by Lisa Grimaldi | April 01, 2010

The Incentive Re­­search Founda­tion has a new president and new headquarters. Melissa Van Dyke took the helm of the organization last month. She replaces Frank Katusak, who ran the nonprofit group since 2006, when the IRF broke away from Chicago-based Site (then known as the Society of Incentive & Travel Executives) and relaunched as an independent research foundation.

At the same time, the group's headquarters has relocated from New York City to St. Louis.

Prior to joining the IRF, Van Dyke was employed by the incentive firm Maritz, beginning "on the tech side," she said, then working in various departments ranging from products to program creation to sales. "When I got involved on the program side, I was exposed to the science of how effective incentives can be for organizations," she told M&C. "Merchandise and travel existed before the incentive industry; it's the ‘secret sauce' that makes programs work."

During her eight-year tenure at Maritz, Van Dyke authored several white papers, including "Engagement and Appre­ciation in a Time
of Crisis."

Going forward, Van Dyke would like the IRF to expand its educational offerings. At present, the group's main educational forum is the IRF Invitational, which includes buyers and suppliers. This year, the event takes place May 19-23 in Colorado Springs, Colo.

The group also will provide six educational classes, including the keynote session, for The Motivation Show's first all-day education program, which takes place Oct. 12 in Chicago.

The IRF also will relaunch its website,, by year's end. Among planned enhancements, the site will offer easier access to IRF research and industry case studies.