PlanIt Tennessee
President's Message  
September is here!  My favorite month maybe because it is my birthday month and that fall is getting closer!!  Cooler weather - YEAH!!!!  We have great things happening in our chapter and some exciting things down the pike so be on the lookout for more to follow.  Please make sure and read the section below about how we ended the 2014-2015 year!!  We killed it y'all and it is all because of you our members!!  THANK YOU!!!   I will continue to push that if you aren't on a committee to please volunteer and get engaged in our chapter.  It is totally worth it!  Thanks and see you soon!
In This Issue
Our Sponsors
Platinum Partners


Gold Partners
Silver Partners
Chef's Market
Country Music Hall of Fame ® and Museum
DG International
Drury Plaza Franklin
Embassy Suites Nashville South/Cool Springs
Gary Musick Production
Hard Rock Café/Nashville
Hilton Garden Inn Nashville
Holiday Inn/Fogelman Executive Conference Center
Knoxville Airport Hilton
Knoxville Convention Center
Liberty Party Rental
Park Vista a DoubleTree by Hilton Gatlinburg
Schenk Photography
Schermerhorn Center
Embassy Suites Knoxville West
Holiday Inn Knoxville West at Cedar Bluff
Titanic Pigeon Forge

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!

MPI:TN Rocked 2014-2015
MPI Global uses a set of metrics designed to assist chapters in building strong business plans and goals that will help drive key areas within their business model that are necessary for sustainability and chapter satisfaction.  The five goals support chapter membership retention, recruitment or growth of membership, chapter satisfaction, volunteer engagement which drives professional development and of course financial management.   Points received for meeting goals may be used toward incentives to assist chapters with expenses such as speakers, membership scholarships and scholarships to attend WEC.  In 2014-2015 MPI:TN received 15 of out 17 possible points!  Our successes include:

*    Excelled in Recruitment earning the maximum incentive allowed with 81 new members
*    Excelled in Retention ending the year with a 78% retention rate which is above the region (US) average for our chapters.  This was an increase from previous year of 71%
*    Excelled in Chapter Satisfaction with a 9.16 score out of  10 - Up from previous year of 8.84
*    Excelled in financial management by successfully providing for our member's needs but still managing expenses well and ending the year with a 12% gross profit to reinvest into member programs this coming term.
*    Achieved goals in volunteer engagement with 24% of membership engaged in supporting the local efforts of our chapter.
*    Achieved 3 bonus goals for meeting various compliance requirements with MPI Global    
 We are off to a great start this year, but need your help.  "How?" you ask?  Volunteer on a committee!  Service to MPI:TN is a professional development tool you can utilize personally and professionally while also developing  your network.  Your input and expertise is the heartbeat of our chapter.    For as little as one hour per month you can make your mark on MPI:TN and help make MPI:TN the #1 chapter in the world!  Let's do it!  For more information about volunteering contact Holly Stevenson, CMP,  at

Holly Dotson, Chapter Business Manager 

Members Serve on MPI Global Committees
Last month we learned Immediate Past President Tammy Gilbert Cardona, CMP,  will be chairing an international committee for MPI Global.  She is not alone in giving back to MPI.  The following members have been asked to serve on a global committee.

*    Vicky Ballard will serve on the International Chapter Leadership Advisory Council.
*    Melanie Clifford has been selected to serve as a RISE Award judge for the second year in a row.
*    Angela Layton, CMP, CMM will serve as a RISE Award judge.
*    Antwone Stigall, CMP, will be part of the MPI Volunteer Task Force. The Student and Young Professional Task Force will make recommendations on how MPI may attract, retain, and engage students and young professionals. And, as a member of the Task Force he will assist to identify opportunities and recommendations to increase MPI student club presence at colleges and universities and engagement of students and young professionals.  

Congratulations to all of you, and thank you for your time and commitment to MPI!!!
Upcoming Meetings and Events
West Region Education Meeting
Hot Trends in the Mid-South Food and Wine Industry
Tuesday, September 15
4:00 pm - 5:45 pm
Junior League of Memphis
3475 Central Avenue, Memphis, TN  38111
Central Region Education Meeting
Communicating and Leading Through Change and Disruption: An Interactive Case Study
Wednesday, September 16
11:00 am - 1:00 pm
Union Station Hotel
1001 Broadway, Nashville, TN  37203
Central Region MIX Event*
Thursday, September 24
5:30 pm - 7:30 pm
Hard Rock Café
100 Broadway, Nashville, TN  37201

*The purpose of the MIX Event is to give MPI:TN members time to network in a fun and relaxed environment.   MIX Event invitations are also extended to organizations similar to MPI such as TnSAE, ISES and Nashville AMA in order to bring everyone in the meeting and event industry together to share ideas and network.
Professional Development Opportunities
Belmont University's Meeting and Event Planning Certificate Program's Fall session begins the end of September.  For more information click here.

Studying for your CMP?  Be sure to attend the two intensive study sessions coming up on Saturday, September 19, and Saturday, October 17.  Learn more by clicking here.

Ever wondered what tips, tricks, or recommendations your fellow members could share?  Do you have information that other members would find valuable?  Contact Holly Stevenson, CMP, your Director of Leadership & Professional Development to be included in future newsletters.  Examples could be top 5 travel apps, book reviews, or food recommendations.

To kick things off, here are Holly's Top 5 Recommended Business Books -
1)    Getting Things Done by David Allen
2)    Good to Great by Jim Collins
3)    EntreLeadership by Dave Ramsey
4)    Achieve Brand Integrity by Gregg Lederman
5)    Negotiate This! By Herb Cohen
Strategic Alliances     
The fabulous world-renowned Grand Ole Opry Opry Entertainment Group  - an MPI:TN Strategic Alliance Platinum Partner - is being featured at our September Educational Luncheon, and we look forward to seeing and hearing from Jamie Hulet as she shares information about the Opry and other venues in their Opry family!

Do you want to feature YOUR brand to the MPI:TN Chapter??

Contact Colleen Cussick @ or 615-256 6260 for assistance on how becoming a Strategic Alliance Partner can benefit YOU! We have multiple options and can work with you to ensure you are getting the best package!
A message from MPI:TN WEC Scholarship Recipient Colleen Cussick
August is normally pretty miserable with heat and humidity in TN, but not so in the amazing San Francisco area - the site for MPI's 2015 WEC!

Thanks to the generosity of our Chapter's Scholarship Program, my application to receive the registration fee to the Conference was accepted and I was able to see, meet, learn and bond for four activity-packed days!

I had been to WEC before, but had never attended the Chapter Leader's Forum because of cost restraints to my company and because of additional costs associated with it. Brantley is a small Nashville-based company and our budget for business conferences is NON-existent, but my management team understood how important it is for my professional (AND personal) growth. The CLF was the best education at the conference for me as I could apply the best practices taught at it to MPI:TN AND to Brantley! The sessions all inspired, educated, enlightened and entertained, and let's face it: our MPI:TN members all do the same, no matter where we are!

The energy and support that I received from fellow MPI:TN attendees, Chapter Leaders and Presenters, Education Presenters, our Chapter Business Manager Holly Dotson, and other MPI members from around the world will last for a long time, and it is because of the generosity of our Chapter's hard work to ensure that we are able to provide this scholarship and is only ONE of the reasons why our MPI:TN Chapter is ranked so highly and regarded so well in the MPI International community.

Thank you to all who invest your time, energy and funds to create better meeting and event planners, suppliers and students. My investment in MPI has made me a better person, and I am grateful for the opportunity to build a better chapter for ALL of us!
Upcoming Community Service Projects

West Region will be collecting donations for "Dress for Success" at the Tuesday, September 15, meeting.

Central Region we will be collecting monetary donations for Happy Tales Humane in Franklin at the Wednesday, September 16, meeting and at the MIX Event on Thursday, September 24.  Happy Tales Humane is a privately funded 501(c)(3) no-kill animal shelter located in Franklin, Tennessee, about 30 miles south of Nashville. We envision a world where every companion animal is loved, wanted and nurtured. Happy Tales Humane is committed to our mission of providing humane, no kill options for homeless and neglected animals in Middle Tennessee.

One of Happy Tales' most famous rescue stories is Smiley the Dachshund.  Smiley was found paralyzed and abandoned next to a dumpster last winter.  A Good Samaritan found her and took her to Happy Tales.  With the assistance of donations and community partners Happy Tales was able to help Smiley blossom into a pain free, happy weinie.  In May Smiley found her Forever Ever Home thanks to Happy Tales! 

Central Region, October - November
Nashville Rescue Mission Women's Center
*    We will be collecting travel size toiletries. 
New Member Spotlight-Each month we will introduce you to new MPI:TN members.  Be sure to say hello and welcome when you see them at the next meeting.
Name: Jillian Farley, CMP      

Current Employer and Position:  Sheraton Nashville Downtown, Director of Convention Services

How long have you been in this position?  2 months (Previously a CSM at SND for 6 months) 
How long in the industry? 8 years

Why did you join MPI:TN? I appreciate like-minded people and enjoy the educational lunches.

What do you hope to get from your MPI:TN membership? I hope to become more actively involved by joining a committee. In return, becoming a stronger industry professional.

What is your favorite meeting or event you have been involved with?  Why? Sheraton hosted Music Biz last May. This was a large group of music professionals. Lots of moving parts but fun, eclectic planners to work with and Jack White made an appearance. That made all the hard work worth it :) 

Tell us more about yourself...hobbies, little known fact, etc. My latest news is that I passed the CMP exam this week! The studying process took up my summer. Now I will have more time for fun things like kayaking trips with my pup, redecorating my home, and attending more concerts.
Name: Barry Rigby

Current Employer and Position:  Bags Inc. - Business Development Director

How long have you been in this position?   6 months            

How long in the industry?  1 year

Why did you join MPI:TN? To network and grow connections with Nashville industry professionals.

What do you hope to get from your MPI:TN membership? An increased network, spread awareness of my company and our unique services, and I hope to further educate myself on my profession and industry.

What is your favorite meeting or event you have been involved with?  Why? I've only been to two MPI events, but my favorite so far was the July luncheon at Rodizio Grill. The food was great, the buffet atmosphere was fun and our speaker was excellent!

Tell us more about yourself...hobbies, little known fact, etc. I'm a full-time musician in addition to working with Bags Inc. I have a B.M. (Bachelor of Music) and I perform in Nashville 3-4 nights a week with several different bands and artists. I also write and produce music. I love the outdoors - fishing, golf, camping and other outdoor activities are a huge part of my life. I love Nashville! This doesn't exactly make me unique, but I'm a Floridian transplant living in Nashville for just under two years, and I love it here.
Member News
Nicolette Thomas, CMP, of ALSAC/St. Jude will be adding to her family as well as MPI:TN.  She is expecting!  Congratulations, Nicolette!

On July 25 Heather Willis of Journeys become Heather Dameron when she wed her handsome groom, Dale.  The happy couple were married at Arrington Vineyards and honeymooned in St. Croix.  Heather's new email address is

MPI:TN & NBJ Holiday Party & Gift Guide    

The perfect guide to ease a bit of the stress everyone is subject to during the harried season.

Publication Date:
September 18th
Reservation Deadline:
September 8th
MPI members get a special rate!

For more information on how you can be included in the Holiday Party & Gift Guide Special Section, please contact Katherine Page directly at or (615) 846-4267.
Need to save some $$$$$?  Refer a new MPI member and receive $25 off your membership renewal.  The more you refer the more money you save.