Hispanic Meeting Professionals and Travel Portland
Host an Amazing Educational Conference

Participants at the Hispanic Meeting Professionals 17th Annual International Conference were greeted to Oregon by Governor John A. Kitzhaber, M.D. and the Mayor of Portland, Sam Adams. Jeff Miller, President/CEO for Travel Portland and Mike Smith, Vice President for Travel Portland were seen actively involved in welcoming participants to the Pacific Northwest. For many of the conference attendees it was their first visit to Oregon and they were thrilled with the destination and all it offers for hosting their meetings and events.

The Hispanic Meeting Professionals opened the conference with the Certified Diversity Meeting Professional (CDMP) program that attracted a huge audience curious to learn what the CDMP program is all about. All the CDMP sessions were completely full as everyone enjoyed learning and participating in this new program for industry professionals. The CDMP faculty included Carole Copeland Thomas who flew in from Boston to present the “Black/African American” section of the CDMP; Carlos Conejo from Los Angeles, California presented the “Hispanic/Latino” session of the CDMP; Julia So Garcia, PhD presented the “Asian American” section of the CDMP and Angela Gonzalez Rowe presented an overview of the meetings industry and coverage on every aspect of knowledge required for meeting planners. For the first time the CDMP was presented over 2-days and those getting their certification were required to review all the materials and be tested to qualify as a CDMP professional.

The Hispanic Meeting Professionals have earned a reputation for presenting one of the best educational programs in the industry and they did not disappoint. Opening remarks were made by Margaret Gonzalez, Founder/President of the Hispanic Meeting Professionals;  Lida Peterson, President of CIMPA (Connected International Meeting Professionals Association); Mike Smith, CDMP,Vice President National Sales Travel Portland; Roy Jay, Founder, Oregon Convention & Visitor Network; Andrea Cano, Chair Oregon Commission on Hispanic Affairs and Gale Castillo, President, Hispanic Metropolitan Chamber in Portland, Oregon.

To set the stage for the day’s program, speakers Terry Singleton, President/Owner, CCP Events & Past President of ISES gave a detailed presentation titled “Meetings Industry Update.” She was followed by Dzidra Junior, Director Global Sales; MGM Resorts International gave a Destination Management Update.

The keynote address was presented by Ira Koretsky known as the “Chief Storyteller” whose presentation on “Making your communications unforgettable” and “Speaking deliberately” held his audience attention until the very last word. Unlike many professional speakers who make a quick showing and leave, Ira Koretsky stayed to meet participants and share their take on his program presentation. He was seen actively dialoging and making the very most of his time in Portland.
The U.S. State Department in Washington, D.C. was represented by Deputy Secretary for the Western Hemisphere, Fabiola Rodriguez-Ciampoli who presented an overview of President Obama’s Executive Order on Travel & Tourism and the President’s 100,000 strong in the America’s goal for international education. She also spoke on Secretary Clinton’s vision for economic Statehood. Participants were excited to hear everything she shared on Washington’s goals for the industry.
Jan Fox was the featured luncheon speaker and she did not disappoint. She was quick to establish rapport with her audience and shared her struggles as a young person who was able to overcome limitations and become a successful TV personality in New York, Boston and Washington, D.C. Jan Fox won 3 Emmys at WUSA TV9 in Washington, DC and hosted the Emmy Award winning talk show Sunday Open House in Boston. Overall, Jan Fox was a huge success and left her audience with lots of energy to be successful in their lives.

Gerry Llames founder of Enterprise Solutions and Principal for the Sports Pro Community Network (SPCN) spoke on New Technology for the Special Events Industry. Headquartered in the DC Metro Plex, Gerry and his brother Roberto conceived the idea for SPCN as both are involved in sports and the meetings and events industry.

As the conference continued the participants were awaiting the presentation by Aaron Wodin-Schwartz, Director for Public Policy Liaison for BRAND USA. Aaron is a young professional who speaks English, Spanish, Portuguese and French and is well suited to represent Brand USA in their goal to increase travel to the USA.

Following the presentation on Brand USA a government program, the participants were eager to hear from the corporate speaker, Michael Dominguez, Senior Vice President for MGM Resorts International who is also the Chairman for the MPI Board of Directors. He has been involved in the hospitality industry for over 25 years and his career spans work at Hyatt Hotels, Starwood Hotels, Loews Hotels & Resorts and numerous independent hotel management companies. Michael also was VP for the Palm Springs CVB. At MGM he is responsible for 13 Las Vegas hotels and 3 regional hotels in Detroit, Mississippi and Reno. His presentation included a detailed focus on the Future of Meetings.

One of the most interesting panels presented was titled “The Inside Track to Hispanic Associations and How to Secure Our Business” and included speakers, Benny Agosto, Jr. representing the Hispanic National Bar Association based in Washington, DC; Roland Ramirez, SER Jobs for Progress and Severine Stephenson, CMP, National Society of Hispanic MBA’s (NSHMBA) both are based in Dallas.

Alessandra Bergman-Nicolini, Director of Sales for the New Tropicana Las Vegas introduced Becky Krinsky, founder of “Recetas para la Vida (Recipes for Life) who was a luncheon speaker that delighted everyone by including them in her presentation. Winners were presented a beautiful apron to use when planning their Recipes for Life.

Longtime Latino activatist Jim Estrada, President/CEO of Estrada Communications Group, presented “Understanding the Cultural Differences of Your Attendees: Strategies to Promote Inclusiveness at Your Annual Meeting.” Estrada is renowned for his expertise in ethnic marketing and has provided counsel to some of the nation’s largest corporations. 

Former Secretary of State in New Mexico, Clara Padilla Andrews facilitated a panel presentation on Hispanic Media. She is the past president of the National Association of Hispanic Publications (NAHP) and is the owner/publisher of El Hispanic News based in Portland, Oregon and MAS New Mexico based in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Panelists included Melanie Davis, publisher/editor/owner of El Hispanic News and PQ Monthly, the fastest growing LGBTQ publication in Oregon and SW Washington; Kirk Whisler, president of Western Publication Research, represents 625 Hispanic publications nationwide.

Roy Jay, President for the Oregon Convention & Visitor Network was the Master of Ceremonies for the Diversity Awards Dinner. He introduced Lida Peterson, president of CIMPA who presented the Asian Leaders Award to Rosemary Tran Lauer and Margaret Gonzalez who presented the CVB of the Year Award to Mike Smith of Travel Portland. The CDMP graduates were recognized and presented the official CDMP Pin and Certificate at the Diversity Awards Dinner that included entertainment by a local Flamenco Music and Dance team during the event.

The conference concluded with Meeting Planner Round Tables where Suppliers met with Planners to learn more about their businesses and meetings. Panel members included Séverine Stephenson, CMP CDMP Manager, Events & Logistics, National Society of Hispanic MBA’s; Terry Singleton, CDMP, CCP Events Atlanta, Immediate Past International President at International Special Events Society; Gregorio Palomino, CDMP, CEP, CWP, The CRE8IVE Executive Officer for Meetings, Incentives, Corporate & Social Events in San Antonio, Texas and Maria Bonilla Giuriato, CDMP, President of Giuiato & Associates, in Salinas, California.

The 17th Annual Conference was held at the Red Lion Hotel on the River in Portland, Oregon.










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