New beginnings and last goodbyes marked the 40th World Conference & Expo last month in Kansas City, Mo., as the association welcomed Executive Director Harry Schmidt and said farewell to longtime leader Dr. DeWayne Woodring.

“Our past is the prologue to our future,” Schmidt said at the conference. “While grateful for our organization’s previous accomplishments, I am not satisfied to remain as we are. Join with our RCMA team and me in shaping a new future together. You truly represent the great movement that we call RCMA.”

Several new initiatives were announced at the annual meeting, including an expansion of board activities. The board changes are just the initial steps in the “retooling, rebranding, and repositioning of RCMA,” said RCMA’s President Melvin L. Worthington, CMP.

RCMA also announced that it had hired Dean Jones as director of conferences and events, a new position. Jones was formerly vice president of meetings and events for Collinson Media and Events, producers of Rejuvenate Marketplace. Schmidt said the new position would allow him to focus on a long-term strategic plan for the association, as well as creating partnerships with meeting planners and suppliers and a more dynamic profile for RCMA within the larger meetings industry. He added that with Jones onboard, RCMA will look at expanding beyond the annual conference to regional meetings, seminars, and international events.

The conference concluded with an emotional goodbye to Woodring, who retired as executive director after 30 years of service with RCMA. Several industry leaders honored Woodring, including Gus Vonderheide, vice president of sales, and Ty Helms, senior vice president, from Hyatt Hotels; James Morris, president of the Indiana Pacers; Paul Somogyi, sales director at Marriott; Nick Topitzes, founder and president, pc/nametag, Inc.; and Melvin Tennant, president and CEO, Meet Minneapolis. “You are not going to be a footnote in RCMA history, you wrote the book,” Tennant said.

“It’s been a wonderful journey,” Woodring said.