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Dean's List: ANN-mated Character

By Selena Fragassi


In the vast world of collegiate conference planning, Ann Knoebel has emerged at the top of the chain with communication and personality.

Ann Knoebel is never short on words—and for good reason. “In all of my previous jobs, including teaching, I’ve learned that communication is the hallmark of business suc- cess,” she says. As the assistant vice president for conferences and special programs at Trinity University in San Antonio, Texas the past three decades, Knoebel has put those words into action. That means translating the mission of a burgeoning collegiate conference program into monetary support from key departments and developing a strong lecture series with noted speakers including Doris Kearnes Goodwin, David Axelrod and Condoleezza Rice. Knoebel, too, has much to say about her own profession—and it’s clear from this conversation that hers is quite the story.

Unique Venues: How did you ultimately land in your current role at Trinity?

Ann Knoebel: “Before Trinity, I was the director of public relations for a national health organization. I was asked to come to the university to help coordinate national and international solar energy conferences. When that grant money was no longer available, Trinity asked me to stay with the office of continuing education and, to- gether, we changed the direction to become a flourishing conference business over the last 25 years.”

UV: What were some of your challenges developing the program in the beginning? AK: “To start any kind of new business, you have to educate your colleagues so that they understand your role, your mission within the university and then translate that into support. No one can ever be successful without support from the top, so the pro- cess really is to get everyone on-board and then to have buy-in from the people that will let you do your job.”

UV: What is one of your favorite parts of your job?
AK: “Since the beginning, I’ve created
and managed our Policy Maker Break- fast Series. I also secure the speakers for the three major lecture series we have on campus with noted individuals from the fields of business, economics and media. I enjoy the working relationship I have with the faculty and assisting their professional development programs.”

UV: What have been some of the mile- stones for you over the past 30 years?
AK: “I find it personally rewarding to see a project completed, from the initial contact of receiving a proposal to finally getting a note from a planner saying, ‘This was our best conference ever.’ I also love connect- ing with new professionals in the industry and being a resource or mentor for them. On a more personal level, I was so honored when I received the Association of Col- legiate Conference and Events Directors- International Jack Thornton Award and the Mentor of the Year Award.”

UV: What is something people may be sur- prised to learn about you?
AK: “I’ve come a long way from wanting to be a nun!”