November 2019 Print

MiSGMP e-Reel


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President's Pen

President’s Pen – November 2019

Our chapter has been busy this fall – education sessions in September, October and November; a mini silent auction at October’s meeting; the announcing of the new Zenith Award and award criteria; and more! A list of all of our events through June 2020 can be found on the MiSGMP website,

At the December 11th meeting, there will be another mini silent auction – holiday items and gifts, and more! 100% of the proceeds from our mini auctions and our annual auction are used for scholarships for our members to attend our chapter’s Annual Education Conference (AEC) and/or the National Education Conference (NEC).

Plans are shaping up for 2020 AEC, March 18–20, at the Crowne Plaza in Grand Rapids. Information will be posted on the website in December. Please start thinking about items you can donate to the annual auction and about donations you can solicit from others. An online auction donation form will be available in January.

2020 NEC is May 19–21 at the America’s Center Convention Complex in St. Louis, Missouri. The theme is Converge. Connect. Collaborate.  SGMP offers planner scholarships and, new this year, scholarships for associate supplier members. The scholarship application deadline is 5 pm EST, December 6. For preliminary conference information and the scholarship application, visit Planners and associate supplier members, please note – you must apply for a national scholarship first. If you do not receive a national scholarship, or only receive a partial scholarship, you can apply for a NEC scholarship from the Michigan Chapter. All current planner and supplier members are eligible to apply for a chapter scholarship to NEC. The Michigan Chapter 2020 NEC scholarship application will be available online after the SGMP 2020 NEC scholarships have been awarded.

Best wishes for time with family and friends during the upcoming holiday season!

Laurie A. Nickson, CMP
MiSGMP President

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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Bring A Guest!

Ten times a year the Michigan SGMP chapter holds dynamic programs/events with topics that are vital to meeting planners and suppliers in our beautiful state. These meetings are typically held the third Wednesday of each month, throughout the state with the majority held in the Lansing area.

Did you know that you may bring a guest? A guest may attend a maximum of two MiSGMP sponsored programs/events at the applicable planner or supplier guest rate. To attend additional MiSGMP sponsored programs/events, one must become a MiSGMP member.

At the next meeting on December 11, 2019 at the Kellogg Hotel and Conference Center in East Lansing, we will have a mini silent auction, lunch and the topic: Recognizing & Responding to Human Trafficking in the Tourism Industry. Join us and bring a guest to this important meeting. Spreading knowledge about human trafficking, commonly regarded as the second largest criminal enterprise after drugs, is important to us all!

For more information on bringing a guest, please refer to the MiSGMP website:

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Membership Report

Michigan has 169 members.
New Member(s)
There are no new members to report.
New Member Transfer(s)
Sena Hutcheson for Melisa Brown, Soaring Eagle Casino and Resort
Anniversary Reminders for November and December

  • Tammy Novak (November)
  • Kristen Taylor (November)
  • Jennifer Leo (November)
  • Katie DeWeerd (November)
  • Stephanie Kelly (November)
  • Laura Ayan (November)
  • Tom O’Connor (November)
  • Rosanne Allen (December)
  • Nadine Thompson (December)
  • Terese McInnis (December)
  • Kari Thrush (December)
  • Matt Tomlinson (December)
  • Jay Gladstone (December)
  • Becky Search (December)
  • Dustin Morris (December)
  • Trisha Olach (December)
  • Christine Lincoln (December)
  • LaTonya Spearman (December)
  • Michelle Norton (December)
  • Stephanie Wohlfert (December)
  • David Buckenberger (December)

If your name is on the above list with an expiration date of November or December, 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. 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.

Two Membership Campaigns

  1. Soar with SGMP is a chapter based campaign where all new recruitments are combined for the Chapter.  In FY19, Michigan won the “Members Growth” Award for having the highest net growth for the year.
  2. All Stars Circle is a member based campaign where each member will receive credit for the number of members they recruit.  Recognition levels vary.  Visit the SGMP website for additional information.

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 Tammy Novak, Membership Committee Board Liaison or Brenda Haight, Membership Committee Chair.

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 Liaison
Brenda Haight – Committee Chair
Char Alexander
Terra Damchuk
Jocelyn Davis
Shelley Long
Duke Rosendahl


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Member Spotlight

Introducing MiSGMP’s SUPPLIER SPOTLIGHT for November ...

Michelle Norton 

Otsego Resort

  • A little bit about where I grew up:  I was born in Charlevoix, Michigan, the youngest of five children.  My father was a Chief Petty Officer in the U.S. Coast Guard, so my family had the pleasure of living on Lake Michigan and Lake Superior throughout my father’s career.  When my father retired, my family moved to Gaylord, my mum’s hometown.  We enjoyed camping and boating as a family.  My parents eventually purchased a summer home on a lake in the Upper Peninsula where we spent many summer weekends with our family and friends.
  • Favorite vacation spot I have been blessed to have many traveling adventures throughout my life.  I have traveled through the U.S. and abroad.  Whether a long weekend in Chicago or Toronto there are many wonderful places to experience.  My favorite vacation would have to be Rome, Italy.  To experience the rich history of this city and to see the Roman Forum, the Colosseum and the Trevi Fountain was amazing.  The highlight of my trip was going to the Vatican where I took a special tour that the Popes used in the past that was a secret behind the walls escape route.  It was a trip walking between the walls.  I was also in awe sitting in the exact spot in the Sistine Chapel where the cardinal sends the sign when a new Pope
  • What do you like most about being a supplier?  Seeing the look on my client’s face when their boss tells them that this has been the best meeting they have ever had.  I cherish the relationships I have made throughout my 34-year career in hospitality.
  • What do you like most about SGMP?  I enjoy the diversity in the educational programs that MiSGMP provides.  I believe the subject matter is viable for the member who has just begun their career and the seasoned meeting professional alike.
  • Thoughts regarding the industry:  I have seen various themes come and go throughout my career and I always tell my team “The only constant in hospitality is change.”  We plan the “perfect meeting” only to have five things change an hour before the event begins.  It can be a harmony of chaos and sometimes can feel like we are herding cats.  However, the relationship the meeting planner and hotelier have can take a potential challenge and resolve it together with open communication and a mutual investment in the success of the event.

Introducing MiSGMP’s PLANNER SPOTLIGHT for November ...

Larisa Draves     

Draves & Associates

  • A little bit about where I grew up:  I grew up in the small southwest Michigan town of Allegan. It was a great place to grow up because it was small enough where you knew (almost) everyone, but it was only 45 minutes to Grand Rapids, and 30 minutes to Kalamazoo when we needed a “culture” fix!
  • Favorite vacation spot:  My family loves to travel and we are (close) to having visited all 50 states. We also love to ride bikes, play tennis, and discover new spots to vacation in Pure Michigan!
  • What do you like most about being a planner?  I love the range of tasks, working with a wide variety of people and always looking forward to the “final day” of a successful event.
  • What do you like most about MiSGMP?  I enjoy networking with colleagues who have years of experience and are great about sharing their insight with me.  Whether it be about a prospective speaker, a new venue or general industry knowledge, I feel like my fellow MiSGMP members are very open about sharing and helping one another.

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Upcoming Events

Recognizing & Responding to Human Trafficking in the Tourism Industry

Human trafficking is commonly regarded as the second largest criminal enterprise after drugs. Human trafficking affects every community in Michigan across age, gender, ethnicity, and socio-economic backgrounds.

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Community Service

The Michigan Human Trafficking Task Force will be the November and December community service project focus.  Jane White, Executive Director, will join us at the December 11, 2019 meeting.

The Michigan Human Trafficking Task Force is an advocacy organization that is 100% funded through donations and grants. Giving generously helps them continue their life-saving efforts.

Items needed below – please bring to the November 20 or December 11 MiSGMP meeting!

  • Blankets and throws
  • New socks and t-shirts
  • Hats and gloves, particularly for young males who identify as LGBTQ
  • Writing materials
  • Meijer, Target or Walmart gift cards
  • Used jeans, primarily for teenage females, must be in very good shape
  • Pillows and pillow cases
  • Hoodies
  • Slippers

For more information visit or

Monetary donations (cash and/or checks) will be collected at the November and December meetings. Checks payable to:  Michigan Human Trafficking Task Force.  Checks may also be mailed to:

Michigan Human Trafficking Task Force
P.O. Box 81163
Lansing, MI 48917

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

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MISGMP Sponsorship Opportunities


There are still a few sponsorship opportunities available! Get yours secured by the end of the year by clicking this link or by emailing [email protected]

MI SGMP thanks you for your generous support.

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Contact Address - Check Your Records!

Hi Members,

Just a reminder that the address for mailing MiSGMP correspondence is:

5859 W. Saginaw Hwy., #144, Lansing, MI  48917

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Get Your GMS!

Get Your GMS Today!

PLEASE NOTE:  There will be a cost increase for the Government Meeting Specialist (GMS) application fee starting January 1, 2020. The cost of the final application or the renewal application will change from $30 to $35. This fee is only collected when you are completing the program or renewing your certificate. If you want to renew early at the lower price, please do so by December 31, 2019. We will issue your certificate in the month that you complete all the requirements or are due for renewal. If you have any questions, please contact Debbie Kopkau, GMS Committee Board Liaison at [email protected].

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].

GMS  Up for Renewal ...

August 31, 2019 | Anissa Damon | Michigan Public Health Institute
November 30, 2019 | Pamela Frankenberger | Home Builders Association of MI
January 31, 2020 | Anisa Mazuca | Michigan Works! Association
April 30, 2020 | Amy Castner | State Bar of Michigan
April 30, 2020 | Tracy Sproul | State Bar of Michigan

Renewing of your GMS constitutes completing a renewal application - and having 20 contact hours from the last five years of your expiration date. You can review your attendance through MiSGMP by logging in and then going under Member Area to View My Order History. This will show all the attendance with MiSGMP.

Thank you, Debbie Kopkau

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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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