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How Winning a RISE Award Launched My Career

Courtney Stanley

Had I not been honored with an MPI RISE Award, I know that I would not be where I am in my career—or life—today.

My journey with MPI began when I was an undergrad student, taking classes in hospitality and event management, with big dreams of forging an exciting career in the meetings industry. I discovered MPI through a professor’s encouragement to get involved beyond the walls of the classroom. With a handful of peers, we built and launched a student MPI club on campus, recruiting nearly 70 young professionals to join. Like MPI, our young leadership team believed in designing innovative experiences to grant our members the opportunity to peek behind the curtain of major events, learn from other professionals in our field, and expand our network.

Shortly before graduating, I received a phone call from MPI that changed my life. MPI had decided to present me with the 2011 RISE Award for Young Professional Achievement.

Honored and elated, I headed down to Orlando as a first-time attendee for the MPI World Education Congress, where I stood (very nervously) on a stage in front of 2,000 professionals and thanked MPI for recognizing my work. As my adrenaline faded and lunch moved into afternoon education sessions, I clutched a handful of business cards from new connections, one that would lead to my first job as an event coordinator.

Being an MPI member is truly a mutually-beneficial experience. I have so enjoyed spending time volunteering on various committees, attending chapter events and WECs (the more you attend, the more the conferences feel like a family reunion), and meeting new, wonderful people. The more I got involved, the more my career flourished. 

In 2014, I attended MPI’s annual family reunion (err, I mean WEC) in Minneapolis. I had no idea that I would be completely caught off guard during the opening general session, when I heard my name called to come up on stage.

Michael Dominguez, former Chairman of the International Board of Directors, presented me with the 2014 Chairman’s Award.

Seriously, what an honor. How humbled I felt, and still feel, today.

From that point on, I dove into MPI even more deeply and with even greater passion, submitting speaking proposals to various chapters and applying to volunteer on a few of MPI’s international task forces.

Within the next two months, I will conclude my second year serving on MPI’s International Board of Directors.

Societally-induced age-shaming aside, I’ll let you in on a secret: I’m only 28 years old.

It is quite rare (let’s be real, it really does not happen) that someone so young would have the opportunity to sit at such an important table, surrounded by senior, successful, inspirational executives. Being on the International Board of Directors has been an absolutely invaluable experience, and I do not think I would have had the opportunity to volunteer at such an elite level, had I not been inducted into the Community of Honorees with other RISE Award recipients, years ago.

If I can thank or credit any organization for launching and growing my career, it is without a doubt, MPI. From a student member, to a planner, to a supplier, to a volunteer, MPI has provided me with exceptional opportunities to advance professionally. 

Cheers to our next adventure, MPI! I am excited to see what the future holds.

About the Author

Courtney Stanley
Courtney Stanley