Community was the theme woven through Meeting Professionals International's Professional Education Conference in Las Vegas in July: online communities; a community that supports the needs of women; and a more multicultural meeting community.

Perhaps the biggest news from the conference, attended by almost 3,000 people, was the release of preliminary findings from MPI's Women's Leadership Initiatives Program survey of 2,000 industry women. Respondents noted that the ability to adapt to new situations, determination, and perseverance are the three most important qualities women need to succeed as meeting professionals.

“Our goal is to use this information…to react to the needs of women in this business by developing education, mentoring, and networking opportunities,” said Cary Broussard, vice president of Women on Their Way, a program of Wyndham Hotels & Resorts, and chair of MPI's initiative. More findings will be released this fall.

Another type of community — this one virtual — was announced as well. MPI's Web site ( now has seven “Communities of Interest” for members interested in discussing specific subjects, including outsourcing, doing business globally, meetings technology, and corporate meetings Each will include chat rooms, discussion boards, and hosted online discussions.

Reacting to the fact that only a small percentage of its members are from different cultures, MPI also announced a new partnership with the National Multicultural Tourism Council. The organization hopes to introduce new members to the profession and to remove any barriers to advancement.

In other MPI news:

  • Richard Aaron, CMP, CSEP, and founder of the Idea Center, was named International Planner of the Year; Bobette Gorden, president of NewInformation Presentations, was named International Supplier.

  • Elizabeth Henderon, account executive at TELUS Convention Centre, Calgary, Alberta, received the 2001 Tomorrow's Leader Award.