Blog > Member Spotlight

Chase Brunson

By Chase Brunson | Oct 22, 2021

I started in the industry as part of the Special Events section of Transportation Services at Texas A&M University. We managed over 100 parking lots for more than 150,000 visitors every game day. I fell in love with the chaotic, 15-hour days and the thrill that no event day would ever be like another and haven’t looked back since.

Now that I’ve held my CMP for a while, I’m ready to pursue my CMM or a Master’s in meetings and events.

I was a COVID career casualty. As the convention services manager at a Portland, Ore., Embassy Suites, I wasn’t needed when cancellations started. My fiancé and I moved back home to Austin, Texas, where we lived with my parents while job hunting. It took us about five months to get back on our feet. Our wedding also had to be rescheduled from January 2021 to February 2022. It was a tough year, but we’re lucky to have had a good support network to fall back on.

My former manager at Transportation Services, Lynn Wiggs, has always been in my corner and shown up for me. She exemplifies true leadership, and it has been through watching and learning from her that I know the leader I’m striving to be. She leads with compassion, empathy and trust but knows how to be firm without belittling others. I’ll never be able to thank Lynn enough for the on-the-job and life lessons she’s taught me, nor explain the full impact she’s had on me, but I’m very glad for that one scheduling mix-up that brought her into my life at a time when I really needed a caring adult to be there for me.

As a young professional in an industry where many of us are the only ones in our office with our skill set doing these jobs, I knew I needed a professional network of likeminded peers. I found the very active MPI Oregon Chapter and joined immediately. In my four years, I have served on a variety of chapter committees and two different chapter boards, as well as the MPI Global DEI Committee. Through these experiences I have gained a wealth of knowledge and built an impressive network that would not have been possible through just my career.

If we don’t have a virtual component, we can’t consider our events accessible to all. Streaming an event breaks down barriers for those with disabilities, family or career obligations, and even budget constraints.

We must stand up to LGBTQ discrimination laws together as an industry. As a transgender man, I speak at many industry events about this—when you source locations you need to be looking at gender identity laws. In certain states people like me can legally be refused things like healthcare. Many of us are not equipped or prepared to handle the fallout if a transgender person has a medical emergency at our event, but EMS refuses to treat them. As planners, we have a duty of care to participants. Our events must be safe and accessible to all, and right now there are many places where they aren’t. Also, please stop mandatory room sharing for participants—it’s dangerous and a lawsuit is a lot more costly than additional room nights. Our industry is responsible for bringing a lot of revenue to the places we choose, and we will make a difference if we band together.

Photo by Torrey Schenewerk, GCS Photography Inc.



Chase Brunson

Chase Brunson, CMP, is sections and events manager for the Austin Bar Association and director of marketing for the MPI Texas Hill Country Chapter. He has been an MPI member since 2017.