2021 AFSA Convention
The Embassy Suites Hotel Napa Valley
November 7-10, 2021
Greetings to Everyone!!! On behalf of your Board of Directors and your On-Site Host, Mark Lessler, I’m excited to announce that registration is now open for our Annual Business Meeting and Convention. As you might have already seen from e-blasts that were sent out over the past month, our convention this year is being held in the beautiful Napa Valley, California from November 7 – 10, 2021. We are excited to be holding our meeting and convention on the West Coast this year, and for having it in such an iconic area of the United States. If you missed the previous announcement, don’t worry…everything you need to know is included in this article. Also included is the official registration form. Just as we did for our last convention, we encourage you to complete the registration form on-line and then mail your check to Gerard Dupczak (his address is listed on the bottom of the registration form). By completing the form on-line, your information is automatically downloaded directly into the program just as you input it. Your reservations, selections, and even your name badges are printed just as you want them. Now, if you don’t have internet access or you just prefer not to input it yourself…No Fear!!!…Gerard will input it for you. Simply complete a hard copy of the attached form and send it to him with your check. He’ll take care of the rest. To access the on-line registration form, simply go to the AFSA website at www.AFSA-IRS.org, click on the “Convention” tab and there you will find the link for the registration form.
One very special note…and I’m not just saying this to say it…Please get your reservations in as early as you can. There are two very good reasons.
First, the Embassy Suites is a very nice and very popular hotel. They are well-known for their made-to-order breakfast in the morning and their Manager’s Happy Hour every evening from 5:00 pm – 7:00 pm in the hotel lobby. They have no trouble filling rooms and they are generally sold out year-round. They have made us a very generous offer on our rooms starting at $173.00 (plus taxes) and they are allowing our group to stay at the convention rates for up to two additional days prior to our convention, and two additional days following our convention. However, your reservation MUST be received by them prior to the registration deadline in order to guarantee a room and to guarantee the AFSA rates. Please, think it over and make your Embassy Suites reservations by September 3, 2021. Reservation options are listed near the top of the Registration Form and more detail is provided at the end of this article.
Second, all of the tours that we are offering have limited capacity in the tour busses and reservations are being accepted on a first come-first served basis. Once a bus is full, all I can do is add you to the “back-up reservation” list. If I have a cancelation, then I will go to the list and call the top name on the list. In the event that you pay the fee, but then end up on the back-up list and you don’t make the trip…don’t worry…the trip fee you paid will be refunded to you. You won’t pay for anything you didn’t receive.
The following is a day-by-day summary of what is planned for the convention.
Saturday, November 6, 2021
Pre-Convention Activities: With the flexibility of being able to check-in at the Embassy Suites up to two days early, we decided to try a new feature for this convention and schedule a couple of pre-convention activities for those who wish to take advantage of the opportunity. We believe that many will choose to travel on either Friday, November 5th or on Saturday, November 6th resulting in a smaller group of dedicated wine-enthusiasts who will wish to take in an extra wine tour or two. (With about 500 wineries in the area, there are plenty of choices from which you can choose.) The event for Saturday afternoon will be a tour and tasting at the Inglenook Winery in nearby Rutherford, California. Francis Ford Coppola is the owner, and I am told that this winery is an amazing venue with fabulous wines. The private tour will be a 90-minute experience that begins at 3:00 pm and will include a seated tasting of four estate wines. It will also include a chef-prepared cheese and charcuterie platter. Our tour and tasting will be followed by a dinner at one of the many local eateries in the area. Rutherford is about 14 miles from Napa and transportation will be on your own…either by car or by Uber. The cost of the tour and tasting will be $75.00 per person. You will order dinner off of the menu and are responsible for it on your own. I have been advised by Mark that not only is the wine in the Napa Valley among the best in the country, but the food and quality of restaurants is second to none. Depending on your travel arrangements, coming in on Saturday allows you to make one or both of these events. If nothing else, traveling-in on the day before the start of our convention, allows you to be first in line for the made-to-order breakfast on Sunday morning at the Embassy Suites, and ready for the Sunday activities. Think about it. We will also have your registration packets available as well.
Sunday, November 7, 2021
Registration: Sunday will be the official start of the convention and will be the day of arrival for most. You will have the option of driving or flying into any of the three major airports located in the cities of San Francisco, Oakland, or Sacramento, and then commuting by rental car for the approximate 60-mile trip to Napa Valley. If it can be arranged, some group transportation might be possible for those not desiring a rental car during the convention. Another option would be for two or three individuals or couples to pre-plan their arrival times and take advantage of riding together and sharing the cost of a rental vehicle. Self-parking will be available at the hotel for only $10 per day. A registration table will be in the lobby by noon.
Afternoon Event – At this time, we do not have any group tours or tastings scheduled for Sunday. If one can be arranged, then Executive Director Mary Ruiz will notify everyone with an e-blast and provide details on signing up for it. Some items being considered include either a late afternoon tour and/or tasting at a near-by local winery. Either way, it will be affordable, interesting, and fun.
Evening Event – The second event will be our annual President’s Meet and Greet from 6:00 pm to 8:00 pm where everyone will be able to gather and see some old friends and meet some new ones. This year’s Meet and Greet will be held in the hotel’s Wine Barrel Terrace and will feature several food stations with comfort foods such as sliders, wings, and a salad…plus a variety of liquid refreshments. The cost of this event is included in your registration fee. To top the night off, we will, of course have our hospitality room open where conversations and nightcaps will be plentiful (as they will be every night).
Monday, November 8, 2021
Bob Manzi Memorial Golf Tournament – Our traditional Bob Manzi Golf Tournament, played annually in memory of one of our former members, will kick things off on Monday morning at the very prestigious Eagle Vines Vineyards and Golf Club in American Canyon, California.
Eagle Vines is the premiere Napa Valley golf course situated in the foothills, with vineyard views in every direction. It was founded on the belief that nature and golf were meant to co-exist in magnificent harmony. Eagle Vines has made a profound commitment to protect the extraordinary natural environment of the beautiful Napa Valley. As has been the case in past years, it will be set up in the usual four-person scramble format. The cost will be $85 per person. So far, we already have 12 individual who have signed up, so there is plenty of room for you to play. Executive Director Ruiz is coordinating the tournament so feel free to contact her if you have any questions.
Napa Valley Day Tour or an On-Your-Own Day – If you’re interested in a narrated tour of the Napa Valley, then this will be a four to five hour bus trip that you will want to select. The details have not been confirmed so we don’t have times or locations set yet, but the bus will depart from the hotel sometime in mid to late morning and will return in time so that the officers and board members can make it to the required board meeting. A guide who will narrate and talk about the sights along the way and a stop for lunch in a local town are also being planned. Cost for the trip will be $50 per person. Good chance there will be the opportunity to do some wine tasting along the way too!!! If not interested or able to take this trip, the rest of the day is yours to plan. Plenty of suggestions will be made available to you.
Board of Directors Meeting – Officers and Board Members…Note: Don’t forget to mark your calendars for the annual afternoon Board Meeting that must be attended by all Officers and Board Members. It is scheduled to begin at 4:00 pm and it usually lasts about two and a half hours.
Dinner on Your Own – Not yet sure if anything can be planned for this evening, but if not, then it will be a good evening to go out and explore or do dinner on your own.
Tuesday, November 9, 2021
San Francisco Tour – This will be an all-day tour by bus that will pick you up in the morning at the Embassy Suites and transport you to the beautiful and iconic city of San Francisco. Sights there are plentiful, and include Fisherman’s Wharf, Alcatraz, Ghirardelli Square, Chinatown, Pier 39, and the many other attractions that the city has to offer. The day will be an on-your-own adventure, and several suggestions will be provided to you. For example, Pier 39 is one of the most visited sights in San Francisco and it is home to shops, restaurants, street performers, Hop-On Hop-Off Tours, etc. Details are not yet confirmed, but the bus from the hotel will take you to a central location (probably Fisherman’s Wharf or Pier 39) in the morning and then offer a ride in the afternoon to another location (possibly Chinatown) for your lunch. It will return back to its original location and then depart San Francisco by 4:00 pm for the trip back to the hotel. The cost for the ride to and from San Francisco will be $55 per person. Of course, you will be back in time to enjoy the Embassy Suites Manager’s Happy Hour!!!
Small Town Day Trip – If you are not interested in the full-day trip to the big city of San Francisco, then consider a relaxing half-day bus trip to Yountville and Saint Helena. Both are nice, quaint, little towns that you can visit and enjoy. No narration needed for either one, just walk-on-your-own and enjoy the many shops and restaurants. The bus will depart the hotel in late morning, visit each city for approximately two hours, then bring you back to the Embassy Suites by mid-afternoon. The cost will be $40 per person.
Wednesday, November 10, 2021
Morning Activities – As in past years, the AFSA-IRS annual meeting will be held this year on Wednesday and will begin with an invocation, an opening ceremony, and a presentation by the Color Guard at 8:30am. Arrangements still need to be made for our speakers, but we will, of course, invite Chief Jim Lee to attend and have him provide his annual update on what’s happening within the organization. That will be followed by our annual business meeting and election of officers. Lunch will be on your own.
Afternoon Continued Professional Education – The curriculum is still being developed and should be available in the near future. If suitable arrangement cannot be made, then consider it another opportunity to take in some of the other sights in the area.
The Annual Banquet Dinner – Opening with a cash bar reception, our annual dinner is being planned and will be held in the Pinot Ballroom at the hotel. This cost is also included in your registration fee.
There are two more items to mention.
First, as promised, are some details pertaining to the room registration process at the Embassy Suites. You have two choices for making your room reservation. The first is to call the Hilton central reservation line at 1-800-EMBASSY (362-2779). When you call, give them the location and dates and tell the reservationist that the group code is “AFS”. The rate is $173.00 per night. Your second choice is to go to the website at www.hilton.com/en/embassy.
- In the “Where to?” block, input “Napa, CA” and then select the Embassy Suites Napa, California.
- Select the date of Arrival and the Date of Departure on their calendars.
- Input the number of guests.
- Click on “Special Rates” and enter “AFS” in the “Group Code” block.
- Click on “Find a Hotel”.
- Select the $173 rate that lists “FORMER IRS SPEC AGT”.
The above two methods only work if you are selecting dates within our block of rooms from November 7-11, 2021. If you want to come in early or stay over late, then call Sales Coordinator Marianne Hollman at her direct line of 707-320-9510. She will be expecting your call.
The second item to address is the COVID-19 pandemic and give you an all-important disclaimer. As of the writing of this article, everything in California is going fine and the State of California has no restrictions. The hotel is operating as if it were 2019…no masks, no social distancing, etc. The Embassy’s famous Made-to-Order Breakfast and the Manager’s Happy Hour are both back to normal. Some businesses might still require a mask, so bring one along just in case. However, as we saw in 2020, things can change very quickly. Know that we are well aware of the situation, and we will continue to monitor it. If there are any major changes to our plans, then Executive Director Ruiz will send out an e-blast over the internet to let everyone know.
In conclusion, Mark is excited about hosting the 2021 Annual Business Meeting and Convention in the beautiful Napa Valley of California and he is anticipating a good number of West Coasters who will be able to travel to this year’s convention…some for the first time. We both look forward to seeing everyone in Napa Valley this Fall.
Dan Pieschel Mark Lessler
Remote Host On-Site Host
See You in Napa Valley
My name is Nikolas Barnett. This fall, I will be attending the University of South Carolina, where I will major in International Business and Finance with a minor in French. I am a graduate of Dobyns Bennett High School (DBHS) where I was a 4-year member of the band, BETA Club, FBLA, and French Club. I served as section leader in the DBHS band, which is the largest band in the state of Tennessee. I also served as a leader in Venture Scouts, Students Helping Others Understand Tomorrow (S.H.O.U.T.! ®) and Youth Engaged in Leadership and Learning (Y.E.L.L.), the Mayor’s Youth Council, a leadership program with the Kingsport Chamber of Commerce. In January 2020, I was appointed as a United States Senate Page for Senator Lamar Alexander from Tennessee. As a Page, I was both a student at the Senate Page School and a government employee. I served as a Page during the Impeachment Trial of President Donald Trump. I am extremely honored to have been selected as a recipient of the James F. Howe, Sr. & Frank Fotinatos Scholarship.
Tia Ricchio and I attend UW-Madison as a Finance, Investment, & Banking major. This year was full of normal challenges such as living in the dorms away from family, difficult course schedules, and balancing my school and social life. In addition to these challenges, I also dealt with the novelty of a fully online class schedule, frequent covid testing, and intense restrictions. Overcoming these obstacles and learning to find different ways to interact, get my work done, and thrive academically was difficult at first, but once I adapted, I learned that I could make the most out of my first year of college--even during a global pandemic. Looking forward, I am super excited to live on the Southeast side of campus for my second year at Madison, join intramural swimming, and be a part of an a capella group. I'm hoping this year will be relatively back to normal and that I will be able to cheer on my school teams at Badger games and have in-person classes again. I am so honored that AFSA chose me as a scholarship recipient and I am so thankful for their support!
My name is Sean Line. I want to start off by thanking everyone for choosing me as one of this year's recipients of the AFSA-IRS scholarships. I will be attending Ohio University in the fall studying Criminology and minoring in either accounting, American Sign Language or both. After college I plan on becoming a government agent. Throughout my high school career, I participated in many sports and extracurricular activities such as soccer, diving, bowling, DECA and West Clermont Dance Company. I played in the top high school symphonic band, performed in high school musicals and sang in the high school acapella group. While maintaining my grades, participating in extracurricular activities, I also worked part time and volunteered. While attending Ohio University, I plan on becoming a Young Life Christian leader. This organization will help me volunteer my time with local high school students and help them choose a religious path through the hard high school years. This organization was an enjoyable and important part of my high school experience. Again, thank you very much for your generous contribution to further my education.
My name is Eden Arsenault and this fall I will be attending Columbia College to study Business Marketing. This past spring, I graduated from Rogers High School, in which I held many leadership positions. I was team captain of my high school volleyball team, photo editor of the yearbook, and also a part of many more clubs within the school where I participated in various community service acts. My goal in college is to obtain a Business degree, so I can start my own non-profit photography business. I’m honored and very thankful that AFSA chose me as a scholarship recipient and is giving me the opportunity to accomplish all of my dreams.
I recently finished his first year of study at Loyola University Maryland. His college experience got off to a great start meeting new friends and learning from the university’s outstanding professors. During his freshman year, he earned a place on the Dean’s List for both semesters maintaining above a 3.5 GPA. He looks forward to his future years studying at Loyola University Maryland where he is majoring in Business Accounting and hopes to reach his goal of earning his CPA license. Michael is very thankful to AFSA-IRS and to Mr. William Schroeder for this scholarship award as it helps him pursue his future endeavors.
Nami Lindquist lives in the greater Seattle area with her mom, dad, and her two pets: her younger brother and her dog. She is passionate about empowerment, specifically through personal finance and financial literacy; this interest has driven many of her passion projects, most notably her efforts to increase financial literacy among young people worldwide. When she’s not working on increasing financial literacy, you can find her on the golf course, rock climbing, and responding to readers of her bestselling book, Becoming Your Own Best Friend. Nami will be attending the University of Pennsylvania under the M&T program, where she plans on studying economics and computer science.
My name is Svannah Marshall, and I am a sophomore at USC with a major in political science. I am currently involved in my university’s debate team, black student association, student democrats club, and the USC women’s network. My academic goal is to attend Law School and become an attorney in order to give back to my community; I am so grateful to the AFSA-IRS scholarship committee for choosing me as a recipient as it will help immensely with reaching my goals!
Katherine is a graduating senior from Lee's Summit, Missouri. She will be attending Missouri State University in the fall as a freshman, where she will pursue a degree in Global Studies. During her high school years, she participated in her school's swimming and track teams. She loves classical music and has played the violin for most of her life. Katherine is excited to continue her studies at MSU and her dream is to become an immigration lawyer. She is grateful to her family who has supported and loved her, the teachers who have shared her hunger for knowledge and understanding, and to God who has been her hope and light from beginning to end. She is thankful and honored to be a recipient of the AFSA-IRS Memorial Scholarship.
Nicholas Cheung is a senior at James Madison University and is pursuing a double major in Computer Science and Mathematics with a minor in Physics. Nicholas is currently working as a summer intern at the Argonne National Laboratory’s nanoscience and technology division to put what he has learned to practice. Going forward, he plans to graduate in Spring 2022 and apply his expertise to computer forensics. Nicholas is deeply honored to be a recipient of the 2021 James F. Howe, Sr. Memorial AFSA-IRS Scholarship and is now one step closer towards reaching that goal.
AFSA-IRS currently administers two scholarship programs, the AFSA-IRS Memorial Scholarship and the James F. Howe, Sr. Scholarship. Anyone may make donations to the AFSA-IRS for the Scholarship Fund.
AFSA promotes fraternal relationships via local chapter meetings throughout the US and at our annual conventions. We sponsor the biennial Special Agent of the Year Award to recognize an active duty special agent for outstanding performance.