A Visit with MPI Potomac Chapter Past President: Kathleen Cochran, CAE, CMP, Vice President of Meetings for the National Association of Health Underwriters, and MPI Potomac Chapter President 1998-1999
By Faye Pastor, CEM, CMP
Ecological Society of America
"MPI Potomac Chapter is like family – a very supportive organization." We are so grateful that Kathleen is and has been an integral part of our MPI "family" for more than 25 years.
By accident – a happy accident.
Kathleen tells me she got into MPI Potomac Chapter by accident. Working as a temp for IBM, she planned small customer meetings, trainings and receptions. After a couple of weeks, her marvelous supervisor noted, "You’re very good at this! You should look into a professional association – they have them for everything." She ended up hearing about MPI through a colleague and joined.
At first, Kathleen had to pay out of her own pocket and had to take unpaid leave to attend meetings. During her first year of membership, she did not meet a lot of people and it seemed like the membership was more like a clique. She wasn’t feeling the benefit of her membership, and she decided to take charge of that! Anyone who knows Kathleen, knows she is not one to give up on anything.
Her new strategy to get the most out of her MPI membership was really logical. She picked a person who was a leader in the industry and said, "What is she doing to be successful?" She was on a committee, so Kathleen joined that committee. Very quickly, Kathleen became involved on the Leadership Development Committee, producing the annual awards luncheon. She also volunteered for the Community Outreach Committee.
Kathleen has served on EVERY committee. "Once I got involved, I realized that is how to make connections with other planners and to partner with suppliers." Kathleen suggests that MPI members join a committee. "Try to join a committee where you may be doing something that you don’t do in the course of your current job. You may even learn how to do your job better."
MPI educational programs are fantastic! Kathleen shares, "That’s how I learned to do my job – I had very little background experience as a meeting planner. Kathleen went on to earn her CMP in 1994 and her CAE in 2000.
MPI Potomac Chapter presidential highlights:
While President of the Potomac Chapter, the chapter conducted a successful educational conference called MPI Potomac Chapter University (a precursor to MACE), which was held in various cities. Also, while Kathleen was President, our chapter received the Chapter of the Year award and the Award of Educational Excellence. This was the FIRST time a chapter was awarded both.
Kathleen, a BIG thank you from the MPI family – we are so grateful you have shared your warmth and enthusiasm for the past 25 years.