• MPI Honors 2018 RISE Awards Recipients

    POSTED June 11, 2018

The recipients of this year’s RISE (Recognizing Industry Success and Excellence) Awards were recently announced by MPI at the 2018 World Education Congress (WEC18). The seven awards celebrate exceptional achievements in the meetings and events industry and are broken down into individual achievement and community achievement focuses.

“Congratulations to the 2018 RISE Awards recipients! We commend each of these leaders and chapters for their exceptional and inspiring accomplishments, which have had a positive impact within our global community,” said Paul Van Deventer, president and CEO of MPI.

RISE Award for Young Professional: Alex Plaxen

Plaxen, a member of the MPI Potomac Chapter, is the president and founder of Little Bird Told Media in Washington, D.C., where he coordinates executive-level meetings and events and organizes data driven event marketing campaigns. Over the years, he has taken on leadership roles within his chapter of MPI, serving on the board of directors as regional conference director and director of marketing. He has been invited to speak at various industry events including BizBash LIVE, IMEX America, Connect Marketplace, MPI’s WEC, and the ASAE Annual Meeting, and has been recognized by Connect Association’s 2017 “40 Under 40” class.

RISE Award for Member of the Year: Wojciech Liszka

Liszka is a founding member of the MPI Poland Chapter and has served as both the chapter’s president and vice president of education. He is the founder of Z-Factor, a hospitality business consultancy in Poland, worked with three different Radisson Blu hotels over 11 years, co-created and co-organized the charity, Poland Business Run, and led the development of Meetings Week Poland. He has served as the chairman of the Business Council at the Warsaw School of Tourism and Hospitality Management, acted as a lecturer for the university and was recognized as MICE Poland’s “Personality of the Year” in 2010.

RISE Award for Meeting Industry Leadership: Michael Owen

Owen is a managing partner of EventGenuity, LLC, which produces business events for corporate and association clients in North America. He has more than 20 years of experience in the industry and has held a number of volunteer leadership roles for MPI. He currently acts as a chapter facilitator for the MPI Tennessee Chapter, assisting MPI chapters with organizational leadership and project management. Owen has previously served as vice chair of the Events Industry Council APEX Standards Review Committee and was instrumental in creating the MPI Chapter Advisory Council, now known as the MPI Chapter and Membership Advisory Council.

RISE Award for Innovative Educational Programming: MPI Southern California Chapter

The MPI Southern California Chapter was presented with this award for their creation of (WE)Con, an innovative education and professional development conference. The chapter formed partnerships with the MPI Northern California, MPI Washington State and MPI Oregon chapters over the past year as part of an initiative to step up communication and promotional efforts, as well as grow sponsorships. (WE)Con has transformed to become the premier regional educational event for the west coast due to its convenient location at the Island Hotel, Newport Beach, its various learning formats and a redesigned hosted buyer experience.

RISE Award for Marketplace Excellence: MPI Dallas/Fort Worth Chapter

The annual Sales Blitz Program earned the MPI Dallas/Forth Worth Chapter this award. Established in 2012, this program is focused on face-to-face planner to supplier relationships. It connects supplier members with planners leading to professional partnerships and recruits new corporate meeting planner members. For planners, the Sales Blitz Program provides an opportunity to learn about innovative offerings in the corporate meeting planning field and for suppliers, it allows them access to new business partners. Due to the Sales Blitz Program’s success, a second spring program has been added to the traditional fall session.

RISE Award for Industry Advocate: MPI Chicago-Area Chapter

The MPI Chicago-Area Chapter was named the Industry Advocate for its Industry Xchange 2017. This event was delivered in partnership with Choose Chicago and brought together eight industry partners to execute a Global Meetings Industry Day (GMID) education and networking event. Industry Xchnage 2017 garnered more than 1,000 attendees and featured a special appearance of Mayor Rahm Emmanuel. Since its inception in 2013, the MPI Chicago-Area Chapter’sIndustry Xchange has involved collaboration with all of Chicago area meeting and event industry organizations.

RISE Award for Membership Achievement: MPI Tennessee Chapter

The RISE Award for Membership Achievement was presented to the MPI Tennessee Chapter for outstanding membership growth, engagement and retention. The chapter created the “Get to Know You” campaign where members were invited to drop their business cards into a hat and committee members would follow up and invite them to connect one-on-one. Additionally, the “New Year, New Membership Recruitment Event” provided complimentary registration for both non-members and members who brought non-members as guests to events. Overall, the chapter achieved an 18 percent growth in membership (60 new members) and a 2 percent increase in retention.

Recipients are recognized for innovation, global transferability, impact and influence within the industry, and will join the MPI Community of Honorees, a group composed of past MPI award winners and distinguished leaders.

Over a period of 13 years, Colorado Meetings + Events has hosted two “Best of” award celebrations at the Denver Art Museum (DAM). So it was fun to get back to the museum in January 2019 to hear about and see DAM’s $150 revitalization project underway and experience an exhibition that I’ve been hearing so much about.


U.S. News & World Report recently released its “Best Hotels” list for 2019 and 22 of BENCHMARK’s hotels and resorts were named to the list.

Highlighted honors includ three silver badge winners that placed in the top 30 percent of all ranked luxury hotels within a destination. They include Villas of Grand Cypress in Orlando, Benchmark’s newest hotel, La Cantera Resort & Spa in San Antonio, and Santa Barbara Beach & Golf Resort in Curacao.


Denver-based Stonebridge Companies has acquired the 280-room Embassy Suites by Hilton New Orleans Convention Center hotel. As the property owner and operator, the acquisition marks Stonebridge Companies’ entrance into the New Orleans market.