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director, meetings and conference management
Securian Financial Group
St. Paul, Minn.

Koleen Roach joined Dayton Hudson Department Stores in 1984 as a word processor in the training and development department. By 1990, she had revamped the company’s service awards and recognition dinners, and by 1992 she had become the company’s first meeting planner.

Four years later, she took that experience to Minnesota Life, which became Securian Financial Group in 2000. Since then, Roach has moved up to director, overseeing meetings for seven business divisions and leading a four-person team. “In addition to meeting planning, we run the recognition programs and maintain the relationships with industry associations such as Million Dollar Round Table,” she explains.

Roach and her department also have become the center of the company’s community service efforts. When she headed off on a site inspection to South Africa for a 2009 incentive program, she recalls, “our CEO, who is very involved in service missions with his family, asked me to find a way to give back. I had a couple of ideas. Then when I got to Livingston, I went to the largest local orphanage and saw an immediate need. They had no school supplies.”

The on-site project, which involved donations of sports equipment, backpacks, and school supplies, plus two days of volunteering, “had a profound impact on attendees,” Roach says.

During Securian’s incentive program in South America in May 2011, attendees will work in Cuzco, Peru, with the Smile Network, which funds cleft-palate operations for children. Roach is conscious of keeping projects genuine—and making them a choice. “I don’t want it to become stale or forced,” she says. “But we do have more who want to participate than who don’t.”— Alison Hall