In Mid-March, the 20,242 members of Meeting Professionals International received an e-mail announcing that Colin Rorrie Jr., PhD, CAE, was stepping down as president and CEO, effective immediately.

Rorrie's contract is not up until September, but in a press conference held the day of the announcement, MPI board chairwoman Christine Duffy, president and CEO of Maritz Travel Inc., said the board had concluded at a meeting the previous week that MPI “would be taken in new directions and that we are exploring some new opportunities to advance the association.” Those directions include restructuring the association from a traditional, or functional, organization to “a matrix organization,” she said.

Duffy has named Katie Callahan-Giobbi, senior vice president sales, LA Inc., to head the search committee, and expects to have a new CEO in place before MPI's July 9-11 World Education Conference in Dallas. In the meantime, Mark Andrew, CMP, CHA, general manager of The Westin Bayshore Resort Marina in Vancouver, British Columbia, who is scheduled to take office as chairman of the board of directors in July, will take a leave of absence from his job to temporarily lead the MPI office in Dallas. Andrew does not plan to apply for the CEO position.

Rorrie said in the press conference that he had decided — along with the board of directors — that he would step down immediately after it had been determined that someone with “a different set of business skills” was needed to lead the association, and that Andrew would be brought in temporarily.

Duffy said organizational changes and new initiatives could be announced within the next 30 to 60 days, with gradual implementation over the next six to eight months. The developments, she says, are a result of the Blue Ocean Strategy, a business re-engineering process that the board began last August. Blue Ocean focuses on getting an organization to create new markets rather than compete in existing markets.

Rorrie joined MPI in September 2003, having served as executive director of the American College of Emergency Physicians for many years. He was brought in “with the specific charge to recognize meeting planning as a profession,” he said. In his message to the members, he said, “We have succeeded beyond my early expectations, and I feel the time is right for me to explore new horizons both personally and professionally.”