At the recent Financial & Insurance Conference Planners 2009 Annual Conference in Toronto, Cindy Wheaton, CMP, Nationwide Financial Network, officially handed over the FICP president's gavel to Dan Young, CMP, of Thrivent Financial. In welcoming him to the stage on the final day of the event, Wheaton complimented his no-nonsense style—or, as she called it, "his ability to say what everyone else thinks."

Young told attendees that some of his peers had commented that it was too bad he had to take the reins of the association in the midst of a global recession. "But I think there couldn’t be a better time," he said. "This is an exciting time to be connected to this industry," as planners and hospitality partners find new ways to work together and move forward through tough times toward better times ahead.

For now, he said, "doing less with less is the new normal." By that he meant that companies have lower budgets and smaller staffs and are being asked to create incentive conferences that are a little more low key than in the past. Of course, the expectation is that these conferences will still have the same perceived quality and value in the eyes of attendees.

That's where new creative partnerships between planners and suppliers come in. In consideration of the fact that times are just as tough for the supplier community, FICP in 2009 launched the "Buy FICP" program, which encourages members to use FICP-affiliated suppliers whenever possible. Young said he’d been doing just that. "But you have to help us deliver the highest return of value to our attendees," he added. "More than ever we need to partner together in order for us both to achieve our goals."

In closing, Young encouraged members to become more than just FICP customers. Volunteer, he urged, and become "engaged owners" of the association.

At the same general session, FICP recognized some of its current "engaged owners," with the announcement of Todd Zint, CMP, CMM, National Financial Partners, as president-elect. New members of the FICP board of directors were introduced as well: Koleen Roach, CMP, Securian Financial Group, was named vice president, finance; Jana Stern, ING, is vice president, education; and Florine Edwards, CMP, CMM, FM Global, was named vice president, regions. Continuing on the board are Jan Hennessey, CMP, of Jan Hennessey Events, who serves as vice president, communications; Kelli Livers, CMP, CMM, ForeThought Financial Group, as vice president, membership; and Nancy Farmer, The Hanover Insurance Group, who is vice president, sponsorship.

Bill Hopkins of Hopkins Entertainment handed over chairmanship of the Hospitality Partner Committee to Brent Centlivre, Disney Resort Destinations. New HP Committee members are Bob Beach, CMP, Destination Hotels & Resorts; Colleen Brzozowski, Grand Traverse Resort & Spa; and Katy Gettinger, Starwood Hotels & Resorts. Continuing on the HP Committee are Kathy Fort-Carty, Destination Services Corp. and Dan Tavrytzky, Southwest Conference Planners.