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39th Annual National Conference:

How Successful Directors Lead

About The Conference

The AELL Annual National Conference, How Successful Directors Lead is the ONE event specifically designed for early learning administrators featuring 40+ educational sessions on leadership, administration, finance, marketing, legal, and program quality presented by national experts.

2023 Conference Sponsors


About the Conference
The AELL Annual National Conference, How Successful Directors Lead is the ONE event specifically designed for early learning administrators featuring 35+ educational sessions on leadership, administration, finance, marketing, legal, and program quality presented by national experts.

Who Should Participate?
Early Care and Education Directors, Owners, VPs & Managers, Agency Administrators, Education Coordinators, Specialists, Trainers & Consultants, Assistant Directors, and Emerging Leaders.

Where can I contact an organizer with questions?
Email us at [email protected] or call 512-316-3679. 

Are there any scholarship opportunities?
Yes! Please click here for more information and to apply for the Bobette Thompson Legacy Scholarship.

Can I update my registration information?
Yes, you can update your registration information at any time! Just email [email protected] for assistance.


Conference Pricing

Member Non-Member

3-Day Conference Registration

  • 35+ available educational sessions on leadership, administration, finance, marketing, legal, and program quality presented by national experts
  • CEU certificates for every conference session attended at no additional cost
  • Breakfast included Thursday-Saturday and complimentary lunch provided on Thursday and Friday
  • Tickets to both the conference welcome party and the annual karaoke & dance party
  • Access to several industry-leading vendors who are eager to share products and services that will help solve programs and improve program quality
$659 $759

Registration / Membership Bundle

(Includes 3-Day Conference Registration and 1 Full Year of Membership)
$799  N/A



Pre-Conference Training Sessions

Member Non-Member

AM PreConference Event | Wednesday, June 21st | 9:00 AM – 12:00 PM

  • Onboarding Overhaul with Brittney Luther  – The earliest experiences of each new team member with your processes and culture set the stage for either success or failure. Establishing an enriching, engaging onboarding and orientation process is critical to best starts and best outcomes. This interactive session will provide strategies for making these first steps exceptional! **Bring your technology for a hands-on learning experience.
$129 $179

PM PreConference Event | Wednesday, June 21st | 1:00 PM – 4:00 PM              

  • Winning the Hiring War with Brittney Luther – Do hiring and staffing feel like a war zone right now? This session will cover what it takes to attract A-Team players in the current hiring market, everything from job ads, recruitment, and follow-up. Learn how to automate parts of your hiring process to save you time. **Bring your technology for a hands-on learning experience.
$129  $179



Child Care Center Tours

Member Non-Member

Child Care Center Tours | Wednesday, June 21st | 8:00 AM – 12:00 PM

  • One of our most popular conference events, the child care tours visit local child care centers that reflect excellence and innovation in early care and education. This is a great way to spark new ideas and perspectives as you pursue exceptional programming in your centers!
$99 $139



Leaders’ Night Out

Tier 1 Ticket Tier 2 Ticket

Leaders’ Night Out at The Grand Ole Opry | Friday, June 23rd | 7:00 PM – 10:00 PM

  • This popular annual event will feature a visit to The Grand Ole Opry for a fantastic night of live music.
  • Tier 1 Ticket (SOLD OUT): Includes ticket to the show and round-trip transportation from the Sheraton Music City.
  • Tier 2 Ticket (SOLD OUT): Includes ticket to the show, round-trip transportation from the Sheraton Music City, unlimited access to the Circle Room with open bar with appetizers, and a meet & greet with one of the evening’s entertainers.



CEUs are offered for every session at no additional cost. The Association for Early Learning Leaders has partnered with Stalwart-Genesis to provide Continuing Education Units for conference attendees.



FOR 3-DAY CONFERENCE: Register four or more directors, owners, or administrators and receive 10% discount for ALL 3-day registrations.

Please email [email protected] or call us at 512-316-3679 for a group promo code.



All cancellations must be made in writing and sent to [email protected]. Cancellations received before February 28, 2022, are refundable minus a $75 processing fee. Cancellations received before April 30, 2022, are refundable minus a $125 processing fee. No-shows and cancellations received after May 1, 2023 will not be eligible for a refund.

REGISTRATION TRANSFERS: Registration is transferable (for up to one calendar year) without penalty or funds can be applied to another posted AELL training event.  


Conference Schedule



Please click here to access the complete conference session schedule!

Bobette Thompson Legacy Commission Conference Scholarships

The Legacy Commission was formed by past Board Presidents of the Association with the purpose of “giving back” and supporting the mission and legacy of AELL and all it represents. As an extension of that effort, we are making available a limited number of scholarship awards for use at 39th Annual National Conference, How Successful Directors Lead.  It is truly our joy to support the ongoing professional development of early learning leaders like you!

Please review the eligibility requirements and guidelines below and submit completed application below along with the requested supporting documents.  Incomplete applications will not be considered. 


  • Candidate must be a member in good standing with AELL.
  • Candidate must be actively working in the field of early education.
  • Candidate must submit all required documents in a timely and complete manner.


  • Completed scholarship application
  • Updated resume
  • Letter on company letterhead from your current employer stating why you are deserving of this scholarship
  • Typewritten, double-spaced 200-word essay addressing the following questions: 
    • Why have you chosen a career in Early Education? 
    • What are your career goals? 
    • What impact would this scholarship have on your education and career goals?


Applications should be submitted via the link below or emailed to Lori Buxton, [email protected]. Applications must be received no later than January 31, 2023, for consideration for the 2023 conference awards. Award notifications will be made on or before March 1, 2023.

Keynote Speakers



Amanda is a producer, film-maker, branding expert and sought-after public speaker, sharing her “Do Well By Doing Good” philosophy on stages around the country. She demonstrates how both companies and individuals can make a meaningful and positive difference in people’s lives, while fostering their own success in the process. She believes that companies must not only identify
their brand purpose, but put that purpose into action. Through her work, Amanda has defined what it looks like for brands to truly act “as publishers”
creating movements through their content strategy. In her most recent demonstration of this, Amanda was the Chief Brand Officer of Deluxe where the brand challenge was to reach small
businesses. The solution? She created, produced and hosted their Emmy-nominated series “Small Business Revolution,” which streamed on Hulu and was named among Inc. Magazine’s
top shows for entrepreneurs. Through this inspirational reality show, Amanda was able to prove the model of authentic content stretching a brand’s spend by achieving 12x the reach through
this series over traditional paid media. The program accumulated over 13 Billion impressions, 6,000+ earned media articles and 20 million content views (and counting). Not to mention – this work changed lives, families, small businesses and communities across the country.
Amanda is a nationally renowned brand expert, Forbes contributor, and frequent on-camera personality for national news outlets and celebrity interviews, ranging from LL Cool J to Peyton Manning. She has appeared on CNBC’s “Cleveland Hustles,” in addition to hosting the online “Small Talks” series that features successful entrepreneurs across the country. That’s all while charting an acclaimed career that spans groundbreaking campaigns for brands like BMW, Reebok and Sony, in addition to her role as an inspiring female executive at Fortune 500 and Fortune 1000 companies, such as United
Health Group, Allianz, General Mills, and Deluxe. Amanda’s current and former board service includes the Children’s Cancer Research Fund, Make-A-Wish, the Children’s Theatre Company, the Ordway Performing Arts Center, Ad Council, ANA (Association of National Advertisers) and the Women’s Business Development Center. She also passionately volunteers for causes such as Special Olympics, Feed My Starving Children, Habitat for Humanity and more. She lives in Minneapolis with her husband (who happens to be her best friend), her daughter (who is a small but mighty force of nature) and their puppy (who is, of course, adorable).



Courtney Clark is the luckiest unlucky person in the world. After a series of major struggles beginning in her mid-20s, she has built two successful businesses and is the author of two books: The Successful Struggle: Powerful Techniques to Achieve Accelerated Resilience and The Giving Prescription: A Personal Plan for Healing Through Helping. She works with people who want to adapt faster and achieve more, and has spoken worldwide to organizations like Procter & Gamble, Dell, S&P, Humana, Cisco, and Cardinal Health. Courtney’s resilience work has been called “practical,” “powerful,” and “empowering” by industry leaders, and she’s been featured in Forbes, Psychology Today, USA Today, and The Chicago Tribune. If she wasn’t writing and speaking about resilience, Courtney would have wanted to be a tap dancer. Thankfully for her audiences, she wasn’t very good at it.

Denim, Diamonds, & Pearls Annual Fundraising Dinner 

The Association for Early Learning Leaders and the Presidents’ Legacy Commission are excited to announce our 1st Annual Fundraising Dinner, “Denim, Diamonds & Pearls – A Night of Music with Nashville Songwriters”.

This premier event will be held during our 39th Annual National Conference, June 21-24, 2023, in Nashville, Tennessee. It is our desire and purpose to raise much-needed financial resources that will provide scholarships, training opportunities, and professional resources to leaders in the field of early care and education.

We invite you to support this effort by purchasing tickets to attend the fundraising dinner. Each ticket will include a delicious Nashville-themed dinner, an open bar, live entertainment from The Warren Brothers, and round-trip transportation from the Sheraton Music City.

We ask for your support on this special evening as we affirm and celebrate the strength, heart, and resiliency of our field and our leaders.

We appreciate all that you do for the field of early care and education and hope to see you at The Listening Room!


Transportation | Driving | Parking

The 39th Annual National Conference will be held at the beautiful Sheraton Music City – Nashville Airport Hotel, June 21 – 24, 2023.

Sheraton Music City Hotel – Airport Shuttle

Complimentary round-trip transportation to Nashville International Airport (BNA) is provided to guests daily between 4:00 a.m. – 11:00 p.m. Please contact the hotel to request shuttle service during these hours – (615) 885-2200.

The conference hotel is located within 10 minutes of the Nashville International Airport. We recommend using Uber, Lyft, or local taxi services for transportation to the conference hotel if the complimentary airport shuttle is unavailable. 


UPDATE: The Sheraton Music City Hotel is SOLD OUT. All overflow hotel room-blocks are closed.


Sheraton Music City Hotel

The 39th Annual National Conference will be held on June 21-24, 2023 at the beautiful Sheraton Music City Nashville Airport





Excellent service is a tradition at Sheraton Music City Nashville Airport. With a dedicated Guest Services Department, our Nashville hotel exists to exceed your every need. Take advantage of our full-service concierge to book attractions and activities in Music City. And that’s to say nothing of our hotel’s wide array of on-site amenities. Enjoy full-service Sheraton Fitness with free weights, aerobic machines, whirlpool, and locker room. Dip in for a swim in our indoor and seasonal outdoor pools after an invigorating workout. Welcome to Sheraton Music City Nashville Airport. Let us make your stay exceptional.



Check-in: 3:00 pm CT
Check-out: 12:00 pm CT
Smoke-Free Property



Standard King – $179
Standard 2 Queens – $179
Courtyard View King – $189
Courtyard View 2 Queens – $189
King Junior Suite – $219
*Average nightly rate



Alternative Accommodations



Hampton Inn by Hilton Nashville Airport Century Place

  • Located 0.3 Miles from the Sheraton Music City Hotel, 3 miles from Nashville International Airport’s terminals, and 9 miles from downtown Nashville.
  • Shuttle available 4:00 AM – 12:00 AM (5 Mile Radius) – Please be advised there may be a wait time. 
  • 1 Century Boulevard, Nashville, TN 37214USA
  • +1 615-885-1122
  • AELL room block is closed. Please contact hotel directly for reservations. 

Embassy Suites by Hilton Nashville Airport

  • Located 0.5 Miles from the Sheraton Music City and three miles from Nashville International Airport. The delights of Nashville and Opry Mills mall are within a 15-minute drive. We offer an indoor pool, complimentary evening reception, and free made-to-order breakfast.
  • Airport Shuttle available 24 Hours – Service to Sheraton Available by Request 
  • 10 Century Boulevard, Nashville, TN 37214USA
  • +1 615-871-0033
  • AELL room block is closed. Please contact hotel directly for reservations. 

Hyatt House Nashville Airport

  • Located 0.5 Miles from the Sheraton Music City and 3.3 miles from Nashville International Airport.  Stay less than 10 miles from banner attractions like Music City Nashville, Ryman Auditorium, Grand Ole Opry, and more.
  • Airport Shuttle available 24 Hours 
  • 14 Century Blvd Nashville, Tennessee, United States, 37214
  • +1 615 871 9500
  • No Room Block Available. Please contact hotel directly for reservations.  


Exhibitors & Sponsors

Raise your profile at the leadership level in the early childhood community by exhibiting at the 39th Anniversary National Conference, How Successful Directors Lead!

Market your products and services to early childhood professionals who have the buying power–nearly a third of our attendees approve or authorize purchases for their program, and another third are involved in the buying process.

Our 2023 Annual National Conference Sponsor/Exhibitor Prospectus will help guide you through our event and available engagement opportunities. You can also find our exhibitor and sponsor applications here.






Please read the following information carefully before submitting your proposal.  

The Association for Early Learning Leaders pursues experts in the early care and education community to present sessions from a national perspective to early care and education directors, administrators, and owners at our Annual Conference, How Successful Directors Lead! The Association prides itself on the high level of quality and professionalism that is upheld throughout the conference.

Sessions incorporate the following areas of expertise: leadership, legal, business administration, budgeting, insurance-liability, health & safety, curriculum, assessment, instructional leadership, parent education, and program quality accreditation. In order to lead a quality early learning program, directors are required to have knowledge, skills, and abilities from diverse areas. Nationally known experts from across the country are secured to share a wealth of knowledge and experience with our participants.

The Association for Early Learning Leaders is a professional organization committed to strengthening the skill level of leaders in the field of early care and education. We believe that effective management is the critical link to superior programs.

The Association will accept applications for the 2023 National Conference through November 1, 2022. The requests are thoroughly reviewed, and presenters will be notified of acceptance by December 15, 2022. Presentations are to be 1 hour and 45 minutes in length. CEU applications will be sent to selected presenters by February 1, 2023, and must be completed no later than March 1, 2023.

Travel and Hotel Arrangements for Presenters

Each presenter is responsible for making individual travel and hotel arrangements. The availability of hotel accommodations is limited at the conference site, so reserve early. Conference group rate information is available on the Conference Accommodations page.

Conference Registration

All presenters will receive one complimentary conference registration that includes many extended conference events, including lunch on Thursday and Friday.  After we receive your signed agreement, we will provide you with information regarding registration.

The Association does not offer honorariums for session presenters but is pleased to provide a letter of participation for you to include in your professional speaking portfolio.


The training room will be set up for approximately 40-80 people with a presenter’s table in front.


Each presenter will have access to a projector and screen. These items will be provided by the Association at no extra cost. We respectfully request that each presenter provide a laptop if one is needed during the presentation. Should additional audio/visual equipment be required, arrangements will be made at your expense with the contracted audio-visual company for the Conference.  Internet access is not always freely available.  Please consider this when building your training content.


The Association requests that each presenter provide a handout corresponding with the topic of discussion and sufficient copies for all attendees. Handouts should be no more than four (4) pages in length and contain a minimum of three website resources and two additional resources or references related to the topic.


The Association for Early Learning Leaders sponsors the National Accreditation Commission for Early Care and Education Programs. If accreditation standards are referenced during the presentation, please include accreditation standards in the reference. For questions on particular standards, contact [email protected].


The Association for Early Learning Leaders recognizes that the National Conference is often used as a vehicle for presenters to expand their own markets.  The Association encourages the dissemination of knowledge, promoting personal and professional development, and enhancing the quality of early care and education programs.  To respectively maintain a balance of dissemination of information and marketing, presenters are encouraged to purchase an exhibit booth in the Exhibit Hall.  Interested presenters may contact Aryam Andom, Member & Event Services Coordinator, at [email protected] for reservations in the Exhibit Hall.

Please help us maintain the professional integrity of the conference by abstaining from the appearance of using your session as a marketing venue.  Presenters will not be allowed to sell, display, or promote their events, publications, materials, and/or services during their training presentation.  You will be permitted to distribute promotional materials to participants at the conclusion of your session, and our conference Ambassadors are happy to facilitate the distribution of your materials.

Failure to abide by presenter guidelines may result in your not being invited to present at future AELL training events.



The 39th Annual National Conference will be held June 21-24, 2023 at the Sheraton Music City – Nashville Airport. This beautiful property is conveniently located within 10 minutes of the Nashville International Airport

The Association for Early Learning Leaders is committed to excellence in the field of early childhood care and education by promoting leadership development and enhancing program quality.

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