By: Julia Hartlep
This conference rejuvenates and inspires us. It makes us hopeful for the future of our country. We learn more from the delegates of this conference than we ever impart to them.Nancy Dennis
For many, CONA is a near-constant in their life. For others, it’s a near-constant in their children’s lives as well. Such is the case for the Dennis family.
Jimmy and Nancy met in high school, through the Alabama Youth Legislature. During college, they started to see each other. Nancy also started volunteering for the Alabama state program. Soon after, in 1980, Jimmy and Nancy married each other.
Come 1987, Nancy Dennis became an adviser for CONA’s Alabama delegation.
“I’ve continued doing that every summer since, except for the summer of 1996, which was the summer Amy was born. I also missed 1998 because of a special election in Alabama. I had work obligations that I couldn’t miss,” Nancy says.
Similar to his dedicated wife, Jimmy returned as an adviser as well, but instead in the 1990s. Their daughter, Amy, soon to be 23 years old, has been coming to CONA since she was 11 months old.
This program builds citizens.Nancy Dennis
In fact, such is the Dennis legacy that the Alabama delegates, instead of calling them by their name, refer to Jimmy and Nancy as “Mama and Papa Dennis.”
“We are their parents on the mountain,” Nancy explains.
Currently, Jimmy serves in the bean room, counting ballots. Nancy has worked on the planning committee and as a media adviser. To add to her list of credentials, she also has experience as a newspaper editor and in public relations.
We love this conference and the people who are a part of it.Nancy Dennis
Their legacy lives on through Amy, who does whatever she can to help out. This includes working in the snack shop, running proposals, and even counting ballots. She became a member of the media program during her high school years, and worked for the Montgomery YMCA for a summer.
The Dennis family plans to keep coming to CONA as long as they’re let in. “The family feeling extends beyond the Alabama delegation. We’ve made friends on this mountain from California, Arizona, Texas, New York, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, Oklahoma, Minnesota and all the points in between who are forever friends,” Nancy says
This conference is our family vacation each year. It is woven into the fabric of our family. It is part of who we are.Nancy Dennis