St. Louis–based International Medical Meeting Professionals Association, whose formation was announced earlier this fall, officially launched last month with the creation of a board of directors, an advisory board, and introductory educational sessions held in conjunction with the Missouri Meetings and Events Expo in Kansas City.
IMMPA’s stated mission is to provide education, certification, and resources to a full spectrum of healthcare meeting professionals, including those who work in pharmaceutical and biomedical companies, as well as those who work in animal health, dentistry and orthodontics, medical device companies, hospitals and medical centers, medical societies, and independent planners. Lisa Keilty, CMP, compliance and meetings control, Pfizer, New London, Conn., who will serve as the organization’s first president, says that the board was composed to include members who would reflect the diversity of healthcare interests IMMPA intends to serve. Marissa Wolfard, CMP, director of meetings with St. Louis–based meeting management and group travel firm and IMMPA, co-owner of Meeting IQ, will serve as executive director of the for-profit association.
In addition to Keilty, newly named officers include President-Elect Scott Graham, CMM, planner, Excellent Meetings, Chillicothe, Ohio; Vice President of Finance Rhonda Miles, CPS, senior executive assistant, BJC HealthCare, St. Louis; Vice President of Administration Susan Lejeune, vice president of operations, Maritz, Philadelphia; Vice President of Communication Vigdis Tonne, director, meeting and event services, Publicis Medical Education Group, Chicago; and Vice President of Membership James Montague, president, Professional Meeting Planners Network, Durham, N.C. Also on the board are Deborah Hopkins, CMP, director, meetings and travel, Ascension Health, St. Louis; and Erin Salvesen, CMP, manager, meeting planning, Pfizer Animal Health, New York.
Meeting IQ President Pat Schaumann, CMP, SCEP, DMCP, will head the advisory board, and David Gillette, vice president of audiovisual company Image Technologies Corp., St. Louis, will serve as that board’s vice president. Rounding out the board are Paul Lam, owner, China Connect/Signature Tours; Jerad Bachar, director, Dubai Convention Bureau; and Joseph Clote, publisher of Meet Magazine. However, says Keilty, the advisory board still has a few seats to fill. Because aligning itself with universities to further education in medical meeting planning is a key issue for IMMPA, “we’re planning on adding academics to the advisory board who can help with building curricula, and also help build the IMMPA resource center.” This resource center will be an important piece of the Web site, immpa-med.com, which launched last week, says Keilty. Among the planned resources will be continual updates of the codes and regulations relating to all the healthcare segments IMMPA plans to serve, along with supplier and vendor resources, and a library of links to related information.
One of the most anticipated services IMMPA plans to offer is a certification in medical meeting planning, which was the topic of sessions and networking events at the meeting the organization sponsored at the Missouri Meetings event in November. Keilty says that she received a lot of feedback at the sessions, especially from independent planners, about the benefits and downsides of obtaining the meetings industry certifications already in existence, including the Certified Meeting Professional administered by the Convention Industry Council, and the Certification in Meeting Management designation offered by Meeting Professionals International. “People said they felt it was a stamp of excellence, of validation to the industry and to the profession they’re in,” Keilty says. They also asked why IMMPA was being launched as a separate entity instead of as an arm of MPI. The answer, says Keilty, is that IMMPA concentrates all its efforts on the medical meeting profession instead of the full spectrum of meeting planning professionals.
While interest in the idea of a Certified Medical Meeting Professional designation may have been high at IMMPA’s meeting, specifics regarding the certification criteria and details on the application process won’t be released until the next IMMPA event, which is planned for May in St. Louis, says Schaumann. The certification itself should launch in the summer of 2010. A charter membership drive is already under way, however. The first 500 people to join receive a 20 percent discount off the $200 annual membership fee ($300 for suppliers). Details on the membership drive, certification, and next spring’s meeting will be made available on www.immpa-med.com as they become available.
IMMPA is owned in partnership by Meetings IQ, PMPN, and ITC, and managed by association management company Drake & Co. It also has an office in Beijing, operated by Meetings IQ’s subsidiary, China Connect.