Annette Gregg Named Senior Vice President of Experience for MPI

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Annette Gregg Named Senior Vice President of Experience for MPI

By Rich Luna | Aug 18, 2019

When Meeting Professionals International began its search earlier this year for a senior executive to oversee its events and education initiatives, Annette Gregg was busily recruiting and reviewing candidates in her role as incoming chair for MPI’s International Board of Directors (IBOD).

The more she thought about the position, the more attractive it became, and she decided the position would be a good fit for her. Turns out, the feeling was mutual.

MPI has announced that Gregg is joining the association in early September as senior vice president of experience, overseeing the MPI Academy and Events teams. Gregg, a 25-plus year veteran of the meeting industry, leaves her role as senior vice president for PRA, one of the largest U.S. business events agencies, where she has worked since 2016.

“The more I thought about it, the more I felt it was a great opportunity to combine both sides of the industry, education and events,” Gregg said. “A lot of people have event design experience, but not a lot of education experience. It’s the other way around for others. But I believe the two go hand-in-hand and this type of opportunity is rare, so when I started looking at it, I got more and more excited.

“At this point in my career, l was looking at opportunities with an ideal combination of events and education. I can contribute to the biggest member values we have to offer—professional development and live events—and I’m looking forward to helping team members elevate their careers and their events.”

Gregg has resigned her role on the IBOD, which also means stepping down as incoming chair, a year-long term that was scheduled to begin in January 2020. MPI will now follow a process defined in its bylaws that state when a chair-elect resigns, the IBOD can determine a replacement for the chair. MPI’s goal is to announce the new chair-elect during IMEX America in Las Vegas in September 2019.

“One of the toughest parts of this decision was having to resign as incoming board chair,” Gregg said. “That was such a proud moment for me, the ultimate culmination of my volunteerism. But I plan to still make an impact with team members, and maybe even a bigger impact, as a full-time staff member.”

Steve O’Malley, division president at Maritz Travel and current IBOD chair, said the strategic plan set forth from the IBOD does not change with this news.

“We will continue to press forward on our visions of being the home of the event professional for all of their learning, networking and certification needs,” he said. “I’m confident that together with our MPI Global team, the IBOD will continue the increase in the velocity we have seen in accomplishing our goals.” 

Gregg joined MPI as a member in 1998, and has been actively involved as a volunteer, beginning with engagement and leadership roles with the MPI San Diego and MPI Southern California chapters. She served on MPI’s audit/finance and board development committees, and the senior executive and MPI Women task forces. She has been on the IBOD since 2014.

She approached MPI President and CEO Paul Van Deventer and Chief Operations Officer Darren Temple at the World Education Congress in Toronto to express her interest in the position.

“I’m thrilled that I can continue to contribute to this organization that I have called home as a team member, chapter leader and board member,” she said.

O’Malley said Gregg is the “perfect person for this role as she combines not only building incredible event experiences for MPI constituents, but she will also lead our efforts to feed every event professional the type of curriculum that they need. Annette’s senior leadership training and roles have exposed her to both of these sets of responsibilities.”

He added that Gregg “really is the ‘unicorn’ for this role—one in a million.”

“I really like that someone who has such a strong MPI heart now sits at the center of how we will engage so much of our community,” O’Malley said. “Her hiring also brings diversity to the senior level of the MPI staff and provides strength in succession planning for our future.”

Gregg brings extensive expertise to the role given her background in the meeting and hospitality industry, serving in executive-level positions for corporations, associations, and non-profits. Since 1995, she has taught at several universities, and she is currently program advisor for San Diego State University’s Meeting and Event Certificate Program, one of the most successful professional programs in the university’s history. She has also led several successful meeting and event teams with corporations, associations and agencies.

Gregg has delivered hundreds of keynotes and workshops on a variety of topics such as experience design, branding and marketing, negotiation and professional development. She was named Instructor of the Year at San Diego State University and inducted into the Center for Business Intelligence’s Circle of Excellence for her training and speaking. In 2018, she won the Coach Award for the Association of Women in Events, and in 2016, was named to the MeetingsNet Changemakers list and awarded Planner of the Year by the MPI San Diego Chapter.

She believes her strong education background and experience in event planning and design will help her elevate two areas critical to serving members of the largest meeting and event association in the world.

“There’s been a fundamental shift in how you approach live events,” she said. “They should be positioned as collaboration opportunities that start with the paradigm shift in the way you construct the experience. The value is in the space and moments orchestrated, or the spontaneous and meaningful ways of connecting. I’d like to see us take this experiential design path we’ve been on to a deeper level, showing the value and continuing to add world-class education.”

Gregg said it will be a priority for her to devise education that accommodates the vast range of learning styles, from members who prefer collaborative settings to those who prefer an individualized approach.

“MPI has done a great job of identifying core certificate offerings while keeping education timely and recognizing changing needs,” she said. “We need to continue that and dish up the education in different formats and digestible takeaways. People learn differently and the more variety we can offer, the better.”

Gregg has also been at the forefront of addressing issues and themes relevant to women in the industry and said that her voice would “continue to be strong in that space, advocating for content and tools to help women succeed.”

O’Malley said Gregg has both vision and passion and “knows how to balance these. She understands and appreciates how all of her decisions affect her teams and the people they serve. She knows what is like to walk in the other person’s shoes because she has had such a thorough and diverse career in the events industry.”

Gregg, who earned her undergraduate degree in international relations and affairs from the University of California at Berkeley and a master’s in international business from California Miramar University, began her professional career on the conference team for the trade association Food Marketing Institute. She would serve in various roles for organizations such as Concepts Worldwide, UCLA, the Los Angeles Convention Center, San Diego CVB and Monterey County CVB, and LPL Financial before joining PRA in the spring of 2016. While there, she led the sales and operational efforts of the PRA offices throughout Southern California, Hawaii and Arizona, setting strategic direction and guidance.

“While Annette will be missed at PRA, she has been building her entire career for this moment at MPI,” said Tony Lorenz, CMM, CEO of PRA. “As a veteran MPI volunteer leader and 25-year member, I appreciate and applaud the extraordinary value Annette will create for our industry at MPI. Bravo!”

Van Deventer said Gregg has had a “profound influence on the success and growth of MPI, as well as the meeting and event industry. Not only are we thrilled to welcome Annette to the leadership team, but also anticipate the exciting advances she will make to strategically enhance and deliver next-level education and events for our global community.”



Rich Luna

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