Return to 2012 Changemaker List


Sharon Chapman joined Kay-Bee Toy Stores in 1979 as nighttime keypunch operator. Three years later, she was planning her first event, an annual sales meeting that involved 1,100 managers and assistant managers from the company’s 800 stores. In 1996, she was recruited to Laura Ashley. She loved the job, but was living in Boston four nights a week and commuting home to Western Massachusetts on Thursdays, to work at home on Friday and see her family on weekends. “It was too much time to be away.”

AHA! MOMENT Scouting for positions closer to home, she applied to join the meetings department at Berkshire Life. Even though she’d been planning events for years, it was during the job interview that she realized the potential of event planning as a profession. “That’s when I found out there was a whole meetings industry out there.”

EVOLUTION Chapman became Berkshire’s manager of meeting planning services in 1998, overseeing a department of five. When Berkshire Life was acquired by Guardian, the two meeting planning departments eventually were merged, and she was the only one left standing in the Berkshire department. She worked alongside the newer planners, introducing them to hospitality partners and sharing the best practices she had gained over the years. Today, she is the lead project manager for 26 events and two incentive programs.

KUDOS She earned her CMP in 1999 and her CMM in 2004. From 2000 to 2004, she served on the board of directors for the CMP program, including a stint as co-chair of the CMP Conclave.

GIVING BACK In 2004, Chapman joined the FICP board of directors, and served as president in 2007. “I had learned so much, I wanted to give back. I love mentoring. If I can help lead or develop just one person, I’m really happy.” - Alison Hall