Dan Young, CMP, LLIF, director of event planning and field recognition at Minneapolis, Minn.-based Thrivent Financial for Lutherans, is FICP's vice president, membership, and is in his first year on the board of directors. In his position at Thrivent, Young heads a meeting staff that plans 175 events a year, including the company's four annual incentive conferences. He took some time recently to talk about his background and FICP membership plans.

Tell us about your professional background.

I started my career with Thrivent Financial as a sales trainer and then became manager of our field training department. In 1994, I took over the field services department, where one of the responsibilities included field conference planning, and I joined FICP (then ICPA) the following year. I earned my CMP in 1999, and in 2002, Thrivent Financial created a corporatewide event-planning department and I was appointed as director.

Why the interest in joining FICP's board of directors?

I've been an active member in the organization since 1995, so last year when there was a call for board nominations, I talked to [former FICP board member] Lynne Schueler, Principal Financial Group, and decided to add my name to the list of candidates. It was a good time for me to invest back into the industry, and this was a great opportunity. I'm a passionate advocate for FICP — it's the premier professional organization for planners in our industry.

How has FICP membership helped you do your job?

There's no other industry organization whose membership consists of peers who deal with exactly the same kinds of issues and problems on a daily basis. My company sees my involvement in the organization and the value I'm able to bring back in the form of relationships I'm building and the ideas I'm sharing. So my membership gives me a certain degree of professional credibility and has helped me grow professionally by delivering more value to my company.

As FICP vice president, membership, what are some of your goals over the next year?

We really want to reach out to planners in financial services. We're trying to engage our current members to help broaden our reach to financial services planners, and we're leveraging our hospitality partners as well — they really know who the planners are on the financial services side of the business. I have relationships with other insurance organizations, but in financial services, I don't have a lot of exposure. That's where our hospitality partners can help.

I do have a goal to increase our membership to 600 this year. It's a stretch, but it's possible. Talking to members, it's clear we don't want FICP to become too big — I don't think we want to have thousands of members.

There seems to be support among planners and hospitality partners to grow the organization to about 750 members eventually. There is a feeling that this number will maintain a good ratio of planners to hospitality partners while maintaining the feeling of intimacy and connection that's so unique to the organization.

As for initiatives, we are going to move ahead with a corporate membership level whereby a company can pay one fee and have all of its staff become FICP members, rather than have to select whom they want to join. If I'm running a planning department, I might want all of my planners involved in FICP, but I might not have the budget for individual memberships. This is a way for those companies to save on dues and get more planners involved in FICP events.

What do you tell planners about the merits of FICP membership?

Our educational programs are probably No. 1 on the list of benefits. Then there are the multiple networking opportunities, whether it's through attending the annual conference, chapter events, education forum, or even volunteering on subcommittees or design teams.

I've always felt that my richest moments as an FICP member have come during events such as professional education sessions when I've had the opportunity to engage with other planners about issues we all have in common, whether it's about dealing with suppliers or finding a good speaker for my next event. There are great resources out there, and being able to share information and network with a group of people in our own industry is a great benefit.