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MPI leaders from left: Susie Townsend, Jessie States, and Paul Van Deventer

MPI Plans 3 New Certificate Programs

Meeting Professionals International’s leaders outlined a strong 2024 for the association’s educational and networking efforts.

Meeting Professionals International announced new certificate programs, the purchase of a Canadian event, details about the upcoming World Education Conference, leadership changes, and other developments during the IMEX America show in Las Vegas.

Four MPI leaders were on hand to deliver remarks at an October 18 press event, including Paul Van Deventer, president and CEO; Drew Holmgreen, chief brand officer; Jessie States, vice president of education; and Susie Townsend, chair-elect of the MPI Foundation Global Board of Trustees.

For meeting planners looking for educational and networking offerings in 2024, the association’s announcements were especially noteworthy:

• A new certificate program focused on artificial intelligence for meeting professionals will launch in January in partnership with event technology platform Reposite.

•  MPI Academy, Encore, and the International Council on Hotel, Restaurant, and Institutional Education are partnering to launch the Encore AV Fundamentals certificate program in January.

• A certificate program called Event Wellfare Champion is expected to launch in the first quarter of 2024 in conjunction with The Neu Project and EventWell. The program is intended to make meeting professionals more aware of signs of distress in attendees and provide them with appropriate support.​

The EVENT, launched by the Toronto, Ottawa, and Montreal/Quebec chapters of MPI in 2018, has been acquired by MPI. Van Deventer called it a “new MPI signature event,” and said it will be hosted by MPI for the first time in fall 2024. The Canadian location for the event was not announced.

• The next events for MPI will be its European Meetings and Events Conference March 3-5 in Luxembourg and the World Education Conference May 20-22 in Louisville. Van Deventer noted that after seeing 1,400 attendees for the 2023 WEC in Mexico, they expected a jump in attendance to 2,300 in Kentucky. Van Deventer noted that Steve O’Malley, enterprise vice president & COO at Maritz Global Events, has been named as the honoree for the 2024 President’s Dinner at the WEC. O’Malley was also celebrated for his contributions to the industry as an Events Industry Council 2023 Hall of Leaders inductee.

MPI also used the press conference to announce the incoming 2024 Chair Elect for the MPI International Board of Directors. Michelle Allgauer, senior vice president, education and engagement, at the Financial Services Institute, will begin her term on January 1, taking over from Cleo Battle, president & CEO of Louisville Tourism.

In addition, Susie Townsend, chief destination experience officer at Visit Indy, was announced as the 2024 chair-elect for the MPI Foundation Global Board of Trustees, replacing Jen Beatty, director of partnerships for the Tourism Industry Association of Canada. Townsend emphasized the global nature of the foundation, noting that the 2024 slate of trustees includes vice chairs from England, Italy, Mexico, and Canada. “We’re really proud of that,” she said, “It bolsters our international community and shows that the foundation is for everyone.”

Townsend said that since 2020, the MPI Foundation has raised and distributed $1.8 million dollars to 3,200 individuals, 63 chapters, and has provided four major grants. Among the current initiatives is development of a human trafficking tool kit, which will go to MPI chapters allowing them to educate members about how to identify human trafficking and take action if needed.

The Foundation also supported 37 MPI members affected by the Maui wildfires, Townsend said, by paying their association dues for the coming year.

The Foundation raised $410,000 during IMEX America. About three-quarters of that was from the proceeds of Rendezvous, a party at Drai’s nightclub sponsored by Caesars Entertainment. The Foundation also raised money through the IMEX Silent Auction, the Meet in Ireland Golf Day, and the Red, White and You wine auction hosted by MGM Resorts and Mandalay Bay. 

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