BRI Conference

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)


What is the BRI Conference?

The Blue Ridge Institute (BRI) is unlike any other conference experience most of us have had, for several reasons: Held in a more relaxed setting than most conferences, BRI provides a perfect backdrop to recharge our personal and professional batteries, given the demands we face as human care executives. Many Blue Ridgers bring their families along for the week. BRI is also steeped in tradition, some from its very beginning in 1927.

By design, BRI is held in a rustic setting, away from the hustle and bustle of the working world. We find time at BRI to focus on new perspectives and make new connections in our field of human care services. Thought-provoking professional development sessions each day lead into afternoons and evenings that offer a variety of optional activities from canoeing, hiking, and cookouts to softball and dancing. Many participants choose to spend their time more quietly: relaxing, reading, or discussing the day’s presentation with new colleagues and long-time friends. And, no matter what, we laugh together!

We strive to attract great thinkers for our conference sessions—outstanding leaders, writers, and speakers—who challenge and stretch us. Another unique aspect of the BRI program is the Blue Ridge News, our own version of CNN that reviews the prior day with good-natured ribbing and meaningful commentary.

BRI is not for everyone. The activities offered and the pace of the week are so different from other conferences and from our normal busy lives that some executives find it unsettling! In the end, most of us savor the rejuvenating and uplifting effect of BRI.Many of us have formed lifelong friendships with colleagues we first met at BRI.

When does BRI take place?

Typically the Blue Ridge Institute (BRI) takes place in late July. The meetings begin on Sunday afternoon and conclude by lunchtime on Friday. Attendance at the full conference is strongly recommended, especially in the first year of attendance.

How much does it cost?

BRI is one of the most affordable five-and-a-half-day conferences available. The cost, inclusive of the programs, housing, and meals is about $850 per person. Travel costs will vary depending on where you are coming from and whether you drive, fly, or canoe. If costs are a barrier, BRI does have a scholarship fund available to help with the registration fee and promote a diversity of participants, especially from smaller, grassroots organizations.

What is the participation criteria?

Participation in BRI is by invitation only. Full criteria may be found on the “Apply Here” page of the website.  Active participants may nominate new participants.  Or you may nominate yourself.

Nominees must be the Chief Executive Officer or a departmental executive in an organization that has human services planning, development, and/or delivery functions. This person, by virtue of his/her position, should or could impact the human services system in a community, state, or region.

A limited number of “Emerging Leaders” are nominated each year. Emerging leaders are those younger professionals (age 25–45) who are not yet CEO’s or high-level professionals in the community service arena, but who are on track to assume such roles.

Are there attendance requirements?

Ordinarily, yes; new participants receive an invitation for three years; if they do not attend at least once in that time, they will be dropped from the invitation list. Some participants have attended for ten, twenty, thirty or more years, never missing a session! Of course, we all have conflicts. We ask that participants attend each year, but in case of conflicts, early notification is

Are there additional requirements or expectations of participants?

We depend on our fellow Blue Ridgers to both lead and “do”: Our participants “staff” many aspects of the annual conference and other activities. Every person has a role, large or small, in the success of the Institute. “Freshpersons” (our friendly nickname for those attending for the first time) jump right in with special activities to get to know their fellow freshpersons and the other attendees.

What do I bring to the Conference?

Here’s a handy guide of what to bring, what to expect, essentials, activities suggestions, & helpful info about the area…all in a handy easy to print 4-page pdf!

How will I get there?

Fontana Village Resort is located in western North Carolina, 20 miles north of Robbinsville on Highway 28 North on the western end of Fontana Lake.

The closest airport is McGhee Tyson Airport (TYS/KTYS) in Knoxville, TN, 54 miles. From Knoxville, Tennessee, take Hwy 129 south from Knoxville to Maryville TN. Just past Maryville, Hwy129 turns left off of the four-lane highway. Drive carefully. This section of this route is a beautiful, but curvy mountain road is known as the “Dragon” by car & bike enthusiasts. One mile past the TN/NC state line turn left on Hwy 28 at Deals Gap. Continue on Hwy 28 for 8.6 miles.

The second closest airport is Asheville Regional Airport (AVL/KAVL) in Asheville NC, 102 miles. From Asheville, North Carolina take I-40 west. Take the exit for Hwy 74 (Great Smoky Mountain Expressway). Stay on Hwy 74 (four-lane) you will pass Clyde, Sylva, and 8 miles past Bryson City turn right on Hwy 28. Continue on Hwy 28 for 25 miles.

Check out the Fontana Village Resort property maps here.

Fontana Village Lodge
Fontana Village Lodge
Fontana Village Lodge

Do I need to make a reservation at Fontana Village?

Most BRI participants will want to stay on property at either the Lodge or in a cabin. Click here for the Fontana Village Resort map.

Click below to check out the accommodations:

To make reservations for accommodations, please call Fontana Village, 800-849-2258, mention BRI for special accommodations.  Online reservations are not available for our conference and would not have access to our special accommodations. The BRI block will have a room block that is released each spring. Any rooms not already reserved will be available to anyone.  Do not delay in making your reservation.

What is there to do at Fontana Village?

There is a lot of fun to be had at Fontana Village! There are twenty miles of hiking and biking trails throughout the village. Guests can cool off in the Stone Creek Pool and Lazy River, work out in the fitness center, or enjoy a fun game of volleyball, tennis, softball, disc golf, or even mini-golf on our 18-hole putt-putt course and so much more. Recreation Amenities Include (amenities we had at FCF are highlighted):

  • Stone Creek Pool and Lazy River
  • Lodge Pool
  • Fitness Center
  • Twenty Miles of Hiking and Biking Trails
  • Sand Volleyball Court
  • Tennis Courts
  • Basketball
  • Softball Diamond and Games
  • 18-Hole Professional Disc Golf Course
  • 18-Hole Mini-Golf Course
  • Two Playgrounds
  • Shuffleboard
  • Game Room and Billiards Tables
  • Horseshoes
  • Cornhole Boards
  • Ladderball

What is there to do in the area around the conference location?

The conference location is a bit remote high in the mountains. There are many things to do within driving distance of the conference location. We encourage day trips before, during, and after the conference. To help you plan your adventure, we have put together this list of conference area attractions.

Fontana Village Lodge

Contact us today to learn more about the BRI Conference.