March 2019 Print

MiSGMP e-Reel


Back to top

President's Pen

President’s Pen – March 2019

Earlier this month was our Annual Education Conference and it was amazing!!!  Congratulations to Samantha Goettling and her staff, Comfort Inn & Suites and Conference Center, Mt. Pleasant; Chris Rowley and her staff, Mt. Pleasant Area Convention & Visitors Bureau; and Diane Dick, AEC Chair. You all went above and beyond – your dedication and efforts were very appreciated!

Thank you to our 2019 AEC presenters who provided us with engaging, informative and innovative sessions.  And, of course, thank you to all of our AEC sponsors – your financial support of MiSGMP allows us to continue to prove outstanding education coupled with creative, fun events!

The upcoming months provide several opportunities for networking and education –

  • April 17, 2019 – Plan Ahead and Save Money on AV! at the Crowne Plaza in Grand Rapids. Registration is open!
  • May 15, 2019 – 2nd Annual Knowledge Quest in Kalamazoo.  Details will be available very soon!
  • June 25-27, 2019 – SGMP National Education Conference, Detroit Marriott at the Renaissance Center.

As has been announced over the last few months, MiSGMP is offering scholarships to the 2019 NEC in Detroit.  Visit our website,, and on the home page under Quick Links, click on 2019 NEC Scholarship Application.  The deadline for submission is Friday, April 5, 2019, 5:00 pm EST.

Happy spring!

Laurie A. Nickson, CMP
President, MiSGMP

Back to top

Membership Report


Michigan is at 161 members; 1 Associate Planner, 9 Contract Planners,1 Educator/Student, 73 Government Planners, 2 Retirees, 75 Suppliers. 

            New Members 

  • Crystal Flood, United States District Court-EDMI (Planner)
  • Cindi Dulaney, County Road Association of Michigan (Planner)
  • Alexandra Risher, Community Mental Health Association of Michigan (Planner)
  • Denise Pena, University Quality Inn (Supplier)
  • Sahil Chaturvedi, Best Western Premier Detroit (Supplier)

New Member Transfers

  • Ashley Ault, DoubleTree by Hilton Bay City-Riverfront (transferred in for Karalee McKinstry)

Anniversary Reminders for March and April

  • Jocelyn Davis, MDHHS (March)
  • Heather Evoy, Courtyard by Marriott Mt. Pleasant at CMU (March)
  • Jodi Johnson, Okemos Conference Center/Best Western (March)
  • Rhonda Khabir, Great Wolf Resorts (March)
  • Mary Kramer, Holiday Inn Gateway Centre (March)
  • Cassandra Mayhoe, Michigan Veterans Affairs Agency (March)
  • Amy Castner, State Bar of MI (April)
  • Nicole Coats-Quales, Kettunen Centre (April)
  • Tara Gilman, MSHDA (April)
  • Jill Irving, CMU (April)
  • Debbie Kopkau (Michigan School Business Officials (April)
  • Kimberly Moore, Events and Moore (April)
  • Jamie Ralph, DoubleTree by Hilton Bay City-Riverfront (April)
  • Christopher Schroeder, Amway Hotel Collection (April)
  • Jodie Shaver, MALPH (April)
  • Pat Strzalkowski, MSP Troopers Association (April)
  • Denise Warwick, Holiday Inn Near the U of M (April)
  • Raymond Byard, Radisson Farmington Hills (April)

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 to assist 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 had 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.  Please allow yourselves enough time to renew so this situation does not occur.

Additional Announcements

TheSuperheroes Circlecampaign 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 8 members in the circle.

  1. Janice Harvey
  2. Patti Ingleson
  3. Tammy Novak
  4. Chris Rowley
  5. Heidi Schmitt
  6. Chris Ward
  7. Sonja Wood

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

Back to top

Member Spotlight

In the Spotlight

Introducing MiSGMP’s SUPPLIER SPOTLIGHT for March…

RJARJ Arnott
Shanty Creek Resort, Bellaire, MI

  • A little bit about where I grew up:  I grew up in Flint, Michigan, at a time when it was considered a major manufacturing city; I will always remember it as the birthplace of General Motors.  The Flint area has made great strides toward recovery, and I wish everyone there continued growth and recovery.
  • Favorite vacation spot:  My favorite place to relax is Puerto Vallarta; my favorite place to ski is Vail – where my wife and I honeymooned – and I’ll be more than happy to travel to any city that has a Formula One Grand Prix race! I have attended quite a few and hope to make it to Brazil this November.
  • What do you like most about being a supplier:  As a supplier, I enjoy building a relationship with a Group that allows me to work with them to create a solution for their needs, no matter how difficult that may be.  The best part is when I get to participate in a happy and friendly post conference meeting with our combined staffs.
  • What do you like most about MiSGMP?  The MiSGMP is still quite new to me, but I have enjoyed the support of the members and enjoy spending time with like-minded people who share the same ideas and agenda.
  • Thoughts regarding the industry:  I’m very positive about the Government Meeting industry as a whole and have seen a need for more flexibility when it comes to booking windows from all parties involved.  Time often must be compressed to meet deadlines for budgeted funds, and action must be taken quickly to satisfy demands.


Introducing MiSGMP’s PLANNER SPOTLIGHT for March…

Charnitamy Alexander, CTA
Michigan Veterans Affairs Agency

  • A little bit about where I grew up:  I grew up in Grand Rapids, Michigan, on the southeast side of town.  I actually attended Alexander elementary school in my early years and then Dickinson where I was an orange belt safety crossing guard.  In middle school, I walked one mile each way to and from school where I was on the pom-pom squad.  I swam practically every day in the summer months at Garfield Park pool.  I worked at Meijer as a cashier during my summers home from MSU.  I worked as a crew trainer at McDonald’s as my first job and later went on to work in their Regional Office Advertising/Marketing departments after graduating from MSU – I even drove Ronald McDonald to his appearances! 
  • Favorite vacation spot:  My favorite vacation spot to date with my children, hands down is Orlando – can’t wait to take my grandson for his first visit.  Favorite adult location is Cancun (where I went on my first solo vacation).  I also love the cruise lifestyle.
  • What do you like most about being a planner:  What I like most about being a planner is the ability to use my creativity to create events from idea and concept to execution!  I also enjoy being able to tweak past meetings/conferences/events and brainstorm with team members and committees in order to come up with ways to enhance the attendee experience and most effectively use the time and resources of the organizers.  I am a helper by nature and even if I don’t get the credit deserved for my ideas, I simply enjoy being an intricate part of the team responsible for making it happen SUCCESSFULLY!  I guess you could call me a silent cheerleader/partner/investor.
  • What do you like most about MiSGMP?  The one thing that I like most about MiSGMP is the strong relationships and bonds that are built from working with some of the most talented and knowledgeable professionals in the meeting industry.  We are close-knit for the most part and always willing to help each other be the very best than we can be when it comes to putting on the most cost effective, functional, relevant meetings and conferences.

Back to top

The Value of AEC … Message from a Member!

2019 AEC

I was asked to share about the value of attending AEC.  There are so many reasons why I attend AEC.  The sessions are always so interesting and helpful to me.  There are sessions around personal and professional development.  The personal sessions always are so helpful because as a busy State employee and a mom of three, I very rarely take the time to focus on my health and well being when it comes to time management and work.  AEC gives you that opportunity to take some time for yourself and explore ways to make your life healthier through both attitude and time management.

The professional development is always top notch.  This year's presenters talked about how to listen better and also how to work better with people with different personalities.  As a meeting planner, you work with so many different people during the planning stage and then during the event, it was helpful to learn the keys to working together by adapting to the personality style of each individual.   

Lastly, the networking opportunities.  AEC gives you great opportunities to network with other meeting planners and suppliers and really get to know them.  It is so helpful when planning meetings and events to have that relationship with the suppliers and feeling more confident when your meeting or event takes place that everything is exactly how you want it to be.  

If you haven’t attended AEC, you should plan to attend in 2020.  You won’t be disappointed!

Janice Harvey
Bureau of Community Services, State of Michigan

Back to top

Upcoming Events

Plan Ahead and Save Money on AV

April 17, 2019
11:30 AM - 2:00 PM

Crowne Plaza Grand Rapids - Airport
5700 28th Street SE, Grand Rapids, MI 49546

Presenter: Dave Scott, President/CEO, Motown Digital

Learn what you can do bring down AV costs and add impact to your event with effective planning. Gain specific tips that will help you reduce costs while still utilizing state of the art technology. Explore venue contracts and the merits of short term and long-term relationships with vendors. And, learn about very cool new technology!

GMS Core Competency: Technology

Back to top

Community Service

2019 Community Service for MiSGMP

The Community Service Committee met last fall and decided on the following community service projects for 2019. We are excited to have a fresh direction for 2019 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!

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


Back to top

Community Service Update

         No choice but to leave home at 12 years old with nowhere to go but the streets or couch surf at friends’ homes.
         Still participate in school and be a star of your high school football team. Work part-time jobs and earn enough money to buy a car which gives you a place to sleep instead of the streets.
         And have the drive and ambition to go to college.
         That is the story of Ryan Griffus, the founder and Executive Director of the Isabella County Restoration House. Ryan joined MISGMP at the 2019 Annual Education Conference, and kicked off the conference with his compelling story, and shared photos of a few of the current folks residing at his shelter, which is a rotational shelter housed at different locations different weeks in the Mt. Pleasant area. He provides them with food, shelter, clothing, personal items, and hope. Visit his website at and you will find their hashtag: #HomelessNoMore.
         Many thanks to all who donated to the Isabella County Restoration House during AEC 2019. In addition to several items that were brought for donation, we were able to raise $275.00 during the event, and MISGMP added another $225.00 to that for a total of $500.00!

Back to top

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].



Back to top

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:




Back to top