MiSGMP e-Reel


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President's Pen

President's Pen | November/December 2020

As we continue to deal with the uncertainties of COVID-19, the one constant you can be sure of, is the support of the Society of Government Meeting Professionals and the Michigan Chapter.  In addition to all the changes happening in our world today, MiSGMP is also changing; your new nine-member board took the Oath of Office on November 30, with our new roles officially taking effect on December 1.  While some of us are transitioning into new roles, others will be having a whole new experience.  For me, I look forward to taking this new challenge with stride and to heart.  I will do my very best to represent MiSGMP as your President.  We, as a board, understand that members are still working remotely, and some are still laid off or furloughed – and we, as a board, understand and have felt the challenges of the past eight months both professionally and personally.  But MiSGMP is here to continue to support your education, resources, and networking needs.  We ARE MiSGMP Strong!

As announced at the November monthly member meeting, the MiSGMP FY20-22 board voted to keep our member meetings virtual until further notice.  With the State of Mchigan still under a travel restriction through at least March 1, 2021, and the latest shut down orders from the MDHHS, we felt it was the best decision in lieu of what everyone is dealing with, and to keep our members safe. 

Don’t forget that the FY21 Annual Education Conference has been changed to virtual and will be a one-day event, March 17, 2021.  Look for additional information coming soon.

The August 2020-June 2021 Schedule of Events has been updated and is posted on the MiSGMP website.  The fee for virtual monthly meetings remains at $10 for both planners and suppliers ... you must be registered to receive the Zoom link.  Please remember there is no meeting in January 2021, so I hope to see you on February 17, 2021, for another outstanding education session on the “State of Michigan – Risk Management Insurance”. 

I do hope someone starts to shake that snow globe, so it starts to look a little more like the holiday season is upon us.  Wishing you and yours a very merry and safe holiday!


Tammy M. Novak, GMS, CGMP
MiSGMP President

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Past President's Pen

Past President's Pen | November/December 2020

2020 has been an unusual and challenging year for all of us, professionally and personally.  Despite the pandemic, MiSGMP has had a busy and productive year – our chapter’s success is due to the dedication of you, our members – thank you! 


At the November MiSGMP board meeting, it was decided that the 2021 Annual Education Conference (AEC) will be a one-day virtual conference and that our monthly membership/education meetings will be virtual until further notice.  As soon as it is safe and feasible, we will resume face-to-face meetings and events.


As I pass the virtual president’s gavel to Tammy Novak, I’ve been reflecting on my affiliation with MiSGMP … as a member, as vice-president, and, for the past 5 years, as president.  Our chapter has provided me with opportunities to expand my personal and professional relationships, with high quality professional development, and has had the single-most positive and significant impact on my professional career.  It has been an honor and a privilege, and I look forward to continuing on the board as the immediate past president.  The members of the newly elected 2020-2022 board will continue the outstanding work of the 2018-2020 board, and all past boards, providing strong leadership and effective management of our chapter to insure its continued growth and success.


Best wishes to you and yours for a joyous holiday season and a happy, healthy 2021.  My sincere hope is that we will be gathering, in person, in the not too distant future!



Laurie A. Nickson, CMP  
MiSGMP Immediate Past President

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Membership Report

As of November 30, 2020:
Michigan has 142 Members
Planners: 74 | Suppliers: 64 | Other: 4

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

  1. The Interim Membership is 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 membership and volunteer commitments. 
  2. The Anniversary Membership was created to celebrate SGMP’s 40th anniversary coming up in 2021.  SGMP is offering discounted membership fees through June 30, 2021. 
  3. The Payment Plan Options are being offered to current members.  These options can be done on a bi-annual or quarterly calendar.  With the payment plan options, the regular rates for suppliers, contract planners, and government meeting planners remain in place.
  4. The Grace Period Option allows membership to be extended for a period of 60 to 90 days for those membership renewals deadlines from February 1, 2020, through December 31, 2020.

You can read more about all of these renewal options here.

Welcome New Members

  • Sarah Langlois (Supplier), Holiday Inn Grand Haven-Spring Lake
  • Pamela Fitzgerald (Planner), MDHHS/Office of Workforce Development and Training
  • Sami Chau (Planner), MPHI

Welcome New Transfers

  • Tammy Palmer, Grand Traverse Resort and Spa (replacing Duke Rosendahl)
  • Courtney Irish, Flint and Genesee Convention and Visitors Bureau (replacing Amari Myles)
  • Phyllis Lockhart, Shanty Creek (replacing RJ Arnott)
  • Christine Klee, Michigan Works! Association (replacing Anisa Macuza)

Anniversary and 90-Day Grace Period Reminders

During COVID-19, the National SGMP Office has recognized the struggles many of our members are going through.  To help those memberships who are expiring through December 31, 2020, SGMP implemented the 90-Day Grace Period extension.

At Risk memberships are those which expired in September, October, or November and were provided an expiration extension date.  September expiration dates had until the end of December to renewOctober expiration dates have until the end of January to renew November expiration dates have until the end of February 2021 to renew.  

  • Kristen Ablitz (September)
  • Mike Rice (October)
  • Karen McDaniels (October)
  • Tracy Drus (October)
  • Jennifer Leo (November)
  • Stephanie Watson (November)
  • Stephanie Kelly (November)
  • Tom O’Connor (November)

60-Day Out memberships are those which will be expiring December and JanuaryDecember expiration dates have until the end of March 2021 to renew.  The 90-Day Grace Period extension ends December 31, 2020; therefore, those membership expiring in January, will not be extended, and should be renewed by the end of January.  The National Board will be meeting soon to determine if they will continue with these extensions. 

  • Sara Benard (December)
  • Kari Thrush (December)
  • Matt Tomlinson (December)
  • Christine Lincoln (December)
  • David Buckenberger (December)
  • Laura Fuller (December)
  • Niles Mayrand (January)
  • Barbara Lincoln (January)
  • Marilyn Clark (January)
  • Diane Dick (January)
  • Debbie Denyer (January)
  • Sheila Smith (January)
  • Bernadette Benkert (January)
  • Michelle Erskine (January)
  • Clarissa Lange (January)
  • Pete Smith (January)
  • Greg Taft (January)
  • Laura Hill (January)
  • Donna Trudell (January)
  • Angela Trainor (January)

If you see a member on any of the above lists and you know they have been furlough, laid off, or even terminated, and you have a way of getting in touch with them, PLEASE DO.  Please tell them about the Interim Membership.  We value our members and want to do what we can to keep their memberships active.

Tammy Novak, Board Liaison
Jocelyn Davis, Committee Chair
Char Alexander
Terra Damchuk
Shelley Long

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Member Spotlight

Introducing MiSGMP’s SUPPLIER SPOTLIGHT for November/December 2020…

Name  (We need to know about you!)
And the organization you work for ... then ...

  • A little bit about where I grew up:  Tell us about yourself!
  • Favorite vacation spot: 
  • What do you like most about being a supplier? 
  • What do you like most about MiSGMP? 
  • Thoughts regarding the industry:

Introducing MiSGMP’s PLANNER SPOTLIGHT for November/December 2020…

Pamela Fitzgerald
MDHHS/Office of Workforce Development and Training

  • A little bit about where I grew up:  I grew up in the small village of Eagle, Michigan (if you are driving through, don’t blink, you will miss it).  I stayed and raised my kids here, moved away for a couple years, then moved back to be close to family.  This time we are just out of the village in the country and will probably retire here as it is so peaceful.
  • Favorite vacation spot:  I don’t really have a favorite vacation spot because I love so many areas.  But, here in Michigan, I do love Traverse City.  The first year I visited T.C., I was amazed at all the opportunities, whether it was to cross country ski in the winter or to tour the city in the summer.  Someday, I would love to visit the Leelanau Peninsula, this is one place that I have never been to, but I am sure that it could be one of my favorites.  I am hoping to tour the wineries.
  • What do you like most about being a planner?  I love working to get the best spaces possible to hold our trainings and seeing my projects through from beginning to end. I really appreciate the relationships that I have gained through the years with our vendors.
  • What do you like most about MiSGMP?  Since I am so new to SGMP, I am finding that although I have learned about opportunities for our organization working with vendors, I am excited to find that MiSGMP has so many more to explore.  I am looking forward to meeting new people, gaining new relationships, and learning about the great ideas that you all have to share.  The education and networking opportunities are also very valuable to me.  I have only attended a couple of meetings but have really enjoyed them.

REMINDER:  During the pandemic 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.  Are you interested in being featured in the next eReel?  Contact Tammy Novak today at NovakT5[email protected].

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Upcoming Events

Wednesday, December 16th, 11:30 AM - 1:15 PM.

Unconscious Bias: A Quiet Performance Killer

Noise is anything that interferes with the accurate transmission of a message between a sender and a receiver.  It can be categorized as internal, external, emotional or cultural; however, unconscious bias is the loudest form of noise because it not only interferes with our ability to build powerful relationships across cultural differences, it leads to bad decisions that impair individual and organizational performance. This session will describe unconscious bias and identify the specific ways it can diminish your effectiveness.

Presenter: Dr. Tryone A. Holmes, Ed. D.
T.A.H. Performance Consultants, LLC, Past President

GMS Core Competency: Education and Programming



MiSGMP Meetings in 2021

On November 20, 2020, your Michigan Board of Directors met via Zoom.  One topic of discussion was what in the world do we do for meetings in 2021.  Sound familiar?

We have decided to keep everyone safe, and due to the State of Michigan travel restrictions, voted to continue with virtual meetings for the first part of 2021.  This includes our FY20 Annual Education Conference (AEC), which was moved to March 2021.

FY21 Annual Education Conference

Please save-the-date of March 17, 2021, for a St. Patrick’s Day Virtual AEC filled with shamrocks and shenanigans.  We have a couple of excellent planners working on this already, and they will share additional information soon.  If you would like to join the planning committee, don’t hesitate to reach out to [email protected] or [email protected].


Recently, the MiSGMP asked everyone to complete a quick survey to gather data on what our members were forecasting regarding meeting plans for the remainder of 2020 and into 2021.  The results are attached to the email disseminating this e-Reel and are (or will soon be) posted on the MiSGMP website.  Thank you for responding to this survey, your input was appreciated.

Stay well and stay strong, MiSGMP!

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Executive Orders re: Covid-19


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

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.

Restrictions currently limit indoor gatherings to 10 people or less, statweide.  This ruling was extended for an additional 12 days, effective through December 20, 2020.

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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Education Corner!

Another Zoom meeting?  How to Ensure that You are Engaging Members Virtually

Reposted from StarChapter
Updated: Oct. 12, 2020 | Categories: Membership

Association chapters not holding virtual events by now may be finding their association members looking to other organizations for support. Interestingly, at the same time, those holding virtual events may be worried about the number of virtual events their members are attending, wondering how many are close to the “if I have to attend another virtual meeting, I’ll scream,” point.

Over the past few months, we’ve shared a number of ways to adjust the structures of your virtual meetings to avoid fatiguing your association members, including:

  • keeping your virtual meetings shorter than in person ones
  • breaking up sessions with Q&A, breakout sessions, polls, etc.
  • delivering interesting topics by strong speakers

However, even with those changes, virtual meetings can still be exhausting for your association members.

Why do some virtual meetings exhaust attendees?

In person, attendees relate more easily to speakers through the words they’re hearing as well as the cues they’re seeing, like the speaker’s tone, expressions, eye contact, body movements, etc. These cues help them stay engaged and more effectively process what they’re hearing. That connection is weaker with the distance that comes with virtual meetings. Especially if it’s a large group and, for the most part, everyone is staring at multiple small boxes on a screen. Virtual meeting attendees can’t easily read body language or necessarily hear the changes in a speaker’s voice. All of these limitations can cause virtual meeting attendees to have to work harder to pay attention.

That disconnect can be exhausting and cause attendees to focus on other things instead of the meeting. Their picture may be on the screen, but there’s a good chance they’re only paying partial attention, losing more and more interest as they also check email, work, post on social media, help a child with homework, etc.

Looking directly at a person indicates interest. In a virtual setting, that’s difficult to do successfully. In person, you still show interest even if you glance out a window or look around a room for a few seconds. With video, attendees worry that looking away is perceived as not paying attention, so they stare at the speaker, or worse, the small square of themselves, wondering if that’s really spinach in their teeth or how everyone else is interpreting how they look.

Changes to virtual meetings to increase member participation

Tell attendees it’s ok to take a break. Attempting to focus on multiple things simultaneously means nothing gets a person’s full attention. To get association members to focus primarily on your event, let them know it’s ok to:

  • look away from the screen for a few;
  • minimize the meeting window, so they’re listening but not actively watching;
  • limit the focus on the speaker/their own face; and
  • turn off their cameras when they’re not speaking.

Improve your connection with those you’re speaking with. Here are a few tips for your speakers and moderators.

  • look into the camera to make eye contact. Make your eyes express enthusiasm and gratitude and avoid staring at a single point for too long.
  • use gestures to make your points and for emphasis. Keep your arms open, not folded.
  • modulate your voice to indicate importance. Avoid speaking in a monotone; use a little more expression and passion than you might in person.

If the group isn’t too large, mention attendees by name. If it’s too big for individual mentions, compliment the group as a whole. Make them feel you know who they are and that you admire them. Always be empathetic. These are truly unusual times we’re living through; give a personal example to show you’re experiencing some of the same things as those you’re speaking to.

Avoid defaulting to video. Many people are uncomfortable seeing themselves on video and fixate on their own little square, becoming more uncomfortable each time they take a breath. On top of that, some will have attended multiple video meetings before they get to yours; they’re exhausted. Consider your non-video options. Is there a good reason for the full event to be on video? Would a conference call work? Or do you even need a meeting? Can you send updates by email?

BONUS TIP:  Reduce on-screen stimuli

What’s the space behind your speaker look like? Busy is distracting for attendees. Avoid a wall full of sticky notes and books, where there’s so much going on that attendees are more interested in figuring out book titles and what’s on the sticky notes.

Virtual meetings are here to stay. Decreasing the stress yours place on attendees shows you understand and empathize with what they are experiencing, and it will help you better engage association members and increase the chances they pick your event over another.

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Community Service


MiSGMP 2020 Holiday Card Giving

When the year has been this difficult, full of unprecedented happenings, let us all respond by giving back to those whom it has been the most difficult!

Let’s show individuals who are in nursing homes, assisted living facilities, hospitals and more that we are thinking of them this holiday season by having a card campaign.  Ask your work families, your personal families, friends and neighbors to join in on the love.  What a great way to show children that even though you may not know someone personally, we are all part of a great big world and can share our compassion and kindness regardless of personal relationships.

Holiday Card Campaign 101:

  1. Use up leftover cards you have tucked away from previous years or make your own.
  2. Sign your first names only, have your children write their own names no matter their age.
  3. Include messages of hope, kindness, inspiration, and love – but please no religious messages as you don’t know who will receive these cards.
  4. Be careful with glitter, stickers, etc. due to allergies and facility restrictions.
  5. Find a local nursing home, assisted living facility, children’s hospital or any other place local to you where you feel they could use some cheer.
  6. Take a picture of your pile of cards and email to [email protected] so that we may share our great story with others.
  7. Finally, mail your cards to your chosen facility.

It may be a good idea to reach out to the facility you are considering to find out if they accept cards from the community and if there is a specific address they prefer you use.

Some helpful resources may be found at the following:

  1. Website on making cards for hospitalized children:
  2. Website on sending cards to patients who are battling cancer:
  1. Website on details of sending cards to people in nursing homes:
  1. Website on sending cards to veterans:
  1. State of Michigan nursing home locator:

Thank you Michigan SGMP, may you all have a safe and loving holiday season, and here’s to 2021!

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

Congratulations to the 2020-2022 MiSGMP Board of Directors

Tammy Novak, CGMP, GMS President
Shelley Long, GMS First Vice President
Randi Talmage Second Vice President
Kristen Taylor, GMS, CTA Secretary
Stephanie Wohlfert, CMP, CTA Treasurer 
Tara Draper, CTA Director (Supplier)
Cathy Mayhew Director (Planner)
Terese McInnis, CMP

Director (Planner)

2019-2020 Committee Board Liaisons*

*Note:  Watch for MiSGMP Committee changes coming soon.   Committee Board Liaisons will be updated on the website and will be announced in the January/February e-Reel.

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 Statement
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!

Are you wondering if you have outstanding invoices?  Do you think you registered for the next event but you're not sure?  Need a copy of an invoice to send to your accounting department?  Not to fear!  You can look it up!  Go to the MISGMP.ORG Website and click on  Member Area  in the top right corner.  Once you are logged in you are able to view all of your orders and any outstanding invoice(s).  If you have any questions please feel free to email us at  [email protected].  As always. thank you for your support of MI SGMP.

Last, 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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