After 12 years in Sacramento, the Great Valley Center's annual conference is moving to Modesto.
The valley's foremost think tank has been headquartered in Modesto since former Mayor Carol Whiteside founded the Great Valley Center to cheerlead valley issues from Redding to Bakersfield. Modesto is centrally located and Whiteside, who previously commuted to a Sacramento job with Gov. Wilson's administration, could walk to work when she was the Great Valley Center's president.
But the center's premier two-day event always was staged in power- brokering Sacramento. Until, that is, the 13th conference comes to the Gallo Center for the Arts on May 6-7, at least for one year.
The Great Valley Center considered auditoriums in other cities, and may hold future conferences elsewhere, but wanted to capitalize on downtown Modesto's resurgence while perhaps drawing more attendees from the south valley, president David Hosley said.
"The Gallo Arts Center is one of the jewels in the valley," said Hosley, who succeeded Whiteside as the center's president in early 2008. "And we thought it would be exciting for people to see our headquarters in Modesto."
Does the Great Valley Center fear losing Sacramento participants by moving away?
"It's a little bit of a gamble," Hosley acknowledged. "We're at the point where we want to take some risks and try some things that are new, and we think it's a great venue."
So Whiteside, who lives in Modesto, held the conference in Sacramento while Hosley, who lives near Sacramento, is moving it to Modesto.
"It will certainly give people a new format and a different programmatic face to the event," said Whiteside, who remains the center's president emeritus but had no voice in the decision.
Another change: Instead of the normal Wednesday-Thursday format, the 2010 conference will go to Thursday-Friday, to avoid conflicting with another Gallo Center event.
"I think we were just looking for something different," said Amy Moffat, the center's director of research and communications. "We don't want it to be the same conference year after year, where everybody knows what to expect. We wanted to kind of change it up."
Bee staff writer Garth Stapley can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 578-2390.