Us EBNers are heading down to Big D this weekend for the 24th annual Benefits Forum & Expo (Sept. 25-27 at the Hyatt Regency Dallas). We’ve heard everything’s bigger in Texas, so we’re ready to wow all of our guests a truly Texas-sized agenda, featuring more content than before to help you rein in your most pressing benefits cost, compliance and communication problems. After three days of keynote addresses, breakout sessions, networking opportunities and discussion groups — with a little fun thrown in, of course — we’re confident you’ll have roped enough solutions so you can ride off into the sunset with the recession at your back.

Here’s a bit of what we have planned for BFE’s three days:

* Comprehensive workshop sessions. Our workshop sessions will convey vast experience from presenters on key subjects such as health and wellness benefits, retirement and financial education, legal and regulatory trends and employee engagement. Everything is bigger in Texas, and our workshop slate is no different — bring extra pens and notepads this year.

* Top tier keynote presenters. Some of the most noticeable pieces we’ve assembled for our program in Dallas this year are our General Session presenters. Among them are author and consultant Shawn Achor, who will speak to us about positive psychology for success and productivity at work — something we all could use more of, no? Benefit communications guru Jennifer Benz, will put her knowledge and passion on full display in a highly interactive presentation sure to spark discussion. I’ve talked to and met with Benz dozens of times, and learn something new at each encounter. I know your experience with her will be no different. Moreover, we’ll hear from — and have an opportunity to meet — Dallas Cowboy Hall of Fame quarterback Roger Staubach, a highly successful businessman and employer in his own right. Even I — a die-hard, lifelong Washington Redskins fan — can appreciate someone of Staubach’s stature.

* Peer-driven networking sessions. These small group sessions offer the rare opportunity to discuss your challenges and brainstorm solutions with your fellow benefit managers and directors from across the nation. You’ll have the opportunity to choose from four sessions, moderated by EBN editors.

* Fitness and fun. Enter the Walk for Ultimate Health Challenge by picking up a free pedometer and walk your way to chances at prizes for the most steps. Also, take our annual pilates class and lace up your sneakers for the 4th annual 2K fun run/walk. All that exercise deserves a party, and we’ve got a great one planned. This year’s BFE grand celebration will be a Cirque Fantasy Affair at Dallas’ Morton H. Meyerson Symphony Center.

* Red-carpet treatment. Walk the red carpet and help us congratulate EBN’s 2011 Benny Award winners, all profiled in this issue. This awards program promises to be different from anything you’ve experienced before. Laugh along with our “special performers” as the conference wraps up in an entertaining grand “Oscar Night” style. At this delightful, fun-packed final session, everyone leaves as a winner!

However, don’t worry if you’re unable to join us in person. With frequent news, photo and video updates on EBN’s website (ebn.benefitnews.com), blog (ebn.benefitnews.com/ebviews), Facebook (facebook.com/EBNmagazine) and Twitter (@EBNmagazine and hashtag #BFE11), you’ll get all the coverage you can handle. So, let’s cowboy up! We’re ready if y’all are!

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