Strengthening Connections In-Person

CSA Education’s First All-Company Meeting in Chicago

Last month, CSA Education held its first all-company meeting! We brought our entire staff from across North America (including Hawaii and Mexico!) to our main office in Chicago for a few days of discussion, collaboration, and planning for our future.

In-Office to Remote Staff

When the pandemic hit in 2020, CSA changed from a largely Chicago-based in-office staff to an entirely remote staff. We embraced the challenge of maintaining an atmosphere of collaboration and connection while virtual, and despite all odds, it turned out to be a positive change. Being at home actually increased our productivity, and even while other companies started going back to the office, CSA decided to remain entirely remote. 

This also opened up opportunities for us to expand our staff outside of the Chicago area, and bring in key talent from across the continent. Fast-forward to 2023, and, we now have 38 full-time employees from all over North America, including Hawaii and Mexico, who manage our full-service projects in all subject areas.


After three years of working from home and seeing each other from the shoulders up on tiny screens, we determined that now was the right time to bring everyone together for an in-person meeting at our company headquarters in Chicago. Even though we are largely remote, CSA does have an office space in a beautiful location that is accessible to staff at any time. It’s right on Michigan Avenue, one of the iconic streets in Chicago’s downtown Loop area, and being on the 32nd floor, we get spectacular views of the city, including Millennium Park and Lake Michigan. We were excited to introduce the space to our entire staff, as well as connect with each other beyond our computer monitors.

And connect, we did! I have been a part of several companies throughout my working life, but never have I experienced this level of instant camaraderie among a team—particularly one in which the majority of the staff had never met each other face-to-face before. As soon as I walked in, I was struck with how much joy and excitement was present in the room. There were hugs, lots of laughter, conversation snippets floating through the room such as “I had no idea you were that tall!”, and so many smiles and looks of recognition. The energy and enthusiasm continued throughout the three days we were together, and the experience made me even happier to be a part of this team.

Past, Present, and Future

Our meeting started with a look at the past, present, and future of the company. CSA has been around since 1989, and has undergone a few transformations in that time. In addition to looking back at our history, we looked toward what we are becoming, and the future looks very bright for CSA as we expand our offerings, continue to utilize the expertise we have on our staff, and find new ways to bring the level of excellence our clients have come to expect. The rest of the meeting focused on how we do just that—from brainstorming ways to support and expand our amazing freelancer corps (also known as “Team CSA”), to finding new avenues of efficiency in order to sustain our business model. The entire group came away empowered and emboldened to implement new ideas and strengthen current processes.

Exploring the Windy City

It wasn’t all meetings, however! We Chicago-based staff love our town, and we were excited to welcome the out-of-town employees and show off the best that the Windy City has to offer. The first night we were treated to some iconic deep-dish pizza, which we all enjoyed while taking a private architectural boat tour down the Chicago River. A docent from the Chicago Architecture Center gave us a plethora of information about the buildings in the downtown corridor and was a fountain of knowledge about Chicago history. Chicago is a gorgeous city in the daytime, but it has a very special feel to it at night, and it was wonderful to experience it together.

CSA Education staff members with the Chicago skyline in the background

When our meetings wrapped on the second day, we all split off on what we called a “Choose Your Own Adventure” evening. Some of the staff went to Wrigley Field to watch the Chicago Cubs lose to the Pittsburgh Pirates (but the weather was perfect, and it was still a great game!). Some other staff members made their way to The Second City, the comedy proving grounds of famous stars like Stephen Colbert, Tina Fey, and Bill Murray, to see a fantastic improv show. The third group went to the James Nederlander Theater to see the touring production of Hamilton. It was one of those nights where you really couldn’t go wrong whichever option you chose!

Living Our Values

For me, the most impactful moment of our time together was on Thursday afternoon when we presented our first-ever Exemplary Values Awards. A few years ago, the entire CSA staff collaborated together and developed our five Core Values: We Care, We Lead, We Strive, We Support, and We Welcome. We asked the staff to nominate the employees they felt truly embodied each one of the Values, and I was blown away by the results.

The nominations were heartfelt, sincere, and showed just how much this team respects each other. In fact, we received so many nominations, we had to develop a “runner up” category for each of the awards! It was just more evidence that CSA is on the right track when it comes to employee engagement, responsiveness, and support—and I believe that permeates through not only our internal staff, but the way we treat our clients and contractors, as well. CSA is filled with genuinely good people who care about each other and the work we provide.


 Our first All-Company Meeting was a great success, and we’re looking forward to implementing the new ideas and working toward the goals we set to make CSA even more successful. The entire team left feeling energized, renewed, and ready to provide the outstanding service our clients have come to expect—and we had the opportunity to make some great memories in the process.