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Meeting Professionals International announces 2015 RISE Awards Recipients

Meeting Professionals International (MPI) has announced the recipients of this year’s RISE (Recognizing Industry Success and Excellence) Awards. The recipients have been selected for exceptional achievements in the meeting and event industry, and will be honored at the annual MPI RISE Awards Presentation and Luncheon on August 3, 2015, during MPI’s World Education Congress (WEC) in San Francisco.

This year’s RISE Awards feature six awards in three categories: individual achievement, community achievement and organizational achievement. Recipients are recognized for innovation, global transferability, impact and influence within the industry, and will join the MPI Community of Honorees, a group composed of past MPI award winners and distinguished leaders.  

“On behalf of the global MPI community, I would like to express our sincerest congratulations to this year’s group of RISE Awards recipients,” said Paul Van Deventer, president and CEO of MPI. “These leaders represent the best and brightest of our industry and are selected for their outstanding achievements and measurable contributions. It will truly be an honor to recognize each recipient during the annual awards presentation at WEC 2015 in San Francisco this August.”  

The RISE Award for Young Professional will be presented to Kinga Socko of Poland for her remarkable contributions to MPI and the meeting and event industry. Socko had a significant role in the development of the Poland Meetings and Events Industry Report, which is used to prepare national and city budgets and influences business tourism in Poland. She also played a key part in the country’s DMAI accreditation process, which has resulted in Poland becoming one of only three European destinations that is fully accredited with one of the most important DMO organizations, opening the Poland Convention Bureau to the North American market. Socko is a member of the MPI Poland Club and most recently served as a project manager of the Local Organizing Committee for the 2015 MPI European Meetings & Events Conference (EMEC).  

The RISE Award for Meeting Industry Leadership will be presented to David Peckinpaugh of St. Louis, for his strategic global influence on the meeting and event industry. As president of Maritz Travel Company and co-chair of the Meetings Mean Business Coalition, he has worked to unite the industry in joining together to demonstrate the value of meetings. Peckinpaugh has been at the forefront in the fight to end human trafficking, and as a result, Maritz Travel became one of the first travel companies to partner with ECPAT International, signing ECPAT-USA’s Tourism Child-Protection Code of Conduct. He currently serves on the board and executive committee for the US Travel Association and is an advisory board member for Tourism Vancouver, Delta Airlines, Taj Hotels, Social Tables, St. Louis University’s Hospitality Program, and the Destination Marketing Association International (DMAI).  

The RISE Award for Member of the Year will be presented to Tara Liaschenko, CMM of St. Petersburg, Fla., for her volunteer leadership with the MPI Tampa Bay Area Chapter as well as other MPI chapters. She previously served as chapter president and currently serves as a member on the global MPI WEC Proposal Review Task Force. Liaschenko has also provided key leadership support for MPI chapters through her Elite Fleet program, a strategic succession planning program that addresses the challenge of succession planning at the chapter level. She continuously contributes to the future growth of the industry, providing internships to local students and those from her alma mater, Stephens College, as well as by underwriting scholarships for two students to become MPI members each year.  

The RISE Award for Community Achievement in Knowledge and Ideas will be presented to the Meeting Industry Council of Colorado (MIC) for its MIC Educational Conference and Tradeshow. This year, the organization celebrated the 15th anniversary of the event, which has been instrumental in creating a unified marketplace for the Rocky Mountain region since its inception. Rather than each of MIC’s 13 member organizations hosting their own annual conference, industry suppliers are able to spend exhibit and sponsor funds on one annual event and planners are able to benefit from a cost-effective, yet education-rich opportunity on a regional level. Since 2001, the event has doubled in attendance and inspired similar partnerships in other regions. It also helped to inspire “Meetings Week” in the Rocky Mountain area, which is held the week of the conference, bringing together additional industry events throughout the region.  

The RISE Award for Community Achievement in Marketplace Excellence will be presented to the MPI Potomac Chapter for their annual Flipped Marketplace program, which is held at their Mid-Atlantic Conference and Expo (MACE). The program utilizes the reverse tradeshow format to match planners to the appropriate meeting suppliers and helps create additional membership opportunities generating engagement from non-members throughout the region. Since established in 2010, the Flipped Marketplace program has helped more than double cash sponsorship for MACE, allowing the MPI Potomac Chapter to produce key funding for additional education experiences it provides to members throughout the year.  

The RISE Award for Organizational Achievement will be presented to the Builders Association of the Twin Cities for its refined strategy on its use of meetings and events to help support its five key goals while producing fewer, yet more enhanced high quality events with greater member engagement. Each of the association’s events were assessed against a matrix of criteria including attendee reach, member value, profitability, and staff time in order to identify those that could be phased out, combined, or improved to increase value to its members. Since beginning the analysis process, which involved collaboration with the association’s board of directors and an ad hoc committee, the Builders Association of the Twin Cities has reduced the number of member events by 85 percent, while increasing overall attendance and the perceived value of sponsorship as well as instilled a deeper sense of unity among members.  

“The 2015 RISE Awards recipients have all demonstrated how one individual or organization can create industry changing results for chapters or businesses by identifying a specific need and focusing their skillset on those efforts. The strategic initiatives of these exemplary leaders will influence industry professionals to strive to make an impact within the meeting and event industry,” said John Ehlenfeldt, CMP, chair of the RISE Awards Judging Panel.

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