PlanIt Tennessee
President's Message  
Hey Y'all!
First let me say I am sorry we had to cancel the January Luncheon!  Your BOD was on the phone starting at 5:15am trying to make the best decision possible with the information we were collecting at the time.  A lot of work went into the planning of it and the speakers we had lined up were going to be killer!!  Thanks to all the sponsors who offered up their services and products.  Grand Ole Opry House, Chef's Market, Liberty Party Rentals, Onstage Green Bean Delivery &  Schenk Photography.  Also the food did not go to waste as Jim and his crew at Chef's Market delivered the food to the mission and they were so grateful!  
I wanted to share even in all the craziness and dealing with Mother Nature that your Board of Directors still made it to Mid-Year Retreat and worked all day on continuing the success of our chapter.  This shows their love and passion for our chapter as most of their offices ended up closing due to the weather.  Holly Dotson our Chapter Business Manager and Jason Carroll our facilitator were blown away that everyone still came in/called in for the retreat!  You all are amazing peeps and I am honored to serve with you!
 Well it is February the month of Love!  This month is a busy one for our chapter so get ready for the ride!!  We have our big CONNECT event coming up in a couple of weeks!  The invite has gone out so if you haven't already please register as you aren't going to want to miss it!!  We have some great speakers lined up for the morning sessions, Claudia Huskey, Senior Advisor to Mayor Megan Barry and Andrea Arnold, Senior Vice President of Public Affairs, Nashville Convention and Visitors Corporation and Everett Shupe, CEO of Shupe Plans.  We also have our Industry Roundtable Discussions that same morning which you will definitely want to be a part of this session.   Then our keynote speaker during lunch will be the one and only Michael Dominguez, Chief Sales Officer of MGM Resorts International.  If you aren't able to make a whole day of it then definitely make a cameo at the luncheon.  
Also the Chapter Satisfaction Survey launches February 1st and will be open for 2 weeks.  Please show us some love and please take a few moments to complete the survey.  We as a chapter will earn extra incentive points if our chapter hits 25% participation or higher.  These incentive points are redeemed at the end of the year for items like, WEC Scholarships, Membership Scholarships,   Our chapter is offering an incentive for taking the survey!!!  A lucky participant will win a $100.00 gift card!  Whoop Whoop!
 I wanted to give a shout out to our nominations committee who has been working hard interviewing potential board members and building a slate that is presented to you below.  We have some great candidates and I am really excited about this new list of leaders.
 Lastly we starting the process of asking for donations for our annual silent auction so be ready to be hit up for items and for you to ask all your contact for donations!  This is our biggest fundraiser all year so please donate, donate, donate it benefits you our members so we can continue and provide quality education and scholarships!!!
Much love to y'all!!!

In This Issue
Our Sponsors

Platinum Partners


Gold Partners

Do you want to become an MPI:TN sponsor and partner with the state's largest and most vibrant community of meeting and event professionals?

For more information, contact Colleen Cussick, Director of Strategic Alliances for MPI:TN!

Looking to make a job change or know someone is?  Check out the positions available at
MPI:TN Board of Directors Proposed 2015 - 2016 Slate
The Tennessee Chapter of Meeting Professionals International Nominating Committee has selected the following individuals, whom we believe to have the skills, dedication and integrity to provide outstanding leadership to our chapter during their term of office.  Please be aware that as a member in good standing you have the right to review and challenge the slate of directors as indicated in the chapter bylaws.  If positions remain uncontested, the slate of officers will be considered approved by a unanimous vote after 30 days.  Please congratulate and thank these members for their service.

The following slate of officers is elected by the Chapter Board of Directors.  They are identified in this communication so members can view the full board proposed for the upcoming term.

  • Adam Spivey, Hutton Hotel
    July 2016 - December 2016
  • Katie Rogers, CMP, Change Healthcare
    December 2016 - June 2018
President Elect
  • Katie Rogers, CMP, Change Healthcare
    July 2016 - December 2016
Immediate Past President
  • Tammy Gibert Cardona, CMP
    Nashville Convention & Visitors Corp.
    July 2016 - December 2016
  • Adam Spivey, Hutton Hotel
    December 2016 - June 2018
Vice President Finance
  • Jamie Hulet, Grand Ole Opry Entertainment Group
    July 2016 - June 2017
Vice President Membership
  • Valerie Summers, Gary Musick Productions           July 2016 - June 2017
Vice President Communications
  • Desiree Woolridge, CMP, Caterpillar Financial
    July 2016 - June 2017
Vice President Education
  • Shannon Yeater, Butler Snow LLP
    July 2016 - June 2017
VP East Region
  • Kristi Sowards, Knoxville Convention Center       July 2016 - June 2017
VP West Region
  • Antwone Stigall, CMP, New Memphis Institute   July 2016 - June 2017
Directors (Board members)
The following slate of Board members is elected by the membership of the Chapter.  This slate will be deemed elected by unanimous vote unless the slate is challenged as outlined in the chapter bylaws.

Director, Special Projects
  • Lauren Stout,
    Gaylord Opryland Resort and Convention Center
    July 2016 - June 2017
Director, Strategic Alliances
  • Jill Kopecky, Neste Event Marketing
    July 2016 - June 2017
Director, Monthly Meetings
  • Mindy Powell-Hardy, CTIS
    Hard Rock Café Nashville
    July 2016 - June 2017
Director, Leadership & Professional Development
  • Kimberly Marlin Bean,
    KBT Creative Support Services
    July 2016 - June 2017
Director, Member Care
  • Susan Raque, Destination Musick City
    July 2016 - June 2017
Director, Administration
  • Jessica Pfranger,
    Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum
    July 2016 - June 2017
Please direct any questions to: 
Tammy Gilbert Cardona, CMP,
Immediate Past President, 615-259-4725,  

A copy of the Chapter bylaws can be viewed at:

The Nominations Committee:
*    Immediate Past President - Tammy Gilbert Cardona, CMP (S)
*    President Elect - Katie Rogers, CMP (P)
*    Angela Layton, CMP, CMM (P)
*    Angie Campbell (S)
*    Tiffani Wilson (S)
*    Cory Brooks (S)
*    Kelly Kaplan (S)
*    Mike Henry (S)
*    Therese Byrne (P)
Upcoming Meetings and Events
Calling all Meeting Industry Professionals!

Friday, February 19, 2016
7:30 AM - 1:30 PM
at Hilton Garden Inn Nashville Downtown
305 Korean Veterans Blvd
Nashville, Tennessee 37201
Join us for Thursday night MIXER

Thursday February 18th  
5:00pm - 7:00 pm 
George Jones Museum 
128 2nd Avenue North, Nashville, TN 37201
Join us for CONNECT Full Day

8:00 AM  -  8:45 AM
Improving the Nashville Event Scene
Improving the Nashville Event Scene: A presentation and question and answer session with Claudia Huskey, Senior Advisor to Mayor Megan Barry and Andrea Arnold, Senior Vice President of Public Affairs, Nashville Convention and Visitors Corporation. 
9:00 AM  -  10:15 AM     
Industry Roundtable Discussions 
10:30 AM - 11:30 AM
Re-Inventing Meetings - Connecting the Dots: 
During this session, Everett Shupe, CEO of Shupe Plans, will engage attendees about new designs and formats as well as how to introduce these changes within your organization. 
Join us for Lunch
(Included in Full Day)  

12:00 PM  -  12:30 PM     
Lunch is Served & Monthly Announcements 
12:30 PM  -  1:30 PM
Understanding your Leverage  
Understanding your Leverage: presented by Michael Dominguez, Chief Sales Officer of MGM Resorts International.  Michael will give us a deeper look into the changing trends and what to be aware of in the hotel business in the years to come.  This is a presentation suppliers and planners alike won't want to miss!  
Got Scholarships?
The MPI:TN Board of Directors is pleased to offer a variety of scholarships to members.   Scholarships are awarded to applicants deemed deserving of the award as determined by the Board. Applications are on the <>  website.

Scholarships are awarded quarterly. Applicants will be notified of the results within 30 days of the submission deadline. Deadlines for applications are:
  • March 1st
  • June 1st
  • September 1st
  • December 1st

The following scholarships are available:

Membership Scholarship
Recipient will be awarded funding for their annual membership fee, $349 for planners and $469 for suppliers, based on need and previous participation in the chapter.   Rules for membership acceptance apply.

Criteria, the recipient:
  • Must be a Tennessee Chapter of MPI member in good standing for a minimum of one year.
  • Is unemployed in the meetings industry, actively searching for a position within the industry.
  • Has not received a chapter scholarship within two years of the date of application.
  • Must agree to pay any additional costs incurred for events, monthly luncheons, conferences, etc.
Upon Award, the recipient:
  • Must attend 50% of their regional MPI meetings in the year the scholarship is granted.
  • Will serve on one (1) committee in the year the scholarship is granted.
  • Is encouraged to be a mentor for others who receive this scholarship in the following year.
  • Must submit an article on their experience for publication in PlanIt Tennessee.

International Scholarship Opportunities
Several types of scholarships are offered throughout the year for current and potential MPI members. More information can be found here -
  1. Membership Scholarships - New membership scholarships available for prospective members in need of financial assistance.
  2. Professional Development - Funding is available to assist members with industry-related development programs or leadership programs that are a part of the MPI Academy. This includes Certified Meeting Professional (CMP), Certificate in Meeting Management (CMM), and the Healthcare Meeting Compliance Certificate (HMCC).
  3. Conference Attendance - Funding to aid members in attending MPI's World Education Congress (WEC) and European Meetings & Events Conference (EMEC), as well as IMEX America and Frankfurt are available each year.
  4. Academic - We currently partner with Rosen Hotels to provide scholarships for students attending Rosen College at the University of Central Florida and International Centre for students attending a college or university in Toronto.
How is MPI doing? 
Tell us what you think! Check your inbox and take the MPI Member and Chapter satisfaction survey.  Each member who completes the survey will be entered to win a $100 gift card!  Your survey answers remain anonymous, only your name is given to us by MPI Global.

We can't get better without your help!
MPI Tennessee Chapter 2016 Circle of Excellence Awards Gala & Silent Auction

Tuesday, May 24, 2016
DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Nashville Downtown
Networking and Auction, Nominees Reception 5:30 PM
Dinner and Awards 7:00 PM
Drinks and Dancing 8:30 PM
Would you like to donate an item to the Circle of Excellence Awards Gala and Silent Auction? Do you want the opportunity to showcase your products and services while helping raise money for our chapter? Do you have a connection with a vendor or retailer you would like to reach out to for a great donation?  Check out the Silent Auction Donation Letter and Form.

To receive the maximum marketing benefit for your donation, please complete and return the donation form by March 4, 2016.

FYI... last year had over 140 silent auction items and raised over $20,000 dollars at this event.  Let's kick it up a notch in 2016!  More items donated means more money raised.  More money raised means more SCHOLARSHIPS! 
Circle of Excellence Awards Nominations Now Being Accepted
The Planner and Supplier of the Year awards are distinguished awards given at the MPI:TN Circle of Excellence Awards Gala each year.  These awards are given to an exceptional member in each category who represents leadership and excellence in the meeting planning profession along with a commitment to the local meeting community and an exemplary record of customer service in the industry.  Nominations for these awards are received from our membership and all members are eligible for the award in their respective category.  To nominate someone for each of these awards, please email Holly Stevenson, CMP by March 18th.
Thank you to our Partners! 
MPI:TN is so grateful for our Strategic Alliance partners, so we are thrilled to have Grand Ole Opry Entertainment Group renew their Platinum Alliance with us this year! We are also excited to welcome all THREE of the Tennessee Hard Rock Cafes join the exclusive Platinum partner group of committed MPI:TN suppliers who support our Chapter!

Want in on the action? Do you want to promote YOUR brand to our dedicated members? Contact Colleen Cussick at to discuss options for your company to become a Strategic Alliance partner!
CIC Changes for 2016 CMP Policies
The CIC recently updated a few policies surrounding continuing education requirements and recertification.  Read more >>
Meet the West Region Team
Have you met the committee chairs of the West Region Leadership Team?  These members volunteer their time and resources to support the success of our Tennessee chapter and bring value and ROI to our members in the Western Region.

Membership - Tiffani Wilson, Marriott International []

Monthly Meetings/Education - Sophia Boulanger, Hilton Memphis []

Strategic Alliances - Dannah Scott, Sheraton Memphis Downtown []

Student Leadership - Monique Savage, CMP []

Fundraising/Special Projects - Nikki Taylor, CTA DoubleTree by Hilton Memphis []

Communications - Opportunity Available!!

Member Care/Retention - Opportunity Available!!

Interested in joining our team and supporting the future of the Memphis Meetings Industry?  Contact Antwone Stigall, CMP - Vice President,  West Region at 
Upcoming Education Speakers
The MPI:TN Education Team continues to bring you outstanding speakers each month.  Mark your calendars now.  You don't want to miss what we have coming up.

March 16
Central Region, Patron Platinum Club -  Bridgestone Arena
My Nerdy BFF Beth Ziesenis
Beth is a technology expert who speaks to 60-plus groups a year all over the country about the best free and bargain apps and online resources that will help you Release YOUR Inner Nerd to become more organized, efficient and awesome at work and home.    She spoke to standing room only audiences at MPI's WEC and the ASAE Annual Meeting last year.

April 14
Central Region, Wildhorse Saloon
Global Meetings Industry Day, Keynote Speaker - Nashville Mayor Megan Barry
On April 14, 2016, leaders from across the meetings and events industry will come together to support the first Global Meetings Industry Day (GMID). GMID will showcase the real impact that business meetings, conferences, conventions, incentive travel, trade shows and exhibitions have on people, business and communities.

June 29
Central Region, Studio A at the Grand Ole Opry House
The January program has been rescheduled for June 29.
Upcoming Community Service Projects
 Central Region

Books For Soldiers
The Central Region will be collecting books and miscellaneous items for Books For Soldiers,  You may visit their website for a list of requested books and items or bring gently used books to CONNECT in February.  The website login is MPI2016 and the password is MPIteam16.
Member News
Congratulations to Mindy Powell-Hardy of Hard Rock Café Nashville on receiving the CTIS, Certified Travel Industry Specialist, certification.  Way to go, Mindy!

The MPI:TN Board of Director's is pleased to announce Chelsea Williams,, has been awarded a WEC Scholarship.  She will join fellow MPI members from all over the world in Atlantic City in June.  Congratulations, Chelsea!
New Member Spotlight
Name:  Katie Starnes    

Current Employer and Position:  Arrington Vineyards, Event Manager

How long have you been in this position?   2 years       

How long in the industry?   6 years

Why did you join MPI:TN?
I love the sense of community that comes with being a member of MPI. Because of MPI, I am growing in my career as an Event Manager by surrounding myself with other event professionals and opportunities that I would not have access to otherwise.

What do you hope to get from your MPI:TN membership?
I hope to learn how to be better serve our guests by thinking ahead more and become more creative in problem solving.

What is your favorite meeting or event you have been involved with?  Why?
The first meeting I attended was "How to Sell a Service" back in October and it is what sold me on MPI. I was just a guest at that time and it made me realize that there is more to my job than just showing our rental spaces, answering phone calls and emails. It made me consider the renters perception of myself and the company that I represent in ways that I had not considered before.

Tell us more about yourself...hobbies, little known fact, etc.
I grew up in East Tennessee then moved to Middle Tennessee for college and never left. Some of my favorite memories were made in the Smokey Mountains.

A fun fact about me is how much I love Pumpkins. If you want to watch me turn into a child, take me to a Pumpkin Patch! One day, I want to have a small Pumpkin Patch.