BRI Conference

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)


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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?

The Blue Ridge Institute (BRI) conference takes place in late July at a location in the Blue Ridge mountain range. 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.

Conference registration closes 20 days prior to the conference. Registration prices change to include late fees effective June 1st annually.

Does BRI provide scholarships?

Yes. BRI does provide scholarships to cover the annual conference registration costs. If you are interested in applying for a scholarship, click here.

What is the participation criteria?

Participation in BRI is by invitation only. Full criteria may be found on the Join BRI page of the Membership section of the website.  Active participants may nominate new participants or you may nominate yourself.

Nominees must be either the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) or report directly to the CEO of human services planning, development, and/or delivery functions in an organization. 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 for our freshperson cohort are nominated each year.

Are there attendance requirements?

Yes. Prospective members receive an invitation for up to three years. If prospective members does not attend at least once in that time, they will be dropped from the membership 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?

We created a BRI Insider guide to help Ridgers prepare for the July conference. This helpful guide gives tips on what to bring, what to expect, and activity suggestions – all in a handy easy-to-print pdf!

How will I get there?

Unicoi State Park is located in Helen, GA. The Unicoi State Park website provides a map and directions.

Fontana Village Lodge
Fontana Village Lodge
Fontana Village Lodge

Do I need to make a reservation at the resort?

Yes. BRI does set aside a room block for member reservations. The room block will open on April 3, 2023.

The room block does fill up quickly.

What is there to do at the resort?

There is a lot of fun to be had at Unicoi State Park.

  • Archery
  • Air Gun Range
  • Kayak
  • Tomahawk Toss
  • Zipline
  • Swimming
  • Paddle Boarding
  • Lake and Stream Fishing
  • Hiking (guided or self-paced)
  • GPS Scavenger Hunt
  • Tubing and Rafting
  • Visit Helen, Ga
  • Winery Tours
  • Golf
  • Mountain Biking

Plan your fun. Click here to find your adventure.

Have More Questions? Reach Out!