RISE Awards: Kate Copeland, Member of the Year

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RISE Awards: Kate Copeland, Member of the Year

By Rich Luna | Jul 9, 2021

Meet Kate Copeland, CMM, CMP, CED, DES (MPI Connecticut River Valley Chapter), who received the 2021 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?

I have always been a “doer” and my MPI motto is that “you get out what you put in.” MPI is both a professional resource for me as well as a robust community within which I thrive. Not only have the educational offerings helped me to learn what it means to be a successful, contributing member of our industry, but the people I have met along the way truly feel like family. As I approach my 10-year anniversary with MPI, I still feel as though the organization continues to give me growth opportunities and, in turn, I am passionate about giving back to the MPI community.

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

I truly enjoy my involvement with MPI, both at the Global and chapter levels, so I would continue my volunteerism regardless of any accolades. However, to have my peers and MPI Global recognize my contributions to the community feels incredibly special. I have been so lucky to receive this award and the MPI community could not have been kinder in celebrating with me.

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

I am most proud that even though my work and MPI obligations take time and dedication, I am still able to balance them with critical family time. My son is about to turn five and I know this stage with him is fleeting, so I make every effort to put him and my husband first. Luckily, they are completely supportive of my professional endeavors. Little ones are always watching the example that their parents set!

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

My president-elect, Lacee Colwell, used to say that our chapter was “scrappy.” MPI Connecticut River Valley is a small chapter, but an incredibly close-knit and resourceful one. Our best quality is that we’re tenacious—when the going gets tough, we band together and rally to get the job done. MPI CRV also prides itself on being inclusive—we welcome new members with open arms.

What would you still like to accomplish?

I plan to continue my involvement as an MPI Global volunteer and facilitator. Somewhere down the line, I would be interested in applying to the International Board of Directors. I earned an MBA from UConn back in 2015, but I am also considering applying for another graduate degree program. I love to learn.  I would also like to explore more speaking and moderating opportunities.

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

I earned my CMP, CMM and CED with the help of MPI. Along with volunteering, every educational opportunity has not only broadened my skill set and experience, but also has introduced me to a new community of industry professionals with whom I can network. These programs also allow me to share cutting-edge innovations and ideas with my staff and colleagues. I attribute my success as a manager to the lessons I learned as a chapter president.

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

I have coped with the COVID crisis by focusing on what things I could still control. I led the pivot of my department to virtual events. I earned a digital events certificate. I aimed to help chapter leaders feel re-energized—to remember that they had each other and that even if the means and path had been altered, the end goals could still be achieved in a manageable way. I am often reminding leaders that the everyday actions to uphold MPI’s mission and vision in a pandemic world should be considered a success and that their ambitions for going above and beyond will be attainable again. The important thing is that we all continue operating in the spirit of connecting the community and empowering the industry.

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

As a child, I always wanted to be a lawyer or involved in politics. I actually started my career working for a government relations firm. I am one of those people who “fell” into the industry, and I haven’t looked back.

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

Aside from spending time with my family, I am very passionate about the arts. I am a former chairperson of an arts education nonprofit in Connecticut. I am also an avid theatergoer and I frequent museums, concerts, you name it. I don’t feel like I have much artistic talent personally, but I admire those who do and the new, exciting perspectives they reveal.

What’s the best advice someone gave you?

From a young age, my mother always told me to “put the shoe on the other foot.” Little did I know that the advice that drove me crazy as a kid would shape all of my interactions as an adult. I think EQ is an incredibly crucial skill to meet people at their level. Thoughtfully considering another person’s point of view or circumstance doesn’t mean I will always agree with them, but it does help me understand their position and thus better respond to the situation at hand.

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

The meeting and event industry has a unique culture—welcoming, supportive and vibrant. It presents a wealth of opportunity, but be prepared to hustle. The industry operates on the cusp of continual innovation and the notorious demand is to do more with less. But fear not, you will be in good company. Often industry members will describe their colleagues as family. They create and nurture the culture through collaboration, networking and professional growth. MPI has a multitude of resources available for providing education and connections. Take the initiative to go to meetings, participate in an education program or volunteer. Your efforts can make a tangible difference and truly make you feel like part of a community. You get out what you put in. When do you want to start?

Each week, we’re highlighting individuals and chapters that received 2021 RISE Awards. Learn more about the MPI Italia Chapter, recipient of the RISE Award for Membership Achievement. Visit the blog on July 19 to learn more Greg Elam (RISE Award for Meeting Industry Leadership) and the MPI Caribe Mexicano Chapter (RISE Award for Innovative Educational Programming).



Rich Luna

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