In early January, I wrote a blog about the Seattle Hotel Association’s 19th annual “Evening of Hope Gala” presented by Delta Air Lines. Held at the Fairmont Olympic Hotel in Seattle, the event helped to raise $500,000 for Mary’s Place—an organization that offers employment, housing and medical resources for homeless women. More than 300 people attended the gala, and they all got into the event’s theme: Venetian Masquerade Ball.

This year, organizers approached the raise the paddle portion of the evening in a unique and compelling way. Right before the raise the paddle, the entire ballroom went dark, save for a spotlight on the stage and the candlelight from the décor. Six individuals—women and a boy—walked on stage with masks covering their faces. One by one they approached the microphone. Dropping their masks, they told their own stories of homelessness and how Mary’s Place assisted them. At the end of the presentations, the audience gave the six, now unmasked, presenters a standing ovation. The executive director of Mary’s Place then took the stage and told the guests about the programs of Mary’s Place and what their dollars go to support. Following her presentation, the auctioneer took the stage for the raise the paddle and organizers exceeded their donations from the previous year.

What a wonderful way to highlight the services of an event’s beneficiary and help donors see where their dollars are going! Congratulations to the organizers for a successful event!



Meeting Professionals International, the official sponsor of Smart Monday, has added five new programs to the inaugural day of IMEX America.

Paws for a Break

MPI is teaming up with Love Dog Adventures—a Las Vegas animal-assisted therapy program. Designed as a stress-reducing activity, several dogs will be present during Smart Monday for attendees to cuddle with. These puppy sessions are quickly becoming a hot new trend and have been featured in a number of World Education Congresses. Puppy Cuddling is sponsored by Visit Norfolk.


Few heads turned when Judge Kemp walked into a Office Depot store in Portland, Oregon, one Saturday evening in May 2015 wearing 3-and-a-half-inch goth rocker boots and an above-the-knee, off-theshoulder little red dress. Kemp grabbed what he needed—some last-minute lanyards—and hurried back to The Old Freeman Factory to kick off one of Portland’s most anticipated and colorful charity events of the year: the Red Dress Party.


On June 28, members of Meeting Professionals International Washington State Chapter gathered together at Chambers Bay Golf Course in University Place, Washington, for their June Celebration. This year’s Chapter Award Winners are:

Planner Member of the Year: Melanie DeGrow, CMP

Supplier Member of the Year: Olivia Sloan, CMP

Tomorrow's Leader: Emily Ziemba

Rookie of the Year: Kris LaFata