Case Study: MidAtlantic Fiber Association (MAFA) at Millersville University

MidAtlantic Fiber Association (MAFA) is a vibrant all-volunteer non-profit organization dedicated to fostering creativity and community within the fiber arts. With over 55 local fiber arts guilds spanning from Connecticut to North Carolina, as well as over 200 individual associate members, MAFA serves as a hub for enthusiasts and artisans alike. Their signature event, a biennial four-day fiber arts conference, has found its home at Millersville University since 2015, offering a diverse array of hands-on workshops, exhibits, and activities that celebrate the rich tapestry of fiber arts.

Interviewee: Margaret Briggs, MAFA Conference Committee

Tell us about your organization and the events that you have held at Millersville University.

MidAtlantic Fiber Association (MAFA) is an all-volunteer non-profit fiber arts organization. Our members are 55 local fiber arts guilds located from Connecticut to North Carolina, as well as over 200 individual associate members. MAFA’s signature event is a biennial four-day fiber arts conference, which we have held at Millersville University since 2015, only missing 2021 for the pandemic. Recent conferences have had over 500 attendees, and we usually offer over three dozen two-and-a-half-day hands-on fiber arts workshops – think weaving on looms, making yarn on spinning wheels, dyeing yarn, and fiber, felting, basket making, and sewing – as well as events and activities like a keynote session, open studio tour, vendor hall, and exhibits.

No Title

No Description

What have been some of your goals with sponsoring the various events?

Our conferences provide an opportunity for fellowship among our attendees, as well as a chance to take workshops with nationally and regionally known instructors. We also host exhibits of attendees’ fiber art, special exhibits, book signings, a tour of all our workshops, and a vendor hall with all sorts of fiber, yarn, equipment, tools, and other goodies.

Retrieved from @mafafiber Instagram, from @frittelli_lockwood

What have been the successes that you have realized through your campus events?

We have had several very successful events at Millersville University, based on favorable reviews from students and instructors, and a positive financial outcome for our organization. The location is ideal geographically since we have members traveling from primarily the East Coast, but also New England, the Midwest, and Canada. The size of the campus is just right for our group, and a college campus is a more cost-effective solution for us compared to other conference centers. Since our attendee demographic skews mostly an age range of 55+, the accessibility of campus buildings is also a plus.

Mafa 2023 Retrieved from @mafafiber Instagram, from @nancyeverham

What can you share regarding the event logistics that have helped make your events successful?

On our end, communication is key, as well as having a detailed plan and a dedicated committee of volunteers to do the work. We have run our conferences since 1981, so we have a lot of history on what our attendees have come to expect, yet we try to innovate a bit each time too.

Retrieved from @mafafiber Instagram, from @frittelli_lockwood

Why do you decide to come back to Millersville University for your events?

For us, returning to Millersville University means coming back to a location and facilities that are familiar to our conference committee as well as our attendees. Knowing the layout of the residence halls, dining hall, Student Memorial Center, and academic buildings makes it much easier for us to plan our workshops and events, and to communicate instructions to our attendees.


MAFA 2019 Trailer

What general advice do you have for other groups that are planning events for their organization?

Some advice we’d give is to use an online project management platform such as Basecamp, Slack, or Teams to manage event planning and coordination. Be sure all public-facing positions have an organization email address, so that correspondence isn’t lost if personnel changes. We find that shared documents (e.g. Google Drive) cut down on confusion and missed updates. Since our planners are spread all over the East Coast, video conference meetings have helped us be able to better put names with faces when we all arrive on-site (not the case when we used to do everything by conference call), and to share screen to all look at things together.

In summary, the partnership between MAFA and Millersville University exemplifies the synergy of collaboration and passion for the fiber arts. Through meticulous planning, innovative programming, and a commitment to excellence, MAFA continues to inspire creativity and foster connections within the fiber arts community. As we look forward to our next conference, we remain grateful for the support and partnership of Millersville University in providing a nurturing environment for our attendees to explore, learn, and create.

If you’re interested to find out some more about MAFA check them out on:

*Images and videos courtesy of MAFA