The CMP Designation

Studying for the Certified Meeting Professional exam? MPI Ottawa has you covered!
Learn More

MPI Ottawa Upcoming Events

Check out all the exciting events taking place in the upcoming 2023/2024 year!
Learn More

Overall Excellence Chapter Award



Ten Ways MPI Has Changed My Life - Lydia Blanchard

Ten Ways MPI Has Changed My Life

By: Lydia (Peltz) Blanchard | Nov 9, 2021

Ten Ways MPI Has Changed My Life - Lydia Blanchard

You’ve probably heard that there are so many benefits to being a member of MPI, but what you might not know is that those benefits can be deeper and more personal than you could ever imagine, simply by reading about them on the website.

To this day, I credit MPI for being the engine that accelerated my career and fueled my network to get me to where I am today.

Here is a list of the many ways I have personally benefitted from my membership, beyond just the basics:

1. Network 
Over the past 10 years, I have met so many incredible people through MPI, several of whom have turned into life-long friends. I have made personal and professional connections locally (in Ottawa), in the Greater Toronto Area, across Canada, and internationally. Without MPI, my network would be significantly smaller, both in terms of the number of people I know, and in terms of the geographic reach and the diversity of people that I have met across the globe.

1 Network

2. Business 
I have done business with many different MPI Ottawa Chapter members, which has resulted in both money earned and money saved, throughout the years. When I was a supplier member with various hotels between 2011 and 2018, I had the pleasure of working with several different planner members. Now that I am a planner member, I have used the services of several local supplier members. I often find that MPI supplier members provide me with the best value and service because of the relationships that I have built with each of them over time.

2 Business

3. Experience
I have learned new skills through the volunteer work that I have done for the MPI Ottawa Chapter, which has directly helped me advance in my career. For example, I had never used social media in a professional context before I joined the Marketing & Communications committee, but with the help of some excellent mentorship from fellow members such as Jennifer McAndrew, Melanie Hudson, Doreen Ashton Wagner, Lisa Holmes, and Iana Ciatti, I learned to use Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and LinkedIn as a tool in my professional repertoire that has proven invaluable to me in my business development, fundraising and event management career. I also learned how to write and edit professionally, how to design and edit a website, how to edit videos and even how to publish a printed magazine, all thanks to my time volunteering for the Publications Committee.

3 Experience

4. Impact
MPI also taught me the value of giving back to the community, and the impact of philanthropy, during my time as a volunteer on the Community Outreach Committee, under the mentorship of fellow members like Riccarda Galioto, Allison Collins, and John-Michael Maharaj. It was thanks to them that I learned what it takes to plan and execute MPI Ottawa’s Charity Auction & Dinner, and other community-centric team-building initiatives like the Ottawa Food Bank’s Annual Food Sort Challenge, serving breakfast with the Ottawa Network for Education’s School Breakfast Program, and organizing the chapter’s annual charity Golf Tournament. My experience on the Community Outreach Committee taught me many of the skills that I use daily now, in my role as the Director of Community Engagement at the CHEO Foundation. That committee also showed me the true meaning behind MPI’s motto: when we meet, we change the world!

4 Impact

5. Mentorships
I have grown so much personally and professionally thanks to the many mentors that I have worked with through MPI, some of which I have listed above, and others like Jennifer Beatty, David Dugas, Karen Wiersma, Andrea Wagner, Lira Buschman, Marie-Louise Doyle, Darlene Kelly-Stewart, Andrew Horsfield, and many more. I have also started mentoring several students through Algonquin College’s Event Management program throughout the past two years, since I have seen the talent and potential that comes out of that program through those who I have met at various MPI Ottawa Chapter events.

5 Mentorships

6. Talent
I had the pleasure of working with Katherine Craig, CMP as a volunteer on the Publications Committee when she was an Event Management student at Algonquin College in 2015. Immediately after starting at the CHEO Foundation in May 2019, I reached out to Katherine when I began looking to hire someone for the role of Community Engagement Coordinator on my team, because I knew she had an amazing work ethic, and that she would bring a lot of talent and creativity to the organization. Now, I consider myself extremely fortunate to get to work with her professionally daily, all thanks to our relationship starting out as mutual volunteers for the MPI Ottawa Chapter.

6 Talent

7. Growth
I gained in-depth leadership experience during the time that I served on the MPI Ottawa Chapter’s Board of Directors, first as the Director of Publications, and then as the Vice-President of Communications. I learned about volunteer management, budgeting, strategic planning, marketing and communications, public relations, public speaking, team building, non-profit governance, and so much more… all of which are skills that helped me secure my role with the CHEO Foundation.

7 Growth

8. Recognition
I have been honored with awards, both locally (when I received the MPI Ottawa Chapter Volunteer of the Year award at the Prix Prestige Awards Gala in 2014), and internationally (when I received the MPI RISE Award for Young Professional Achievement at WEC in 2016 – thanks to a nomination from a fellow MPI Ottawa Chapter Board Member, Alyssa Lancefield), which are certainly two notable highlights in my career. Those awards also led to other extremely humbling opportunities for me, such as when I received the Rising Star Award from Smart Women in Meetings in 2017, and the Artists of Assembly 40 Under 40 Award from Connect Association in 2017.

8 Recognition

9. Travel
I have gotten to travel thanks to MPI! In 2015, I got to travel to Plano, Texas for a leadership training workshop during my time on the MPI Ottawa Chapter Board. In 2016, I got to experience WEC in Atlantic City thanks to the MPI RISE Awards, and in 2017, I got to experience WEC in Las Vegas thanks to a scholarship from the MPI Foundation.

9 Travel 
10. Education
I have learned so much about all aspects of meetings and events, thanks to the many different events and education sessions that I have attended throughout the years. I use what I have learned about contract negotiations, audio-visual technologies, entertainment, décor, venues, seating plans, food & beverage, attendee engagement, event marketing strategies and so much more, in the events that I manage for the CHEO Foundation. Much of my work is inspired by the creative elements that I’ve seen at MPI events (in Ottawa and Toronto and at WEC). For example, I often refer to Michael Cerbelli’s « The Hot List » when I am looking for fun/unique/trendy entertainment concepts, ever since I saw his keynote address at WEC in 2016. I have also grown to love all the unique venues, thought-provoking speakers, creative food & beverage offerings and inspiring entertainers that we have right here in Ottawa, which I may never have known existed if it weren’t for MPI Ottawa showcasing them at each of our local chapter events.

10 Education

I joined MPI in November 2011 when I started working as the Sales Manager at the Minto Suite Hotel. I was still new to the meetings industry and my professional network was practically non-existent. I have learned and grown so much since then, thanks to my membership with MPI and the people who I have met along the way. If you are new to the industry or if you want to deepen your knowledge, skills and relationships within the industry, I highly recommend signing up for a membership, attending events to meet and connect with other members and volunteering on one or more committees to get the most out of your experience.

Lydia headshot Article written by: Lydia (Peltz) Blanchard | LinkedIn, Director of Community Engagement, CHEO Foundation

Article edited by: Darlene Kelly-Stewart, Stonehouse Sales & Marketing Services



Lydia headshot
Lydia (Peltz) Blanchard
Director of Community Engagement at CHEO Foundation


Load more comments
New code
Comment by from




Connect with Us

Chapter Advertisement

Job Postings