Michael Dominguez, MGM, with Brian Stevens, Conference Direct
MGM Resorts International’s Michael Dominguez (left) accepts the MPI Chairman’s Award from MPI’s chair Brian Stevens.

MPI Members RISE to Today’s Challenges

Meet Professionals International recognizes member and chapter excellence with RISE awards.

With driving music from Sound Division setting the upbeat stage, this year’s Recognizing Industry Success and Excellence award winners were honored at a luncheon at the Meeting Professionals International World Education Congress, held May 19–22 at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas.

First up was MGM Resorts International’s Michael Dominguez, who received the MPI Chairman’s Award for his efforts on behalf of MPI and the meetings industry. He got a trophy and big hug from MPI’s chair Brian Stevens, then the RISE Awards, which feature seven awards in two categories, got under way in earnest. The awards, which recognize both individual and community achievement, go to those who have proven their ability to innovate, work globally, and create an impact within the industry.

Among those honored were:
•  Natalie Beiro, MPI Potomac Chapter, RISE Award for a Young Professional.  Beiro, who was not able to receive the award in person but sent a video to express her gratitude, is a campaign manager for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society in Washington, D.C. She started her career with Omni Hotels & Resorts, quickly being promoted to sales manager and named “Manager of the Year” by the Omni Shoreham Hotel in 2014. Soon after, Beiro received the Rising Star Award from her MPI chapter. She has eagerly taken on leadership roles with the MPI Potomac Chapter, previously serving as the 2015 chair of the Chairman’s Challenge, helping to raise $5,000 for the MPI Foundation, and currently serving as director of member recruitment. Beiro also founded the Hart School Alumni Network, connecting hospitality, sports, and recreation students with alumni and faculty for her alma mater, James Madison University, and volunteers with the Make-a-Wish Foundation.

• Colleen Rickenbacher, CMP, CSEP, CPC, CTA, CPECP, MPI Dallas/Fort Worth Chapter, RISE Award for Meeting Industry Leadership. Rickenbacher’s more than 40 years of experience in the meetings and event industry has resonated around the world. She has authored five books, presented more than 2,000 speeches to audiences around the globe, and has worked with Visit Dallas (formerly the Dallas Convention and Visitors Bureau) for 20 years. Rickenbacher, who has been a member of the MPI and MPI Foundation boards, was inducted into the Events Industry Council Hall of Leaders in 2016 and continues to be a dedicated mentor to many.  

• Ginny Fountain, CMP, CMM, MPI Carolinas Chapter, RISE Award for Member of the Year. A 17-year MPI member, Fountain has served as president of her chapter twice, and facilitates CMP study groups. Since 2002, she has received six awards for her outstanding contributions to MPI and is also heavily involved with other organizations such as the Rotary Club, United Way, Big Brothers Big Sisters, and Girl Scouts. 

• The MPI Dallas/Fort Worth and the MPI Northern California chapters both received RISE Awards for Educational Programming for their work in advancing the education and professional development of their members through innovative programming with their respective mentoring and CMP education initiatives.

• The MPI Northern California Chapter earned the RISE Award for Marketplace Excellence for its Annual Conference and Expo, which celebrated its 28th anniversary last year and attracted more than 1,200 industry professionals. The chapter also partnered with ConvoSpark last year to deliver an interactive expo floor plan, creating more efficient interactions between suppliers and planners and increasing the satisfaction and relationships of its attendees. 

• The MPI Texas Hill Country Chapter snagged the RISE Award for Industry Advocacy for its Global Meetings Industry Day initiatives in 2016. The chapter held an innovative three-prong event celebrating GMID to help raise awareness and show the value of the industry. Held at the Texas Capitol in Austin, the event included the signing of a proclamation, a rally and march with more than 200 participants, and a high-level panel of Meetings Mean Business Coalition leaders, which was also live-streamed to broader audiences.

“The MPI RISE Awards highlight the amazing talent we have in our global meeting and event industry. This year’s recipients have all demonstrated that with hard work and creativity you can make dreams come true—not tomorrow but now, because when we meet, we change the world,” said Dr. Krzysztof Celuch, chair of the MPI RISE Awards Judging Panel. 

For more details on the MPI RISE Awards and this year’s recipients, visit MPI’s RISE Awards page.

MPI's Northern California Chapter members beamed at the news that they had won the RISE Award for Educational Programming, an honor shared with the MPI Dallas/Fort Worth Chapter.

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