January 2015  

President's Corner


We look forward to all that this new year brings to us in all aspects of our lives. If my own work schedule is any indication of an upswing in our industry, I am confident we are in for a busy and prosperous year.

On our Chapter’s front, we just completed our Board of Director’s Mid-Year Retreat this past weekend. It’s a “state of the chapter”, an internal review of the Business Plan we set in motion on July 1, as well as a review of our budget. I am proud to report that we are trending very well.

We have 17 new members since July. I hope you all have a chance to welcome them at upcoming events. We are running a budget in the black due to the generosity of our chapter’s Strategic Alliance Partners. We owe them our deepest gratitude. Still, we have much work to do and goals to accomplish in the 2nd half of this 2014-2015 year and we are confident we will be successful in these endeavors.

We have some outstanding programs planned. On June 11th we are having our very first Golf Tournament Awards Night and Auction at Doral Arrowwood. Be sure to look at our Upcoming Events Section of the Newsletter.

I hope you will stay engaged, get engaged, become a volunteer, think about joining the Board of Directors, and make the most of your MPI WestField Membership as I do. The ROI is invaluable. I cannot say enough just how grateful I am to a part of this organization.

I am always available for a chat. Give me a call at  203-524-0674 or drop me a note to [email protected]

See you soon.

Bonnie Cunningham
MPI WestField President, 2014-2015
Contact: [email protected]

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MeetNow 2015

MeetNow Returns to Dolce Norwalk on February 5th!

MeetNow 2015 theme is The Whole Meeting Professional because we understand that you are not just the roles you are more.  It's important to address all the aspects of a meeting professional’s life.  At MeetNow 2015 you will find tools to help you create balance while growing your business.  Expert speakers will provide information on communication, team development, finances, conflict resolution, time management and what’s happening in the industry today.  You'll be able to make valuable connections to peers, industry experts, and resources you need as a Whole Meeting Professional!

$90.00 MPI Member
$110.00 Non MPI Member

For detailed session descriptions and agenda click here.

Exhibitors/Sponsor Opportunities
Don’t miss out….contact us now for more information or to sign up as a program exhibitor or sponsor. You may complete and return the Exhibitor/Sponsor opportunities to Bonnie Cannon at [email protected] or call  860-326-0319 no later than January 29th. Space is limited, so reserve NOW!

We thank you for your continued support of the WestField Chapter!

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Community Service

Abbott House provides comprehensive and caring services for abused, neglected and abandoned children and their families, and for developmentally disabled children and adults.

Thank you for choosing Abbott House to be the beneficiary of your generosity.  We appreciate not only your commitment to those we serve, but the fun way your present it!  Your members are some of the friendliest and nicest people I have ever met!  I was impressed with everyone’s sincerity and desire to see that the proceeds of the Silent Auction went to helping others.  Thank you, again.

~ Henry J. Ackermann, Jr.
Chief Development Officer

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Meet the Member Spotlight

Alissa Cotroneo-Brown, new WestField Member as of December 2014
Professional Position: Small Meetings Manager - Paragon Events, Delray Beach

Bio: Alissa Cotroneo-Brown graduated from Florida Atlantic University with a degree in Hospitality Management and Marketing. She works for Paragon Events as a Small Meetings Manager. Alissa manages programs of 20 attendees to 300 attendees. Alissa also manages registration for over 1500 attendees and serves as a registration consultant.
Alissa has a strong background in the hospitality industry in both front end operations and back of house operations.

A Brief Q & A
Q: As a new member, what prompted you to join MPI and what are your membership expectations?
A: I joined MPI WestField after coming on board as your new Chapter Administrator. I hope to be able to connect and grow outside of my own market in South Florida.
Q: What would be your dream job, outside of event or meeting planning?
A: I feel strongly about the way kids are treated by other kids. My dream would be to run an organization that was a safe haven for bullied/abused kids
Q: Finish the sentence, “when I’m not at work I…”
A: am playing with my daughter and hanging out with my family.
JP Galli, new WestField Member as of December 2014
Professional Position: Director of Sales and Marketing - The Thayer Hotel

Bio: I am currently employed at the Historic Thayer Hotel at West Point, having accepted the position of Director of Sales and Marketing in November 2014. I have worked in the hospitality industry for 16 years, starting with night Audit and working my way up over the years. I have moved to the Hudson Valley from the Village of Lake Placid, NY.  Over the past 5 years I have focused my skills on non-branded properties. Before that I was with both Starwood and IHG properties in the New England area.

A Brief Q & A
Q: As a new member, what prompted you to join MPI and what are your membership expectations?
A: I am new to the area coming from Lake Placid. I want to be able to reach out to as many people as possible in a short time frame.  I am looking forward to using my membership to meet clients in the area, as well as to work on getting the name of the Historic Thayer Hotel out in the area.
Q: What would be your dream job, outside of event or meeting planning?
A: I was a swimmer growing up, my dream job would be the head swim coach for a University some place warm.
Q: Finish the sentence, “when I’m not at work I…”
A: enjoy being with family, playing outside, and taking in all life has to offer.


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MPI WestField Selects New Chapter Administrator

MPI WestField Selects Paragon Events as New Chapter Administrator

Paragon Events is honored to be selected as the new “Chapter Business Administrator” (CBA) of the WestField Chapter of Meeting Professionals International.

“MPI WestField members will be supported by a professional team at Paragon Events”, says Bonnie Cunningham, MPI WestField’s Chapter President. Alissa Brown will serve as lead Chapter Administrator based out of the Paragon Event’s office in Delray Beach, Florida.  Alissa will assume all traditional chapter administration duties.  Alissa will provide support to both our members and board of directors and will be as engaged with everyone as though she resided in market.  An announcement and introduction at a later date will be made once the Chapter Liaison is hired.

Paragon Events will commence a search and will hire a chapter liaison who will work the monthly chapter events by managing registration and other onsite responsibilities.  This newly hired individual will work closely with Alissa Brown and the board of directors.  Francesca Radabaugh, Operations Manager, will lead the team in supporting MPI WestField’s goals and initiatives. Renee Radabaugh, President and Managing Director, will stay closely involved in the partnership as well.

Paragon Events is not new to association management; the WestField Chapter of MPI is the seventh (7th) national MPI chapter that Paragon Events has the distinct privilege of managing. Paragon Events is also the official meeting planners of MPI's own Southeast Educational Conference for four consecutive years.

Founded in 1989 and celebrating its 25th corporate anniversary this year, Paragon Events is a multifaceted, award-winning organization that provides complete marketing solutions, corporate brand strategy, association management, corporate incentives, destination travel coordination, and environmentally-friendly eco-events in addition to comprehensive, tried-and-true corporate event management services.

We look forward to continued growth and partnership with MPIWC.

Renee Radabaugh,
President & Managing Director of Paragon Events


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Board of Director in the News!

Heather Hansen O’Neill is an award winning speaker and author presenting to organizations and corporations on leadership, team development, and change management.

For over 17 years Heather’s company has helped clients from entrepreneurs of new businesses to Fortune 100 companies improve their relationships in sales and customer service resulting in increased customer loyalty and overall profit. In addition, the work she does to enhance understanding within and between departments has shown a better flow of productivity as well as higher ratings in employee satisfaction. Heather Hansen O’Neill is an award winning speaker and author presenting to organizations and corporations on leadership, team development, and change management. For over 17 years Heather’s company has helped clients from entrepreneurs of new businesses to Fortune 100 companies improve their relationships in sales and customer service resulting in increased customer loyalty and overall profit. In addition, the work she does to enhance understanding within and between departments has shown a better flow of productivity as well as higher ratings in employee satisfaction.

Heather is a:
•    Certified DiSC facilitator
•    Author of Find Your Fire (Morgan James, 2011)
•    Author of Teams On Fire! (Rock Star Publishing House, 2013)
•    Certified Corporate Success Coach
•    Host of Community Forum TV show
•    Guest expert on NBC, ABC, the CW, and FOX
•    Columnist and feature article writer for several regional and national papers and magazines
•    Co-host of The Inspired Team Leader radio show
•    Creator of Adventure to Connection and Stop the Violence Embrace the Children

Heather runs a successful business transforming lives and companies while making plenty of quality time for raising her three high-energy boys. More info at

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Call for Nominations

You have a voice and can effect change...starting within WestField!



The WestField MPI Chapter is seeking experienced and connected members of our local industry to contribute their expertise, skills and leadership to ensure a successful and thriving WestField Chapter and meetings community!

Company Overview: MPI WestField Chapter (MPIWC) was founded in 1989 to be an educational and networking source to directly serve meeting professionals in Westchester, NY and Fairfield, CT counties. Celebrating 25 years in March 2014, WestField continues to provide cutting edge educational and networking events for their members. Our success in building and maintaining an exceptionally close-knit and effective community is evidenced by WestField being awarded the 2006-2007 MPI Chapter of the Year (COTY) Award in the "Small--Under 250 Member" category. Additionally, we have received accolades for our contributions to the MPI Foundation: 2010-2011 MPI Foundation Chapter of the Year (Gold) and - 2012-2013 MPI Foundation Chapter of the Year (Bronze).
Qualifications: Current MPI member in good standing. That’s it!
TO APPLY: (1) Download the Board Application; (2) Review list of openings and decide which position(s) you’d like to be considered for; (3) Complete application and mail to [email protected] no later than 5:00 pm on Friday, February 6, 2015.

On behalf of the Nominating Committee, I look forward to your input to help shape the future of our chapter! Please email applications and any questions to our Chapter Administrator, Alissa Brown at [email protected].

Mozelle Goodwin, CMP
Immediate Past President
  1. Can I nominate myself? YES. Just complete the application and e-mail by due date.
  2. Can I nominate someone without telling them? YES, but it would be nice if you confirm they are interested so  as not to waste the time of the committee.
  3. Can I ask someone to nominate me? YES! The committee will contact your nominee to complete and submit the application.
  4. When does the vote take place? There is no official voting. The candidates are interviewed and the committee makes a recommendation based on the best candidate for each available position. The proposed board slate is presented to the members at large via e-mail and they are given the opportunity to question/dispute. If uncontested, the board slate is submitted to MPI Headquarters.


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Most Valuable Member

WestField's Most Valuable Members

- Adrienne Sbarbaro, Robin Gardner, Phyllis Shelton: for their great work on the Holiday Event! Great sourcing of venue which was 100% comped, excellent auction items, great organization of the entire event. Well done!

- Jerry Longo, Jane Doyle and Gina Gouveia: This nomination is for this dynamic trio who displayed herculean efforts on the chapter’s behalf to replace our outgoing Chapter Administrator. They created the posting, and a Business Plan, interviewed several candidates and 2 Association Management, submitted extensive proposals to the BOD along the way and confirmed our new Chapter Administrator within 2.5 weeks during a busy holiday season to boot. Additionally, Jerry and Jane have taken on interim administrative tasks and orientation of our new Chapter Admin above and beyond their regular BOD Roles and Responsibilities. Our BOD and our Chapter are very grateful!

- Leonora Nye and Jennifer Miller with Tarry Market and Tarry Lodge: Jennifer Miller and Leonora Nye from Tarry Lodge and Market: hosts of our October program. Working with our vision and producing a magical event!

- Christine Mazzoli with Crowne Plaza Danbury: for taking our vision for the Supplier vs Planner program and bringing it to the highest level possible with space, décor, dining, staffing, bringing other partners on board to support. Building a boxing Ring and having Rockem Sockem robots as the centerpieces. Absolutely Fabulous!

- Melissa Hollander, CMP: Melissa did a great job with all the last minute details for the October education event as well as the wrap up article.

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Connections Campaign

Making Connections

As a planner I try hard to award our WestField supplier members business from my live events in the spirit of the partnership and to deliver a stronger ROI on their membership. Over the past few years I cultivated strong partnerships with WestField members who were a major contributor to the success of my events. Some of my personal “MPI Key Relationships” were with:

  • CORT
  • Hyatt Greenwich
  • Leros Point to Point
  • Hotel Zero Degrees Norwalk
  • Abigail Kirsch Catering & Venues
  • Happening Photos

Giving back to your chapter colleagues is gratifying and helps to support their growth initiatives and helps to sustain their on-going support of WestField. So, next time you are sending out an RFP, please remember to include your MPI WestField Suppliers. They truly make a great event partner!

~Jerry Longo, Director of Leadership Development

We are proud to say, Year-to-date Connections...
    Number of Connections Year-to-Date: 29
    Value of Connections Year-to-Date: $518,000

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What does WestField mean to you?

As part of our chapter refresh, we want you to tell us what 3 words best describe what MPI WestField Chapter means to you. With your input we’ll create the chapter tagline.
MPI WestField Chapter
? | ??
I’m extremely grateful that I joined the MPI WestField Chapter. This chapter was the first event industry association I attended. I joined the chapter because it was fruitful from the first day as a guest. I became the Chair of Creative Services because I knew that by volunteering my other expertise in media, production & web development could help the chapter and ultimately open doors for me to develop deeper relationships with the board & chair members. Doing all of this has benefited my business because it generated business for VeeKast.
~ Donvil Collins, Founder & CEO of VeeKast

VeeKast is a proud sponsor and partner of MeetNow!
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WestField Fun Facts

Member Care wants to share some fun facts for your reading pleasure and give you, our members an edge of knowledge:

  • The song "Happy Birthday to You" is protected by copyright
  • The top five states with the largest number of meeting & event planners include: California (7,730), New York/Connecticut (7,350), Texas (6,320), Florida (3,560) and Virginia (3,500)
  • Choosing chicken over beef for a 2,650 person banquet saves enough water to fill an Olympic-size swimming pool
  • The smell of chocolate increases theta brain waves, which triggers relaxation
  • Westchester spreads out over approximately 500 square miles, making it larger than more than 40 countries and territories, including the U.S. Virgin Islands, Lichtenstein, and the Vatican City
  • The first automobile law was passed by the state of CT in 1901. The speed limit was set at 12 miles per hour
  • Sneezing with your eyes open is impossible
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WestField Member News

Membership Monthly Renewal Drawing

Renew your MPI membership this month and you will be entered into a drawing for one of two great prizes. The winner will pick either one! Either a Complimentary CMP Study Kit or 1 year extended MPI membership. Renew today!

Who is eligible: All Current members of MPI who are up for renewal in January

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Needs Assessment

Tell us what you think. We want to hear from our membership. On behalf of the MPI WestField Chapter, we would like to invite you all to participate in our 2015 Needs Assessment.

Survey: WestField Chapter Needs Assessment 2015 (click here to access)

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Upcoming Events

February 5, 2015 – MeetNow at Dolce Norwalk
March 19, 2015 – Roundtable: Learn from the Professors at Renaissance Westchester Hotel
May 14, 2015 – Menu Impossible with Tracy Stuckrath at the Stamford Marriott
June 11, 2015 – Awards Celebration and Golf Event at the Doral Arrowwood Hotel Conference Center



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Industry Events

Surrounding Chapter Events
"Check out what our neighbors are doing!"

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Classified Ads

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