May 01, 2002
Meetings & Conventions: People May 2002

Current Issue
May 2002

Edited By Terence Baker

  Coffee With...Sue Heley, CMP

Sue Heley, CMP

Sue Heley is the head of Heley Creative, an event planning company based in Prairie Village, Kan., a suburb of Kansas City. She also is the executive director of the Kansas City chapter of Meeting Professionals International.

How did you start your own business? For 15 years I had worked in several different areas of the hospitality industry, including being a manager of conference services and a director of catering, and I was ready for a change. Up ’til then I had done a lot of work with meeting planners, so getting a little more involved in that side of things was a logical step. I quit my job and hung out my own shingle four years ago, and I was very fortunate to bring many of my previous client relationships with me. What is your biggest challenge as a planner? It varies with each program and each destination, but I think the biggest challenge is to communicate properly. It's very unfortunate when you come across a supplier who is not able to explain what they would really like to see happen. That prohibits you from partnering effectively for the good of both parties.

What was your most challenging meeting experience? Producing four regional sales events simultaneously for the same corporation. Each event involved more than 300 attendees in four different cities, and we had one month to produce them. It all went well, but that was all we focused on that month. It showed me what I together with the people I partnered with could accomplish.

What are the biggest perks for you? The adrenaline rush that comes with reaching the culmination of a very detailed event or convention, when things go well and the client is happy.


Grey Separator LineON THE MOVE


Planners Surana-Nirula joins National Immigration Forum
Rena Surana-Nirula has joined the Washington, D.C.-based National Immigration Forum as events coordinator. This marks a return to meeting planning for Surana-Nirula, who organized engineering seminars and events while at college. More recently, she worked for a Baltimore-based research and development company as an engineer.

Association Management Group hires Dopkin
Rebecca Dopkin has joined McLean, Va.-based Association Management Group as director of meetings and conventions. A seven-year veteran of meeting planning (she was most recently an account executive at Washington, D.C.-based Courtesy Associates Inc.), Dopkin will be primarily responsible for planning events for the National Association of Mortgage Brokers, also based in McLean.

  • Douglas A. Camp has joined the Keswick Hall at Monticello in Charlottesville, Va., as director of sales and marketing.
  • Pete Davis has joined Seattle, Wash.-based Windstar Cruises as the director of charter and incentive sales.
  • Tim S. Hamid has been appointed regional director of corporate sales for Sol Meliá Hotels & Resorts. He is based in New York City.
  • Diana Ponton has been named director of sales for the San Jose (Calif.) Convention & Visitors Bureau.
  • Bill Silvermintz has been appointed vice president of marketing for the Americas for the Barbados Tourism Authority. He is based in New York City.
  • Loretta L. Venezia has joined the Westin New York at Times Square as director of sales. The 863-room hotel is scheduled to open this November.
  • Tina Wehmeir has been named vice president, industry relations, and executive director, national accounts, for Nashville-based Gaylord Hotels. She is based in the Washington, D.C., office and will lead the company’s sales efforts in the Mid-Atlantic region.
  • 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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