Welcome to the new MPI Black Meeting Professionals Community

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Welcome to the new MPI Black Meeting Professionals Community

By Michael Pinchera | Feb 1, 2022

Sandra Serrant, CMP, PMPMPI’s dedicated online community groups and forums help meeting professionals who have some specific aspects in common—whether the type of events they work or cultural groups to which they belong—share their own unique experiences and best practices in a safe space that’s also open to the association’s entire membership. This month, we spoke with Sandra Serrant, CMP, PMP, MS (MPI Greater New York Chapter), events manager at the Research Foundation of The City University of New York, a 25-plus-year industry veteran who is chair of the Black Meeting Professionals Community, to learn more about her hopes and desires for the group.

Were you involved in the creation of the new Black Meeting Professionals Community?

I was asked to chair the group last summer and to facilitate with the launch. The Black Meeting Professionals Community already existed but had been inactive. So I was extremely excited to help get it off the ground and to help grow it. 

What are a few of your goals for this community during 2022?

I will be chairing this community for two years. So I have many long-term goals for us. However, some of my immediate goals are:

  • Promote the Community to make sure Black event professionals are aware of us.
  • Encourage MPI members to join and support the Community.
  • I want the Community to be a place where we can engage in meaningful conversation about the meeting and event industry.
  • I would like to see the Black Meeting Professionals Community have an impact within MPI, as well as externally.  

What do you anticipate will be your greatest challenges for this community over the next year?

I think lack of visibility might be a big challenge. I have been a member of MPI for over 10 years, however, I did not truly understand the impact of joining a Community until last year. I want to take my experience to gain visibility for the BMP Community so that both current and new MPI members can easily find us. 

What are some of the greatest challenges that may be unique to Black meeting professionals, or perhaps all meeting professionals of color, these days?

Like any other industry, I think Black professionals are being held back for job promotions and sometimes we’re not seen as adding value to the team or organization. These days, what has happened with a lot of DEI (diversity, equity and inclusion) policies is that you become the face, but you’re not really being given the responsibilities and roles that come along with being the face of DEI at your organization. The salary doesn’t [often] reflect the additional work that they have to put in or nothing changes, just that they’ve been pushed out in front of the camera to show that the organization is open minded or modernizing to reflect the world.

I think the focus on the MPI Black Meeting Professionals Community could be one way that MPI is saying, “We see you, we hear you and understand there needs to be a safe space where you can discuss your issues and challenges—including the positives about your experience in the meeting industry.” I look forward to MPI really getting behind this community and promoting it, not just now, but throughout the coming years. There needs to be a space for a Black meeting planner to say, “OK, here’s what a client said to me today,” and “Here’s how I dealt with it,” or ask how they should have dealt with it.

[Sandra shared an experience she had previously when she was assigned to plan an event for a group known for espousing racist beliefs and rhetoric.]

I would have loved to have a place like the MPI Black Meeting Professionals Community to talk about that. That’s what I’d like this community to be—a place you go for advice and resources where you feel safe to talk about these really important issues.

Did you feel there were any good groups online where you could discuss that, at the time?

It was really just talking with my own group of peers and Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority, the first Black sorority in this country. So I went there to see how people would have dealt with this situation. There wasn’t really any professional place where I could go and search for answers.

How can interested meeting pros best engage with the Black Meeting Professionals Community?

Post, post, post. Post your questions, your thoughts, connect with other members, your insight, job information and help lead discussions on the Community's page.

Is there anything else related to this new community that you’d like to share?

My hope is that the Black Meeting Professionals Community is a welcoming space for open discussions about careers; as well as a place to seek career advice, network and be a resource—where we can openly express our thoughts on various industry-related topics, and more.



Michael Pinchera

Michael Pinchera, MPI's managing editor, is an award-winning writer and editor as well as a speaker, technologist and contributor to business, academic and pop culture publications since 1997.