February 2019 Print

MiSGMP e-Reel


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President's Pen

President’s Pen – February 2019

The winter of 2019 has provided us with beautiful, glistening icy trees coupled with the challenges of extreme cold, high winds and treacherous roads. I’ve heard many stories of planners and suppliers going above and beyond to adjust and/or reschedule meetings to insure the safety of attendees and the integrity of contracts. Our industry is indeed one of hospitality, and that’s certainly been evident during Michigan’s polar vortex! It has reminded us, once again, of the importance of relationships between planners and suppliers, and how working together to problem solve is critical to success.

MiSGMP has many events in the coming months – the Annual Education Conference (AEC), March 6th-8th at the Comfort Inn & Suites in Mt. Pleasant, including the annual auction; the April 17th membership meeting at the Crowne Plaza in Grand Rapids (Plan Ahead and Save Money on AV!); Knowledge Quest, May 15th  in Kalamazoo (details soon!) and the SGMP National Education Conference (NEC) in Detroit, June 25th-27th.  I hope you will take advantage of these outstanding educational and networking events!

The MiSGMP board will have its annual retreat in June. At the board retreat we prioritize the goals for the coming year and plan the budget accordingly. If you have ideas about ways MiSGMP can improve services to members, or be a more visible presence in Michigan’s hospitality industry, please contact a board member and share your thoughts.

As was stated in January’s newsletter, the MiSGMP event registration process has changed. The changes are listed below as a gentle reminder – 

  • The registration deadline is 5 pm on Thursday (not Friday) the week before the meeting/event – this allows us to provide the food guarantees and other information within the required timelines.
  • The fee increase between the initial and the final registration deadline has been eliminated – the price will remain the same for all who register by the one and only stated deadline of 5 pm the Thursday before the event.
  • Anyone who does not register by the deadline and wishes to attend must contact Diane Dick to determine if an additional registration can be accommodated based on meeting space, food guarantees and speaker arrangements. If the registration can be accommodated, it will be at the late registration fee which is double the regular registration fee.
  • There are no onsite/walk-in registrations (As meeting planners and suppliers, we have all experienced the chaos caused by unexpected onsite/walk-in registrations, especially when a meal is provided!)

The online registration system is designed to immediately send you a confirmation email after you complete your registration. If you do not receive an email (don’t forget to check your junk/spam folder), contact Diane Dick or myself … we can access the system and check – do not assume you are registered!

Keeping my fingers crossed Michigan’s 2019 Polar Vortex is a done deal!

Laurie A. Nickson, CMP
President, MiSGMP


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Membership Report

Michigan is at 161 members; 81 Planners and 77 Suppliers.

New Members

  • Michelle Norton, Otsego Club and Resort (December)
  • Ashley Ault, DoubleTree by Hilton Bay City – Riverfront (January)
  • Clarissa Lange, Embassy Suites Grand Rapids Downtown (January)
  • Michelle Erskine, State Bar of Michigan (January)
  • Sahil Chaturvedi, Best Western Premier Detroit (February)
  • Cindie Dulaney, Michigan County Roads (February)
  • Stephanie Rathbun, MPSI (February)

New Member Transfers

  • Stephanie Rathbun, MPSI from Mitchell Lindstrom
  • Denise Warwick, Holiday Inn Near U of M from Kari Gafford
  • Jamie Ralph, DoubleTree by Hilton Bay City-Riverfront from Karalee McKinstry
  • Jill Shorkey, Bavarian Inn from Stephanie Brown
  • Stephanie Wohlfert, Greater Lansing CVB from David Buckenberger
  • Gabby Rose, Eagle Crest Hotel from Sandra Stewart
  • Lisa Calhoun, DoubleTree Grand Rapids from Jaimee Norg
  • Melisa Brown, Soaring Eagle from Michelle Khoury
  • RJ Arnott, Shanty Creek from Michelle Norton

Anniversary Reminders for January and February

  • Niles Mayrand, U of M Medical School (January)
  • Diane Dick, MASA (January)
  • Sheila Smith, Genesee Intermediate School District (January)
  • Beverly Sobolewski, MDHHS/Office of Recipient Rights (January)
  • Heather Woods, Association Management Resources (January)
  • Kathryn Sheridan, Detroit Marriott at the Renaissance Center (January)
  • Bernadette Benkert, Visit Muskegon (January)
  • Penelope Saddler, Lansing Center (February)
  • Chris Ward, CMHAM (February)
  • Andrew Silver, MDHHS/Office of Recipient Rights (February)
  • Mary Schwartz, M Planning (February)
  • Cheryl Anne Farmer, CA Management, LLC (February)
  • Angela Morgan, Ralph A MacMullan Conference Center, DNR (February)
  • Lisa Hobaugh, Parks and Recreation Division MI DNR (February)
  • Rhonda Khabir, Great Wolf Resorts (February)
  • Jocelyn Davis, MDHHS/Compliance Office (February)

If your name is on the above list, you will be receiving, if you haven’t already, an email or phone call with regard to your membership and its renewal from one of the Membership Committee members.  We strive on assisting our members with reminders to allow you to renew within the allotted renewal time frame.  If your membership expired in January and you have not renewed, you only have until February 28th to renew without having to become a brand new member.  Remember suppliers, if your membership expires and you still want to be a member, you must have a planner match to rejoin.  So please allow yourselves enough time to renew so this situation does not occur.

Additional Announcements

The “Drive Momentum with SGMP” campaign ended December 30th.  Michigan came in 8th overall with a 6.71% increase in membership.   

The “Superheroes Circle” campaign ends in April.  When new member applications are completed, members who are identified as having referred at least one new member will automatically be considered members of the 2018-2019 Superheroes Circle and again, receive recognition based on their participation level.  So refer, refer, refer - invite a friend or colleague to attend one of our upcoming monthly meetings!  Michigan currently has 6 members in the circle.

The Ambassador Program needs volunteers to help new members by showing them around, introducing them to other members, sitting with them during a meeting where they may not know anyone else, or simply assisting any member who may have a question.  The current MiSGMP Ambassadors can be identified by a green “Ambassador” ribbon hanging from their name badge.  If you would like more information or are interested in joining us, you may talk to one of the current Ambassadors, or contact either Tammy Novak or Anissa Damon, Membership Board Co-Liaisons.

Thank you to everyone for your membership commitments.

Tammy Novak – Board Co-Liaison
Anissa Damon – Board Co-Liaison
Brenda Haight – Chair
Char Alexander
Terra Brenner
Jocelyn Davis
Shelley Long
Duke Rosendahl

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Member Spotlight

We need volunteers in order to 'shine the spotlight' on our talented members!  If you have not been featured in the past, please consider submitting a short bio about yourself.  The communications committee wants to feature one supplier and one planner member in each issue.

Following is the criteria:
*Must be engaged on a committee
*Interested in sharing a little of yourself with our membership through answering a few simple questions, and submitting a photo by deadline.

Questions, please tell us: (1) a little bit about where you grew up; (2) your favoriet vacation spot; (3) your thoughts regarding the industry; (4) what you like most about SGMP; and (5) what you like most about being a planner or supplier.  And anything else you would like us to know about you!

If you are interested please email [email protected].

Be sure to include a photo (.jpg format preferred).

Thank you!

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Upcoming Events

2019 Annual Education Conference:

Say Goodbye to the Roaring 20’s

March 06, 2019 2:30 PM to March 08, 2019 12:00 PM

Mt. Pleasant Comfort Inn and Suites Hotel and Conference Center
2424 S. Mission St.
Mt. Pleasant, MI 48858

See the entire conference schedule on the website:

AEC Conference Information/Schedule


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Community Service

2019 Community Service for MiSGMP

The Community Service Committee met this fall and decided on the following community service projects for 2019. We are excited to have a fresh direction in the New Year and hope that the membership of the Michigan SGMP will be excited as well! Here are the projects:

  1. Isabella County Restoration House. This nonprofit grew out of a concern for the underlying causes of homelessness with a short-term goal to provide a safe, warm place for those who need shelter for as many winter nights as possible. The 2019 AEC is being held in Mt. Pleasant so we are making this organization our 1st quarter priority. Donations vary from monetary to cookware, health and beauty products, food, backpacks and more. and click on “Your Help,” then “Donate” for a complete list of their needed items.

  2. Adopt-a-Spot in Lansing. These are raised flower beds in downtown Lansing that require twice a month love.  The care is gentle weeding and picking up garbage in the plot.  Look for a signup sheet in April 2019 to sign up for your visit to the spot. This only needs attention May through October with committee member(s) local to Lansing checking on the spot occasionally as well.

  3. Kids Food Basket in Grand Rapids is a nonprofit that supplies sack suppers to 8,000 children at 47 schools in West Michigan daily, with 30 additional schools on their waiting list.They send home nutritional meals in a paper sack, and they love to have the sacks decorated. This is something we will incorporate into each meeting. We will supply the bags and decorating tools and collect them at the end of each meeting. Please keep in mind that many sack suppers will be going to public schools and therefore cannot contain religious or political messages. They also request that we do not use paint, glitter, feathers, or stickers. Feel free to color before and during the meal, but not while there’s a speaker so that all attention is given to them.

  4. Buddy Bench. A buddy bench is a safe spot where children can go if they feel bullied or lonely, and other children can come over and talk to or play with them. This idea was brought to my attention from my nephew Carson, who is 8 years old, lives in Maryland and wanted to make sure his school had one. Carson worked with his principal and PTA to get one at his school. And if an 8 year old can accomplish that, we know that the Michigan SGMP chapter will make this happen! We are going to have a 2019 fundraising effort and when we have enough money raised, we will work with Laurie Nickson and an early childhood school or center to install on their playground.

The Community Service Committee is looking forward to a wonderful 2019, and hope that you have a happy and safe holiday season with Happy New Year wishes as well!

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


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Get Your GMS!

Get Your GMS Today!

The Government Meeting Specialist Certificate program was created in 2009 to encourage meeting planners and suppliers to further their knowledge in the meeting industry. The program offers practical information, establishes a basis for advancing professionalism and assurance that a base of knowledge has been achieved.

This program requires attendance of 15 programs within specific content areas to give a well-rounded exposure to many industry-specific topics.

Education/Program – 3 programs
Facilities and Services – 2 programs
Federal, State, and Local Travel – 1 program
Financial/Contract Management – 2 programs
Leadership – 1 program
Logistics – 2 programs
Pro0tcol – 1 program
Technology – 2 programs
Ethics – 1 program

Begin Your Journey

Go to , print, complete, and submit the Letter of Commitment.

Have questions? 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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