by Sarah J.F. Braley | January 03, 2017

The LGBT Meeting Professionals Association, a new organization focused on serving the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community, has announced the members of its advisory board. The group, which aims to create a marketplace for LGBT planners and all of their industry contacts to interact and build business for the LGBT community, was founded last August by David Jeffreys, president and CEO of Philadelphia's Altus Agency. 

The advisory board is made up of Jeffreys, executive director of the LGBTMPA; Seth Eaker, who handles development and outreach for the group; Jeff Canham, partner, Prestige Resorts and Destinations; Jim Clapes, conference and events manager, Drug Policy Alliance; James Delmar, national accounts manager, Philadelphia Convention & Visitors Bureau; Greg Deshields, executive director of the Philadelphia CVB's diversity division; Cory Fransway, director of strategic accounts for Experient; Jim McMichael, diversity and cultural manager, Las Vegas Convention & Visitors Authority; Gary Murakami, director of global sales, MGM Resorts International; Tom Roth, president of Community Marketing Inc.; and Matt Skallerud, president, Pink Banana Media. The board already has met to discuss the first annual conference, developing the organization's education and certificate programs, and the launching of a mentoring initiative.

"The association's major goal is professional development for all of its members," said  Jefferys. "Top executives in this industry control large budgets and staffs and plan meetings and conferences worldwide. Like in any industry, these top professionals have a tremendous amount of experience, knowledge and networks to share. This group of professionals is ready to participate. The advisory board has agreed to an on-demand mentoring program, and the members of this new organization have already started to sponsor networking events at upcoming conferences." 

The organization, which is for planners who are LGBT as well as those who plan events for people who are LGBT, will hold its first networking event next Tuesday, Jan. 10, at Austin House in Austin, Texas, during the Professional Convention Management Association's Convening Leaders convention; the reception is being sponsored by the Austin Convention & Visitors Bureau. An inaugural Mid-Atlantic conference is being planned for fall 2017 in Atlantic City with interactive seminars about LGBT meeting best practices, market opportunities, research and trends. In addition, marketing strategies and tactics will be discussed, along with revenue-generation tips, industry innovator panels and more.