A Beautiful Way to End 2020

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A Beautiful Way to End 2020

By Rich Luna | Dec 11, 2020

“This is our hope. This is the faith that I will go back to the South with. With this faith we will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope.”

I came across this phrase while listening to Martin Luther King Jr.’s famous “I Have a Dream” speech during a recent visit to the National Civil Rights Museum at the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, Tenn.

While I’d heard the speech many times before, I was suddenly overwhelmed this time, absorbing his powerful voice, hanging on to his every word. My eyes started to tear up. I caught myself in the moment, standing in such a solemn place listening to arguably the most impactful speech of my lifetime just steps away from where the civil rights leader was taken from us.

His words resonated, this time, much more deeply as I reflected on the journey traveled in 2020. Who could possibly have predicted how this year would so dramatically change our lives, personally and professionally?

The mountain of despair in King’s words was rooted in the atrocities of the civil rights movement of the 1960s. Sadly, far too many injustices continue today.

But King’s belief in hope and in faith speaks to all of us as we prepare for a new year.

Rather than recite all that ailed us in 2020, I instead searched for a few of the moments that instilled hope and faith in the past year, inspiring snapshots that convince me that we, too, shall overcome in our journey as meeting professionals.

Terms such as COVID-19, pandemic, quarantine and mask-up were not yet fully in the lexicon back in February when we were at MPI’s European Meetings and Events Conference, so wonderfully executed by our friends in Sevilla, Spain. As I look back, it was hope and faith that we saw in the face of Finn Mulligan, barely three months old, who was onstage at the closing general session dancing in the arms of his mom, Suzanne Medcalf Mulligan, the senior community engagement manager for the IMEX Group.

I saw faith and hope from the Javits Center in New York and at many other convention centers that opened their doors as temporary hospitals for COVID patients and support for frontline workers.

Sure, he’s got some strong opinions, but when it mattered, well-known association photographer Chuck Fazio stood out when he set up an emergency fund for anyone who became “unemployed, under-employed, are caring for someone who is any of those things and need money for food, medicine, utilities or some kind of emergency,” noting he would send them up to $250.

Two of MPI’s committees, Anti-Human Trafficking and Diversity & Inclusion, forged ahead in 2020, providing hope and faith for important human rights and social justice issues.

Our very own association, MPI, demonstrated faith, hope and bold leadership when it decided to move forward with the World Education Congress (WEC). More than 600 were courageous enough to be there, helping build a blueprint for face to face as we continue to grapple with COVID. If there is one good thing to come out of WEC, let it be that our industry can indeed recover so that all our meeting professionals, especially those who bore the brunt of layoffs and furloughs, can reunite again.

Those were just a few of the many moments of hope and faith in 2020. Let me leave you with one more. Meet Matilde, the beautiful baby daughter born in November to Elisabetta Caminiti (MPI Italia Chapter).

“Nobody better than a child can teach us the secret to eternal happiness,” one of Elisabetta’s friends noted. “Finally, a beautiful thing in this 2020.”

Yes, a beautiful way to end 2020.

To our MPI community, friends and families, thank you for your love and support. We wish you a very safe and blessed holiday season.

Until next time…

Rich Luna
Editor in Chief



Rich Luna

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