President's Message 

Here we are, only a few shorts weeks away from Christmas! Even though retailers have been in the Christmas spirit for some time, it's time we get ready because it's coming quick!

We had a wonderful luncheon held at Fontanel in the Central Region last month. The program was led by two of our very own MPI Tennessee members, Donna Bayless and Sharon Winter. They were full of energy and gave great tips on increasing our productivity. I hope all of you implement a few of their suggestions because I sure know I will! Thank you, ladies, for sharing with us. Our friends in the West spent a day sorting and packing food for the Mid-South Food Bank. It's always great to spend time with each other as we help our community. I hope those of you who attended found it to be rewarding.

In December, we will celebrate the season with our Holiday Party at The Bound'ry. It's sure to be a real treat to experience their new event space and catering. Please note that this will be our only chapter activity for the month. I hope to celebrate with you!

And don't forget, CONNECT is coming up in February! Be sure to mark your calendars for February 9th. 

I wish each of you a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

In This Issue
Our Sponsors
Platinum Partners

Gold Partners 

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

For more information, contact  
Katherine Page Saldana
Director of Strategic Alliances for MPI:TN!

Looking to make a job change or know someone is?  Check out the positions available at
Upcoming Meetings & Events
MPI Tennessee Holiday Party
Thursday, December 7, 2017
6:00pm - 9:00pm
Bound'ry Events & Catering

Join MPI Tennessee as we come together to celebrate the holidays at The Bound'ry. You won't want to miss our wine-themed winter event complete with food, dancing and, of course, wine!  Bottles of wine will be given away throughout the night, but you must be present to win. Don't miss this opportunity to celebrate and network with your MPI Tennessee family!
January Central Educational Luncheon
Wednesday, January 17, 2018
11:00am - 1:00pm
Gaylord Springs

Every detail of the meeting is coming together just fine and then you hit the tough spot . . . planning a menu to accommodate all the food allergies in your group. Adding food allergies into the fold can prove to be a stressful situation.  It's time to break down the barriers that food allergies present, understand why it's so important to honor the needs of your attendees, and work with the executive chef to create ease in the menu planning process.  It is possible, and we will show you the way!
West After the Holidays - 
Holiday Party!
Thursday, January 18, 2018
5:30pm - 7:30pm
International Paper - Tower IV

Is your schedule just too busy for another holiday party? You're in luck! Join MPI Tennessee in Memphis as we celebrate our "After the Holidays - Holiday Party!" Keep your eye out for the registration link coming soon! 
New Year, New Member 
Recruitment Event
Thursday, January 25, 2018
5:00pm - 7:00pm
The Valentine

Join us at The Valentine for our New Year, New Member Recruitment Event. This event is complimentary to prospective members, and members get in free when they bring a guest! There will be special membership discounts and drawings available for guests that join MPI Tennessee at the event. This fun-filled evening will celebrate our successes in 2017 and look ahead to an exciting 2018. Registration to come!
CONNECT Education & Marketplace
Thursday, February 8 & Friday, February 9, 2018

Are you a professional meeting planner with primary responsibility for planning and booking meeting destinations and services in and around the Southeast? Are you interested in meeting numerous vendors in a quick and fun atmosphere? If so, CONNECT is the event for you. This year's CONNECT will kick off with a planner/supplier mixer on Thursday night, and the all-day education and networking will be on Friday. You won't want to miss this great event! 
A Note from Your Education Team...
Your Education Team is finalizing the plans for CONNECT Education & Marketplace on Friday, February 9th at the new Nashville Airport Hilton. The day-long MPI Tennessee tradition will offer continuing education hours, networking opportunities and roundtable supplier/planner meetings.

We will have a two-part session beginning in the morning. As a participant, you will learn how to maximize your contract negotiation skills in this highly-interactive exercise. Be part of a team that rewrites a hotel contract before giving it to the hotel salesperson for signature. Our presenters will discuss pros and cons for items in the contract with open communication and interaction.

After a chance to check your email and grab a drink, we will offer some breakout sessions in topics that will apply to suppliers and planners alike. We have built these breakouts from your feedback in the post-meeting surveys. We will host discussions and presentation on topics such as AV, security and communication.
During the luncheon, our participants will learn that after the contract was executed from the morning session, one side decided to cancel the event. A mock trial will ensue, complete with judge, defendant, plaintiff and bailiff. The audience will be sworn in as the jury. You will hear opening statements, observe as the attorneys (presenters) question witnesses and present closing arguments. You, the jury, will ultimately rule in favor of the plaintiff or defendant.

Following the mock trial, we will hold a roundtable session for planners and supplier to meet one-on-one. We have expanded the time frame for this session to make sure everyone is able to meet. This session is very important for both supplier and planner ROI.

Stay tuned for more information, and be sure to mark your calendars for February 9th!
ICYMI (In Case You Missed It)
Fall MIX Event @ Topgolf
Our Fall MIX Event at Topgolf was s huge success, selling out more than a week in advance! Thanks to everyone who came out, and thanks to Topgolf for generously hosting this fun event. We're having a Bar Crawl MIX Event in the spring, so mark your calendars for March 22nd!
November Central Educational Luncheon
Another sold out event! Our November Central Educational Luncheon was all about productivity. Sharon Winter and Donna Bayless of Right Lane challenged us to focus on our tasks and reduce the number of daily distractions. Some of us even realized that WE are the distraction to others! We left with renewed energy and new methods to manage the constant bombardment of notifications and expectations.
West Community Service Event
Over in the West, we kicked off the holiday season with a community service day at Mid-South Food Bank. We had a great showing of volunteers who helped sort and pack food boxes in preparation for Thanksgiving. Thank you to everyone who volunteered for this great cause!
2018-2019 Board Nominations
Are you an industry leader looking for an opportunity to showcase your skills and contribute to the success of MPI Tennessee Chapter? If so, consider volunteering your time and talent to the 2018-2019 MPI Tennessee Chapter Board of Directors!

The MPI Tennessee Chapter Board of Directors is responsible for chapter operations including programming, financial oversight, and governance. By volunteering your time, you will help shape the future of our industry across the state!

Please note the following dates:
Now through December 15, 2017
Call for Nominations (required of all candidates) & Board Interest Forms completed and returned to Adam Spivey, Immediate Past President -

Wednesday, January 3, 2018
Board of Directors application due to Adam Spivey, Immediate Past President -

Nominations will be conducted in accordance with the Meeting Professionals International Tennessee Chapter By-Laws. Any planner or supplier in good standing is eligible. Your consideration should include the types of skills and talents you can contribute, your past involvement with the chapter, recognition of the time commitment involved in a leadership role and the necessity of your employer's support. 

Please contact Adam Spivey at with any questions.

MPI Tennessee Chapter 2018 - 2019 Board of Directors Job Descriptions and Board Interest Form may be found  HERE

It's Cool to Register Early
As you may have heard, MPI Tennessee events are getting so much buzz that we're selling out our events these days! What's the best way to ensure you get a spot? That's right - register early! Not only do you get a price break, but you also make sure you have a seat. And in the process, you help our planning team and generous sponsors get a more appropriate headcount for meals, rentals and space. Here's a challenge for the new year - when you see an invite come through, register right then and there. And a big thanks to everyone who helps make our chapter events so successful!
Spread Some Holiday Cheer! 

You deserve a little holiday cheer! Join MPI at  and use code Holiday17 before December 31 to receive $100 off a Preferred level membership!
Three for Free!
MPI Academy is offering you the opportunity to participate in Three for Free - A virtual summit showcasing three of the most popular sessions from our biggest event, WEC '17. At the same time, you'll earn 3.25 clock hours at no cost to you!

In this engaging and entertaining program, you'll hear from some of the top experts in the meetings industry.
  • Richard Yep, CEO of American Counseling Association, helps you identify the skills you need to lead, manage, change, and transition to executive management.
  • Tyra Hilliard, Attorney, Professor, Speaker and Author, teaches you how to read and decipher contract clauses using real world examples.
  • Sharon Fisher, CEO of Play With A Purpose, believes "If it's not fun, why do it?" as she shares her methods for developing engaging meetings for every personality, learning style, educational need, and generation.

Click here  to register today!  

Lessons Learned from WEC, Classes '16 & '17
I think it's probably fair to say that for most of us, we have at one time in our lives, perhaps more than likely in our youth, experienced a summer camp. Whether you were a "Camp-er"or "Staff-er", you no doubt held one of two, possibly three emotions securely in your heart as the time for camp approached: fear, excitement or doubt.

The thing is, regardless of those three "little" emotions, we took ourselves out of our boxes and comfort zones. And we learned. We became less fearful. We became more exuberant about life and despite our doubts, became character, in our countenance, in our ability to work together and began to dream a little bit more about what our futures might look like. Even more importantly, we learned how to be good teammates. We learned the importance of honesty and integrity, the reward of hard work and to celebrate the differences of our backgrounds, personalities and individualities. So what in the world is my point?...and what does any of this have to do with MPI and WEC? All of this.

The only difference is...we're just a little bit older, as adults in professional roles within a very demanding and ever-changing industry. We are professionals who walk out of our front doors every day into a "wildly unknown frontier" and without even being aware of it, we are required to use the very things we learned years ago...but in new and challenging ways. Sometimes we need to get outside of our industry boxes and comfort zones. Get to a place where we are removed from the normal distractions of work life - to be both a captive audience and a brazen participant - all at the same time. The following things are what I came away with from attending the last two WEC trips (AND on a Chapter WEC Scholarship this last time, that I am still very grateful for!), and so I challenge you to do the same. Don't let ANY reason be a reason not to go.
  1. Challenge yourself to make new industry friends and to learn from others around the globe, as well as the new innovations setting the events industry on fire!
  2. Set your sights on a new (or your first!) designation. 
  3. Meet with new, potential career-changing contacts. 
  4. Gain new business leads/relationships. 
  5. Learn some new, adaptable best practices for your business and exciting ways of "WOW-ing" your clients. 
  6. Also, there's the whole "hang out with your friends in the BEST Chapter on the PLANET while learning & experiencing together" thing. (Plus, our Tennessee Chapter is really pretty much the BeyoncĂ©' of MPI Global. No, REALLY. You'll see.) 
  7. Then learn to tap into all the things that you are - that you've perhaps forgotten were discovered at "another" summer camp (not so) long ago. 
My Dad (Coach Mac) used to tell us that "90% of life is just showing up." So, pack your bags for WEC's Indy "Summer Camp" this year, show up and unpack all your potential!! And don't worry, you'll be close enough to home that you can drop a post card in the mail...
Member Recognition: Movers & Shakers

Congratulations to Dana Akin for earning her CMP! We are so proud of you!
Holly Carpenter is now the Event Sales Manger for Deacon's New South & Puckett's Nashville. In her new role, she handles private dining and catering. Congrats!

Our own Colleen Cussick recently presented her session "Don't Break the Budget: AV Pricing Secrets" at MPI St. Louis Chapter's Educon. Way to represent! 
Congratulations to Natalie Norris, CMP, CMM for being named to SPIN: Senior Professionals Industry Network's 40 Over 40! You can read the article here!  
New Members in November
Lindsey Cherry
Music City Tents & Events
Robin Fee
Heather Gibson
Joe Lewis Company
John Higgins
Travelink, American Express
Sharon Kendrew
High Road USA
Cortney Novak
Hilton Chicago
Nerina Renshaw
Caesars Entertainment
Tara Sasser
Patron Platinum Club
Tami Zeip
Crowne Plaza Memphis

Member Anniversaries
Congratulations to our members celebrating an MPI anniversary in December!

Scott Wright - 25 years
Stephanie Bixby - 13 years
Kara Brooks - 10 years
Tammy McLemore - 9 years
Colleen Cussick - 6 years
Jacqueline Marko - 6 years
Shellye Harrell - 4 years
Antwone Stigall - 4 years
Amy Alder - 3 years
Jeanette Foster - 2 years
Terrie Aldridge - 1 year
Lauren Ashley - 1 year
Kim Bates - 1 year
Vanessa Burse - 1 year
Chelsea Glass - 1 year
Nathan Honeycutt - 1 year
Laura Hyde - 1 year
Van Ingram - 1 year
Jennifer Jones - 1 year
Fiona Lipscomb - 1 year
Debi Neal - 1 year
Joselyn Smotherman - 1 year
Elliott West - 1 year
New Member Spotlight
Nerina Renshaw

Current Employer and Position:
Caesars Entertainment, National Sales Manager


How long have you been in this position?
Since May 2016

Why did you join MPI?
I joined MPI as I love to network, get to know people within the industry and continue to learn from one another.

What do you hope to get from your MPI membership?
New friendships and to get involved within the community. 

What is your favorite meeting or event you have been involved with? Why?
MPI WEC in Atlantic City. It was a great learning opportunity and the program was put together very well. 

Tell us more about yourself...hobbies, little known fact, etc.
My husband and I play soccer on a co-ed team together, we have a Border Collie pup named Remix that knows many tricks and keeps us busy. I was born in Bosnia, lived in Germany and several states within the US; I speak 4 languages. 
Heather Gibson

Current Employer and Position:
Joe Lewis Company, Coordinator, Production & Operations


How long have you been in this position?
I've been with JLC for a year and a half now. Time flies when you're having fun!

Why did you join MPI?
I joined MPI in hopes of building a network here in Middle Tennessee. I'm originally from California, and our company is also headquartered there, so I'd love more connections here locally!

What do you hope to get from your MPI membership?
In addition to building a network, I hope to gain more skills within this ever-changing and challenging industry. I haven't left an MPI meeting yet without learning something new and feeling inspired! 

What is your favorite meeting or event that you've been involved with? Why?
Like most Nashvillians, I love love love music! It's been an honor for me to be part of several CMT events including the CMT Awards and Artist of the Year, as well as the Grammys. 

Tell us more about yourself...hobbies, little known fact, etc.
My schedule, like all planners, is very unpredictable! When time allows, you can find me on a run, playing with my dogs (I'm a crazy dog lady), fixing something around my house or volunteering with the YWCA. I can't pass up a good cup of coffee or Tennessee BBQ!