PlanIt Tennessee
September 2013


In This Issue
Event Calendar
MPI:TN Facebook
CMP Program
Advertisers' Index
We Need Member News
President's Message
Social Media Links!
Thank You to Our Sponsors!
Professional Education and Member Support
Member News

Upcoming Events

September 23 - East Educational Luncheon. "Digital Team Building for Meeting Professionals" presented by John Chen, CEO of Geoteaming.

The Award Winning "Let MPI TN Rock Your World Road Trip".  The first stop on the Road Trip is in the East region for an educational luncheon.  


Please join us from 11:00 a.m. - 1:30 p.m. at The Hilton Knoxville Airport for education, networking and lunch.   We're giving away a free MPI membership.  All guests in attendance are eligible to win and their registration is complimentary for this event.   You can learn more about this event and register by clicking here.

September 24 - Central Educational Luncheon.   "Digital Team Building for Meeting Professionals" presented by John Chen, CEO of Geoteaming. 

The Award Winning "Let MPI TN Rock Your World Road Trip".  The second stop on the Road Trip is in the Central region for an educational luncheon.  

Please join us from 11:00 a.m. - 1:30 p.m. at Dave & Busters Opryland for education, networking and lunch.  We're giving away a free MPI membership.  All guests in attendance are eligible to win and their registration is complimentary for this event.  You can learn more about this event and register by clicking here.


September 25 - West Educational Luncheon. "Digital Team Building for Meeting Professionals" presented by John Chen, CEO of Geoteaming.

The Award Winning "Let MPI TN Rock Your World Road Trip".  The third stop on the Road Trip is in the West region for an educational luncheon.  

Please join us from 11:30 a.m. - 1:30 p.m. at Ruth's Chris Steak House for education, networking and lunch.  We're giving away a free MPI membership.  All guests in attendance are eligible to win and their registration is complimentary for this event.  You can learn more about this event and register by clicking here.  



Website Banner

Stay up-to-date on what's happening!


  Grand Ave logo - 2011   

Anchor Tours
Big Events Inc.
BSA/Brantley Sound Associates, Inc.
Clayton Center for the Arts/Maryville College 
Country Music Hall of Fame´┐Ż and Museum
Drury Plaza Franklin
Embassy Suites Nashville South/Cool Springs
Gary Musick Productions
Graceful Tables
Hard Rock Cafe/Gatlinburg
Hard Rock Cafe/Memphis
Hard Rock Cafe/Nashville
Hilton Nashville Downtown
Hutton Hotel
Liberty Party Rental 
NetConnect Group
PSAV Presentation Services 
   RiverStone Resort & Spa
 Schenk Photography
Union Station Hotel 
United Airlines    
Do you want to become a MPI:TN sponsor
and partner with the state's largest and most vibrant community of meeting and event professionals!   

For more information contact
Scott WrightDirector of Strategic Alliances for MPI:TN.

MPI:TN FaceBook!

If you're not keeping up with MPI:TN on Facebook, 
become a Fan today!

Find us on Facebook

Future CMPs


Interested in the CMP process? Visit the MPI:TN website, or contact one of the regional representatives below.


MEMPHISCindy Brewer, CMP


NASHVILLE - Carol Norfleet, CMP

Donna Thomas, CMP

Advertiser's Index

 Check out MPI:TN's new Advertisers' Index at

MPI:TN Website -- Marketplace Page -- Advertiser's Index



Once you see it, you'll want to be seen and found there! Low-cost, high-value marketing opportunity for year-round visibility on the MPI:TN web site!


For more information, email:

Scott Wright at

Member News (2)

Do YOU have Member News to share?

If so, please email it to and put "Member News" in the Subject Line. 

We can't promise to run everything, but we'll do our best! 

:: 615-373-8002
Melanie Clifford President Banner Header

Melanie Clifford

It is hard to believe it is September!  The air is getting crisper and you can feel in the air that fall is just around the corner.  What a wonderful time for meetings in Tennessee! From Knoxville to Memphis, meeting professionals are putting last minute touches on their events. 

Are you looking for new venues and speakers? Do you need help with AV and linens?  Do you need an event planner? If you do, then you should travel across the state with us for the Award Winning "Let MPI Rock Your World Road Trip".  We will be traveling across the state September 23, 24 and 25.  We have a motor coach compliments of Anchor Tours.

I have to tell you that I have witnessed our members doing business with each other on the motor coach as we traveled from city to city the last couple of years.  The cool thing is that this year we are doing the events as luncheons, so this will make the travel easier. Monday we leave early in the morning to head to Knoxville and then return to Nashville after the luncheon. Tuesday we are in Nashville. And then Wednesday we will leave early in the morning to head to Memphis and then return later that afternoon.  If you are interested in traveling on any leg of the trip, please contact Scarlett Coffman at Dave and Buster's.  You do not have to do all three cities.  You can pick and choose.

The Road Trip is the perfect time to meet new people.  This event is designed to be both an educational event as well as a membership drive.  So please, invite someone you know to attend.  All guests are complimentary for these three events.  And we are giving away a FREE membership to a new member in each city!

It gets better!!!!!! Our Keynote Speaker is John Chen!  John was our speaker in the Central Region that won Meeting of the Year for 2012-2013. John was also featured for the past two years at WEC. The program is going to be jam-packed with exciting information on Gamification!  Perfect for all you planners!!  All attendees will receive a copy of John's new book.  Make plans to attend now and get registered.

Join in the excitement and follow us Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and LinkedIn.  We will be posting throughout the events.

If there is anything that we can do for you please do not hesitate to contact me or any of our board members (the dream team).  We are here to serve you, our members.

It is a pleasure to be your President for the 2013-2014 year.  




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MPI TN Member and your VP of Communications Shares her Perspective on her Husband's Deployment

MPI:TN will be "Giving Back" during the Road Trip.  We will be collecting items for our Troops.  We have asked our friend and board member, Scarlett Coffman, CMP to share her experiences as a Military wife.  

So many may wonder - "What's it like to be a Military wife while your spouse is deployed?"

Staff Sargent Wade Coffman with his wife, Scarlett Coffman, CMP

Well, I think a lot really depends on your personal mind set.  So I can only speak to my mindset and personal experience.  I feel the most important thing is to keep the household together and handle as much as I can on my own without worrying my husband with details that he cannot assist with.  He has enough to do and I don't need him worrying about me or our household issues.  I am fortunate that I also have "grown" kids; however he has tried to make them stay at home so I won't be lonely and I've told them to move out if they I will be just fine.  Making friends has never been an issue for me.  I involve myself with other projects like working out at the YMCA and I currently have a new passion/hobby - "Pickin" - so you will find me out almost every Saturday morning!

his is my husband's second deployment and I can tell you that he is in currently Afghanistan and should be returning home in May of 2014.  This is his second active combat tour overseas; his first tour was in 2009 to Iraq.  I find it important to also note that my son was deployed to Jordan from June of 2012 and returned home this March, so I do have just a bit of experience at this process.

Each d
eployment/mission is different.  My husband is a Staff Sargent, which means he has troops (soldiers) under him and his main goal is to make sure that his soldiers (lower enlisted men/women) are taken care of and to ensure that they all come home safe.  He was successful in 2009 and I expect that he will be again this go around. In Iraq his mission was to assist in training the Iraqi police, so he was out patrolling and doing various walking patrols and was probably in more danger than I ever really realized, as he did see some action during this tour.

of my most concerned times, was when the unit was placed on "Blackout", so there were NO CALLS, TEXTS, FACEBOOK, EMAILS, etc.; basically, NO COMMUNICATION.  This was new to me and I learned that this is done for the privacy of the families who are involved.  Usually when a unit is placed on Blackout it is due to loss of life or severe injury.  During his first tour his unit did lose one soldier to ambush and two were seriously injured.  Attending a military funeral is also a different experience.


Scarlett Coffman, CMP and her husband, Staff Sargent Wade Coffman

As for my journey this go around, he is not currently out in the open as he was in 2009; however the enemy does try and bomb his area at least once a week and he is pulling long shifts of 12 hours a day with one day off.  He is tired and then when you get awakened by sirens or bombings, it does tend to eat at your nerves, so he has his grumpy moments no doubt.  I added international texting to his phone, so we usually text daily; often it's only a Good Morning/ Hello/I Love you, but it is some type of communication.  A text from Wade usually brings a smile to my face as well.  My favorite friend is SKYPE and I am sure many of you have used this wonderful program, but I have skyped with each deployment.  With Wade's long hours and a 9.5 hour time difference, (yes there is a crazy half hour difference on Central Time.  Eastern Time is only an 8 hour difference and you lose that crazy half hour.  Go figure.) we have not been able to skype as much as we would like.  He has been having Thursdays off, so I get up at 4 a.m. so that we can skype for an hour or two before I get ready and go off to work.  Seeing each other's face is always a great thing and hearing his voice opposed to text is also a great thing.

I also try to send a box a week of something from home, be it candy, health needs, favorite foods, whatever.  I just fill my flat rate box to the top and ship it!  Mail is a BIG morale booster.  This time around the soldiers were and are needing some basic items.  It seems the demand is greater than their supply, so I have been sending lots of items not just to Wade but to all soldiers in need.  He alerts the soldiers that he has "x" items if anyone needs them and should he have items not picked up, he donates them to a local Pastor who also takes donations for all Soldiers in the area.  This is where our community service project comes in.  Soldiers are always thankful for items from home, especially when it's something they need or want from home.

this is a short overview of what a military wife can experience during a deployment.  Some stress more than I and some have smaller children which can bring on a different set of circumstances.  It's all in what you make it and I choose to make the best of it and appreciate ALL of our Men and Women who serve our great nation.

God Bless!


Please read more below about how you can help our Troops during their deployment.  

MPI Supports our Troops!

Our Community Service Project for September will be the 251st Military Police Company....which is based in Lexington, TN. This unit has soldiers from across the state to include some from Bristol and Knoxville, Middle TN and Memphis.

This is also the unit in which Scarlett Coffman's husband is currently serving. The unit arrived in Afghanistan in late July and is expected to be there until May of 2014 or later. This location has about 1100 troops but a very small store in which to gather their personal needs, so below is a list of needs. If you would like to participate you can bring your items with you to any of the 3 September Road Shows. Due to shipping, cash donations will also be excepted.

Shampoo (no cream rinse)  
Body Wash  
Q Tips  
Mouth Wash  
Tooth Paste  
Dental Floss  
AA Batteries  
Water Flavor Packets  
Twin Sheets  
Standard Pillows  
Razors or blade refills  
Beef Jerky  
Coffee (no beans - must be ground)  
Hand Sanitizer  
DVD's....perhaps movies you want to get rid of  
You are welcome to bring other snack food items...please no chocolate

Connect with MPI TN Today!

Your Tennessee Chapter of  MPI is loaded with Social Media Opportunities.... so if you have not  "Liked Us"... Facebook,  "Linked with Us"...Linked In, "Pinned Us"....Pinterest or "Tweated with Us" .... Twitter

Please use the links below to Follow us TODAY!





Check out the Event Sponsors Page by clicking here



Money Man   



Thinking about volunteering with MPI?  Click here for many reasons why you should be volunteering with MPI TN!    

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The Recruitment Committee is looking for recruits!
Natalie Branham

As the new chair of Recruitment for the upcoming 2013 / 2014 year, I would like to welcome my committee members and thank them for their involvement.  Your Recruitment committee members are Molly Munden, Elizabeth Wasternack,  Jodie Kavanagh, Meredith Schakel, Hilda Pope, Sheena De Giorgio, Mindy Powell-Hardy and Karen Morrisey.  We're a friendly bunch, so let us know if there is someone interested in joining TNMPI!  My contact information is or 615-620-2045.  We look forward to a successful year and many new faces!

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MPI Foundation Releases First-Ever Meeting Design Study

Research and Toolkit to Help Planners Reduce Costs and Increase Value   

AUGUST 20, 2013, DALLAS - Meeting Professionals International (MPI) Foundation has published the first comprehensive research study on meeting design and will share the research today during the "How To Transform Your Meeting: The 5 Principles of Meeting Design" session at IncentiveWorks 2013 in Toronto, Canada. As the industry undergoes a paradigm shift in how it defines, plans and executes meetings and events, the Meeting Design Study and the tools that accompany it provide both a framework and a bridge between the state of meetings today and the future.  (Click here for more information about this program and how you can download the research complimentary.)  




Stay tuned for more information about the Connect Education & Trade show Event coming up in November.  We're shaking things up this year and changing the old trade show format for more face-to-face connection time for planners and suppliers.  More information coming soon!

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Meeting and Event Planning Certificate Program at Belmont University


The next Meeting and Event Planning Certificate program offered by the Center for Executive Education at Belmont University, in partnership with TN:MPI starts October 4th.  If you plan social or corporate events for your organization, or have new employees you would like to train, this five session certificate program will give you new skills to work more effectively and more efficiently.  For more information or to register click here. 


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Updated CMP Study Sessions!


CMP Study Sessions for 2013 will be held at the HCA Headquarters, Building 2 at 2515 Park Plaza Nashville, 37203.

Park in visitors parking in front of the building
"Conference Center"
Enter the main front doors
Take the elevators from the lobby to the LL
Turn left into the Conference Center 

The CMP Study Group continues in September.  The Study Group dates are noted below.  Each session will be from 5:30 pm - 7:30 pm at the HCA Offices.  At each session we will review the different section of the CMP Blueprint and those sessions are noted as follows:

Tuesday, September 24

Domain G Meeting or Event Design
Domain E Human Resources
Domain D Financial Management
Domain I Marketing

Tuesday, October 15

Domain H Site Management
Domain J Professionalism


Also, there will be a special CMP Boot Camp prior to each exam window. This session will be a quick review just before the exam answering any last minute questions or test concerns.  Each Boot Camp also will be from 5:30 pm - 7:30 pm at the HCA Offices.

The CMP Boot Camp dates are:

Tuesday November 5   


Hours spent in the Study Groups do count as classroom hours for the CMP application.  If you have not completed your application and are in need of hours to fulfill the new minimum of 25 classroom hours, the Study Groups are a great way to gain hours.

Participants for any/all of the sessions will need to register with Carol Norfleet, CMP, DMCP at the email address below.



Please contact Carol Norfleet, CMP with any questions.


Carol Norfleet, CMP, DMCP

Executive Vice President and COO

Destination Nashville, A Global Events Partner

(615) 851-9190               Phone

(615) 354-4254               Cell

(615) 851-0941               Fax



The East Tennessee Chapter,
Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ), recently awarded Ackermann PR Senior Vice President Lisa Hood Skinner with a First Place Golden Press Card Award in Freelance Writing.

The award was for the Nov. 23, 2012 front page (Knoxville) News Sentinel account of her Ackermann PR business trip to entrepreneurial/startup zones in Tel Aviv, Israel, during the time that Hamas was launching missile attacks on both Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. Skinner was with a contingent of 24 of Ackermann PR legal clients representing 20 countries around the world when the air raid sirens and shelling began Nov.15, 2013. The military action prompted Israel's Operation Pillar of Defense for the next eight days.

The annual Golden Press Card contest honoring excellence in journalism is judged by out-of-area SPJ chapters. Connecticut Pro SPJ Chapter judges said Skinner's article was a " very good job of using a personal experience to enhance understanding of a world issue of critical importance. Story brought the everyday impact home."

News-Sentinel story at, and broadcast live on WBIR TV local news station with Robin Wilhoit,

Skinner works with Ackermann PR's largest international clients, specializing in legal, healthcare, engineering, tourism/hospitality and banking. Prior to joining Ackermann PR, she lived and worked in various countries around the world, traveling for clients in the financial, packaged goods, dairy, healthcare and metals industries.

Check out photos of some of the recent MPI:TN events at our Facebook page by clicking here!





Members Celebrating September MPI Anniversaries:


23 years

Brenda Moritz, Smiley Hollow Hayride & Barndance

19 years

Jo Ellen McDowell, Country Music Hall of Fame & Museum 
11 years 

Carrie Turner, CHME, Nolan Production Group/Nolan Equipment Rental
Teresa Shaffer, CMP, Eastman Chemical Company  

9 years 

Doris Lewis, CMP, Eastman Chemical Company
8 years

Jenny McFall, One Century Place Conference Center

6 years

Robin Jones, RiverStone Resort & Spa 

5 years

Heather McCroskey, CMP, Parthenon Management Group
Doug Spangler, Spangler Entertainment, Inc.
4 years 
Chareen Gould, CMP 
John Chester, The Production Solutions Group Laura Hill, MBA, American College of Neuropsychopharmacology
2 years  
Kate Shattuck, Oak Ridge Associated Industries
Karen Jones, Medtronic Spinal and Biologics Business
Dawn Sheppard, Medtronic Spinal and Biologics Business
Lisa Keenum, Medtronic Spinal and Biologics Business
Davina Holmes, ALSAC/St. Jude
Kathy Perry, CMP, Lifeway Christian Resources 
1 year
Kim Cason, Gibson Hotel Management & Development, Inc.
Andy Smith, Experient
Rachel Mobley, Knoxville Marriott
Mindy Powell-Hardy, Morton's the Steakhouse
Erin Quinn, The Mall at Green Hills/ The Taubman Company 

New Members
Amy Alder, American Case Management Association
Dana Barton, Ducks Unlimited
Michael Cochran, University of Memphis
Lauren Coggins, University of Memphis
Pattie Kempka, Ducks Unlimited
Christine Nelis, Omni Nashville Hotel
Blair Owen, Memphis Marriott East
Bruce Pittman, Gaylord Opryland Resort & Convention Center
Heidi Spivey, Gary Musick Productions, Inc.
Shannon Yeater, The Pub Nashville
Susan Zoesch, Dick's Last Resort Restaurants