"Education is a priceless gift."

Scholarship Recipient Sukki Jahnke

MPI Arizona Sunbelt Chapter

READ SUKKI'S STORY

"Education is a priceless gift."

Scholarship Recipient Sukki Jahnke

MPI Arizona Sunbelt Chapter

READ SUKKI'S STORY

MPI Foundation
ADVANCING OUR INDUSTRY BY
[STRENGTHENING OUR PEOPLE]

MPI Foundation provided emergency funding to MPI Belgium Chapter for support following the terrorist attack in Belgium.

MPI Foundation Major Grant Awardee, MPI Belgium Chapter

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MPI Foundation provided emergency funding to MPI Belgium Chapter for support following the terrorist attack in Belgium.

MPI Foundation Major Grant Awardee, MPI Belgium Chapter

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MPI Foundation
ADVANCING OUR INDUSTRY BY
[GROWING OUR COMMUNITIES]

MPI Foundation funds training for adults with autism to work in the meetings and events industry.

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MPI Foundation funds training for adults with autism to work in the meetings and events industry.

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MPI Foundation
ADVANCING OUR INDUSTRY BY
[CHAMPIONING OUR CAUSES]
Industry Veteran Kevin Kirby Named Executive Director of the MPI Foundation

Industry Veteran Kevin Kirby Named Executive Director of the MPI Foundation

By Rich Luna | Oct 15, 2018

Meeting and event industry veteran Kevin Kirby has been named executive director of the Meeting Professionals International Foundation.

Kirby, who served as chair of MPI’s International Board of Directors from 2014-2015 and most recently served on the MPIF Global Board of Trustees since 2016, will oversee the non-profit organization that raises funds to provide members with professional development and career opportunities through grants and scholarships. The foundation also funds research and pan-industry initiatives that support MPI’s strategic plan.

“Know that MPI has been my muse and a critical part of my overall professional development since joining the association over 20 years ago,” Kirby said. “To act as an association ambassador, an industry champion and have the ability to help others thrive in their roles by financial or other means seems like a tremendous opportunity and responsibility. I couldn’t be more excited.”

Kirby replaces Christine Roberts, who resigned earlier this month. He will begin his new role with MPI at the end of October.

The foundation has raised nearly US$900,000 so far in 2018 and has awarded 169 scholarships for members to attend events such as MPI’s World Education Congress and the IMEX industry trade shows in Frankfurt and Las Vegas. The foundation has awarded four chapter grants and three major grants this year, and is on track to meet its $1.8 million goal. The foundation raises funds through events such as Rendezvous, a networking celebration at industry events around the world including WEC, as well as the President’s Dinner (which honors volunteer chapter and industry leaders), silent auctions and other industry events.

“We are in a good place,” Kirby said. “The Foundation is healthy and emboldened. My desire is to make our ‘story’ more prevalent, our benefactors more visible and our beneficiaries more abundant.”

He cited the work of current board chair Jim Russell, executive vice president of sales at The Freeman Company, and incoming chair Carole McKellar, vice president of EMEA for HelmsBriscoe, for providing “a sense of continuity in our mission.”

“I think Kevin is perfect fit for this role,” Russell said. “He knows the MPI community so well. He’s worked at the highest levels of leadership to understand the needs of our community. This is a great move for us.”

McKellar added that Kirby’s experience, connections and passion for the industry make him a “brilliant” pick for the role.

“The MPI Foundation is in really good hands with Kevin,” McKellar said.

Kirby’s career in the meeting and event industry has spanned positions such as head of global marketing and sales for Hard Rock International, senior director for worldwide sales and national sales director for Walt Disney Parks & Resorts and vice president of convention sales for Universal Orlando. He was vice president of business development at Picsolve Ltd. from 2015-2017, has operated his own consulting company since 2014 and most recently has been working with Premier Healthcare in Dallas as vice president of business development and COO of real estate operations.

While he has not had a direct fundraising role in his career, he has had business development roles for several iconic brands.

“I have been so fortunate to experience diverse roles throughout my career,” Kirby said. “I’ve enjoyed working in executive marketing and sales roles in regional theme parks, international attractions, iconic hospitality brands and recently leading a network of private physician practice acquisition and commercial real estate. Yes, that’s different!

“Everywhere I go I try to learn more and leave a legacy in some fashion. It’s no coincidence that my heart always directs me back to this community. Candidly, I have an embedded passion towards this industry and the relationships that continue to grow as a result. By the way, those relationships are critical to maintaining and fostering partners supporting the legacy initiatives of the MPI Foundation.”

Kirby has a long history with MPI. He has been a member for 20 years and was active on various committees before serving on the IBOD from 2008-2011. He would rise to the executive committee and even ascend to the chair position in 2014.

During his tenure as board chair, he was part of the initiative to restructure and relaunch the MPI Foundation.

“I have first-hand experience relative to their renewed mission and focus,” Kirby said, adding he was able to watch the “incredible efforts” of the GBOT and council members as “they collaborated and cajoled each other to acquire funding to help our membership.

“Together with the countless individuals and organizations who agreed to donate, a brighter tomorrow was created. Candidly, those are the real heroes of MPIF. Their legacy is what motivates me today.”

Paul Van Deventer, president and CEO of MPI, said the organization is thrilled that an experienced leader with Kevin’s reputation for integrity, high performance and industry excellence will be leading the Foundation’s efforts.

“As an active and engaged MPI member and volunteer leader at the chapter and international board level for over 20 years, Kevin brings to this role a strong affinity for our community, a demonstrated and burning passion for our mission and strong business acumen.”

Kirby will report to Darren Temple, MPI’s chief operations officer, who said Kirby

“brings a very unique and comprehensive perspective to the role that will benefit our fundraising capacity and further strengthen our brand on the world stage.” 

Kirby is adamant that the impact of the foundation within the meeting and event industry has increased in recent years.

“Honestly, I believe we’ve evolved from being solely MPI-centric to a desired and valued global partner throughout our own industry and parallel industries,” he said, citing Van Deventer for championing this collaboration among sister associations and trade groups. “We’re more cognizant of pressing issues in our industry and how with collaborative resources (financial and otherwise) we can work together to make an impact.

“MPIF is about helping others and creating sustainability. Sustainability has plenty of different meanings. Relative to MPIF, our efforts in helping countless chapters, individuals and initiatives creates an environment of sustainability. We achieve it through member satisfaction, member professional growth, industry research and by raising the professionalism of all in our industry.”

Kirby is personally inspired by a quote from tennis legend Arthur Ashe: “From what we get, we can make a living; what we give, however, makes a life.” 

“Participating with MPIF occurs at every level,” Kirby said. “Executive, front line, experienced and intern. No one is exempt from giving or receiving. It can impact someone by simplest action.”

 

Author

Rich
Rich Luna

Rich Luna is Director of Publishing for MPI and Editor-in-chief of The Meeting Professional.