Q: How do you stay positive in a challenging environment?

A: I tend to break it down both personally and professionally. This allows me to really prioritize the tasks at hand, helping to prevent that “I am so overwhelmed!” feeling. I continue to count my blessings around being in good health and state of mind, for without that, we have nothing and can accomplish nothing, regardless of what may be thrown our way. As far as my profession is concerned, I truly appreciate my role within

The Hanover, a company that has stood strong through the market turmoil by remaining focused on its vision. I am privileged to work with and learn from committed superiors, colleagues, and industry associates who challenge me to be open to new ideas and perspectives, and to step out of my “comfort zone,” which makes me better at what I do every day.

As VP, sponsorship, you have been working on demonstrating the partnership between members and hospitality partners. What's ahead in 2010?

Given current economic conditions, we needed to demonstrate increased return on investment to the HP community in a thoughtful and equitable way. We needed to show that FICP possesses a broad understanding of what sponsorship means, that FICP hears and is reacting to what the HP community is asking for, and that FICP is willing to do things differently in order to meet those needs. Based on the priorities approved by the board, FICP has taken or will take the following actions:

  • Eliminate the current lottery system for HP annual conference attendance to ensure a fair and equitable process.

  • Create a Patron Sponsorship category for annual meeting attendance. A hospitality partner pays a patron sponsorship fee, plus the registration fee, but is not tied to any particular sponsorship and is not listed as a sponsor in FICP collateral. The number of these sponsorships — to be sold on a first-come, first-served basis — may vary to ensure the desired ratio of HPers to planners.

  • Develop a Hosted Partner Program. Now more than ever FICP has an obligation to members and HPers to make investments alongside them — sharing the financial responsibility of bringing buyers to the table. Planners who organize, influence, or make budgetary decisions for business travel, meetings, incentive travel, staff training, or events could be eligible to attend the annual conference as “hosted partners.” Such buyers would be invited by the board and must be first-time attendees or have not attended an annual conference in the previous five years. At the meeting, a hosted partner would be required to participate in the orientation for first-time attendees, attend all scheduled events as requested, and participate in a debrief meeting at the conclusion of the conference.

  • Create a “chain grid” for the Education Forum to better manage spots for independent hotels, destination management companies, and convention and visitors bureaus, by creating “chain opportunities” based on the chains' sponsorship at the previous year's annual conference.

  • Provide opportunities for planner members to attend educational events via a scholarship program.

  • Incorporate the “Buy FICP” message into all marketing and events.

What is your advice to members thinking about volunteering to serve on the FICP board?

When I think about my peer group and how much pressure is placed on them, it is a wonder we can remember our own names, nevermind our attendees'! How can I possibly add one more task to my day? The answer is clear: You get out what you put in. And if you want to help shape the future, be a part of it! There's no better time to volunteer than now. We want you to engage with your association. I am proud to have taken an active role over the last 10-plus years and encourage you to do the same. Here's hoping I helped to make a difference.