Chapter News

December 2020 Letter from the President

Hello GMC

Happy Holidays!

This is my last GMC President’s letter, and I am finding it to be bittersweet.  It is most definitely sweet, because I am so excited to see what Molly Witges and your 2021 Board of Directors and Committee Chairs have in store for us next year.  2020 bitterly has not been exactly what I had expected for my term as GMC President.  In fact, 2020 was nothing I would have ever imagined.  I am extremely grateful to the 2020 Board of Directors, Committee Chairs, Staff and all GMC volunteers for their commitment, patience, support and friendship as we navigated our way through one of the most difficult things I have ever experienced.  Each day brought something new and more challenging.  We all had to step up as leaders to support our members.

Yes, it was daunting at times, I am not going to sugar coat it.  We had to think creatively and do what was right for the chapter.  As I reflect on the year, I wanted to share with you everything we accomplished in 2020.  Normally, this type of update is given in the Annual Business Meeting, however, 2020 was not normal. Therefore, I am happy to share this list with you today.  I believe we accomplished more this year than I ever expected.  It forced us to engage differently and, in my opinion, changed the trajectory of GMC’s future to be more innovative, creative and welcoming.

2020 Accomplishments

  • Hosted the largest GMC Chapter Reception at Convening Leaders – over 400 attended.
  • Hosted 17 happy hours between April – December.
  • Established a Lunch ‘n Learn Taskforce that produced 4 new Lunch ‘n Learn virtual events.
  • Established an Inclusion, Diversity and Equity Taskforce that produced 4 IDE virtual events.
  • Hosted the March Quarterly Meeting and Awards program live prior to shut down – over 200 attended.
  • Hosted 3 Quarterly Meetings virtually with a variety of engaging education to support our membership – largest attendance was over 400 people.
  • Hosted an all member Town Hall Meeting and passed the GM Bylaw change.
  • Created an all chapter global Student Program and hosted 2 educational sessions.
  • Hosted the first GMC Partnership Summit with all potential and current sponsors.
  • Created the Chicago Event Industry Coalition and meet monthly with presidents of all Chicago-based industry associations.
  • Conducted a Chapter sweepstakes called “We GMC” to help support the chapter in this crazy year, raising nearly $7000.
  • Completely automated the Chapter Awards program.
  • Cocreated the GMID Goes Virtual World Record attempt globally.
  • Increased volunteer leadership communication, now through monthly meetings Board of Director Meetings & Committee Chair Meetings.
  • Met weekly with the Executive Committee to closely monitor our situation in 2020.
  • Secured a Small Business Administration loan to ride out the pandemic and covering chapter management fees for 2021.

As you can see, it was quite the year to do things differently and I cannot thank all those that supported the above enough.  It took a village!

Specifically, I do want to address the last item and share what your Board of Directors did to protect the future of GMC.   When the CARES Act was announced, we discovered we were eligible for the loan program.  As a Board, we voted to participate in this program by taking an SBA loan versus taking money out of our reserves.

The GMC PCMA financial team deemed it was better for our chapter to take a low-interest rate loan while at the time our money market reserves were yielding higher numbers.  The Board voted to have this cash in 2021 ensuring we can pay our management fees. I am happy to report with careful management and proactive budgeting, 2020 was not as bad as it could have been.

With this SBA loan, we positioned the Chapter to remain operational in a very uncertain time and not drain our reserves.  Once we are back to normal life after a vaccine, our priority is to pay back the loan quickly.  We are financially secure and will continue to operate for our members at the same level as always.  As Molly and her team look to shake things up in 2021, I know we will continue to see growth and innovation.

As I close out my year, I want to invite you to 3 amazing virtual events:

  • GMC Virtual Student Day – Wednesday, December 9, 2:00 pm – 4:30 pm CST.

Every time I attend one of our Student Programs, I learn new things whether it be a new tip/trick or how the younger generation is viewing our industry.  This session is designed for students, however, any member can attend.  Please join us for a virtual Student Day focusing on virtual platforms and the reality of hybrid events moving forward!  Laura Welsh, Chief Executive Officer at Conference Solutions will lead the discussion focusing on the growing new opportunities in our industry.  Click here to register.

  • All Chapter President Town Hall Meeting – Thursday, December 10, 12:00 pm CST.

One of the coolest things about this year and unlike ever before, ALL the PCMA Chapter Presidents came together to build an incredibly strong team.  I do not know what I would have done without these people.  As a result, we are hosting a Town Hall with Sherrif Karamat and Stuart Ruff to talk about our experience and our hopes for the future.  Please join us for this important event.

With a large GMC presence, we can truly show our strength and support.   Click here to register.

  • Holiday Mixer Happy Hour – Friday, December 18, 3pm CST.

What would a GMC year be without a Holiday Mixer?  We will have one last 2020 Happy Hour thanks to the Events Committee.  Wear your ugliest Christmas sweater, bring your Eggnog, get ready to play some games and win great prizes.  Please join me as we say GOODBYE to 2020!! Click here to register.

Finally, I have an action item for each of you.  During our last IDE event, David Whitaker, Choose Chicago’s President & CEO, asked a very profound question.  We would like to hear from each of you and need your input to help deliver the vision for the Chapter.   So please, take a minute to answer this one question by following this link.

“How will our chapter look differently at the end of December 2021?”

Thank you for allowing me to serve as your 2020 GMC President.  It was my honor and privilege.


Rachael Riggs, CMP, DES

2020 GMC PCMA President

Maritz Global Events

Jacky ListonDecember 2020 Letter from the President