President's Message 

Oh man, I have been loving these warmer temperatures lately. 
I hope you've been able to take advantage of the oh-so-nice weather, too. A little sunshine  has been good for my soul for
 sure! Hopefully we'll get more of it throughout this month!

Thank you to the attendees and sponsors of CONNECT last month! What a great turnout with great networking and education. We also thank you for your feedback. I think this event continues to get better every year and it's because of your ideas and feedback. Please take the time to complete the surveys after each event - it's great information for your Board of Directors.

We also appreciate all of you that have completed the satisfaction survey sent out by MPI Global. That feedback is very beneficial in helping us create our calendar, schedule speakers and topics, plan networking events, etc. We really use that feedback to meet the needs of our members. We will be giving away $100 to a lucky winner who completed the survey, so stay tuned for that announcement!

March is full of events for MPI Tennessee. There are two education options, one in Nashville and one in Memphis, along with a New Member Orientation and our Spring MIX Event. Please check our calendar often for event and registration details. We hope we're lucky enough to see each of you at some of these events!

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
New Member / Future Member Orientation
Tuesday, March 13, 2018
Rudy's Jazz Room

Have you joined MPI Tennessee in the last three months? Are you considering joining MPI Tennessee but want to learn more about our chapter? Join us as we host our new member/future member orientation. This is your chance to learn more about our chapter while meeting fellow members. Please RSVP to Shannon Yeater at, and you'll receive more details via email
March West Educational Luncheon 
Tuesday, March 20, 2018
The Peabody Hotel
11:00am - 1:00pm

Never before have there been so many generations active in the work force.  While providing a wide range of knowledge and experiences, this also causes challenges, especially for Baby Boomers.  For Boomers - it's pulling out of the workforce while the Millennials are pulling in.  But we do have to work together, at least for a while, play together, and in many cases with parents - we have to live together. Our styles for work are different...learning is different...reward is different, and communication is different.  We invite you to take a closer look into how we can bring together generational communication and connect!
March Central Educational Luncheon
Wednesday, March 21, 2018
Musicians Hall of Fame
11:00am - 1:00pm

Calling all sales people - You won't want to miss our March Central Educational Luncheon! During this interactive program, you will learn how to develop a sales and marketing plan to exceed your goals and objectives for 2018.  You will learn how to target the right market segments, optimize your sales process, identify key activities necessary for sales success as well as create individual success formulas to keep on track. Get ready to set yourself apart from your competition!
Spring MIX Event
Thursday, March 22, 2018
Downtown Nashville

Mix it up with MPI during our Downtown Progressive Bar Crawl.  Our friends at Hard Rock CafĂ©, Tin Roof, AJ's, and Goo Goo are generously hosting an MPI Tennessee Chapter Meetings Industry Exchange (MIX) networking event on Thursday, March 22nd. Join us for a night of mingling, drinks, and delicious samplings from each venue.
GMID 2018 - Global Meetings Industry Day

Save the date for Global Meetings Industry Day (GMID) on Thursday, April 12th. GMID brings together leaders from across the meetings and events industry to showcase the real impact that business meetings, conferences, conventions, incentive travel, trade shows and exhibitions have on people, business and communities. Meeting professionals across the world participate in the international day of advocacy, with more than 120 events held across 6 continents in 2017. MPI Tennessee will be holding celebrations in the Central and West Regions, so stay tuned for more details!
ICYMI - In Case You Missed It
February's CONNECT Education & Marketplace was another great event for MPI Tennessee. We kicked off the signature event with a mixer on Thursday night at the Cambria Hotel. Attendees enjoyed craft cocktails, a live band and great networking time. Congratulations to Angela Layton and Scarlett Coffman who won the fun fact game (and met a lot of people while playing)!

Friday's session was loaded with education! First, we worked on our contract negotiating skills in the morning session. Then at lunch, we participated in an interactive mock trial using the contracts that we created that morning. Thanks to Bob Pederson and Naomi Angel for hosting such a fun and informative session!

There were also several breakout opportunities for participants to choose from. Nathan Honeycutt with Macro Productions "Dismantled and Demystified" AV while Sharon Winter and Donna Bayless tackled "When Networking is Not Working." Retired FBI agent Scott Augenbaum led a breakout session all about Cyber Security, and Schenk Photography offered free headshots to all attendees.

The afternoon ended with the roundtable discussions, which were a great opportunity for planners and suppliers to meet, exchange information, and qualify leads quickly and efficiently. This event continues to be a highlight of CONNECT.

Thank you to all the participants and sponsors of this year's CONNECT. We also want to thank the Education Team and planning team who helped make this event a success!
Circle of Excellence Awards Gala & Silent Auction

Let's face it - It's hard to impress a group of successful meeting professionals. It's equally difficult to provide them with a unique evening that they have not experienced before. Well, this was the challenge for the planning committee of the 2018 MPI Tennessee Circle of Excellence Awards Gala & Silent Auction.

The lightbulb moment came when our good friends at the Grand Ole Opry agreed to sponsor our special evening. With an open and creative mind, we have designed an evening that will change your perspective on how you have typically viewed the Opry. At this year's Gala, you will be the artist and you will bask in the limelight and view this icon of country music from its own circle of excellence.

Join us for an evening of all-access as we acknowledge the incredible accomplishments of our peers and celebrate another successful year for MPI Tennessee!

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? If so, please fill out the donation form now!

All auction items will be live on our Bidding for Good page soon! You can view the items and start bidding here!
Who Do You Love?

Can you think of an MPI Tennessee Chapter member who has consistently contributed time and experience to Tennessee's meetings industry? Recognize members who represent leadership and excellence in the meeting planning profession by nominating them for these prestigious awards. The winners will be announced at the MPI Tennessee Chapter 2018 Circle of Excellence Awards & Gala on May 17th at the Grand Ole Opry House. Click here to make your nominations by March 2nd.
2018-2019 Board Slate
Meeting Professionals International Tennessee Chapter 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.

Erika Biddix, CMM, CMP, Biddix Meetings & Events

President Elect
Shannon Yeater, CMP, Butler Snow LLP

Immediate Past President
Katie Rogers, CMP, Pineapple Group

Vice President Finance
Jill Kopecky, Entertainment Buy

Vice President Membership
Marisa McWilliams, Rudy's Jazz Room

Vice President Communications
Kayce Kiningham, CMP, Tennessee School Boards Association

Vice President Education
Cory Brooks, CMP, Specialty Planners International

Vice President West Region

Director Special Projects
Shannen Stewart, Quest Events

Director Strategic Alliances
Katherine Page Saldana, Vida Verde Solutions

Director Communications
Maeghen Pickett, Gaylord Opryland Resort & Convention Center

Director Monthly Meetings
Melanie Blanche, Union Station

Director Leadership & Professional Development
Desiree Wooldridge, CMP, Cat Financial

Director of Member Recruitment
Anita Akers, White Door Events

Director Member Retention
Natalie Norris, CMM, CMP, Meetings & More, Inc.

Director of Operations
Michael Elizabeth McQuillen, Rock Bottom Brewery

Congratulations to the new 2018-2019 Board of Directors, and thank you for your commitment to MPI Tennessee.
RISE Awards

MPI Tennessee is excited and honored to have been nominated for a 2018 MPI RISE Award for Membership Achievement.  This award recognizes an MPI chapter, club, or student club for achievement in membership growth, engagement, and retention. Chapters demonstrate the impact of their campaigns, programming, overall membership numbers, and involvement in chapter/club activities and/or improvement in retention. Join us at WEC 2018 June 2-5 in Indianapolis for the RISE Awards ceremony to find out if we take home the prize!
2018 MPI Membership and Chapter Satisfaction Survey

MPI is committed to ensuring the best possible experience for every member, which is the primary reason we conduct the annual Membership and Chapter Survey. This survey is the most important tool we have for capturing the thoughts of our members. Participation not only guarantees each member's voice is heard, but also shapes the future of our community as a whole.

This year's survey is open until March 6th. Please take the time to complete the survey so that MPI Tennessee Chapter can hear your feedback. All members who participate in the survey will be put into a drawing for a $100 gift card!
What Type of Member Are You?
Are you a supplier or a planner? Are you sure your MPI membership reflects this correctly? In reviewing our membership list, we've realized some members are categorized incorrectly. Choosing the correct membership category is very important. As a chapter, we receive rebates ($$$) for the members that join our chapter. The percentage is based on the membership type, planner or supplier. If you choose incorrectly, the chapter could be losing money to spend on education and other chapter events/activities. Your category could also impact your nomination possibility for the Circle of Excellence Awards given by our chapter each year. When members review the list for eligible nominees, you could get skipped because your category is incorrect.

As a Board, we ask that you complete your registration or renewal with integrity and select the proper category for your employer and position, regardless of price difference. MPI Global is going to begin monitoring type selections with renewals and new memberships, so it's best to make any corrections now. Please take a moment and check your membership and make sure it matches the proper description for your employer and position. If you need to be recategorized, we ask that you update your membership in the near future. A list of member category descriptions can be found here.

If you have any questions regarding our membership or renewal please contact our VP Membership, Shannon Yeater at
Member Recognition: Movers & Shakers

Congratulations to Marisa McWilliams who recently accepted her new role as the Director of Sales & Marketing/Private Events for Rudy's Jazz Room in the Gulch's "Backyard".  She looks forward to introducing all of our members to Nashville's only Late Night "Manhattan" style Jazz Club. 
New Members in February
Amanda Bledsoe
G Catering
Cindy Meyerer
Teneo Hospitality Group
Eileen Cooke
Jennifer Robinson
Jimmy Buffett's Margaritaville Nashville
Hailey Duke
Dreams Events and Catering
Donna Schacher
Sarah Durai
Sheraton Grand Nashville Downtown
Lindsay Snyder
Parthenon Management Group
Taylor Elder
LP Building Products
Stacey Swafford
Events Couture
Harry Lemont
Student - Belmont University
Brynn Waller
City Tap House Nashville
Member Anniversaries
Congratulations to our members celebrating an MPI anniversary in March!

Kathy Naive Kirkpatrick - 23 years
Robin Wallace - 16 years
Jennifer Hansel - 12 years
Tricia May - 8 years
Sharon Rinehart - 8 years
Shannen Stewart - 6 years
Tammie Vogel - 5 years
Francesca Green - 3 years
Jill Rucker - 3 years
Elizabeth Bowdre - 2 years
Scotty Glasgow - 2 years
Robin Jordan - 2 years
Elise Twesten - 2 years
Tiffani Wilson - 2 years
Heidi Baker - 1 year
Josh Bush - 1 year
Melanie Collett - 1 year
Christina Dallas Jones - 1 year
Robert Hickman - 1 year
April High - 1 year
Maeghen Pickett - 1 year
Kaitlin Priestley - 1 year
Lisa Schneider - 1 year
Scoobie Schneider - 1 year
Elliott Smith - 1 year
Jennifer Squires - 1 year
Angela Terry - 1 year
Cynthia Vera - 1 year
Jill Yochim - 1 year
New Member Spotlights
Tresa Halbrooks

Current Employer and Position:
LEGACY Consulting, PR & Events, CEO


How long have you been in this position?
6 years

Why did you join MPI? 
I joined MPI to further expand my network and resources.

What do you hope to get from your MPI membership? 
New vendors, fresh ideas and a community of like-minded event veterans. I'm looking forward to getting to know this incredible group of MPI professionals in the Nashville area.

What is your favorite meeting or event you have been involved with? Why? 
I have produced the Annual Waiting for Wishes Celebrity Waiters Dinner hosted by Kevin Carter (Super Bowl Champion) and Jay DeMarcus (Rascal Flatts) at The Palm for the past 17 years.  It is truly the most incredible and insane event that just keeps getting more interesting every year with celebrities from all over the country joining us to support The Kevin Carter Foundation and Make-A-Wish Middle Tennessee. 

Tell us more about yourself...hobbies, little known fact, etc. 
I moved in Nashville in 1995 to pursue a career in the music industry. It didn't take me long to figure out that I wanted to be behind-the-scenes. I've been working with high-profile clients ever since. I worked for the NFL (Tennessee Titans) for 11 years before launching my own company.  We have two distinct divisions of the company: Public Relations/Branding and complete event production. We have creative resources across the board and serve a variety of clients from athletes, artists, non-profit and corporate organizations. I'm also freelance writer and author. I write a guest column in on a variety of topics.
Kaylee Colon

Current Employer and Position:
Texas Land Title Association, Education and Programs Specialist


How long have you been in this position?
2.5 years

Why did you join MPI? 
To share ideas and connect with others.

What do you hope to get from your MPI membership? 
Education and professional development.

What is your favorite meeting or event you have been involved with? Why? 
Our Association hosts a school for those new to the industry. It is my favorite because we get to welcome the new folks we need to sustain our industry and show them a path for growth. We host it at a hotel I opened in my previous career in hospitality, so it feels like coming home. 

Tell us more about yourself...hobbies, little known fact, etc. 
I moved to Nashville from Austin 2 months ago as my husband's job relocated us. I was lucky enough to keep my job and work remotely for a Texas-based Association. I love live music and long runs.
Stephanie Moss

Current Employer and Position:
Daily Dish Events and Catering, Catering Director and Sales


How long have you been in this position?
3 years

Why did you join MPI? 
Networking opportunities. 

Tell us more about yourself...hobbies, little known fact, etc. 
As all of us in the industry know - I work a lot. When not at work, my six grandkids are my hobby.
Vicki Sanders

Current Employer and Position:
Branching Out Floral, Owner


How long have you been in this position?
20 years

Why did you join MPI? 
To meet new people in the industry and to renew some relationships with past clients.

What do you hope to get from your MPI membership? 
Not only to network with decision makers, but to learn different aspects of the events happening in Nashville.

What is your favorite meeting or event you have been involved with? Why? 
A five-day, three-event per day gig for American Express. Lots of work, but very satisfying.

Tell us more about yourself...hobbies, little known fact, etc. 
I was a school teacher for many years. I am a native Nashvillian and Vanderbilt graduate. Enjoy Titans and Predator games.