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Greetings from Our President

Hello everyone! As our Board year comes to a close and my term as your President ends, I have been doing a lot of reflecting.  

We kicked off 2020 on a high note with our January education event, where we had industry leader Michelle Johnson join us for an amazing session on “Leading with Confidence in the New Year."  Together we learned different styles of leadership and how to tackle tough conversations.

In February, we switched up our education style, offering a webinar with our 2019 Fall Focus Keynote Speaker, Rachel Sheerin, back by popular demand! She led us in a dynamic interactive session on “Creative Selling,” inspiring us to sell ANYTHING, whether it be meeting space, a contract for services, or a unique idea for new conference programming.

Then in March, the world changed and Covid-19 challenged us all. The Board of Directors made the difficult decision to cancel our third annual Gala and our membership event on Global Meetings Industry Day. As an industry, we watched the closing of venues and cancellation of events, and many of us experienced professional setbacks, including furloughs and layoffs. The past few months have been tough on everyone, but after the initial shock was over, the hospitality industry began doing what it has always done best: adapting. As typical meeting and networking formats became difficult or impossible, new ways of operating popped up. Site tours are conducted through video chat, happy hours are held on Zoom, and new podcasts, webinars, and on-demand education are becoming available every day. It has been an innovative time in the industry; technological options that were just a possibility have quickly become the norm. As this has been happening, a new phrase has become common in the industry: “We will meet again." I understand the sentiment – but I respectfully disagree. We never stopped meeting; as an industry, and a society, we have proven that we will always find ways to meet.

With this in mind, we have created a new awards celebration for this year to bring our members a bit of joy and to recognize our amazing and deserving awardees that were to be announced at our Gala. The event will be held virtually on June 18th at 3:30 p.m. and is complimentary to members and non-members. Join us for a “bite-sized” education session with Rachel Sheerin, the induction of our incoming Board of Directors, and a celebration of our awardees. 

Congratulations to our 2020 award winners:

Industry Leader:
Vanessa LaClair, CAE, CMP; Empire State Society of Association Executives, Inc. (ESSAE)   

Planner of the Year:
Judy Rucinski, CMP; New York State United Teachers
Partner of the Year:
Discover Schenectady
Volunteers of the Year:
Alyssa Aufiero, Discover Saratoga
Venerina Greco, NYS Council of School Superintendents
Rising Star
Melissa Adams, Woodcliff Hotel & Spa

While our event will not be taking place in Saratoga Springs as planned, we still want to thank all of the amazing partners that supported us. 
A very special thank you to Albany Capital Center, Bigler Studios, CMI AV, Destination Saratoga, Discover Schenectady, Hall of Springs, Lyft, Miller Printing, Saratoga National Golf Club, Smile Lounge Photobooth, The Desmond, Total Events LLC, Visit Ithaca, Visit Rochester, and We Do Fondue.

This event wouldn't happen without the tireless work of our Gala Committee, who planned TWO events this year as we pivoted to virtual. Thank you all for everything you did to make this event possible. We appreciate you all!
To each of our members, thank you for your time, energy, participation, and engagement in our Chapter. It has been an honor to serve as your President for the past 12 months, and now it is also my honor to pass the gavel on to Theresa Moore, CMP, who will serve as your President for 2020 – 2021.
She and the rest of the board have been fantastic to work with.  Each of them have been rocks throughout my term. I firmly believe that a leader is only one person, and it is the team together that gets things done. Thank you to my team – and I look forward to continuing to work with you.

Finally, I want to address the events of the last few weeks, catalyzed by the events in Minneapolis and quickly spreading across the country and the world. Like so many of us, I watched the video of George Floyd’s murder and cried. I asked myself how this could happen – again – and whether I've done anything to actively try to effect any sort of change or to actively address the systemic racism in our country that has allowed things like this to occur unchecked for so long. I had to admit that the answer was no. Although it is incredibly hard to admit this, to myself and to you, that is the first step toward true change. 

In the past few weeks I have done a lot of reading, and a lot of listening. I found guidance in these words: “It is not enough to be 'not racist.' You must be actively anti-racist.” As a board, we have had conversations about addressing the lack of diversity and representation in our membership and programs, and how we can be better allies. This is an ongoing conversation, to which our board is committed. We will share more with you soon. Right now, I encourage you, our members, to reach out with your thoughts. This is a conversation for all of us, with a goal to effect change that is positive and long-lasting.

We all face significant challenges and uncertainties in the world right now. You have all continued to show your commitment to our industry and to each other. I am proud to be part of the meetings industry, and inspired by what we have accomplished and the thought of what we will accomplish together. We never stopped meeting, but I look forward to a day when I can be with all of you in person and we can clink our glasses and say “We got through this – together.”

With gratitude,

Caitlin Gaborow, CMP
Bonus Webinar: The Road Less Traveled with Michael Dominguez
After the Virtual Annual Meeting, the fun continues with the MPI Big East!  Join fellow Chapters across the Northeast Region with a bonus webinar: A Road Less Traveled with Michael Dominguez.

The experience of 2020 has been unexpected, uncertain, and devastating in many ways. We now face a world, country, economy, and industry traveling a road much less traveled as we begin to restart our global commerce engine and hospitality industry. The short-term post COVID-19 environment will require our ability to work together, pivot often, and learn as a community. This session will examine the anticipated experience and industry protocols that will be in place for the remainder of 2020.

Learning Objectives:

  • Update on the current situation regarding the Global state of COVID-19
  • Industry implementations of standards and protocols as our economy reopens
  • Meeting environment expected changes for the fall of 2020
  • Current state of the economy and expectations for 2020 and 2021
  • A review of travel experience changes and expectations

Registration is complimentary and open to all hospitality professionals. If you have any colleagues or clients whom you would like to have join the call, please invite them to register. 

WHEN: Thursday, June 18, 2020

5:00 p.m. - 5:15 p.m. – Welcome, Announcements & Introductions
5:15 p.m. – 6:00 p.m. – Education Session
6:00 p.m. – 6:15 p.m. – Q & A

CEU Credits: 1 CEU - CMP Clock Hours: 60 minutes – Domain F: Marketing or Event Design

Register Now: 

Create a Personalized CMP Action Plan

Are you interested in earning your CMP Certification?

Today more than ever, there are so many reasons to earn your CMP Certification.  The designation is recognized throughout the meeting industry as the standard for having expertise in all areas of professional event management. The overall process can be confusing and if not properly prepared, daunting.  To facilitate the process as you work towards advancing your professional development, MPI Upstate New York, after thorough review, has selected Event Solutions Institute as the CMP preferred on-line course CMP prep method.  

Do you feel like the CMP process is a secret that you have been left out of?  This whole CMP thing is really confusing! It’s hard to get a straight answer on just about everything, from the application, to studying and taking the exam.  Wouldn’t it be great if you could just have a checklist of all the things you need to do? 

In this course, you will: 

  • Create a CMP Action Plan
  • Discover the steps in the CMP Process
  • Uncover exam preparation resources
  • Learn how to earn 25-clock hours of continuing education

Who Should Attend? 

  • Would like to earn your CMP within the next 5 years
  • Need to accumulate the 25-hours of continuing education*
  • Are ready to fill out your CMP application
  • Want a proven, efficient, systematic way to prepare for the CMP exam? 

Course Schedule

Select the course session that works best with your schedule:

  • July 28 , 2020– October 3, 2020
  • October 13, 2020 – January 6, 2021

Delivering Results

Over the past 15 years, Event Solutions Management (ESM) and Ellen Maiara, CMP, DES have trained thousands of CMPs, world-wide, toward CMP exam success.

CMP Candidates earn certification, through a systematic, efficient, proven process.

  1. Utilizing the CMP International Standards (the body of knowledge required to pass the CMP) study group members master the content on the exam through reading and live classes.         
  2. Through question writing and practice quizzes, study group members learn to spot correct answers.                                                                     
  3. Utilizing confidence building and anxiety busting techniques, study group members are relaxed to focus on exam day. 
Event Solutions Institute: Conquer Industry Education with an Efficient, Systematic, Proven Process!

Are you considering becoming a CMP? 

Step One- Create a personalized CMP Action Plan. MPI UNY has made special arrangements with Event Solutions Institute for you to have free access to their “Create A CMP Action Plan” self-paced online course. 

Step Two- Once you complete the course, you’ll be invited to attend the July 8th 30-minute live mentoring session with Ellen Maiara, CMP, DES, Chief Solutions Officer of Event Solutions Management. 

Step Three- Decide if the Event Solutions Institute Online Course is right for you and be well on your way to earning your CMP.

Please Note: Step one and two are complimentary and will help you decide if pursing the CMP designation is right for you. There is a cost to enroll in the Event Solutions Institute 15-week online course.

By the end of this course, students will:

  • Complete 12 live, guided content sessions and 3 review session
  • Read the recommended study materials, divided into 12 manageable assignments
  • Finish weekly practice quizzes
  • Create a set of event industry vocabulary note cards
  • Earn up to 30 clock hours of continuing education for the CMP application*
  • Take 4 full length practice tests to build stamina and good test taking habits
  • Access weekly office hours

This course is a perfect fit for you if you: 

  • Are ready to pass your event industry certifications
  • Need to earn 30 clock hours of continuing education from a preferred provider of education for the CMP*
  • Want to join the more than 2000 students who have been successful in this program over the past 15 years
  • Took an industry certification exam in the past and were not successful

Benefits of joining the Event Solutions Institute:

  • Enjoy 15 two-hour courses with a live instructor
  • 12 Content sessions, 3 Review session, 1 Recipe for success.
  • 12 weekly practice quizzes
  • 4 full-length practice tests
  • If you miss a class, no worries! It’s been recorded.
  • You can earn 25-clock hours for your CMP with the Event Solutions Institute*
  • Membership will expire one year from the date you register or the day you pass your exam, whichever comes first. Come back more than once at no additional fee.
  • Attend weekly office hours where you can ask questions about your application, exam preparation or your own meetings. There is no agenda. Bring your questions.
  • Each 2-hour class starts at 8:00 p.m. EST 
  • Registration fee is $425 for 15 sessions and a one-year membership (expires one year from the date you register or the day you pass your exam, whichever comes first).

*Event Solutions Management has been approved by the Events Industry Council (EIC) as a Preferred Provider of the Event Solutions Institute course, which qualify for CMP continuing education credit. Determination of continuing education credit eligibility or Preferred Provider status does not imply EIC’s endorsement or assessment of education quality.   

Why Choose Event Solutions Management?

Event Solutions Management and Ellen Maiara, CMP, DES have a proven track record in leading CMP Candidates to exam success!  With current success rates beyond 98%, the study group and its members have achieved great success over its nearly 15 years in operation.

Check out what successful students are saying about the study group: 

Register now by accessing the link below:

Navigating the "New Normal"

By Ron Rosenberg

In almost all of our decisions, large or small, there's a certain constant: the idea that, in the big picture, things generally continue to operate more or less as they have in the recent past. In other words, we're working within a well understood and relatively stable environment.

A blurry photo of a treeDescription automatically generatedUnfortunately, that's not the case anymore, as what we previously knew as "normal" has completely and dramatically changed. It can seem like everything is closing in around you, but there are definite steps you can take to navigate through the darkness and find your way to success.

What Happens When All Your Assumptions Are Wrong?

We can certainly waste a lot of time debating what led to the current situation, who's to blame, or what could have been done to minimize its impact. And, while it's important to learn all we can from these events, the bottom line is:

  • This is where we are now.
  • No one anticipated the extent of the impact.
  • The world will be a different place when we come out on the other side. 

Once we accept this, we're left with two important questions:

  1. What will the "New Normal" look like?
  2. How can you position yourself for success? 

Success is a Moving Target

In our programs, I always stress the fact that success is a moving target. What worked ten years ago - or ten months, ten weeks, or even ten days ago - is not going to deliver the same results today.

The only thing we can say for certain now is that the "old normal" - the rules and models we operated under previously - will be completely different. So you need to do your best to predict what your business environment will look like, and recognize that your predictions will likely be imperfect and will need to be revisited and revised frequently.

What Can You Do Now?

This is the question that's been coming up almost daily when we speak with our customers, clients, and members. Even as we've had time to digest the implications of shelter-at-home orders, business closures, and lost revenue, the uncertainty of the pandemic - and its impact on people's lives and on the economy - make it hard to know what to do next.

Fortunately, there are some things you can do.

Connect with Your Market - Reach out to your customers, clients, and members, and let them know you're there to help in any way you can. Try to provide some kind of community for them to connect with you and with their peers - for most people, working at home and the isolation it brings, present serious challenges. 

Reinvent the Way You Market - While dealing with the unknown is unsettling at best, the situation we're in right now presents many new and unique opportunities. Take the time to understand them and see if you can identify new ways to reach new markets, deliver new products and services, and deliver them in new ways.

Retool Your Business - Many people, unfortunately, have had a "deer in the headlights" reaction to the current situation, and have chosen to simply retreat and do nothing. Clearly, this is an understandable reaction, but it completely ignores the fact that now is the time to take action. Unexpected downtime can be an incredible opportunity to tackle projects you were simply too busy to get to before. As an example, we're beginning work on a new website and marketing system for one of our clients whose business has essentially been shut down by the pandemic. He recognizes that when things "open up" again in his industry, he needs to be the only logical option for his clients to select.

Learn more

Visit to read and learn more on this topic,

Winter Event Recap: Creative Selling Webinar

By all accounts, Rachel Sheerin’s webinar, on February 27, was informative and engaging.  In the industry, Rachel, an award winning keynote speaker and trainer known for delivering transformative and engaging presentations.   Below are some of her key points:

  • We cannot push our own money beliefs onto our clients. What we think is expensive may not be expensive for others - do not balance their budget. 
  • It is not enough to do a great job for clients - you must be YOURSELF while you do it! Being memorable and authentic make it easier for clients to refer you.
  • A great way to stand out is to have an awesome out of office message.

Rachel has offered to send her 12 Best Out of Office message templates, to anyone that contacts her. Email Rachel today at and she will send the templates ASAP!

Getting to Know..

Michele Endries
Senior Sales Manager
Discover Albany

What steps have you taken to evolve your career in the meetings industry? Or plan to take?

I began my hospitality career in 1980s in San Diego as the Administrative Assistant to the General Manager. I worked my way to Vice President of Sales for the Hotel del Coronado. Next, I returned to my home town of Schenectady and continued my career, first opening the Hampton Inn in Schenectady, then the Holiday Inn Express & Suites in Latham, and then to my current position as senior sales manager with Discover Albany.

What is your favorite hobby or pastime and how have you incorporated that into your career, if at all?  

My favorite hobby is Golf. I serve on the Board of the LPGA Amateur Golf Association of the Capital Region, a membership organization with approximately 200 members.

What is one of the biggest differences now compared to when you started in the meeting industry?

All of the changes in technology. I remember the number of telephone calls I would make, now it’s emails. I really enjoyed talking with clients. I especially miss the daily jokes.

How do you personally stay organized and what tips can you impart to others?

I would say keep it simple. like to stay organized the easy way. I create lists, calendar entries, and traces for reminders.
What would our readers be surprised to learn about you?
Prior to my hospitality career, I graduated college and was a surgical assistant for an Oral Surgeon for 3 years before moving to San Diego.
Share some Fun Facts about you.

When I was a junior in high school, my first vacation with my sister Kim, we traveled to Marrakesh Morocco and the Canary Islands for $238.00 all inclusive. That began our world travels.
I also traveled to Berlin when the Wall came down. I brought a hammer & chisel (in my suitcase), to bring home “pieces of the Wall” to share with my family and friends.
Things I always take on the airplane with me are grapes, a book, ear plugs and a blanket.
I LOVE eating local, bar dining with my Mom and spending time with my family and friends. 
What else do you want your fellow MPI UNY Chapter Members to know about you?

I am at peace with my past.  I am in love with my present.  I am excited for my future.
I look forward to continuing this journey and welcome hearing your story.

Meet Your 2020-2021 Board of Directors

The MPI Upstate New York 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. The slate of officers has been approved as no positions were contested. Their official board year begins on July 1, 2020.

The MPI Upstate New York Chapter presents your 2020-2021 Board of Directors:
  • President
    Theresa Wutzer Moore, CMP, NYS Council of School Superintendents / Albany, NY
  • President Elect
    Sam Toscano, CMP, 1,000 Island Harbor Hotel / Clayton, NY
  • Immediate Past President
    Caitlin Gaborow, CMP, Couryard Marriott & Excelsior Springs / Saratoga Springs, NY
  • Vice President Membership
    Wendy Ford, Visit Rochester / Rochester, NY
  • Vice President Education
    Susan Baker, Saratoga Springs City Center / Saratoga Springs, NY
  • Vice President Finance
    Richard Nikodem, MBA, RK Entertainment Agency, LLC / Utica, NY
  • Vice President of Special Events
    Tillie Youngs, 1000 Islands International Tourism Council, Alexandria Bay, NY
  • Vice President of Sponsorship
    Kelli Gormley, The Business Council of New York State, Inc. / Albany, NY
  • Vice President of Communications
    Alicia Perez Osur
  • Director of Membership
    Shannon Perry
  • Director of Leadership Development
    Alysha Bigelow, The Saratoga Hilton / Saratoga Springs, NY
  • Director of Monthly Programs
    Melissa Adams, Woodcliff Hotel & Spa / Fairport, NY
  • Director of Communications
    Kaitlin Nevins, Saratoga Casino Hotel / Saratoga Springs, NY
  • Director of Special Events
    LaToya Williams, MBA, HelmsBriscoe / Buffalo, NY
  • Director of Sponsorship
    Gina Calisi, Visit Binghamton / Binghamton, NY
  • Director at Large
    Chlojean Tedford, SUNY System Administration / Albany, NY
  • Chapter Administrator
    Nancy Wengert / MPI Upstate NY Chapter / Saratoga Springs, NY

Getting to Know..

Leslie Miller
Hampton Inn & Suites
Saratoga Springs Downtown

What is your favorite hobby or pastime and how have you incorporated that into your career, if at all?   

I took up tennis late in life but it has been such a joy to match (excuse the pun) exercise and networking. Over the years, I’ve found meetings and events for not only my hotel but others in the area as well. And the exercise is so key to clearing your mind at the end of the day!

What is one of the biggest differences now compared to when you started in the meeting industry?

Technology is clearly the big change in the past 20 + years, for good and bad. The ability to measure data, track information and communicate is such an improvement. However, it can also remove the actual face-to-face nature of meetings and I’m a big believer in the synergy of groups meeting together. Facial expressions and eye contact help to interject thoughts, while webinars tend to slow down that process...for me anyway.

How do you personally stay organized and what tips can you impart to others?

This whole organization business is the bane of my existence! If I could have a super power, great organization would make me invincible! The truth is there really isn’t enough time in the day for all that we need to do, so I chose the most important things for the morning and block the time in Outlook. Then I add in 1-2 other smaller tasks in the morning and late afternoon. I set aside a block of time for research weekly. Making time daily for prospecting calls is also part of my plan to stay on track. I’ll let you know in December how the experiment worked!

What would our readers be surprised to learn about you?

I was a silversmith through High School and college and earned money making sterling jewelry at home. I have always loved, and continue to love, architecture. Renovating houses is something I’m getting back into this year. Most people know that I lost my son 10 years ago, when he was killed in Afghanistan. My sister and I formed Taylor’s Heroes to help kids with fitness and nutrition. This year we are turning over the program to the Saratoga Springs Regional YMCA.
What else do you want your fellow MPI UNY Chapter Members to know about you?

I love to share knowledge and learn new skills so call me!

New Contact Information?

If your member contact information has changed, please update by logging on to your MPI. account settings at

Heidi Longton Achievement Award

Why Was This Award Created?
This special award was established in 2006 when planner Heidi Longton, CMP celebrated 10 years at the Northeastern Retail Lumber Association (NRLA). Then president Jim Ayotte wanted to honor her for the years of dedicated event and meeting planning services she provided to their organization. Heidi also wanted to give back to the industry so suggested creating a special fund for those individuals who wanted to pursue their Certified Meeting Professional (CMP) designation and did not have the funds or employer support. 

In 1998, Heidi's dreams were dashed when, at first, her organization could not support her financially so she could pursue her CMP designation. As a professional establishing her career and supporting her family, she could not afford the exam fees and study materials.

In 2001, Jim Ayotte, the new president of NRLA, made her dream a reality. He approved Heidi’s request for support; she earned her designation in 2002. Heidi wanted to make sure others could pursue their CMP dreams too.

Mr. Ayotte presented a check for $500 to the 2006 Chapter President Judy Rucinski, Vice President of Finance Mike Snyder, and Vice President of Membership Gina Mintzer in a ceremony at the NRLA offices, establishing the Heidi Longton CMP Scholarship. This scholarship program was created for members of who wanted to pursue the CMP program to benefit both themselves and the Chapter.

In 2009, the scholarship was expanded to include the Certificate in Meeting Management Program (CMM). Heidi earned her CMM that year. In 2019, the scholarship was renamed to the Heidi Longton Achievement Award to honor Heidi’s legacy and achievement in pursuing both the CMP and the CMM designations and to align with how the award is now distributed. 

What Does the Award Provide?
The intent of the Heidi Longton Achievement Award is to reimburse (up to $550) a member in good standing of the MPI Upstate NY Chapter who is pursuing either their CMP designation or their CMM. 

The member may use this reimbursement to cover personal out-of-pocket expenses of the application and registration so that the burden of individual contributions may be lightened, though not necessarily eliminated. Employer paid application fee or expenses are not eligible for member reimbursement.

What is Expected of the Applicant?
The goal of the award is to have members pursue professional development in the CMP or CMM program, which will benefit both themselves and the Chapter. Continued involvement and leadership in the Chapter is expected of award winners.

It will be the obligation and responsibility of the applicant to submit to the CMP/CMM Award Committee an application and any additional information requested. Funds will not be available in advance but will be reimbursed upon successful completion of the CMP/CMM Certification. It is expected that award winners attend CMP/CMM study groups and participate in such groups as trainers in the future.

Who are Eligible?
Members in good standing of the MPI Upstate NY Chapter who have been involved in the Chapter for a six-month period are eligible to apply for this reimbursement. Applicants must successfully complete the CMP/CMM application and pass the CMP/CMM exam prior to providing receipts for reimbursement.

Application Procedures and Deadlines:

  • Complete the application and submit within 45 days of taking the CMP/CMM exam.
  • All personal out-of-pocket receipts must be included with the application.
  • Award money will be reimbursed upon completion of the program and a CMP/CMM passing score is confirmed by CIC.
  • Awards may be presented up to two times per year, depending on available funds and the quality and timing of the applications received.
  • The 2021 deadline is Wednesday, June 2 at 5 p.m. 

If you would like to make a donation to the Heidi Longton Achievement Award please contact

Welcome New Members!

Cora Derocher, Meeting Coordinator
New York State Association of Realtors, Albany, NY

Angela DiLorenzo, Sales Manager
Embassy Suites by Hilton, Saratoga Springs, NY
Laura Ferranti, Account Manager
NYS Olympic Regional Development Authority, Lake Placid, NY
Marty Harrington
Global Cynergies, Cortland, NY

Katy Hobbs, Sales Manager
Spectra, Corfu, NY
Christine Thorne, Convention Sales Manager
Lake George Regional Chamber of Commerce & CVB, Lake George, NY
Copyright © 2020 MPI Upstate New York, All rights reserved.

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