January 01, 2001
Meetings & Conventions: People January 2001

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January 2001 people


  Coffee With...Willie Benjamin

Willie Benjamin

Willie Benjamin began his career on the basketball court as a comedian. Benjamin performed stand-up comedy at local recreation centers from ages 17 to 20 as part of the D.C. Mayoral Summer Work Program. While his routines didn't necessarily pave the way for him as a planner, Benjamin says they gave him the "thick skin" he needs in his current job as a meeting manager with the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology in Alexandria, Va., where he organizes regional meetings in New England and the northwestern states. He also handles the opening ceremony and presidential induction at ACOG's annual clinical meeting.

What's your preferred picker-upper?
I normally don't drink coffee. If I am on-site at a meeting and have to get up for work at 5 a.m., I drink Pepsi and orange juice mixed. I got the idea from Laverne & Shirley. One of them mixed Pepsi and milk.

Describe your workspace.
On my wall I have a picture of a beach. To me, the ocean is just like meeting planning there is always another wave coming in, all day and all night.

What past experiences prepared you for your job?
As one of eight kids, with 10 nieces and nephews, I have helped plan our family's holiday dinners, summer trips, reunions and Redskins parties. It's like I have two families: one at home and the other at the office. They both are great teams to be on.

What song would make a good planner anthem?
Other than "Who Let the Dogs Out," I don't have a song, but I do have a poem that I like to recite: We the willing / Led by the unknowing / Are doing the impossible / For the ungrateful. / We have done so much / For so long / With so little / We are now qualified to do anything with nothing (author unknown).

How do you face stress?
I look at each crisis as part of why we're here. My favorite commercial slogan was "Never let them see you sweat." Once your attendees see you're nervous, they lose some confidence in your ability. So I handle the problem to the best of my ability, and then I go around a corner and wonder what the heck happened. • LINDSAY MORRIS

Grey Separator LineON THE MOVE


Steve Kinsley has joined Kinsley & Associates, LLC, a meetings management company, as a partner. Prior to joining the Littleton, Colo.-based company, which was founded by his wife, Allison Kinsley, CMP, he served as general manager of Denver's Hotel Teatro.

Debra Lakin, CMP, has been named director of sales at E. Harden & Associates. The Dallas-based firm specializes in meeting and incentive travel planning for the pharmaceuticals industry. Lakin was formerly director of corporate events for Excel Communications Inc., also in Dallas.

Donlynne M. Layne has been appointed executive director of the Pennsylvania Association of Convention and Visitors Bureaus, based in Harrisburg, Pa. Previously, she served as director of member and meeting services for the Society of Government Travel Professionals, based in Washington, D.C.

  • Steven Boswell has been promoted to director of sales at the Loews Santa Monica Beach Hotel. Deborah Donaghey has taken his previous post as national sales manager.
  • Deborah A. Buck has been appointed sales manager and David M. Walsh has been named assistant director of sales at the Washington Duke Inn & Golf Club in Durham, N.C.
  • Joseph Domina has been promoted to director of food and beverage operations at the Hilton Portland (Ore.).
  • Andre Fournier has been appointed director of sales and marketing and Dan Sierka has been named director of group sales at Pointe South Mountain Resort in Phoenix.
  • Brad Hillard has been appointed senior convention sales manager at the Sacramento (Calif.) Convention & Visitors Bureau.
  • Kim Lowe has been named associate director of sales for Kiawah Island Resorts in South Carolina.
  • If you would like notice of a career move considered for inclusion in this column, contact Jennifer Philburn, People Page, M&C, 500 Plaza Dr., Secaucus, N.J. 07094; fax: (201) 319-1796; e-mail:
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