download a “Convince Your Boss” attendance request letter, visit the About section of the Events page. The Events page also includes a draft of the schedule, hotel reservation information, online registration form, and other great info. The deadline for the AJLA reduced hotel rate is Monday, June 27, so register today! To receive additional updates about the conference and other AJLA events, sign up at We look forward to seeing you in San Francisco!