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The Official Baldrige Blog

A Unique and More-Accessible Quest Showcases the Shifting Paradigm of Virtual Sharing

The 34th Quest for Excellence Conference, April 2–5, 2023, Gaylord National Harbor (near Washington, D.C.). (Im)Prove Your Performance®
Credit: BAIVECTOR/Shutterstock, pluie_r/Shutterstock, polygraphus/Shutterstock

A silver lining of 2020 is that organizations had to not just explore technology and virtual options but to go all-in for meetings and conferences to ensure continuous education and connections. The Baldrige Program has been no different, especially given the portion of its mission to provide global leadership in the learning and sharing of successful strategies and performance practices, principles, and methodologies.

For the first time in 33 years, the Baldrige Quest for Excellence Conference® is going virtual to keep that sharing going. An all-virtual conference—April 12–15, 2021—offers unique benefits for attendees, speakers, and participants, such as more time to access the presentations and cost savings for many attendees. The conference even includes the bonus of introducing two years of new recipients.

“Among other things, [virtual conferences are] easier on the environment and more inclusive than in-person meetings,” writes Grace Liu in “The Surprising Advantages of Virtual Conferences” in Scientific American. “A number of surprising positives show how virtual conferences are … triggering a paradigm shift in how conferences of the future could look.”

Time will be on the side of this year’s Quest attendees who will have an opportunity to view every archived conference session on their own time, as well as participate in three live Baldrige Award recipient question-and-answer and other interactive sessions.

Such archiving allows attendees to follow the best practices of multiple Baldrige Award recipients, follow sessions related to a particular Baldrige category or economic sector, or all of the above. Virtual Quest attendees will have access to watch sessions beginning on the days of the events and ending June 15, 2021.

Conference Highlights

The 2021 virtual conference will feature the following, as well as attendee networking sessions and an exhibit hall.


Two pre-conference workshops on April 12 are geared, respectively, toward people who have had little or no exposure to the Baldrige Criteria, part of the Baldrige Excellence Framework, and people who have an intermediate understanding. The beginner workshop will focus on how to use the Criteria and Award recipient application summaries to enhance learning. The intermediate workshop will focus on how to conduct a self-assessment and more fully articulate an organization’s attributes, challenges, and needs.

Plenary Sessions

Plenary sessions on Tuesday, April 13, and Thursday, April 15, will feature the senior leaders of each of the 2019 and 2020 Baldrige Award recipients as they share role-model practices. On Tuesday, each Award recipient’s highest-ranking official will talk about what makes his/her organization unique and successful. On Thursday, leaders from each new Award recipient will share “One Key Takeaway,” a role-model best practice that attendees can apply at their own organizations.


More than 70+ on-demand sessions will feature current and former Baldrige Award recipients. The 2019 and 2020 Baldrige Award recipients will tailor presentations on their best practices for each of the categories of the Criteria. Other-year recipients will present on special topics, including 

  • "A Phish Too Far: How Baldrige Cybersecurity Can Help,"
  • "Saving More Lives than Ever Before: Continuing the Quest for Excellence,"
  • "Measure What MattersSelecting Key Data for Your Organization and Display It So It Tells Your Story,"
  • "Approaches to Building an Inclusive Leadership System," and
  • "Leading, Managing, and Engaging with Workforce and Customers in a Virtual Environment."
Photo of Cheryl Cran Quest for Excellence 32nd Keynote Speaker.
Cheryl Cran


Cheryl Cran's keynote presentation on Thursday, April 15, will address leadership challenges, including attracting and keeping top talent and upgrading technology quickly. In a blog interview with Christine Schaefer, Cran summed up the focus of her work as “helping companies and leaders be ‘future-ready’ now!”

The common theme of Cheryl’s work is a “people-first and digital-second” approach, helping companies to build the leadership capacity needed to “change the world through business.”

Communities and Networking

Communities of Excellence 2026 will be featured in an on-demand conference session. What began as two pilot communities in San Diego County and Northwest Missouri has led to national learning collaboratives featuring 21 communities improving using an adaptation of the Baldrige Criteria. Together, the communities are tackling challenges such as childhood obesity, mental health, substance abuse, and lack of quality education and job opportunities.

How to Register

The Baldrige Program is excited to share Baldrige Award recipient best practices at the virtual Quest for Excellence. Now, participants will not need to choose which sessions to attend based on the conference schedule and can view them all at their own pace, a truly unique aspect of a virtual conference.

The Quest conference early-bird discount ends March 15, 2021. Register today!

Join us for our first-ever virtual conference! 

The Quest for Excellence Conference April 3-6, 2022 - Register Today!

Quest for Excellence® Conference

Monday, April 12–Thursday, April 15, 2021  |  #BaldrigeQuest

The three-day virtual showcase will feature the 2019 and 2020 Award recipients, former recipients, pre-conference workshops, senior leader plenary sessions with live Q&A, more than 70+ on-demand concurrent sessions, conference keynote, and more!

Register Today! 

About the author

Dawn Bailey

Dawn Bailey is a writer/editor for the Baldrige Program and involved in all aspects of communications, from leading the Baldrige Executive Fellows program to managing the direction of case studies, social media efforts, and assessment teams. She has more than 25 years of experience, 18 years at the Baldrige Program. Her background is in English and journalism, with degrees from the University of Connecticut and an advanced degree from George Mason University.

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