MPI Chicago Area Chapter

How to Make the Most of Your MPI Membership

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Heather Warthen

VP of Membership

In 2013, I made a career transition from award-winning newspaper managing editor to full-time event planner and manager for the same company. Creating experiences for our readers and communities was my main job — something I had been doing as a volunteer effort through my work with the Orland Park Area Chamber of Commerce. Now tasked with doing it as a career, I knew how to execute a solid event, but still wanted to learn more on how we could improve different aspects of our community events and wanted to meet people in the industry who maybe understood my challenges and struggles when it came to event planning. 

In 2016, I finished my final term on the Board of Directors for the chamber and began researching event industry organizations. I compared the educational opportunities of each one, eventually settling on Meeting Professionals International - Chicago Area Chapter. 

Spending years on the chamber’s board, I knew how important it was to be engaged. During my time at the chamber, I served as co-chair for the golf outing for a couple years and then worked as chairwoman to create the organization’s fine art fair. Through the committee work, I built lifelong business relationships and friendships. I found ways for our company to work with different businesses, creating partnerships that benefited both parties. For me, it entrenched me in the community and offered me both personal and professional development opportunities. 

When I joined MPI-CAC in early 2017, I knew if I wanted to get the most out of my membership and meet people within the industry, I needed to join a committee. Having done the golf outing for the chamber, I joined the chapter’s Golf Classic Committee. I started working with that team and started building relationships within the organization. 

I spent two years on the committee before heading over to the Marketing and Communications (MarComm) Committee for four years. It was there that I found my way to the board, first as a director and later as VP, before landing as VP of Membership and Learning Development this year. 

As a committee member, there are a variety of roles to fill with jobs of all sizes — from 10 minutes a month to a couple hours. I’ve learned with our chapter, you can truly tailor your experience to fit your objectives and schedule, too. I chose Membership and Leadership Development to force myself out of my comfort zone in marketing and communications — to challenge myself to try something different that’s not in my wheelhouse. And so far, it’s been so rewarding! 

If you’ve recently joined, I encourage you to click here to check out the committees within our chapter and if you see something that piques your interest, I’m happy to connect you with the right people so you can start to lend your expertise and make your mark on the Chicago Area Chapter.

Heather Warthen is a marketing communications specialist at Topco Associates in Elk Grove Village. She is the former Chief Events Officer at 22nd Century Media and owner of H1 Marketing. Warthen has previously served on the MPI Chicago Board of Directors for two years as both Director of Marketing & Public Relations and VP of Communications. She was a 2020-2021 recipient of the President’s Award as well as Committee of the Year for MarComm in the same year. You can reach her at