We chose the word changemaker to describe our cover story subjects because these 20 individuals aren't just managers or team leaders or decision-makers. Changemakers have the ability to transform the way that their departments and companies operate and the way that their industry evolves.

For this project, the first of its kind, we turned to an advisory board of highly respected industry leaders to identify the people in the meetings business who have done the most to advance their roles beyond logistics and to develop strategic meetings management programs within their companies. In their profiles, starting on page 14, our changemakers discuss everything from how they centralized meeting planning to the biggest moments in their careers to advice that they have never forgotten.

One example: Patricia Kerr, CMP, director, distribution sales support at Manulife Financial, recalls showing senior management how they could cut the cost of their annual meetings by negotiating multiyear deals. “I remember telling them what I wanted to do and how much money we could save over a three-year period, and them looking at me and asking, ‘We can really do that?’ That was the first time they thought of us as more than glorified party planners. It was a significant moment, and we've been able to build on that.”

Our changemakers also have looked beyond what they can do for their careers and their companies to how they can help to guide our industry. Many are leaders in Meeting Professionals International and/or the Groups and Meetings Committee of the National Business Travel Association. Others, such as Arlene Sheff, CMP, CMM, senior meeting and event planner at Boeing, are well-known figures on the education circuit.

I've learned so much from this group about the power of one person to effect change, of stepping up to challenges, thinking strategically, and sharing what you've learned. I know that you will, too.

New Column, Webinar

In this issue, we're happy to introduce a new column written by one of the most respected names in meetings management, Betsy Bondurant, president of Bondurant Consulting and former director of meeting planning and trade shows at Amgen. Her column will break a strategic meetings management program down into its components. This month's topic — getting your arms around meetings spend (page 31) — will be the topic of a free webinar at 1 p.m. EDT June 24 with Bondurant and other experts. The webinar is sponsored by meeting-technology provider StarCite. For registration details, go to meetingsnet.com and click on Education Central.

More On / Meetingsnet.com

For more on SMMP, visit the special report on the Corporate Meetings & Incentives page of meetingsnet.com.