October 22, 2018
And the winner is...
MPI Heartland Chapter was awarded the 2018 Chapter Merit Award for Education Satisfaction from MPI Global.
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October 22, 2018
Upcoming Chapter Meeting: The Power of Cuisine in Your Meetings & Events
Wednesday, Nov 28, 2018 | Des Moines, IA | Speaker: Brian O'Malley
Register Now



Member Spotlight



Gina Swackhammer

Associated General Contractors of Iowa

Member Services Coordinator

MPI Member Since: 2008


How long have you been in the meetings / hospitality industry? 

I have been in the industry for 23.  Ten years at a previous employer and 13 at my current.

How has MPI helped in the support and growth of your career? 

It has given my confidence to ask more questions of the suppliers that I use.  Attending the meetings and going to training offered through MPI I feel that I have more knowledge to ask good questions and get the answers I need.

Have you done business with any MPI members, locally or nationally? 

Whenever I can I use local MPI members.  At AGC of Iowa we use hotels, AV and speakers bureaus and most of them I have met through MPI.  I always feel like you can put your trust into the MPI members.  They usually will spend more time helping you find just what will actually fit into your budget and design for your function.

What three tips can you share with others in our industry? 

Knowledge, Network and Volunteer.  When you join MPI you just think your joining just another organization, maybe someone suggested it to you or employer said you should join either way take advantage of what MPI has to offer.  You can gain so much knowledge from attending the meeting and socials. The meetings have great speakers that you might need to refer to at some time or can use at an event.  Those speakers have knowledge about contracts, do’s and don’ts, food, space, safety, and so much more.  At the meetings and socials you get the opportunity to take tours of event space and network with your peers.  Networking can be a life saver at some point in your career.  Maybe it is finding space for an event at the last minute, finding that perfect speaker or even that perfect job.  Networking can be a life line.  I have met some great friends through networking at MPI.  Last is volunteer, volunteer, and volunteer.  Volunteering is not only very satisfying for your wellbeing; it is always good to give back to an organization that you can get so much from.  Through volunteering you gain more knowledge and networking time.  If you don’t have a lot of time, then inquire about a way for you to volunteer for an hour or two.  I volunteered and worked my way through the board and became president.  It was very rewarding and I still have very fond memories of that time and friends I made.  Thanks Angie Kistaitis!

What is your dream vacation spot? 

My favorite vacation spot would have to be Florida.  Those who know me know that I’m Disney crazy.  I also love anyplace I can lay on the beach listen to the waves and read.

What do you do in your spare time?  

In my spare time I volunteer for the ARL, Blue Ribbon Foundation and the Museum at the State Fair (during fair time).  I also spend time with my great niece at FFA events watching her show her many animals.  In the last few years I have had season tickets to the Civic Center which I attend with friends and family to see Broadway shows.  Usually during the week you can find me at the YMCA attending different work-out classes and spending time with my 3 Dashaunds and a big fluffy cat.  Oh yea I can’t forget watching the Green Bay Packers on Sundays.

Any hidden talents? 

I’m pretty crafty.  I have made Christmas present for family members for the past two years.  The one year the presents consisted of breaking plates my mom had collected from our travels to other states and made mosaic last initial letters to hang.  Then last year I used windows from my old house and made picture frames with family member’s last name and year established.   At home I’m also trying out my talents on something new for my house.  Sometimes I think of something in my mind and how it can be done and just go for it.

Fun facts about yourself?  

I can probably answer most questions about Disney World and the Iowa State Fair.  Having gone to Disney more time than I can count, I have learned behind the scene fun facts, where most attractions and restrooms are and when is the best time of year to go.  The Iowa State Fair is another love of mine.  This last year I missed 2 days of the fair.  Working at the museum you learn a lot about the past history of the fair.  This just adds to my love for the fair.

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