"Ethical Issues in the Meetings Industry." That was the name of the most recent program sponsored by the New England chapter of the Professional Convention Management Association, held at the Bay Tower Room in Boston. The featured speaker? William J. Myers, CAE, CMP. The fact that Myers had recently been terminated as COO of PCMA for violating its sexual harassment policy and is a defendant in a sexual harassment lawsuit filed by a former employee didn't move the New England board to cancel his already scheduled program.
"We are thrilled to have him here. Bill has been a great friend to our chapter, " says Elizabeth Keegan, president of the PCMA/New England chapter, and national sales manager of the Greater Boston CVB. Speaking as the spokesperson for PCMA/New England, Keegan adds, "Bill is well known in the industry and has a tremendous amount of experience. Regardless of what headquarters needed to do, the charges have not yet been concluded."
During her warm introduction of Myers at the program, Keegan told members that Myers was the speaker at the first PCMA program she ever attended, a session onnegotiations at the Hynes Convention Center. "You sold me on getting involved in this organization," Keegan told Myers.
On the program flyer, Myers' bio did not include his tenure as PCMA COO. That information was deleted so as not to confuse members, Keegan says, and to make Myers more comfortable. Myers appeared as an independent consultant, she stresses. That clarification was underscored by Roy B. Evans, Jr., CAE, executive vice president and CEO of PCMA: "They wanted him to speak. The caveat was that he does not represent us."
Myers conducted a lively and interactive program about ethics, addressing sticky industry issues such as how planners should handle disclosure of third-party commissions, taking gifts from suppliers, and requests for favors from board members.
In an interview before the program, he said he will not attempt to get his PCMA job back. "I am moving on with my life. PCMA is a great organization. I harbor no grudges. I wish them the best." He has been asked speak to groups and to help with several meeting-industry projects, he said. "I'm enjoying the change of pace." He was preparing to move to his hometown of Kansas City, Mo., where he is considering several career opportunities.