The ICPA board of directors voted unanimously to place education as the association's No. 1 priority in 2005. Since then, it has focused on providing learning opportunities to help our members grow professionally and personally, and that focus is the foundation on which this year's ICPA Annual Meeting agenda has been built.

We understand that industry educational offerings must produce tangible results, both for the individuals attending the function and for their companies. The meeting attendees must be able to demonstrate a return on the investment of their time and dollars. This year's annual meeting design team has developed a program that supports that goal.

Here is a sampling of some of the outstanding learning opportunities that await our attendees:

  • Our keynote presenters are second to none!

    Jonathan Tisch, chairman and chief executive officer of Loews Hotels, will open the program, talking about the “Power of We” — how effective partnerships in our industry can yield positive results for all.

    Well-known political figure Rudy Giuliani will close our program addressing what it takes to be an effective leader.

  • Our interactive workshops are designed to provide practical take-aways you can apply in your everyday jobs, for example:

    Joan Eisenstodt will conduct a two-part session on meeting planning in today's environment. Her first session will be geared toward the entry-level to intermediate planner, followed by a second session for the more experienced meeting planner.

Another two-part training session will be conducted by James Spellos on the use and application of Excel in your daily work. How many of us can honestly say we have mastered this all-important software program and are using it to its maximum capacity in our jobs? Through this hands-on training session, James will show you exactly how to do so.

Sarbanes-Oxley is here to stay, and many of us have only scratched the surface as to what this means for our departments, our companies, and the way we conduct business. Come learn more about the next steps necessary to comply with this important new legislation.

Have you ever dealt with someone professionally or personally who was especially challenging? If you answer “yes” to this question, then the workshop on how to effectively deal with difficult people (and how to determine if you are being difficult) is for you.

Countless meeting planners and hospitality partners face this dilemma … how to place or accept the “ugly meeting.” You know: the one-day program of 500 people with 10 sleeping rooms. During this interactive session you'll have the opportunity to discuss this topic from both the planner's and the hospitality partner's positions and to pick up some tips to help make these types of meetings not so “ugly.”

There are more than 25 workshop opportunities built into this year's program, and many more topics will be announced in the coming weeks. For more information, visit our Web site at

In addition to offering you a solid educational program, the agenda will provide ample opportunities to learn more about New York City as a meeting destination and to see and experience some of what this exciting city has to offer. You will also have the chance to network and exchange best practices with your industry peers.

As you can see, this year's design team has been busy, and I want to extend my thanks to each of them for the important role they have played — and continue to play — in building and delivering a top-notch program. They are Steve Clark, CMP, representative of CUNA Mutual; Nancy Farmer, Allmerica Financial; Margaret Moynihan, Deloitte; Gary Pearson, AON; Kevin Rosa, The Sagamore; Lynn Schwandt, Thrivent Financial; Tina Strauss, New York Marriott Marquis; Susan Sweeney, NYC & Company; Marilyn Sylvester, Honorary Member; and our ICPA headquarters team, Jeff Devine, Mindi Huelsmann, and Shannon Green-field. This year's program would not be a reality without their selfless dedication to our association and our industry.

New York City and the stars of Broadway and ICPA await this you at this year's ICPA annual meeting. Plan now to “Be a Part of It … New York, New York,” November 6 to 11, 2005. Online registration will be available beginning in mid-July at I look forward to seeing many familiar faces and meeting new industry peers and hospitality partners at the beautiful Marriott Marquis Hotel, center aisle on Broadway. See you there!

Debbie Boschee, CMP
Immediate Past President, ICPA