Gary Schirmacher is devoted to serving others and the industry he cherishes.
Gary Schirmacher, CMP, is one of only two people who have chaired the global foundations for both Meeting Professionals International (MPI) and Professional Convention Management Association (PCMA). It is fair to say he is one of the most connected individuals in the meetings and events industry, as no one gets elected to international roles such as these without excelling at building relationships, fundraising, and bringing expertise to the table.
The 36-year hospitality veteran began his yearlong term as MPI Foundation chair in January 2022 and returned to Maritz Global Events as a senior consultant in June, after being furloughed in 2020.
During his time away from Maritz, where he has worked for 25 years, Schirmacher joined Total Hospitality Industry Solutions as CEO in October 2020 and founded Big Top Auctions USA in 2021. Schirmacher is an Arkansas State University alumnus, and the Erie resident also graduated from the Worldwide College of Auctioneering in 2016. He has served as auctioneer for several industry events, including Red, White & You during IMEX in Las Vegas, Nevada, and the 2020 Denver & Colorado Tourism Hall of Fame Dinner.
“When I moved to Denver with Conferon in 1996, I didn’t know anyone, so I joined PCMA, the Colorado Society of Association Executives (CSAE), and MPI and went to everything locally,” Schirmacher says. “The goal was anytime there was an event within our industry, I was going to be there. It really helped me establish a network.”
He became president of the Rocky Mountain Chapter of PCMA in 2001, which eventually led to three years on the international board and eight years on the foundation board. A few years later, the MPI Foundation asked him if he wanted to apply for a vacated board seat in 2017. “The PCMA and MPI foundations match up with my passion for raising money and putting it to good use helping people,” he notes.
Locally, Schirmacher served on the Meetings Industry Council of Colorado from 2002 to 2007, including terms as chair and past chair. He was inducted into the Colorado Meetings + Events Hall of Fame in 2011 as the Lifetime Achievement recipient.
“I haven’t shied away from these opportunities,” he says. “I’ve always jumped in, enjoyed it, and met so many people.”