Sigma’s 46th Biennial Convention—our first hybrid event—was held virtually and in Indianapolis, Indiana, USA. This event brought together 2,000 colleagues from 47 countries around the world and officially began our 100th anniversary celebration. Attendees had access to hundreds of oral, symposia, and poster presentations that support the convention theme, Honor the Past, Remember the Present, Create the Future, by showcasing the latest clinical innovations, critical research projects, and important leadership initiatives. Whether virtual or joining in person in Indianapolis, Sigma’s 46th Biennial Convention was an opportunity for all to restore their spirits and find new ways to Infuse Joy!
Opening Plenary | Though COVID-19 protocols changed up a few time-honored traditions like the flag processional, social distancing didn’t stop Sigma members from enjoying the kickoff to convention! Sigma President Richard Ricciardi hosted a panel of past presidents and CEOs to reflect on the organization’s past 100 years, from our beginnings as a local organization to serving nurses around the globe.
Plenary Session 2 | Two of the 2021 Episteme Laureates, Drs. Zohra Lassi and Rehana Abdus Salam, presented their research on the existing evidence and recommendations for the effectiveness of nutrition interventions across the continuum. Combined, they have published over 250 peer-reviewed papers and publications, contributing significantly to global maternal and newborn policies! We also recognized the International Awards of Nursing Excellence and Founders Award recipients.
Closing Plenary | President-elect Kenneth Dion presented several of Sigma’s highest awards before Futurist and Technology Strategist Crystal Washington took the stage to remind us that change is now the way of the world. In her high-energy talk, she showed attendees what they can do now to future-proof their careers while leveraging technology to enjoy more opportunities and free time.
COVID-19 Memorial | A memorial wreath commemorated those we have lost during the COVID-19 pandemic. Attendees were also encouraged to share the names of colleagues, friends, and family who died of COVID-19 on feather papers and place them in a clear box outside of the main ballroom. In this way, the number of those remembered grew throughout the event and made the COVID-19 memorial more personal.
Exhibit Hall Grand Opening and Welcome Reception| Sigma President Richard Ricciardi and Chief Executive Officer Elizabeth Madigan performed the traditional ribbon-cutting ceremony for the grand opening and welcome reception, sponsored by Georgia Baptist College of Nursing of Mercer University and Pi Gamma Chapter. Attendees enjoyed individual charcuterie trays as they networked with one another, connected with healthcare vendors, shopped Sigma Marketplace, and learned about various Sigma programs and initiatives.
100th Anniversary Artwork Unveiling | To commemorate Sigma’s 100th anniversary, the organization, with generous support from Lilly Endowment Inc, commissioned Indianapolis artist Deonna Craig to create a timeless piece titled Legacy: Building on the legacy of Sigma with love, courage, and honor. With Deonna present, Sigma President Richard Ricciardi and Chief Executive Officer Elizabeth Madigan unveiled the painting, which she designed with intentional layers to capture the journey of Sigma’s 100-year legacy. At the core are Sigma’s traditional colors of purple and blue. Over time, layers of color, texture, and depth were added to represent the hundreds of thousands of members who have poured into Sigma’s rich heritage over the past 100 years. From simple strokes to intricate detail, this painting tells the story spanning 100 countries, more than 550 chapters, and 135,000 nurse leaders.
Tribute Awards Event | This special event recognized 11 new honorary members and recipients of Sigma's International Awards for Nursing Excellence for their achievements and dedication to improving healthcare through technology, education, leadership, media and communications, and research and practice.
Poster Sessions | Over 100 nurse researchers showcased their scientific findings in the Exhibit Hall, with more than 150 joining virtually. During viewing hours throughout the conference, attendees stopped by the posters to network and chat with presenters about their ongoing research.
Hackathon | This three-hour session, sponsored by Jhpiego, brought together nurse leaders from throughout the world to collaborate and develop innovative solutions to address the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Groups wrapped up the event with 3–5-minute pitches to their peers and the judges, who determined 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place winners.
Escape Room | Two different Escape Room styles provided ample opportunities to engage with peers and have fun in a group setting while exploring team dynamics. In one room, attendees journeyed through time to locate lost pearls of wisdom, and in the other, groups raced against time to find a key for a locked room to save a patient experiencing progressive shock.
Heritage Society Reception and Dinner | The Sigma Foundation for Nursing Board welcomed 13 new Heritage Society donors who initiated their contributions during the biennium to support leadership and research grants through the Foundation.
Sigma Foundation for Nursing Grant Recipients Recognition | The Sigma Foundation for Nursing held a reception for Sigma members who received Leadership Education Grants to attend convention. Recipients were able to share with donors how this funding impacts their leadership journeys.
100th Anniversary Gala | During this sold-out event, 250 attendees joined us to celebrate 100 years of Sigma. President Richard Ricciardi provided the welcome and opening remarks before turning the stage over IU School of Nursing Dean Robin Newhouse and Alpha Chapter President Lori Pajakowski. As our Centennial Sponsor representatives, Robin and Lori shared their own celebratory remarks before playing video greetings from members and chapters.
House of Delegates | Session 1 began with a warm welcome and a moment of silence for those lost during the COVID-19 pandemic. Once adopting the order of business, voting members reviewed the ballot and received voting instructions.
The House of Delegates Session 2 included:
- Election results
- Business of the House
- Recognition of chapter anniversaries
- Acknowledgment of new chapters and charter amendments
- Presentation of Chapter Key Awards
- The departure and recognition ceremony
- Installation and transition of elected delegates
Organizational Call to Action | After the transition ceremony, new Sigma President Kenneth Dion, PhD, MSN, MBA, RN, FAAN, delivered the organizational call to action address, Be Bold, encouraging Sigma members to step outside of their insular circle. He calls for active collaboration with disciplines outside nursing and healthcare to influence decisions about our profession, populations, and the planet in three critical domains: economics, technology, and conservation. As we move forward in a post-pandemic world, Kenneth reminds us that it remains our duty as a profession to advocate to abolish inequities within societies, healthcare systems, and even within our profession.
Career Advising Sessions | Several convention attendees signed up for individual or group career advising sessions with nursing professionals. Discussions centered around career planning assistance, CV or resume review, interview tips and tricks, and general career guidance.
We couldn’t possibly capture all the joy from the 46th Biennial Convention in one article, but check out the official photo album for an even closer look at the celebration.