July 2019 Print

MiSGMP e-Reel


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President's Pen

President’s Pen – July 2019

70+ Michiganders attended the SGMP National Education Conference (NEC) held in Detroit, June 25–27! From all accounts, it was a very successful and informative conference. MiSGMP members were very visible – especially at the opening reception Tuesday evening – dressed in their MiSGMP shirts and wearing their bedazzled shoes!

The Michigan Chapter was not only well-represented but received the following awards:

  • Communication of the Year – 3rd Place
  • Programming of the Year – 2nd Place
  • Membership Development Award for Retention
  • Membership Growth Award for the Highest Net Growth

These awards are a testament to the professionalism and awesomeness of our members, board and chapter – congratulations to all!

Mark your calendars – the 2020 NEC is scheduled for May 19-21 in St. Louis, MO!

At the MiSGMP Board Retreat earlier this month, the board prioritized goals for 2019-2020, created the 2019-2020 MiSGMP calendar, updated and added new opportunities for sponsorships, and developed the budget. Check the website ( for the dates of events and meetings for August 2019–June 2020. Details will be added as they become available.

As the board reviewed and discussed the budget, it became clear that pricing for our monthly meetings and Annual Education Conference (AEC) needed to increase. Beginning in August, the cost for attending a monthly meeting is $20 for planners and $30 for suppliers. For the 2020 AEC, the cost is $100 for planners and $200 for suppliers. Increasing these costs will allow us to continue to provide outstanding education and services to our members.

Another change … MiSGMP’s Annual Special Event (previously Road Rally and then Knowledge Quest) will be an education session and Bowling Extravaganza … with prizes! Members will register as they do for monthly meetings and teams will be assigned, at random, on site. A RFP has been sent to all member CVBs for the date of June 17th.

I look forward to seeing you at the August 21st meeting at the Embassy Suites in Grand Rapids.

Enjoy the sun!

Laurie A. Nickson, CMP
President, MiSGMP

2019-2020 Committee Board Liaisons
GMS Committee – Debbie Kopkau/Char Alexander
Nominations Committee – Debbie Kopkau
Registration Committee – Anissa Damon
Membership Committee -  Tammy Novak
Scholarship Committee – Stacy Yerby
AEC Committee – Heidi Schmitt
Special Events Committee – Char Alexander
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

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Membership Report


Michigan has 172 Members!

   New Members

  • JD Copus, Mt. Pleasant CVB (Supplier)
  • Jessica Schwebs, Radisson Hotel Detroit-Farmington Hills (Supplier)
  • Kristen Ablitz, Kensington Hotel Ann Arbor (Supplier)
  • Julie Irvin, Stadium View Hilton Hotels, Illinois (Supplier)
  • Suzy Westmoreland, MI Gas & Electric Association (Planner)
  • Heather Sayer, Weber’s Ann Arbor (Supplier)
  • Michelle Quesnel, Pierce Cedar Creek Inst. (Planner)
  • Derek Commey, Michigan Primary Care (Planner)
  • Lisa Borucki, US District Court-Eastern District of Michigan (Planner)
  • Mary Platt, Chase Creative Unlimited (Supplier)
  • Maureen Carden, MSHDA (Planner)
  • Janet Riley, Kinzie Hotel, Illinois (Supplier)

New Member Transfers

  • Lydia Wilder, Frankenmuth CVB for Lauren Visuri

Anniversary Reminders for June and July

  • Kari Gafford (June)
  • Mary Ridderman (June)
  • Lydia Wilder (June)
  • Anne Wilson (June)
  • Kim Corcoran (July)
  • Julie Darby Martin (July)
  • Tara Draper (July)
  • Whitney Haughey (July)
  • Patricia Headley (July)
  • Amari Myles (July)
  • Kathleen Omollo (July)
  • Lisa Powers (July)
  • Theresa Randleman (July)
  • Linda Thomas (July)

If your name is on the above list, you should have received an email and/or phone call with regard to your membership and its renewal from one of the Membership Committee members.  (With sincere apologies for such a late posting of the July e-Reel.)  The membership committee strives 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
Brenda Haight – Committee Chair
Char Alexander
Terra Brenner
Anissa Damon
Jocelyn Davis
Shelley Long
Duke Rosendahl


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Member Spotlight

Introducing MiSGMP’s SUPPLIER SPOTLIGHT for July ...

Katie Leonard         

Grand Traverse Resort and Spa

  • A little bit about where I grew up:  I’m a downstate girl … grew up in the small town of Romeo, with a not so small high school that had nearly 400 kids per class at the time – also famous for Kid Rock attending.  My now-husband’s job brought us to Traverse City in 2010, and it would take quite a bit of convincing to get us to leave.  It’s hilarious after living in Northern Michigan for nine years how I-75 south of Auburn Hills terrifies me now, lol!
  • Favorite vacation spot:  Anywhere with large turquoise bodies of water where I can get on a boat … the Caribbean, the Keys … and if I can’t be there – you’ll find me on Lake Michigan in Grand Traverse Bay.  Non-water related, anywhere I haven’t been before; I’m a huge fan of exploring new places.
  • What do you like most about being a supplier?  I truly enjoy showing planners around our great property and discussing with them how our space can work for their events.  I believe in our team, so it’s not as much a sales job as it is a partnership with our clients.  There’s nothing more satisfying than seeing happy attendees and happy planners after a conference.  Some of the groups I work with plan all year for one event.  In some cases I’ve been working with them for multiple years prior in the contract stages – so when the group is finally on property, and I can see the attendees enjoying themselves – that’s what I find rewarding.
  • What do you like most about MiSGMP?  For me, MiSGMP was a great networking and learning opportunity.  Three years ago, when I was new to the association and government meeting world, it was a big scary unknown full of strangers and I wasn’t exactly sure how to get started.  Groups like MiSGMP really helped me to get to know all the fantastic association and government planners and suppliers in our friendly Mitten State.  There’s always a learning opportunity whether it be in the format of MiSGMP monthly meetings, AEC, or just casually chatting with planners about their events or suppliers about their best practices or what’s new with their locations.  The opportunity for growth with MiSGMP is invaluable.
  • Thoughts regarding the industry:  Oh geez, it’s a fun one – I didn’t go to school for hospitality.  I kind of fell into it and, truly, I had no idea until I started working at GTRS in 2010 just how big business it is.  There are so many moving parts to the tourism and meeting industry and it’s fascinating learning about all the pieces that make up this very important economic driver.  I hope it continues to prosper, and I’m thankful for the growth and synergy I’ve seen in the last few years amongst suppliers, CVBs, and brands like Pure Michigan.

Introducing MiSGMP’s PLANNER SPOTLIGHT for July ...

Vicki Brown         

DNR Wildlife Division, Lansing

  • A little bit about where I grew up:  I grew up in the small town of Carson City, Michigan.  Although the population is less than 2,500, I really enjoyed growing up in a small community.  There is nothing else like experiencing childhood in a place where everyone knows you and cares about you, where you can run around town day or night and know that you are safe.  After high school, I moved away for many years, but eventually found my way back to Carson City where I raised my two children in the same environment that I grew up in.  Being close to family and friends was special for all three of us.  Even today, I am still making the hour-long commute to and from work, but the benefits of small-town living outweigh any negative experiences.  I have found that the time spent on the road allows me time to plan, relax, and be better organized!    
  • Favorite vacation spot:  I love to travel whether it is the US or Europe.  My favorite mode of travel is a cruise ship, but last fall I took a fabulous trip to Europe with my daughter and three friends.  We flew into Frankfurt, Germany to visit my niece and family who are stationed in the military, then drove to Paris, France and Amsterdam, Netherlands.  Each country was unique, and we had incredible experiences everywhere we went.  Next April, I’m traveling to Greece for a nine-day vacation.  Whether it is a day on Lake Michigan or a trip to another country, I look forward to a new adventure with family and friends! 
  • What do you like most about being a planner:  I like the variety of tasks that are involved in planning an event and working with so many great people.  It is very rewarding to work on a project from the very start to finish and know that the event was successful.  I have been in my planning position for 15 years and I learn something new every day.  It is unique to be a planner in the DNR Wildlife Division, as the events are associated with natural resources.  In addition to planning meetings and events, I am also the Division Safety Coordinator and the chair of the Department Training Advisory Team.  My job is challenging at times, but very rewarding, and I couldn’t think of a better job to have!     
  • What do you like most about MiSGMP?  MiSGMP is a great organization and I am very pleased that I am a member!  I have only been a member of this organization for a little over a year, but when I attended the first meeting, I was welcomed immediately, and it feels as if I have been a member for years!  The networking opportunities, developing new relationships with both suppliers and government planners, and learning about all aspects of meeting management are just a few of the advantages I have received.  The monthly meeting topics are relevant to my position with the DNR and allows me to grow professionally and personally.


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Upcoming Events

Improving your Personal and Professional Identity

August 21, 2019  |  11:30 AM - 2:00 PM
Embassy Suites

710 Monroe Avenue NW  |  Grand Rapids, MI 49503
Presenter:  Tom O'Connor, Sales Manager, Holiday Inn & Suites ~ Mt. Pleasant

There is only one of you and you are a unique life force asked to accomplish many things in many different environments. Often times we pull it off without any issues and continue juggling our personal and professional roles like the champions we are. However, transition can bring identity challenges, so during this session we will get a tune up at the level of identity.

Learning Objectives:
(1)  Provide a structure and rationale on how to improve at the level of Identity
(2)  Gain an understanding of the 6 Logical Levels and their importance in business and personal development
(3)  Gather Skills and strategies for managing personal and professional growth

GMS Core Competency:  Leadership

Tickets  (Note:  new pricing schedule effective with the august meeting)

$20.00 Member Government Planner  |  $35.00 after 5:00 pm August 15
$20.00 Member Contract Planner  |  $35.00 after 5:00 pm August 15
$30.00 Member Supplier  |  $55.00 after 5:00 pm August 15
$25.00 Member Educator/Student  |  $50.00 after 5:00 pm August 15
$25.00 Member Retiree  |  $50.00 after 5:00 pm August 15
$25.00 Non Member Planner  |  $50.00 after 5:00 pm August 15
$35.00 Non Member Supplier  |  $70.00 after 5:00 pm August 15
$25.00 Non Member Educator or Student  |  $50.00 after 5:00 pm August 15

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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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