Blog > Member Spotlight

Kelley Douglass, CMP - MPI Gulf States Chapter

By MPI | Dec 17, 2018

I’d always planned events in a volunteer capacity, but when I moved to New Orleans in 2007, I discovered an opportunity to turn it into a career. I met a DMC owner and started freelancing, and it’s been a great ride ever since. I joke that you either have the event planning gene or you don’t. It’s not a hobby, it’s a calling.

I was fortunate enough to have a small part in the Super Bowl in 2010 as a Team Owner

Liaison. I had sideline access, and standing on the field watching the teams warm up was a moment I’ll never forget.

I want to produce national events—conferences, festivals, meetings, etc. My largest event thus far has been 1,500 people. I’d love to do a 10,000-person, multi-day program.

I can get so lost in planning the details of an event that I lose sight of the big picture. I have to remind myself to be an advocate of the client’s brand and the event objective and not just be a producer.

After a decade in the industry, I have learned to put things in perspective. I can lose sleep over my fear of forgetting a small detail, but I have to tell myself that this is not a life-or-death moment. Take a step back, look at the big picture and be the calm voice of experience.

Terry Slaughter was the owner of a marketing firm I worked for early in my career. He was a creative genius who taught me that everything can be beautiful and functional. In the event industry it translates as building the brand of an event. Everything from the social media posts to printed pieces to stage visuals should work cohesively to communicate a theme and a feeling. The MPI World Education Congress in Indianapolis was a great example of how to do this well. When you saw that hot pink and blue painted across the black background you knew exactly what event it was.

I knew that MPI was the leading industry association and I wanted to be a part of it. At the time I was a freelancer, so it was a great way to expand my network. Through the

MPI Foundation, I was awarded a scholarship for my first year’s membership, which enabled me to become an active member and dive in with both feet. I joined a committee right away and eventually served on the board of directors for a Chapter of Excellence Award-winning chapter!

I’ve made long-term connections and friendships that wouldn’t have happened outside of

MPI. I’ve met some terrific people who support each other. I’m an anomaly by being both a planner and a supplier, so I’ve been able to market my venues but also meet new vendors through our chapter. The other day I needed a valet service recommendation and I knew immediately who to call—a friend from a local DMC who I know from MPI.

I love that MPI is focusing on human trafficking. It’s a real problem that we have a unique opportunity to affect. It’s now standard practice for me to use the TraffickCam app when I’m in a hotel, thanks to MPI.

Behind God, my husband is my first priority. We respect each other and have built a great foundation for our four children. We’re almost empty nesters, so we’re looking forward to that chapter. I took a break from my career for several years to raise my kids. It cost me professionally, but I can say it was worth it. It’s nice to see that women don’t have to make that choice any longer.


Kelley Douglass, CMP, is special events sales manager for the Audubon Nature Institute and a member of the MPI Gulf States Chapter. She has been an MPI member since 2015



Meeting Professionals International (MPI) is the largest meeting and event industry association worldwide and has a global community of 60,000 meeting and event professionals including more than 18,000 engaged members in more than 90 chapters and clubs in 19 countries. "When we meet, we change the world."