MPIOC eNews – September 2018

In this issue: 

by Brian Gilman, SpringHill Suites Huntington Beach
MPIOC Chapter President

Let me share with you part of My MPI Story: 6 years ago, I got a new job at a company that values the MPI membership. Within a month of me joining this company, I became a member of MPI and was also on a committee.

Fast forward a few months and I have a new boss. On her first day, I approach her saying “Please sign here for my MPI membership renewal.” She responded with “I will on one condition”. My heart starts to race, worried about my involvement and commitment to be on the board. “That you get involved,” she said. What a relief!

Of course, my reply was an easy one, “I already am involved and I’m going to be on the board next year.” My boss knows the value of MPI membership and of being involved at the local level. She knows what active MPIOC participation brings to our company.

She’s not the only one — you do too, as do I.

Over the past 6 years I’ve Raised My Game by increasing my network, increasing my knowledge of the industry, and even transitioning into a leadership role with a new company, the SpringHill Suites by Marriott Huntington Beach, which had been a goal of mine for a long time.

MPI helped me get there.

My involvement with MPIOC has delivered a network of industry professionals who can provide new and repeat business. MPIOC also provides mentorship: My network of MPIOC members are the ones I turn to first when I’m stuck. These individuals help guide me on what to do next.

Knowledge about what it takes to execute programs. As a hotelier I often connect with my group influencers and decision makers on an elevated level because I now understand what it takes to put together a successful program from a meeting planner or event producer’s point of view. I ask the questions to support those clients.

I would not be here today without the knowledge that MPI has provided for me.

Jack Welch, former CEO of GE said, “When you were made a leader, you weren’t given a crown; you were given the responsibility to bring out the best in others.”

As leaders in our industry that is our responsibility. We need to work together to bring out the best in each other. To encourage each other. To help each other grow.

Now, it is true we can’t do it all on our own, so we do need your help. Volunteer when you can: The benefit for you, the members of our dynamic MPI Orange County Chapter, is that you get to Raise Your Game by increasing your network and your knowledge about what needs to happen to have a multi-faceted successful event.


by Jon Trask, CMP CMM, Strategic Meeting Tech
MPIOC Vice President, Finance

The word “strategic” has been overused in recent years as the meetings industry has matured and grown. We all want to be strategic (heck, I put it directly into my own company name). But what does it really mean in the context of having a Strategic Partnership with MPIOC?

Our Strategic Partners receive access and connections to the largest group of meeting professionals in Orange County, and further beyond, connecting to the largest meeting and event industry association in the world.

Locally, nationally and internationally; MPI provides innovative research and education to its members. And that only can happen each year with the help of our Strategic Partners who step up to assist us in creating amazing educational and networking events, while also showcasing their own unique venues, products and services. It’s a chance for our partners to make a direct personal connection with attendees who are responsible for planning and executing hundreds, if not thousands of events each year. It’s also a chance for a venue to bring in a targeted group of qualified individuals to experience their property firsthand, or for a supplier to demonstrate their services in an up close and personal way at an educational or social event.

MPIOC is only able to complete our mission to educate and inform our group of Orange County Meeting Professionals with the assistance and support of our Strategic Partners. Like most volunteer organizations, the MPIOC Chapter receives financial support in a few different ways. However, no support has proven more critical to the success of our chapter than the Strategic Partnerships that we have built over the years with the supplier community. Our members do significant business with our partners and always keep in mind to “buy MPI” when looking for appropriate properties and vendors to support their events.

The MPI Orange County Chapter recently celebrated our 30th anniversary and while we were looking back at three decades of accomplishment, we also looked forward to finding ways that the program can be streamlined and simplified. We have a series of sponsorship opportunities available to view at showing what benefits you will directly receive as one of our Strategic Partners.

Contact our Finance Team for Strategic Partnership information:

Let us work with you to customize a Strategic Partnership package that meets the needs of your property or company, providing opportunities to reach a targeted group of locally based meeting professionals looking to find new and innovative ideas for their meetings and events.


by Alivia Kimotho, CMP CTA, DoubleTree by Hilton Santa Ana-Orange County Airport
MPIOC Director of Special Events

We kicked off MPIOC’s 2018-2019 event calendar with a successful Summer Social last month at Dave & Busters! Thank you to everyone who came out to enjoy our mini vendor show; where MPI members and non-members alike were able to showcase their venues & services. Whether it was outstanding audiovisual you were seeking from Bright AV or a new creative venue option from OC Ramps, we had it all! A big thank you goes out to our venue sponsor Dave & Busters at the Outlets at Orange and our dessert sponsor The Ice Cream Peddler. MPIOC’s event season has officially kicked off and we look forward to seeing you at our upcoming events!



by Shannel Crane, Visit Anaheim
MPIOC VP of Education

On Wednesday, September 12th, we kicked off our 2018-2019 Educational term at the newly renovated Ranch at Laguna Beach! Starting first with an opportunity to make new connections, all guests were able to experience the wonderful views, drinks and appetizers on their outdoor patio facing the golf course. Moving indoors to their ballroom, everyone was treated to a “farm-to-table” menu experience as they heard The Ranch at Laguna Beach’s Director of Marketing and Operations Don Chock speak about the resort’s efforts on conservation and sustainability. All event participants earned EIC credit while listening to inventor and futurist Julie Austin teach them about using innovation to their best advantage.

The event marks a very successful beginning to what we know will be another successful term for the MPI Orange County Chapter!

A big thank you to our sponsors:

Finally, a big thank you to our Education Committee, especially Director of Educational Events, Cynthia Stearn. All would not have been possible without you!




by Shannel Crane, Visit Anaheim
MPIOC VP of Education

Join us for lunch on Wednesday November 14th at 10:30AM with Advantage Improv at the newly renovated Brea Improv! Step outside your box and learn how to improv in the business that constantly keeps you on your toes.

181114 Improv Website Calendar 560x315


by Mark StewartCli-Worldwide Transportation
MPIOC VP of Membership

•  Jenny Ewing

•  Andrew Freer, Sun Express Charters

•  Christina Parrett, Oracle

•  Racquel Perez, Edwards Lifesciences

•  Nihan Razak, Ontario Convention Center

•  Nick Reid, Travel Staff

•  Benjamin Rodny, Clubcorp Meetings & Experiences

•  Jennifer Starnes, Westin Mission Hills Golf Resort

•  Nina Vultaggio, Gorilla Marketing

•  Erin Wurtz, Fashion Island Hotel



by Mark Stewart, Cli-Worldwide Transportation
MPIOC VP of Membership

We are so proud of our Third Annual MPIOC CHOC Walk Team! We walked right on past our team fundraising goal of $800 to raise an organization-high $2795.00.

Congratulation to our Top Three Fundraisers:

During this year’s walk, we added a fun Interactive Scavenger Hunt for our CHOC Walkers, and the winners were:

  • 1st place $100 Jazz Kitchen Gift Card to Christina and Rouan Groenewald
  • 2nd place $75 Jazz Kitchen Gift Card to Sara Parrell and Heather Even
  • 3rd place $50 Jazz Kitchen Gift Card to Kelly and Dan Feeney

After the Walk, the MPIOC CHOC Walk Team enjoyed a scrumptious Ralph Brennan’s Jazz Kitchen brunch sponsored by Ralph Brennan’s Jazz Kitchen and Disney Meetings.

Thank you to all our Walkers, Fundraisers and particularly our 2018 CHOC Walk Committee of Bruno Duarte, Ralph Brennan’s Jazz Kitchen (Team Captain) and Michelle Sais, HSF Affiliates LLC.


By Heather Even, CMP, MA, Maple Street Management Inc.
MPIOC Immediate Past President

Helping on various MPI teams has been critical to my professional growth. When I first started with the MPI Orange County Chapter six years ago, I immediately got involved with the EdCon team. I helped with the behind the scenes tasks of putting together the conference guide with the speaker bios, exhibitor highlights, etc. I then got to help day on-site directing people where to go, meeting the speakers, collecting evaluations and so forth. Soon after, I was asked to serve on the MPIOC board and continue to support the Education team by becoming the Director of Special Programs. For three years I sat as the Tri-Chair of the EdCon event, then continued up to VP, Education and on to the Office of the President.

Through helping on MPI committees and the Board of Directors, I’ve made so much more of my membership through the business connections I’ve established, the lessons I’ve learned, and the friends I’ve made. And though it seems like a lot of work, we do have a lot of fun while helping our chapter. As a planner, it’s a lot easier me to pick up the phone with a vendor when I have a client request that needs fulfilment almost solely through MPI connections …all because I said yes.

So, I ask you, do you want to make you want to make business connections? Make some new friends? Grow your business? All the while having fun? Will you help the chapter?

If you answered “yes” to any of the above, then fill out our volunteer interest form today.



Applicants and Donors Wanted

MPIOC is proud to announce the launch of the Arlene Sheff Student Scholarship Program. This education program and funded awards are designed with the best interest of the future of our industry in mind.

Arlene Sheff Scholarships and will be awarded to student applicants who demonstrate a desire to learn, grow and develop event skills, while contributing to the chapter’s success. MPIOC will provide funds to offset membership and event registration fees based on merit and active participation.

Arlene Sheff Student Scholarship are funded by donor support — YOUR donation makes a critical difference that will be publicly recognized.

  • To apply for or to share the application with students you know, CLICK HERE.   Applications are accepted anytime but will close by 12/30/18 for this term.

Our students are our future: With your help we can change the game and light the flame of tomorrow.

For more information, contact or Lisa Meller, Arlene Sheff Student Scholarship Chair and Past President MPIOC, at

MPIOC eNews – September 2018