May 2019 Print

MiSGMP e-Reel


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President's Pen

President’s Pen – May 2019

Thank you to Discover Kalamazoo, the Radisson Plaza Hotel at Kalamazoo Center, and to all of their partners for an outstanding Knowledge Quest …we walked, learned and laughed a lot!

It’s not too late to register! The SGMP conference is in Detroit, at the Marriott Renaissance Center, June 25-27, 2019. To date, approximately 60 people from Michigan are registered…are you? If not, visit for information and to register. Best wishes to all attending for an enjoyable, educational conference!

In June and early July, the MiSGMP Board will be working on the budget, calendar, monthly meetings, and special events for the upcoming fiscal year. Although a topic and location is yet to be determined, please mark your calendars for the next MiSGMP meeting, Wednesday, August 21. There is no monthly meeting in June due to NEC being in Detroit, and no monthly meeting in July – historically this has been the lowest attended meeting due to vacations so two years ago we eliminated the July and January meetings. Watch your email and the MiSGMP website ( for coming events!

Best wishes for a sunny summer with as many relaxing vacation days as possible!

Laurie A. Nickson, CMP
President, MiSGMP

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Membership Report


            New Members

Michigan has 167 members!

New Members

  • Patricia Bizoukas, Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes & Energy (Planner)
  • Mary Zoeller, Fetzer Center (Supplier) – Welcome back Mary!
  • Michelle Zellar, Department of Natural Resources (Supplier)
  • Maryanne Greketis, MSAE (Planner)
  • Jalona Colvard, 3rd Circuit Court (Planner)
  • Angela Trainor, Hilton Garden Inn, Lansing (Supplier)
  • Mary Platt, Chase Creative Audio Visual & Event Staging Services (Supplier)

New Member Transfers

  • Tom O’Connor, Holiday Inn & Suites Mt. Pleasant (transferred in for Chris Wakeman) – Welcome back Tom!
  • Pete Smith, Comfort Inn & Suites Mt. Pleasant (transferred in for Samantha Goettling)

Anniversary Reminders for May and June

  • Tammy Blackburn (May)
  • Vicki Brown (May)
  • Rachelle Grockau (May)
  • Cathy Mayhew (May)
  • Amy Castner (April)
  • Kimberly Moore (April)
  • Margaret Morse (April)
  • Denise Warwick (April)

If your name is on the above list, you will be receiving, if you haven’t already, an email and/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. 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.

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.

The Member Spotlight is now being created by your Membership Committee.  Look for your email asking you to be featured in an upcoming e-Reel Newsletter.

Thank you to everyone for your membership commitments.

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

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Member Spotlight

Introducing MiSGMP’s SUPPLIER SPOTLIGHT for May ...

Penny Saddler          Lansing Center

  • A little bit about where I grew up:  I was born in Orange, Texas.  I came to Lansing, MI when I was 2-years old.  I lived in Lansing until 18; moved to Holt, which is where I have been ever since.
  • Favorite vacation spot:  San Francisco is my favorite vacation spot!  There are so many interesting things to see and do … great people and wonderful food anywhere you might go.
  • What do you like most about being a supplier?  As a supplier, quality is a supplier’s ability to deliver goods or services that will satisfy customer’s needs.  The customer is the foundation of any business success.  Considering customer importance at all stages of the process helps to ensure greater customer satisfaction and increase the long-term goal of repeat business.
  • What do you like most about MiSGMP?  (1) Staying informed on industry’s trends; (2) Broaden my knowledge of the industry; (3) Making connections; countless opportunities to connect on a local and sometimes national level; (4) Creating professional relationships, i.e., networking and meeting new people; (5) Giving back to the community.
  • Thoughts regarding the industry:  In this industry, Customer Service is everything … it is the name of the GAME!!  It is all about understanding customer care and consistent delivery of exceptional customer care.  Customers may forget what you said, but they will never forget how you made them feel.

Introducing MiSGMP’s PLANNER SPOTLIGHT for May…

Kristen Taylor      Ngage Association Management

  • A little bit about where Kristen grew up:  Even when Kristen Taylor was running for Commissioner of Publicity in the 4th grade at Holy Cross School, in Lansing, MI, she knew she wanted to be a part of something greater.  As simple as it sounds, she had the bug back then to bring people together.  Kristen went to school for computer graphics/3-D animation and in every job and volunteer position; thereafter, seemed to fall into some kind of planning position in non-profits and associations, which naturally always needed graphic talents.  Now, as Director of Events at Ngage Association Management, in Okemos, MI, she gets to oversee the promotional materials for many of their clients, and events which happen in Michigan, as well as around the country.
  • Favorite vacation spot:  Growing up in Lansing with her Mom, Ludington was where she spent a lot of time with family, but as she got older, swim up bars with palm trees seem to be the choice for vacations.  With that said, Kristen feels nothing beats a Great Lakes' sunset with friends and family.  
  • What do you like most about being a planner:  For Kristen, she loves the travel involved with planning meetings, the opportunity to see a different city and experience something new when you return.  CVBs play a heavy role in introducing people to new places and experiences and it’s her first go to when looking to a new city for an event or extra hands if needed.  Kristen also really enjoys getting to know the sponsors and exhibitors since it’s their financial contributions that can make the difference between having the event or having the event with more bells and whistles.  Above all, the attendees must have a wonderful and educational experience they value so they will return.  No matter how intimate or grandiose the event, staff energy has to be high and your smile has to be on.  For her, the go-go-go can be addictive so it’s important to know how to wind down.  Good thing she has all her MiSGMP colleagues she can call to do just that!
  • What do you like most about MiSGMP?  Finding MiSGMP was a blessing, Kristen says.  She was introduced to MiSGMP through the Membership Chair, at the time, while at an event and decided to have coffee and hear what it was all about.  From there, she went to her first monthly educational meeting in Grand Rapids at the Amway Grand and was warmly greeted by several attendees and found the energy contagious.  That was it.  She had to be a member and before she knew it, she was on the MiSGMP membership committee.  Not only is the networking amazing, she feels this has been the strongest proponent of growing professionally as a planner and knowing an answer is only a phone call away with another knowledgeable member.  Kristen says, “There are not many organizations where you can walk into your first meeting as a stranger and leave with a handful of friends.”


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Upcoming Events

June 2019 No MiSGMP Meeting

SGMP National Education Conference (NEC) is in Detroit!  June 2527at the Detroit Marriott at Renaissance Center Visit  for information.

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Community Service

2019 Community Service for MiSGMP

The Community Service Committee is excited to continue promoting the following community service projects for 2019.

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.

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.

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.

A HUGE thank you to Pat Strzalkowski and the Michigan State Troopers Assistance Fund (MSTAF) Board for their generous $250 donation toward the Buddy Bench!  This is a great start and we look forward to collecting additional funds over the rest of 2019 for this purchase.  We will work with Laurie Nickson and her organization, the Michigan Association for the Education of Young Children, to find the perfect early childhood center to donate this bench to.  This idea started when my nephew, Carson, then 7 years old, worked with his school and their PTA and got his school a much needed Buddy Bench (photo above). This little guy has a huge heart and gentle soul, and was worried about his friends at school when they felt bullied or alone.  Now he makes sure to sit by any child who has sought out the Buddy Bench!

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
Protocol – 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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