Remembering Elizabeth Glau

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Remembering Elizabeth Glau

By Michael Pinchera | Jul 21, 2021

Elizabeth Glau, a dedicated meeting professional and beloved wife, daughter and friend, died Monday evening following a fierce battle with cancer.

I didn’t know Elizabeth very well, but what I did know was an intelligent, kind and passionate meeting professional to whom people were drawn. One night during the World Education Congress (WEC) in Indianapolis, I went down to the hotel restaurant to grab a late dinner. Tracy Stuckrath—who I’ve known for years and have worked with on stories for The Meeting Professional—and Elizabeth were seated at a table and had just received their meals. Tracy saw me and invited me over to join them and introduced me to Elizabeth. We had some awesome discussions about technology, the industry and food. After dinner, they roped me into going to Rendezvous with them—it had been a very long day and I’d mentally crossed the late-night networking event off of my schedule, but their energy and enthusiasm lifted me up such that I may or may not have tried (and embarrassingly failed) to start a mosh pit when Nirvana was played at the event.

The content of that dinner chat led directly to a feature story in our November 2018 issue for which Elizabeth graced the magazine’s cover. And that story wasn’t fluff, “Meet Your New Teammates” went on to win a gold award from the American Society of Business Publication Editors in the Feature Article category.

Glau TMP 1118 cover

Since her cancer diagnosis, it had been clear as day—undeniably—the impact that Elizabeth had on so many, with nearly 60 people coming together to help create a 50-minute-long video tribute to her. Wonderfully, she was shown the video while in the stunning and contemplative Big Sur, less than a month before she passed.

The following is not an attempt to write her biography, but to share personal stories and remembrances from some of her friends and colleagues.

Elizabeth Brazil, CMP

Elizabeth and I first met as members of the MPI Southern California Chapter (MPISCC), but our friendship really took off when she, Elizabeth McDonald and I all served on the MPISCC board together a decade or more ago. Because we shared a name, we took it upon ourselves to become the Elizabeth version of the three musketeers that year, calling ourselves E3—laughing, learning and leading together. It was silly but even that is indicative of why our friendship blossomed—we each love a good laugh and hers was infectious. Little did I know that was the beginning of my front seat, watching this dynamo in action.

Elizabeth lived to connect with others and to create connections for others. In the early stages of LinkedIn and Twitter when many, including myself, were cautious and barely dipping our toes in, Elizabeth jumped in with both feet accepting and offering invitations to all who showed an interest. At first, I thought she was crazy—what about professional blow back? Yet she advocated that all connections were opportunities, and she was right. Connections turned into coffees, meetups when she happened to be traveling through your town, sharing knowledge, discovering new approaches and technological opportunities all while expanding and refining her vision and creating professional connections and friendships across the globe. Through her own connections, Elizabeth facilitated bringing others in her network together, too—businesses have grown, friendships have been forged and our industry has evolved because of the people Elizabeth has introduced and inspired. I have a number of truly special, valued colleagues and compadres all because of Elizabeth and her delight in bringing people together.

An early adopter, a sense of adventure, a willingness to take a risk, her ethical fortitude and a fierce loyalty—these are the traits that led Elizabeth to become such an influencer in our industry. She launched Building Blocks Social Media before most of us really understood the possibilities and then she proceeded to share her vision and knowledge at hundreds of trade shows, speaking events and one-on-one training sessions. Elizabeth became a go-to voice in our industry about event apps, beacons and how to best use technology to engage attendees and maximize ROI, working with some of the most innovative minds in event tech. Her drive to build better events has been a cornerstone of her actions for many years and her efforts have helped affect change across the board. It has been awe-inspiring to watch her in action and to know that my dear friend had a profound impact on so many, including moi.

These last few months, Elizabeth’s last gifts for us all were in selflessly, transparently sharing her health journey. Cancer alone would have been enough, but she endured ancillary medical challenges that no one could have anticipated. Through it all, the good days and the heartbreaking ones, she demonstrated her resilience, her grace and often her humor to show us there’s always a way to pick yourself up, dust yourself off and keep moving forward. She was a remarkable woman, a cherished friend and a steadfast advocate whose passing has left a gaping hole in many hearts.

Dawn Rasmussen, CMP

I met Elizabeth, like so many other people, because of MPI.

We had both arrived in Salt Lake City in 2009 for WEC. Elizabeth was with her husband, Mac, and they stepped into the elevator. I asked if they were there for WEC and Elizabeth said yes. We chatted in the elevator for just a bit, and mentioned we were all hungry after our flights to SLC, so I suggested we go grab a bite to eat before heading over to register at the convention center. Elizabeth said, “YES!” enthusiastically, and we remained friends ever since. 

That moment is a great snapshot of Elizabeth as a person—she always said YES to so many things and people. She always was looking forward, always welcoming people with her easy smile and quick warm laugh, and always positive. 

One time I was in Southern California for a resume writers’ conference, and she drove down to meet me. We got to talking and were so caught up in the conversation that I ended up leaving the restaurant where we had dinner without my credit card! I forgot to take it with me because we were so deep in conversation.

It was awesome when she and Mac moved to Oregon, and they came out to my house one March for a brewery tour—we had a lot of fun!  

Elizabeth has, to me, always been one of those points of light reaching for the stars, and I am grateful she has now joined those celestial bodies, shining ever so brightly still. 

Tracy Stuckrath, CSEP, CMM, CHC, CFPM

The thing that resonates with me about Elizabeth across the board is her smile and her laugh. It was just this infectious laugh! Whether it was something that was annoying her or something that made her laugh, it was so authentic and so real that it made you feel so welcome. And her penchant for helping people look at things differently, from a variety of different perspectives... She was an amazing person.

The last thing that she and I did together was an online summit in May 2020. During that, we were talking about changes in society—and this was just after the pandemic hit. We discussed what did we thought was going to change and how that was all going to work. Just her thought process was amazing...thinking about how we could use this pandemic as a way to rewrite the ways in which we do things. I love her for that.

I have no idea when we first met and I have no idea how we first met, but I am so glad and so honored that she was my friend. Her goal was to make people better people and to make the industry a better industry so that it turns out better people and better results for humankind. She will be sorely missed by so many people.

Corbin Ball, CSP, CMP, DES

I knew Elizabeth Glau for many years through her participation with MPI, her leadership at a past MPISCC EdCon where I was a speaker, her social media experience/influence and her visible presence and participation at numerous industry events over the years. She was unfailingly organized and passionate about supporting the event industry. She provided a legacy of leadership, professionalism and vision that are inspirations for many and will be long remembered. I feel fortunate to have known her and will miss her very much. 

Tahira Endean

Elizabeth was a purpose-driven, fierce advocate who celebrated all aspects of our event industry and most especially the people in it. Elizabeth gave freely of her time and energy and with great enthusiasm she collected friends, fun and fans wherever she went—and we will all remember her laugh, because you were sure to hear it every time you saw her.

Intelligent, curious and passionate, she understood the power we have to create impact and continued to seek ways to do this, focused always on soul versus role. We both believe events can and should be transformational.

When she was diagnosed with cancer, she took all of us on the journey with her through posts and videos with unrelenting honesty, bringing her intense humanity to the forefront. 

In a conversation just one short year ago with Liz King Caruso, soon before she could imagine having the disease that so rapidly stole her, Elizabeth said, “It’s a journey, and If I’m doing life right I am continuing to learn and grow. The hardest part for all of us is to figure out who you are and then share it authentically.” There is a lesson here we can all lean in to as we honor the legacy she leaves.

Amy Cowden, CMP, CED

When I think of Elizabeth, it’s always with a big smile on her face...one where she’d get a crinkle in her nose. That’s because being around her was always fun and full of laughter. Pretty amazing if you think when I first met Elizabeth it was when we were working together for the MPI San Diego Chapter as facilitators for the CMP Study Group some 15 years ago. I don’t recall the details at this point but just remember Elizbeth, Michelle Schneider (our other partner in crime) and I having planning sessions that were full of laughter—who knew facilitating could be so fun! As our paths continued to cross over the years, whenever I saw Elizabeth, she always had that smile on her face and would ask with genuine interest, “What’s new?” And then she would listen intently to your answer. Whenever you departed ways with her, you, too, had a smile on your face and felt like you had a meaningful conversation. I will miss having those moments with Elizabeth.

Megan Powers

You just never know what any “business relationship” might lead to. In 2008, I met Elizabeth at an MPI San Diego event—a group of us had “after drinks” nearby and I offered to buy her a beer (FYI, she was not a beer drinker)… she was so delighted to be on the receiving end of the seller/planner scenario, she took it! I didn’t learn until later that not only was she not much of a drinker, but beer would never be her first choice. 

We ended up working together and becoming great friends. When people asked why she decided to work with me, that [story] was her reason, which became an ongoing joke for the next 13 years. 

We were as similar as we were different, and I think I’ve learned more from her in my career than I have from anyone else. 

Our industry has lost a person who pushed us to do better. To be better. Let’s all learn from Elizabeth to not do what’s easy, but what’s right. 

Adrian Segar

Elizabeth was always fun to be with, and eager to lend a helping hand. A year ago, I asked for volunteers to help me put on a free online The Three Questions workshop. Elizabeth said “yes” immediately, not only volunteering her time but also finding other people to help. I couldn’t have put on the workshop without her organizing savvy, and her skill as a perceptive, curious, friendly, easy-going facilitator. I love Elizabeth and miss her.

Jessie States, CMP, CMM

I remember the first time I met Elizabeth Glau. It was 2010 at the World Education Congress in Vancouver, and my friend Dawn Rasmussen told me there was someone I just had to meet. She introduced us at dinner. And she was right. I had to meet Elizabeth. She was inspiring, always willing to take a step further for others. She had this innate ability to predict the future when it came to event trends and technology. She shared her network, connecting people at just the right moment for them. And she cared deeply about her friends, her community and the world. We weren’t always in touch, but we were always connected. The last time I saw Elizabeth was in Dallas at a 2019 Plan Your Meetings Live event. We shared a late lunch after the event and I drove her to the airport. I will miss her fiercely, but our industry will miss her vision, strength and drive even more.

Stacey Beckerley

Elizabeth—I’ll always remember your smile. Elizabeth always had a beautiful smile and was always very welcoming at every event I saw her at. I would describe her as a magnetic personality that would make you feel welcome and that she was genuinely interested in chatting with you. Always knowledgeable but better than that always interested in really connecting and I always appreciated that in Elizabeth. She made others feel comfortable and at ease. She just had a very calm way about her that I really loved and was special.   

Courtney Stanley

I always looked forward to running into Elizabeth at industry events. No matter what was happening in her life, she always had a smile on her face and a genuine warmth about her. She made an effort to connect with and get to know everyone she met—regardless of background or status. Elizabeth was a true representation of the heart and soul of our community. Her impact and legacy will carry on for a very long time.

Brandt Krueger

The thing I keep saying over and over is this: Elizabeth had one of those magical personalities that, no matter how long it’d been seen you last saw each other, after the initial hug it was as if no time had passed. We would often go months without seeing each other or chatting on the phone, and yet when we did it was easy, friendly, insightful and fun. At different times in our careers, we would bounce questions, ideas and even potential employment shifts off each other, and I respected her thoughts on these matters tremendously. Our industry, and our world, are lesser for not having her in it. 

Whenever we lose someone like Elizabeth, the world seems a little dimmer. It’s up to the rest of us to be a little kinder, help others when they need it and shine our own lights a little brighter to make up for the light that’s been lost.

Madelyn Marusa

Elizabeth was an active member in the MPI San Diego Chapter along with SITE SoCal. She was always the silent volunteer, happy to help and always provided value in what she accomplished. Capable, resourceful and her willingness to pitch in was part of her DNA. Long live Elizabeth's spirit in all that knew her.
 


If you've got memories of Elizabeth Glau that you'd like added here, email me.

 

Author

michael-pinchera
Michael Pinchera

Michael Pinchera is an award-winning writer and editor for The Meeting Professional as well as a speaker, technologist and contributor to business, academic and pop culture publications since 1997. Read more of his work at www.whatmemeworry.com.