Diversity and Inclusion

Andre Cholewinski: Supporting Local Causes Is Better Than Boycotting Destinations

Andre Cholewinski: Supporting Local Causes Is Better Than Boycotting Destinations

Skift Take

Andre Cholewinski champions supporting local causes over boycotting destinations. His forward-thinking approach to responsible event planning fosters positive change without sacrificing community engagement.

As associate director of meetings at the American Physical Society (APS), Andre Cholewinski plans a portfolio of meetings. The society’s largest, the March meeting, brings together 13,000 physicists each year in a North American city.

Meeting planning is not impervious to global socio-political issues, so such issues inevitably impact destination selection. The big question that arises is whether or not to consider destinations with controversial laws. Cholewinski shares why APS chooses to hold meetings in such destinations while actively supporting local causes.

From Boycotts to Support

Excluding or even boycotting destinations due to controversial laws can seem like the right thing to do. However, Cholewinski argues it may not be the most effective way to enact change. “Boycotting does not solve the problem,” he states, pointing out that such actions often harm local members and service industry workers the most. Instead, Cholewinski advocates for a more constructive approach, focusing on supporting local causes and initiatives that align with an organization’s values.

Under Cholewinski’s guidance, APS has shifted its strategy towards engaging with destinations in a way that supports local communities and advocates for change from within. Organizations can make a meaningful impact by partnering with local causes, especially those affected by adverse laws. This strategy benefits the cause and allows the event to proceed, benefiting the communities of physicists at these destinations.

Cholewinski’s forward-thinking approach impacts the site selection process. APS now incorporates a comprehensive analysis of potential destinations, considering factors such as local laws, human rights campaign scores, and community safety. This meticulous process ensures that event locations align with the organization’s values and support safe, inclusive environments for all attendees.

Creating Positive Impact

The strategy of supporting local causes over boycotting serves as a model for organizations looking to make a positive impact. APS’s approach demonstrates that it’s possible to host successful events while also contributing to meaningful change in communities. Organizations can support inclusivity and diversity by choosing engagement over exclusion, reflecting their commitment to social responsibility.

Cholewinski also looks for diversity when building his team. He values a specific trait — scrappiness. Amid the complexities of organizing large events, the ability to react swiftly and efficiently to unforeseen challenges is invaluable. Cholewinski explains, “I need someone that’s going to be on-site, and if the building collapses around them, they know what to do right away.”

As planners and organizations navigate the complexities of global issues, supporting local causes presents a viable alternative to boycotting, one that not only avoids the negative implications of such actions but also fosters positive change. As the industry evolves, this approach could redefine how organizations interact with destinations worldwide, prioritizing support and engagement over exclusion.