Bryan Quinan: Member of the Year, MPI RISE Awards

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Bryan Quinan: Member of the Year, MPI RISE Awards

By Rich Luna | Jul 6, 2020

Meet Bryan Quinan, CMP (MPI Southern California Chapter), who received the 2020 MPI RISE Award for Member of the Year. This award is given to an exceptional MPI member who through volunteer efforts has made outstanding grassroots contributions and demonstrated unparalleled commitment to the advancement of a chapter, club, community or region.

Who or what inspired you to become involved as a volunteer?

It was a series of three influential women that introduced me to MPI and showed me what selfless giving meant, and ultimately made me take the time to roll up my sleeves and get involved. It began with my first job out of college with a DMC in Maui, Hawaii. I worked for Kim Abrahamson at the former Island Incentives. She sent me to my first MPI World Education Congress. Then in San Diego, I was working for Fabienne Hanks at the Meeting Manager, and her family has a tremendous footprint in the Southern California meetings and events industry. After settling back in Los Angeles, another MPISCC member, Kay Boles, invited me to lunch with her at UCLA and asked me to help her write a volunteer handbook!

This award honors volunteerism. What does is mean for you to receive this RISE Award?

I’ve been volunteering with our chapter for 10 years, and I’ve always believed what you do today will allow someone to pick up where you left off and make it better. It’s incredible to receive this award because I would never put myself in that category of exceptional recognition—I was just doing what I loved.

Your resume is filled with accomplishments. What are you most proud of?

Spending time in the Office of the President for an award-winning chapter is probably the proudest—although I’ve had so many opportunities to work with amazing people in our industry. I found out I had Stage 3 cancer as president-elect, and coming through all that with a healthy body and a healthy, successful chapter fills me with gratitude.

You’re involved in a chapter that has a record of success. What are the values that inspire MPISCC?

Maintaining development pathways and resources that enable members to evolve their careers and perspectives. We try to engage and inspire our community through unique experiences and providing ways to celebrate or recognize our members.

What would you still like to accomplish?

A seat on the MPI International Board of Directors might be something I try to apply for in the future. I’d like to see more from MPI in terms of our diversity and inclusion—I’m on the International Committee and it continues to do great work to inform the organization, but we can always do more.

“I was just doing what I loved.”

How has MPI helped you in your career as a meeting professional?

My elevator pitch is that all my jobs came from applying through the MPI career center.

How have you coped with the COVID crisis, professionally and personally?

Professionally, I’ll be forever grateful for my MPI community coming together during these incredible crises. To have your whole world upside down and still be able to show up for virtual meetings and contribute to recovery efforts is impressive. There are so many stories of survival and ingenuity coming from the hospitality industry now. Combine that with the changes in how we respect and honor each other’s experience, the next six to 12 months will inform how we meet face to face again. It’s exciting to witness that kind of change.

I’ve changed all my routines, started reading more and completed a handful of projects that I was putting off for a long time. I’d say I was very productive in lockdown and safer-at-home became busier at home!

You have shared your battle with colorectal cancer and the impact it has had on your life. Reflecting on that, what have you learned about yourself?

I’m much more patient, deliberate and take more time to give thanks to people in my life. As a board volunteer, sometimes you have to do most of the work required to get a project done. Now being a volunteer, a cancer patient and a chapter president at the same time forced me to learn how to ask for help, ultimately how to accept needing to be helped. This acceptance gave me the ability to balance work, my treatments and leading the chapter. It takes a village to lead an organization like ours, but this learning opportunity also demonstrated courage and strength for our board. It was a pretty meaningful experience.  

What do you want your time here on earth to mean?

I’m accepting this award for all the volunteers—even for someone who is still considering getting involved. If my story is inspiring, whether that is thriving with cancer or just giving back to an organization, that will mean a lot. I’m still writing that story, by the way, so stay tuned!

2020 MPI RISE Awards: Learn more about all of the recipients.

When you were young, what did you want to do when you grew up?

I wanted to be a banker. I used to set up shop in our garage with the neighborhood kids, using my dad’s old briefcase. He even had a former bank teller cash box for us to use when we played.

What are you most passionate about outside of your career and the meeting industry?

When confronted with mortality at a reasonably young age, inevitably, one turns to faith, and I’ve had a lot of interest in spirituality. What does it all mean? Can I have a relationship with God? I’m meditating more and looking for healthy outlets to relieve stress. I want to help homeless queer youth with the same opportunities I had, despite their circumstances.

What’s the best advice someone gave you?

Learn not to judge everything. Let go of your attachment to outcomes. Become aware of your presence in this now moment. The thoughts in your mind do not define who you are.

What advice would you give to someone considering a career in meetings and events?

Those top lists of the most stressful jobs are correct; people in meetings and events deal with a lot of stress. You have to love it and accept the craziness that comes along with opportunities to travel, motivate and help other people learn.

Next Monday we’ll speak with Sherry DeLaGarza, CMP, CMM (MPI Dallas-Fort Worth Chapter), who received the RISE Award for Meeting Industry Leadership.



Rich Luna

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