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President's Pen

President's Pen | September/October 2020

The August 2020–June 2021 schedule of MiSGMP meetings and events is posted on the web site, The education committee is working diligently on securing education sessions for the TBD months. MiSGMP monthly membership meetings will be virtual through December 2020. It is the hope of all of us that, beginning in February 2021, we will be able to meet in person.

The National Board has taken important and much needed steps to support our members by creating a new 6-month interim membership for supplier and planner members who have been furloughed or laid off. For details, visit interim membership. The 6-month membership fees are:

  • Interim contract planner, $35
  • Interim government planner, $20
  • Interim supplier, $50

The interim memberships are valid through June 30, 2021 with the possibility of applying for an additional six months.

Additionally, the National Board passed the following new policies to help retain chapter volunteers.

  • The 10-year limit for members to serve on a chapter board via elections and appointments has been suspended from now through terms ending June 30, 2023.
  • The 2-term limit per position to serve on a chapter board via elections and appointments has been suspended from now through terms ending June 30, 2023.

I look forward to seeing you on our next virtual membership meeting on October 21st. In addition to networking and the education session, Cathy Mayhew will take the Oath of Office to serve on the board as director to fill the remaining months of Char Alexander’s term and the 2020 Zenith Awards and President’s Award will be presented. Please join us for an outstanding education session and to help recognize and celebrate our new board member and our award recipients!

Fall has officially started and Michigan’s trees are quickly changing. I hope you all find time to appreciate the natural beauty of our amazing state as the leaves turn into beautiful hues of red, orange and gold! 


Laurie A. Nickson, CMP  
MiSGMP President

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Membership Report

As of September 30, 2020:
Michigan has 142 Members
Planners: 77 | Suppliers: 61 | Other: 4

IMPORTANT Membership Renewal Announcements

National has recognized that 2020 has been an extraordinarily different kind of year.  The uncertainty in many areas of our lives continue to persist.  Despite these challenges, SGMP is committed to helping all of our members connect, get the education they need, and thrive during this unsettling time, while also keeping SGMP healthy.  This is why SGMP has created SEVERAL options to renew your membership.

A new six-month interim membership is now available for SGMP supplier and planner members who have been furloughed or laid off. This will give members more time to seek employment in the industry without disrupting their SGMP volunteer commitments.

  1. Interim members may vote.
  2. Interim members may volunteer locally and nationally, including serving on chapter boards, task forces/committees, and national committees. They will not be able to serve on the National Board or the Gilmer Institute of Learning.
  3. Six-month membership fees are: Interim Supplier: $50, Interim Contract Planner: $35, and Interim Government Planner: $20.
  4. Interim members may be able to apply for an additional six months if additional time is needed.
  5. This membership is valid through June 30, 2021.


To celebrate SGMP’s 40th Anniversary coming up in 2021, we are offering special membership rates from now until June 30, 2021, for new and renewal memberships.

National also continues to offer PAYMENT PLAN OPTIONS for members, which can be accessed by contacting SGMP Membership at 703-549-0892 or [email protected].


  • Chelsea Wiltse, Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy (Planner)


During COVID-19, National SGMP has provided membership assistance in that, they have approved a membership grace period extension of 90 days.  Those who are unable to pay your dues by your membership renewal date will automatically fall into the 90 day grace period category.

At Risk members are those who expired in July, August, or September.  July expiration dates have until the end of October to renewAugust expiration dates now have until the end of November to renew September expiration dates have until the end of December to renew.  October expiration dates have until the end of January to renew.  November expiration dates have until the end of February to renew

  • Amari Myles (July)
  • Theresa Randleman (July)
  • Kathleen Omollo (July)
  • Julie Markham (July)
  • Carly Sanford (August)
  • Jan Hebekeuser (August)
  • Sara Veit (August)
  • Ann Bruttell (August)
  • Stephanie Reed (September)
  • Kristen Ablitz (September)
  • Phillip Barnhart (September)
  • Jennifer Salisbury (September)
  • Mary Chris Hotchkiss (October)
  • Mike Rice (October)
  • Karen McDaniels (October)
  • Kathy Morin (October)
  • Jodi Johnson (October)
  • Tracy Drus (October)
  • Sasha Glover (November)
  • Patrick Potyraj (November)
  • Mary Estrada (November)
  • Tammy Novak (November)
  • Lynnette Uribe (November)
  • Amber Feldpausch (November)
  • Kristen Taylor (November)
  • Jennifer Leo (November)
  • Katie DeWeerd (November)
  • Stephanie Watson (November)
  • Stephanie Kelly (November)
  • Tom O’Connor (November)

During COVID-19, we understand that many members were laid off, furloughed, or let go.  If you have a membership that your company paid for and it needs to be transferred to another employee, this can be done with the Membership Transfer Form.  There is a $25 membership transfer fee, unless the membership is up for renewal within 30 days of the transfer.  At that time, only the membership fee will need to be paid and the transfer fee will be waived.  Transfer information can be found on the website here.


During COVID-19 when we aren’t seeing each other in person, it’s important to remember who each other is.  The Member Spotlight recognizes one supplier and one planner each month.  All you have to do is answer 4-5 easy questions about yourself, place of employment, and your experience with MiSGMP, and supply us with a head shot of yourself.  Interested?  Contact Tammy Novak today at [email protected].


MiSGMP Membership Committee

Do you have more time on your hands?  Wish to be more involved with MiSGMP but aren’t sure how.  Are you great with people?  The MiSGMP Membership Committee wants you!  For more information, please contact Tammy Novak or Brenda Haight [email protected]


During this trying time of working remotely, job loss, business closures and other uncertainties, we thank you for your MiSGMP membership commitments and hope you are staying strong and healthy.  Please do let us know if there is anything we can assist you with regarding your membership.


Tammy Novak – Board Liaison
Brenda Haight – Committee Chair
Terra Damchuk
Jocelyn Davis
Shelley Long

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Member Spotlight

Introducing MiSGMP’s SUPPLIER SPOTLIGHT for October 2020…

Kathy Adair Morin, CMP, CGMP, GMSKathy Morin
Cadillac Area Visitors Bureau

  • A little bit about where I grew up:  I grew up in Holly (Northern Oakland County) and moved to West Branch (Northern Michigan) just in time for the awkward middle school years and having to adjust to things like, “Drive Your Tractor to School Day” and my high school being in a corn field. Since then, I have lived all over Michigan for my education, work, and family.
  • Favorite vacation spot:  I love to travel all over Michigan and would love to see more of the US. My favorite vacation was when we were able to honeymoon in Scotland back in 2013; that was the most amazing experience ever! So many fun memories. One was when we were driving on a road in the middle of nowhere and stumbled upon a Highland Festival. We sat on a hillside and watched the highland games and dancing, surrounded by a castle and amazing landscape. Also, our daughter’s middle name is Skye, from the Isle of Skye in Scotland, which is the most beautiful place I’ve ever been.
  • What do you like most about being a supplier?  Anyone who knows me knows I get super geeky and passionate about what I do. I sincerely love working with our properties to build their capacity to host groups and events, all while sharing that knowledge and information with planners.
  • What do you like most about MiSGMP?  The people and the relationships. I didn’t realize how much I’d miss “my people” the past several months! 
  • Thoughts regarding the industry:  It will be interesting to see how much things change moving forward. Zoom meetings cannot replace a personal connection, but there are going to be so many adjustments to get back to having face to face meetings. I encourage everyone to reach out to your CVB partners, as we can help you navigate the current updates in our regions.

Introducing MiSGMP’s PLANNER SPOTLIGHT for October 2020…

Pat StrzalkowskiKathy Morin
Michigan State Police Troopers Association

  • A little bit about where I grew up:  I grew up in Southfield, a suburb of Detroit.  I am third in a family of four, and was fortunate to grow up in the era when kids found things to do, outside, until dark!  After obtaining an associate's degree from Oakland Community College, I moved to East Lansing to become a Spartan (GO GREEN!) and completed a bachelor's degree in communications.  After 22 years in the printing industry (desktop publishing and electronic prepress), I made a mid-life job change and found myself at the MSPTA.  As I approach my 16 year anniversary, I can honestly say it has been a privilege to work with the men and women of the Michigan State Police.
  • Favorite vacation spot:  I am a huge fan of all that Michigan has to offer!  In particular, I love the Upper Peninsula -- Brockway Mountain and Copper Harbor.  Our family has traveled much of the United States and visited many National Parks.  Last year we took an amazing trip to Poland.  There are so many more places I'd love to explore, it's really tough to name a favorite.
  • What do you like most about being a planner?  I have really enjoyed planning conferences for the MSP, especially when I get to introduce attendees to a part of Michigan they have never been before.  It is a rewarding process to partner with a venue and make all the pieces fit to put on a successful event.
  • What do you like most about MiSGMP?  Hands down, the people and the relationships.  There are resources for anything I might need.  The education about the meetings industry has been invaluable.
  • Thoughts regarding the industry:  I don't believe the meetings industry will ever return to exactly what is was before Covid-19.  While virtual meetings have skyrocketed, I think many people still prefer in-person gatherings, and I am optimistic that things are beginning to turn around.

REMINDER:  During COVID-19 when we aren’t seeing each other in person, it’s important to remember who each other is.  The Member Spotlight recognizes one supplier and one planner each month.  All you have to do is answer 4-5 easy questions about yourself, place of employment, and your experience with MiSGMP, and supply us with a head shot of yourself.  Interested?  Contact Tammy Novak today at [email protected].

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Upcoming Events

Wednesday, October 21st, 11:30 AM - 2:00 PM.

Maximum Ability: How to Create a Disability Inclusive Culture

This program goes byond ADA and helps participants understand the personal, social, and medical needs of persons with (dis)abilities.


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Executive Orders re: Covid-19


October 2nd, the Michigan Supreme Court struck down the governor's emergency powers.  Thus, Whitmer's Covid-19 orders effectively ended as Attorney General Dana Nessel withdrew enforcement.  Read the entire article here.

Now the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services has issued its Executive Order under section 2253 of the Public Health Code restricting gathering sizes, requiring face coverings in public spaces and childcare facilities, placing capacity limitations on stores, bars and other public venues and providing for safer workplaces.

Prior to the Supreme Court’s decision, Whitmer’s EO on gatherings had been updated: 

On September 25th EO-183 was signed.  In part:  Under Executive Order 2020-183, instead of being limited to 10 people, non-residential indoor gatherings and events now must limit attendance to 20 people per 1,000 square feet or 20 percent of fixed seating capacity, with a maximum of 500 people in Michigan’s largest venues. Non-residential indoor venues must require a face covering. Instead of being limited to 100 people, non-residential outdoor gatherings and events now must limit attendance to 30 people per 1,000 square feet or 30 percent of fixed seating capacity, with a maximum of 1,000 people. Regions 6 and 8 are subject to the same rules covered in the revised MI Safe Start order, except non-residential indoor venues may allow up to 25 people per 1,000 square feet or 25 percent of fixed seating capacity, with a maximum of 500 people in the regions’ largest venues. 


MiSGMP will continue to update you with news as it becomes available.
(Please check the website and Facebook for current updates.)

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Community Service


Buddy Bench Fundraising & Supper Sacks for Kids Food Basket

The Buddy Bench project is being finalized. Thanks to the generosity of our members, fundraising efforts have been reached and Laurie is working to determine the school/location where the bench will be placed.

Members are now able to make donations to MiSGMP's community service projects when registering for monthly meetings. Thank you for your generosity!

Kids Food Basket  is a nonprofit in Grand Rapids, Michigan.  They send sack suppers home with children whose families are experiencing food insecurity and offer them a nutritious meal including fruit, vegetables, protein and a healthy snack.  They serve thousands of children for thousands of reasons, and need thousands of sacks every day!  Please join your colleagues in purchasing plain brown or white lunch bags, decorate them with your families, colleagues, church members, bowling leagues, anywhere large groups of folks gather.  Simply color them with crayons, pencils or markers (no stickers or glue please), and leave encouraging messages on them as well (no religious messages allowed).  After the pandemic, we plan to resume this necessary endeaver for Kids Food Basket on behalf of MiSGMP.

Again, thank you for all you do to support our local communities!

Shelley Long
Michigan Chapter Society of Government Meeting Professionals
Community Service Committee Board Liaison

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Get Your GMS!

Looking to begin or complete the Government Meeting Specialist (GMS) program?  If you have any questions or want to know more visit or contact Debbie Kopkau at [email protected].


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Get involved. Build your network!

MiSGMP Committees

Committees are comprised of members of the Board of Directors and the Chapter membership. Each committee develops a plan that outlines the committee’s objectives and the steps for achieving those objectives. Committees meet as needed to complete tasks.

For more information on volunteering on a committee please visit:

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Committee Board Liaisons

2019-2020 Committee Board Liaisons
GMS Committee – Debbie Kopkau
Nominations Committee – Debbie Kopkau
Registration Committee – (Vacant)
Membership Committee – Tammy Novak
Scholarship Committee – Stacy Yerby
AEC Committee – Heidi Schmitt
Special Events Committee – (Vacant)
Communication Committee – Debbie Kopkau
Advertising/Sponsorship Committee – Stacy Yerby/Heidi Schmitt
Community Service Committee – Shelley Long
Education Committee – Debbie Kopkau/Terese McInnis
Honors/Awards Committee – Laurie Nickson

MiSGMP Mission
The Michigan Chapter of the Society of Government Meeting Professionals (MiSGMP) is dedicated to improving the knowledge and expertise of individuals in the planning and management of government meetings through education, training, industry relationships and mutual support.

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Contact Address - Check Your Records!

Just a reminder that the address for mailing MiSGMP correspondence is:

5859 W. Saginaw Hwy., #144, Lansing, MI  48917

Questions, comments, suggestions, regarding the e-Reel Newsletter should be directed to:  [email protected]


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