I spoke with a person recently who had an interesting perspective on meeting planning.

Last year, this man was new to his job, and one of his responsibilities was planning conferences for his organization. He never had done meeting planning, so he decided to attend RCMA 2006 in San Jose.

He thoroughly enjoyed the experience, gaining valuable knowledge and insight, and he returned home with enthusiasm for his meeting responsibilities.
But 10 days after RCMA, he came to the conclusion that this meeting-planning thing was very complex and demanding. In fact, he decided that the meeting-planning role within his organization required more time than he had to devote to it. So he discussed the issue with his boss, and they decided to contract with an independent meeting planner.

His story reinforced these opinions of mine:

• The meeting-planning role is complicated and multifaceted, requiring a high level of professionalism and continuing education.

• RCMA is a trusted resource and partner for religious meeting planners, providing invaluable educational and
networking opportunities.

• It is important for meeting planners to be frank with their boards and/or superiors regarding human-resource needs. If the meeting-planning function requires more people, then it’s your responsibility to the organization to speak up and make the case for added personnel. Your organization’s meetings and events will be better because of it.

•I call to your attention the Voices feature on page 14 of this issue. We asked five meeting planners to discuss a successful change that they implemented in 2006. The answers are fascinating, and they are a reminder that improvement is possible in so many different areas.

•If you are searching for ways to make your meeting-planning processes better, take a look in this issue at the tutorial offerings that will be available at RCMA 2007 in Louisville, Ky. It’s an impressive lineup of experts who
understand your challenges and are looking forward to
sharing their knowledge with you.

•And remember that when you attend RCMA, you will receive a free CD that includes recordings of the tutorials and speakers. I learn so much from listening to the CD during the year—it’s a rich resource that will aid in your personal and professional development.

Last month I made a visit to Northeast Ohio, to my hometown and the neighboring port town on Lake Erie where my dad was born and raised.
I don’t get back there often, but it feels comfortable and familiar to me, ever moreso as the years roll on. Many things about those places make it feel good.

First, there’s the food. On my visit, I had to go to Longo’s, a small, family-run Italian restaurant. I ordered pizza topped with their homemade, fennel-seasoned Italian sausage, which my sister and I would order on Friday nights when we were growing up. The next day I bought and brought home three bottles of Stadium Mustard, a wonderful, mild, brown mustard that once was available only at the old Municipal Stadium in Cleveland.

I visited the Westside Market in Cleveland, an Old World kaleidoscope of fine meats, cheeses, handmade pastas, and the freshest breads, vegetables, fruit, and fish—a place where the shoppers and vendors know each other’s names and know if they like their foods mild or hot.

And then there are the people. I stopped at a Hungarian gathering spot in my dad’s hometown of Fairport. Within 10 minutes, there was a tap on my shoulder from a man in his late 60s who grew up with my dad. I didn’t know the man, but he knew me, knew my dad’s family, knew the narrow street where my dad and uncles spent their youth. He told me stories of the past, and I was happy to listen.

It felt great to be home.