MPI Potomac FYI
Upcoming Events

The Kentucky Derby is America’s original, extravagant springtime sports party. To continue building upon an MPI Potomac tradition, we invite you to experience an evening of southern charm and celebration as MPI Potomac teams with Louisville Tourism and The Omni Shoreham Hotel to bring the thrills of the Derby to D.C.! Register here so you don't miss out!

When:
Thursday, April 25
6 p.m. - 9 p.m.

Where:
The Omni Shoreham
2500 Calvert Street NW
Washington, DC 20008
Metro: Woodley Park/National Zoo

Dress Code:
Derby or Business Attire

Register TODAY for a chance to spend a weekend at Churchill Downs.

Louisville Tourism is so excited to see you at the 9th Annual Derby Days & Silent Auction and will have a drawing for a weekend at Churchill Downs including airfare, a two-night stay at the Louisville Marriott Downtown, tickets to Churchill Downs and more!

A Special Guest Straight from Churchill Downs! Meet a real Kentucky Derby jockey while at the event and learn about the races from firsthand experience.

Silent Auction Donations Needed! The 9th Annual Derby Days Silent Auction is now open for donations. The auction will run from April 15 to April 25 with proceeds going to the MPI Potomac Chapter in order to support our members.

Click here to donate!

Hats and Outfits On! As we continue our Derby Days tradition, our hat contest will be in full swing this year. And to add to the fun, judges will be looking at the entire ensemble. Be sure to wear your Derby best to win! So go big or small, contemporary or old-fashioned or just plain fascinating. Women and men are welcome to top off their Derby duds with a variety of ostentatious head wear. No hat? No worries—come make one at the event and take it home for a fun keepsake of the evening.

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Volunteer Spotlight

Barbara Hutchison, 1-N-Only

MACE Committee Co-Chair

Barbara Hutchison with 1-N-Only is the Co-Chair of the MACE Committee. Barbara began her involvement with MPI Potomac as a way to give back to an industry she has a true passion for. Last year she was given the opportunity to volunteer with the MACE Committee and helped make the annual conference a success this past February. Barbara describes success as “…being comfortable in your skin, really happy with your chosen profession and being able to make a living doing it.” Apart from her achievement with this year’s MACE, she believes one of her greatest accomplishments is venturing out on her own as an independent meeting planner. She now celebrates five years as a business owner in the industry.

Barbara has a sunny mindset when it comes to her career and life in general. She keeps a quote by Charlie Daniels as a daily reminder to always look at the positive side and give people your best. “Walk on stage with a positive attitude. Your troubles are your own and are not included in the ticket price. Some nights you have more to give than others, but put it all out there every show. You're concerned with the people who show up, not the ones who didn't. So give them a show and...never look at the empty seats!"

When Hutchinson is not at work, she enjoys a plethora of leisure activities, including eating good food, scuba diving, skiing, knitting, Netflix binging and traveling. Two of her favorite travel destinations are Thailand and Quebec City. She also enjoys visiting with friends and attributes much of her success and happiness to the love and support from those around her.

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Feature

Shelli Vasser Gilliam, CMP, SEPC

Board Director, Leadership & Career Development

Are you a mentor? If so, you know the importance of providing guidance, advice and encouragement. You understand that actively listening, absorbing and assisting with sorting through the fluff to get to the crux is critical.

What may be surprising is that you could also be a mentor to someone else but not know it. Many people do not realize they serve as mentors. Whether or not you are in a leadership position in your chosen career path or the chapter, you should know your colleagues, boss and friends listen to what you say. They also observe your actions and notice how aware you are of what’s happening around you. Keep in mind that becoming active in the chapter will help other members get to know you better and see you as a mentor. (Hint!)

People naturally gravitate toward those with whom they feel a certain camaraderie. These same peers and friends may seek advice from you, and yes, also consider you a mentor.

Many of us think mentoring primarily involves children and/or teenagers. Perhaps you currently volunteer or have in the past with one of many community youth groups. We expect that once these same children and teenagers become adults, all is well. Allow me to share that having someone to talk with—as a college student and graduate, and later as a professional—made all the difference for me.   

So, what does a good mentoring model look like?

Mentoring is a shared experience that requires an understanding and solid relationship between both parties. Mentors learn from mentees and vice versa. Each party contributes; the process is collaborative. Mentors and mentees become strong alliances and strategic partners. Mentors also serve as part of a mentee’s “squad” or advisory panel. 

Mentors are important for ideation, advice, support, inspiration, enlightenment, counseling and clarity. They are influencers, and offer truth, thoughtful advice and anecdotes about situations and issues brought before them. They may also serve for a specific purpose—career/professional development, life and personal.

What are some core traits of mentors? 

  • Authenticity
  • Active listening
  • Honesty
  • Curiosity
  • Ability to connect, have a conversation and collaborate with diverse groups
  • Desire to learn and willingness to share experiences, stories and advice

I have two extraordinary mentors. I am also privileged to have several industry advisors whom I call “Shelli’s Squad”. My squad helps me focus on understanding the significance of certain professional moves and assists with charting my path and trajectory.

My mentors are unique in their sectors and how they view life, work and play. They are inspirational and instrumental in my personal and career development. They have guided me through some interesting times in my career and continue to do so. My aspirations align with core traits and qualities I see in them. I appreciate and admire them and can only imagine what my career would have been without them.

I would share their names, but they have their hands full with me!

Why do I have mentors and advisors? Because my mentors and advisors each have significantly different strengths that matter to me personally and professionally. I am interested in improving in the same areas where they are exceptionally strong. By creating a team of mentors and advisors, I have grown into a better, more confident and agile professional.  

Mentoring is a profoundly meaningful experience.

Share your comments on social media using #MPIPotomac, #eventprofs and #meetingprofs.

Looking for a mentor? Stay tuned to the May edition of FYI.

Panelists included Ms. Alexis Terry, Senior Director of Diversity & Inclusion at ASAE, and Mr. Apoorva Gandhi, Vice President for Multi-Cultural Affairs for Marriott International. Dr. Erinn Tucker, Director of the Global Hospitality Leadership master’s program at Georgetown University, moderated the session.

Over the course of the hour-long conversation at last week’s March Educational Experience, there were countless “ah-ha” moments which anyone in the audience could easily take back and apply to a real-life situation. One specific example that is simple and effective was suggested by Mr. Gandhi: when you find yourself in a situation where your unconscious bias may be leading you to form an opinion based on what you see—pause, reflect, then act.

Vanderbilt University’s Office for Equity, Diversity and Inclusion defines "unconscious bias" as “prejudice or unsupported judgments in favor of or against one thing, person or group as compared to another in a way that is usually considered unfair." Mr. Gandhi explained that everyone, no matter how aware you may think yourself to be, at some point will succumb to this subjective, internal set of preconceptions. Because these are unconscious, by definition, we can’t prevent them from influencing our thoughts.

The good news is that we can teach ourselves, through examination of those potentially negative thoughts or feelings, to change our response. Gandhi’s suggestion is pause; give yourself a moment to feel your reaction and acknowledge it. Then reflect: how is your reaction potentially swayed by an unconscious bias—is what you’re thinking really based on your experience in this moment, or something else? Then, finally, act.  Hopefully by giving yourself the extra few seconds to really identify your feelings and gut-check whether or not they’re based in the objective context of the situation you’re in, you can then decide the best course of action. 

The simple practice of "pause, reflect, then act" is easy to remember and very simple to integrate into your day-to-day interactions. You might be surprised as what you learn about yourself and others around you.

By: Amanda Santiago, Mandarin Oriental 

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