Recognizing Industry Success and Excellence

The RISE Awards recognize community members from across the globe, celebrating the spirit of leadership, impact, and innovation. Award candidates are reviewed by the RISE Awards Judging Panel, an MPI international volunteer committee. Selected recipients are ratified by the MPI Board of Directors and recognized at that year’s WEC.



2023 RISE Awards Applications

2023 RISE Awards applications are now closed, and applicants will be contacted about their status in the spring.

Thanks to all who nominated and applied.

RISE Awards

Congratulations to the
2023 RISE Award Finalists!

Member of the Year

Paige Mejia joined the events industry in 2008, when she founded a small video production company. She soon joined industry organizations and eventually joined the boards of TxACOM, DFW NACE, and MPI D/FW.   Elected Chapter President to MPI D/FW in 2018-19, Paige helped found the Industry President Council, an organization of Presidents from many organizations in the area to share resources and perspectives, as well as avoid overlaps in chapter programming.

Paige is an advocate for her community: she has posted weekly networking opportunities to a dedicated group Facebook, and during the quarantine in 2020, she organized a free weekly webinar series for the chapter and international MPI membership.  She participates in the D/FW Chapter’s Mentor/Mentee Program, Ambassador Program; served as the Awards Nominating Committee Chair after having won Supplier of the Year in 2022; and is currently serving on the membership committee as table host each month and Awards Policy Committee Chair.  Among her international volunteer roles, Paige has served on the MPI Facilitator and Chapter Training Committee (FACT).

Today, Paige spreads her knowledge nationally by speaking at colleges, industry association meetings, and national conferences about the industry and the importance of relationship marketing to grow and maintain a business.

John Kirby is a member of the MPI Kansas City Chapter and has a 17-year tenure with MPI.  His volunteer service spans multiple industries and organizations. He has been instrumental at his chapter for taking a unique approach to the affiliate program in order to boost membership across the Midwest area. He also supported launch of MPI Kansas City’s University Outreach Program.

In his work as chapter president and beyond, he has focused on industry advocacy, inclusion, and member engagement. He currently sits on the Chapter Membership Advisory Council.  In addition to his efforts within MPI, John is also a member of the PCMA Heartland Chapter, Event Minds Matter, and an Ally member of Encore’s PRIDE Business Resource Group.  He is a nominee and graduate of the Citizens Academy for the Federal Bureau of Investigations in 2012 and remains active in their Alumni Association.

In 2006 Margaret joined the MPI Toronto Chapter and has since served in every role from Committee Volunteer to her current role as Immediate Past President. She received MPI Toronto’s 2017 Planner of the Year Award and the 2018 Mentor of the Year Award.

As President, Margaret helped launch several new initiatives, including: the Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Task Force/Committee; a COVID-19 Task Force and a Duty of Care statement; focus groups to gain better member perspective; fully digitizing and producing the chapter’s magazine in-house; a chair/volunteer appreciation initiative; hosting all virtual events; monthly Just Networking Sessions; implementation of Video Captioning for the Chapter President’s monthly videos to members and closed captioned for PD events.

Anthony is a 19+ year member of MPI and past chapter president. During his time at MPI, he has helped create new conference events and most recently has served as Chair for the DEI Advisory Council for MPI Global. As a committed DEI advocate, Anthony’s work on the DEI committee has resulted in publishing DEI resources (Equality and Justice website), building the Regional Ambassador Program, and helping launch the #RealTalk monthly recorded education event through MPI Academy.

Anthony’s hard work as a professional has been reflected in RISE Awards at MPI Chicago Chapter and MPI Potomac Chapter. A true volunteer leader, Anthony’s work spans multiple organizations in the meetings and events; DEI; and volunteer space.

Meeting Industry Leadership

Maddalena joined the MPI community in 2005. As VP of Finance in 2016, then President Elect and President of the Italia Chapter 2020-21, she helped to lead her chapter during the most difficult and challenging years of our industry. As a leader, she helped bring her chapter two RISE Awards.

Maddalena led the way to have UNI recognized by the Italian State and by the European Union. She represents Italian legislative activity at the International Standards Organization (ISO) and European Committee for Standardization (CEN)) recognize the certification program for Meeting and Event Manager, as well as a partnership with EWMD European Women’s Management Development to foster gender equality.

Another important step of Maddalena’s work at MPI was the founding (together with another 12 Italian industry associations) of the movement Italialive. This new coalition has been essential in representing the impact of the industry to the Government, the Press, and the general public during the pandemic. This awareness contributed to the provision of funds for industry, the enactment of social safety nets, and, consequently, the saving of thousands of jobs.

Maddalena has also co-authored the book entitled “Events: from planning to the organization - Event Management Operations Manual”.

Paola Bowman is the Director of Client Services and Events at the Arlington Convention & Visitors Bureau. As an experienced hospitality and events professional, Bowman has worked in numerous positions, from front of the house to sales and services.

She holds her CMP and CMM and was named as one of Smart Meetings Magazine “100 Women Who Inspire Us” in 2018 and was recognized in the Connect Association 40 under 40 group of 2019.  Most recently, she has been selected by ConventionSouth Magazine as a Meeting Professional to Watch in 2023.

Her involvement with MPI began with the DFW chapter, where she volunteered on the marketing committee. She now volunteers on the MPI DFW Board. She is also highly involved in the Event Service Professionals Association (ESPA), where she volunteers on the DEI task force.

She has been a speaker at event conferences and has contributed to industry publications with articles. She has been instrumental in developing best practices, industry toolkit specific to event service professionals, and training for Event Service Professionals, including certification for this important role in the industry.


Rocio started her career in meetings and events in 2015 at the Cancun CVB and she joined MPI in 2019. Since the beginning of her time at MPI, she has been a volunteer leader of the MPI Caribe Mexicano Chapter, and most recently, is the Immediate Past President.

She has fostered business connections through workshops and organizing committees through the pandemic. In 2021, she was part of the WTTC Summit Host Committee where as leader of the Logistic Committee, she helped bring 700 attendees from all over the world to her region’s first post-pandemic meeting, all while maintaining covid protocols.

As the Meetings Industry Director of the Quintana Roo Tourism Promotion Council Meetings, Rocio has brought many impressive meetings and conferences to her region. She also has been recognized by industry organizations and celebrated for her work. Rocio supports her community by expanding her knowledge base and sharing her skills on diverse subjects, including ecology, sign language, health and wellness, and hybrid platforms.

Young Professional Achievement 

In her short time at MPI, Ellen has immersed herself in volunteer leadership. She started in the Director of Membership role at her chapter and then moved into the VP of Communications role in 2022. In this role, she has helped to solidify new brand guidelines for her chapter, create promotional plans, and set a social media benchmark for communication efforts.

During this time, Ellen has also helped create a mentorship program which has forged connections among students at local universities and has given them opportunities to gain valuable career experience helping plan a conference.

Caroline Cole graduated with a degree from Belmont University in Creative and Entertainment Industries and Marketing, plus a Certification in Event Planning. During her time as a student, she held internships in various aspects of the industry. She also took on volunteer roles in event management at high-profile events including the ACMs, the Billboard Touring Conference, and the Grammys.

Since graduating, she has continued to foster professionalism and career growth in the events community. She has contributed articles to Belmont’s newspaper about involvement with MPI and has spoken on the opportunities that student members can achieve from their participation with MPI. In turn, she has facilitated colleagues and industry professionals visiting Belmont to speak on career paths in meetings and events.

As a volunteer in the MPI Tennessee Chapter, she has volunteered on multiple committees, including her chapter’s mentorship program. Last year she served as MPI Tennessee’s Director of Communications where she oversaw increases in social media engagement, including the creation of the chapter’s TikTok account. Through MPI Global, she has participated in the Future Leaders Forum, where she was named an IMEX-MPI-MCI International University Challenge Finalist; she went on to serve as a judge for this competition.

She also volunteers on the international level on MPI’s Emerging Professionals Advisory Council. Last year, she and the committee helped create the “EPAC’s Declassified WEC Survival Guide” to encourage young professionals to attend WEC and have their own best possible experience.

Emilia has been actively engaged with her MPI chapter since 2015, leading the student engagement task force from 2015 to 2017 and becoming Chair of Strategic Partnerships in 2018.

In 2020, she was recognized for her efforts when the MPI Toronto Chapter named her the Future Leader of the Year. Since 2021, she has been the Director of Education for MPI Toronto Chapter, proudly helping to steer the creation of her chapter’s Diversity, Equity and Inclusion taskforce.

She brings her passion for education to her job at Canada Health Infoway, where she serves as Chair of the Education Committee. Further, she cultivates young leaders through participation in mentorship programs at Toronto Metropolitan University and as a consultant to mentor students during the pandemic through Empower Meetings Consultancy.

She is also continuing to foster the next generation of young event professionals through her speaking engagements at student hospitality and tourism programs.

In just over a decade of being a leader with MPI Orlando, Selina has served in nearly every level of volunteer leadership at her chapter. Outside of MPI, Selina has personally mentored over thirty-five college students and sponsored students with MPI memberships. She is passionate about advancing the industry and currently serves on twelve different task forces, committees and boards and shares her expertise with high school and college students.

One of her proudest contributions to her local chapter IS the “Touchpoint Timeline”. This tool helped her chapter win an MPI RISE Award for Membership Achievement in 2019 and is still being used today. Additionally, she created a sales mastermind group in Central Florida which meets monthly to collaborate on trending topics impacting our industry.

In the past year, she has co-chaired a national industry conference as well as a showcasing event with over 1,000 attendees from around the world. She has spoken on virtual screens and small stages for MPI Tampa Bay, The Special Event, Rosen College of Hospitality Management, MeetingsNet and The Special Event Company’s Academic Event Professionals. Within MPI, Selina has been named a Top 50 Up and Comer to Watch as well as named 40 Under 40 by Connect and BizBash and a 30 Under 30 by the University of Central Florida.

Elodie started her career in the food and beverage industry managing restaurants and bars inside hotels. After having the opportunity to take a sales role in 2021, Elodie joined the MPI Ottawa Chapter and attained the CMP certification. Since then, she has served on MPI international committees as well as the MPI Foundation Canadian Council.

In the Ottawa Chapter, she developed the Chapter News and Views portfolio and created interview series with members, connecting new members to the MPI Ottawa core community.

She also volunteered for the Social Media Committee, helping to translate documents and posts into French. Now a member of the MPI France Switzerland Chapter, her goal is to help raise awareness about MPI to the European Market and to build new connections.

Industry Advocate

MPI Caribe Mexicano’s collaboration with its local, international, and governmental communities generated business exchange opportunities and networking, as well as a greater awareness of the entire Yucatan peninsula to the MICE industry.

Among its array of accomplishments, MPI Caribe Mexicano boasts a 3-year running GMID celebration. Most recently, their GMID event featured a drone show and ensured the event’s entire estimated cost of 35k was sponsored.

Further, at the chapter board’s swearing-in ceremonies, the chapter hosted government officials to preside over the event, including the Ministry of Tourism, the Mayor of Cancun and the Governor of Quintana Roo state. These events create synergy, establish credibility, and enhance understanding of what the MICE Industry represents.

As a result of these three past years of relationships established with the government authorities, the chapter has achieved credibility and, as a result, received financial support to create an annual flagship event: Vive MICE.

On a global scale, the chapter has built industry connections and solidified relationships with five US-based MPI chapters through hosting board retreats, thereby creating networking events with the objective to develop and enhance business relations on an international scale.

Innovative Educational Programming 

MPI New Jersey has committed the past 5 years to rebuilding and reestablishing themselves as the premier place for industry professionals to receive top notch education in the region. Their education committee‘s efforts toward this goal culminated in the launch of the MPI New Jersey MEETS Conference, which stands for Meetings, Events, Education, Travel, and Sales.

In planning the MPI New Jersey MEETS Conference, the chapter encountered many of the same issues facing the entire meetings and events industry.

To overcome these challenges, the committee employed innovative tactics, starting with a robust marketing effort and a brand new ‘Co-Op partnership’. This partnership attracted attendance and support from other member organizations including MPI New Jersey’s local sister MPI Chapters, PCMA, and ILEA, to name a few.

MPI New Jersey also created an innovative sponsorship program, marketing guide, and public relations plan to attract attention and raise awareness. The 2022 MEETS Conference ultimately exceeded its goals and will likely become a signature event for the chapter.

Coming out of the pandemic, industry members were seeking more than just connection - but to be reinvigorated by live events and new experiences.

To address this need, MPI Connecticut River Valley Chapter created an experiential event template to bring live experiences to their members. With several years work and partnership from Mohegan Sun and the Miss America Organization, the chapter launched their template with the 2023 Miss America Competition in December 2022.

With any large event, especially an annual and historical one, there's a lot to go over: planning meetings, contracts, vendors, multiple stakeholders - a process taking months. Leading to a novel approach: pre-recording and preparing content months in advance. This included interviews with the planners discussing the event from the very beginning of the RFP process, recorded production calls, floor plans, photos, diagrams and live video updates from the day of. The content viewing was followed by a live Q&A with the planners, behind the scenes tours, a trip down the red carpet, and a surprise meet-and-greet with Miss America 2021. 

This format required months of preparation, pre-arranged interviews, questions, and was customized to fit members' schedules and budget, making this template adaptable across all regions.

Marketplace Excellence 

The annual MPI Greater New York Chapter Golf Outing has been the chapter’s best-attended and highest revenue-generating event of the year. The objectives of the event are to create great networking opportunities for the attendees, including experiences beyond golf so that more attendees can attend and so that this event has great impact that provides sponsors with the justification to return each year.

This year these objectives were all met and exceeded throughout the day. Thanks to a innovative receiption in NYC the night prior to the event as well as a full day of non-golfing activities with programming focused on wellness and CSR.

After two difficult years, the MPI Italia Chapter had “to learn” to return to normality in the meeting industry. The main objective of 2022 was to give an answer to growing topics not only in the meeting industry, but in all aspects of members’ lives, personal and professional: sustainability, safety, inclusion, innovation, diversity.

Collaboration has truly been the cornerstone of all the chapter’s activities. From the daily commitment of Board members in finding the proper content and topics for our events, to the active engagement of our members in Teams supporting each VP with brainstorming calls.

Through working heavily with members and leaders to understand the needs of the chapter, 8 of the chapter’s 18 events were hybrid or in-person with an overall attendance of over 1200 persons and the involvement of 122 speakers, 62% of which were female. This focus has also seen a dramatic increase in engagement online via the chapter’s social media.

Membership Achievement 

MPI Kansas City’s achievements as a chapter have been tremendous in the last 18 months as the industry continues to emerge from the pandemic. During 2021-22, MPI Kansas City grew overall membership by 14% and was awarded the Chapter of Excellence, exceeding standards in every single category of evaluation. At the time of submission, the chapter was pacing at 23% growth.

The chapter credits its success to its efforts to develop community. Chapter leaders have worked hard to develop new audiences by welcoming a number of small businesses, specialty venues, DJs, caterers, and other verticals not historically a part of the chapter.  MPI Kansas City celebrates the diversity of its membership and envisions a bright future as a chapter where all who want to join are enthusiastically welcomed.

The MPI Caribe Mexicano Chapter has experienced a unique magnitude of growth in its less than five years of existence. It has already received 3 RISE Awards, including the award for Membership Achievement in 2020.

The chapter has gained recognition from government tourist authorities in the state of Quintana Roo and the Yucatan; it engages sponsors dynamically with an annual flagship event to offer members great ROI. The chapter plans engaging events, board retreats and networking events, a new monthly newsletter; as well as meaningful outreach efforts by phone and “Whatsapp Marketplace” groups.

The MPI Northern California Chapter needed information to make sound and thoughtful decisions about how to weave diversity, equity, and inclusion into the fabric of the Chapter. The chapter decided to survey its membership. In doing so, the chapter made strategic decisions about the survey design, about survey outreach and marketing, and about how to interpret the data in order to gain productive results. Indeed, the survey results have pushed the Chapter to think expansively and more broadly.  

Specifically, the survey resulted in a new location for the chapter’s largest program ACE – Annual Conference & Expo to grant more access for attendees; as well as a greater consideration of religious holidays and on-site religious expression at meetings and events.





Recipient Yearbook