Tag Archives: Northern Arizona University

Travis Brown

Travis Brown: From The NFL To The CCV

When former NFL quarterback Travis Brown sustained shoulder and elbow injuries early in his 2005 season, he fully expected to return to the game after a standard period of convalescence.

“When I was done playing, I didn’t know I was done playing,” Brown says.

His injuries, and the resulting surgeries, would mark the end of his NFL career, but the start of a whole new life.

Phoenix, Flagstaff, faith and pro football

Born and raised in Phoenix, Brown attended church services with his family every Sunday, but it wasn’t a priority.

“Church was something you checked off the list,” he says.

Throughout high school and college, church was pushed even further down that list, with football taking a front seat during his time at Northern Arizona University. Brown would go on to set career records and earn All-America honors as a quarterback at NAU.

After college, he signed with the Philadelphia Eagles but was cut from the team in training camp. He later signed with the Seattle Seahawks, with whom he would spend his rookie campaign during the 2000 season.

It was during his time in Seattle that he found his way back to a relationship with God. He was inspired by his teammates who he saw living their faith in their daily lives.

“This amazing group of guys – whatever they had, I didn’t have it,” Brown recalls.

In the fall of 2000, Brown and then-new wife, Cory, each made a personal commitment to Christ. This re-found faith grew and strengthened over the next five years as they moved around the country each time Brown was traded to another team.

Two shoulder surgeries, an elbow surgery, a knee surgery and two concussions later, Brown’s pro-football career was cut short in 2005 while playing for the Indianapolis Colts. Dreams of Super Bowl stardom would remain dreams as Brown retired from the NFL and returned to Arizona.

Home again, home again

With three kids now in tow, the Browns moved back to Flagstaff in 2007. Brown returned to his old stomping ground to work for the NAU Athletic Department and pursue an MBA.

When they learned they were expecting once again – twins, this time – the Browns packed up and headed south to be closer to family. On August 1, 2008 identical twin boys Justin and Wyatt were born – three months preterm.

At 1 pound 11 ounces and 2 pounds 2 ounces, Wyatt and Justin were dangerously premature. The months that followed were dramatic for the Brown family, to say the least.

With two newborns fighting for their lives in the hospital, and three more children at home, Brown started feeling the pressure of his hectic schedule. Between running a quarterback school for NFL hopefuls, to his duties as offensive coordinator for Peoria Sunrise Mountain High School’s football team, responsibility was mounting. It was time for Brown to prioritize.

“I just couldn’t do it,” he says. “I realized, ‘right now might not be the best time to be doing so much.’”

After just a few months at Sunrise Mountain, Brown left his coaching position behind. Justin and Wyatt were discharged from St. Joseph’s hospital on October 14, 2008. With their fourth birthday approaching the boys are happy and healthy. Brown says, as parents, he and Cory feel truly blessed.

“There were not nearly as many complications as there could have been,” Brown says.
With two girls and three boys, all 10 years old or younger, life in the Brown house can be chaotic.

“We’ve literally been in diapers for 10 years,” Brown chuckles.

Joining a new team

The following spring, Christ’s Church of the Valley (CCV) approached Brown to oversee its youth football program. Brown was attending a nearby church at the time but had a special place in his heart for CCV.

“I grew up going to CCV,” Brown says. “I was at the first service in a movie theatre at Metrocenter mall.”

CCV campusThirty years later, CCV has grown in size, both physically and in number of attendees. It currently operates a 100-acre campus in Peoria, and an additional campus in Surprise. More than 18,000 members attend 10 services every weekend.

In the years that followed, Brown became more involved in ministry at CCV, taking on additional leadership roles. When CCV opens its newest location in Scottsdale this August, Brown will lead the way as Scottsdale Campus Pastor.

“This is another opportunity for us,” he says.

The new campus will serve the 2,500 CCV members who currently commute from Scottsdale.

“If people have to drive 20 or 30 minutes to get to church, they’re less likely to get involved,” Brown says. “[With the new location], it will be easier to make an impact in the community.

“Statistics show that 87 percent of people in the Valley don’t go to church at all. Our goal is to reach as many people as we can.”

When asked about his hopes and goals for the future, Brown says that, through all the experiences that brought him here, he has learned to not put limits on God and to trust that He has a plan.

“God has used all that,” Brown says. “My NFL experience has given me platforms and opened doors that otherwise would have been unavailable.”

While he did not envision himself in this role when he started with CCV three years ago, Brown says he feels very grateful to be a part of the church and to be making a difference in people’s lives.

For more information about Christ’s Church of the Valley or how you can get involved with CCV as Travis Brown did, visit ccvonline.com/scottsdale.

Christ’s Church of the Valley
7007 W. Happy Valley Rd.
Peoria, AZ 85383
(623) 376-2444
ccvonline.com/scottsdale

University of Arizona College of Medicine

UA College Of Medicine Health Sciences Education Building Celebrates “Topping Out”

Health Sciences Education Building, UA College of MedicineA major Downtown Phoenix development project hit a big milestone October 5, 2011 with the “topping out” of construction of the Health Sciences Education Building on the campus of the University of Arizona College of Medicine.

The final beam of the building was ceremoniously lifted and secured at its highest point with workers and college staff and faculty celebrating midday Wednesday.

The $129M, 264,000 SF building – being built in a joint venture by DPR Construction and Sundt Construction, Inc. – will allow the state to take the next step in expanding its medical education facilities.

The new six-story building will house administrative offices, lecture halls, classrooms, class laboratories and a learning resource center. CO Architects is the design and executive architect; Ayers Saint Gross is associate architect and master planner.

The College of Medicine-Phoenix plans to expand its class size and add instruction as Northern Arizona University will also bring a physician’s assistant and physical therapy programs to the Health Sciences Education Building. 


In its fifth year in Downtown Phoenix, the College of Medicine currently anchors the campus with 192 medical students, admitting 48 per year. After the completion of the Health Sciences Education Building in 3Q 2012, the university plans to admit up to 80 students per class and eventually reach a capacity of 120 per class to address the critical need for physicians in Arizona.

Also on the Phoenix Biomedical Campus are the UA College of Pharmacy and the Mel and Enid Zuckerman College of Public Health, the headquarters of the Translational Genomics Research Institute and International Genomics Consortium, and Arizona Biomedical Collaborative building.

For more information about the Health Sciences Education Building, visit ahsc.arizona.edu.

Health Sciences Education Building, UA College of Medicine

Arizona State Credit Union Awards Scholarships

Arizona State Credit Union Awards $34,000 To College Students, Graduates

Arizona State Credit Union awarded $34,000 in scholarships to 18 individuals – a combination of both college students and recent college graduates of Arizona schools.

The scholarships were awarded through Arizona State Credit Union’s Community Leaders Scholarship and Loan Reduction program.

The Community Leaders Scholarship provides help for students to pay for tuition, books and other academic expenses, whereas the Load Reduction Grant helps graduates pay for student loans. The graduates were awarded for their academic achievements and commitment to the community.

Recipients of the scholarships are from various Arizona schools, including Arizona State University, Northern Arizona University, University of Arizona, University of Phoenix, Gila Community College, Mesa Community College and Paradise Valley Community College.

“I commend each of these students for the commitment they have made to their education,” said David E. Doss, President/CEO of Arizona State Credit Union.

These scholarships are only one part of the scholarships and grants that Arizona State Credit Union supports. The Credit Union is a supporter of sustainability and providing assistance to the Arizonans and local communities that it serves.

Arizona State Credit Union is a non-profit, statewide financial cooperative. The company has 21 branches across Arizona that provides financial products and services.

The 18 award recipients are Casey Lee Green, Brigitte Steinken, Eric Lehnhardt, Mathew Wadsworth, Maria Pina, Sawsan Hamad and Kevin Denhardt, all of Arizona State University.

Camille Adkins-Rieck, Daniel Cheek, Noam Dorr and Alegra Savage are the recipients from the University of Arizona.

Timothy O’Donnel and Chelsea Wilson are of Mesa Community College, James Burgos and Angela Towner are of the University of Phoenix, Jacquelina Blanch of Gila Community College and Joseph Cook of Paradise Valley Community College are also recipients.

“It is a privilege to be associated with some of the state’s brightest and most deserving individuals,” Doss said. “I am certain their dedication will enhance not only their futures but the future of Arizona as well.”

For more information about Arizona State Credit Union or its Community Leaders Scholarship and Loan Reduction program, please visit www.azstcu.org.

 

Hilltop And McConnell, AZRE September/October 2011

Education: Hilltop And McConnell, NAU


HILLTOP & MCCONNELL: PRIVATIZED STUDENT HOUSING AT NORTHERN ARIZONA UNIVERSITY

Developer: American Campus Communities
General contractor: Hardison/Downey Construction, Inc.
Architect: Todd & Associates
Location: NAU campus, Flagstaff
Size: 434,058 SF

Hilltop and McConnell are two student housing projects combine for 1,126 beds in 419 units. The $60.6M project will consist of two separate developments: a modern residence hall called McConnell (550 beds) and a student townhouse community called Hilltop (576 beds). Subcontractors include Hilty’s Electric, Dial Mechanical, Associated Cement Contractors and TKO. Expected completion is 3Q 2012.

AZRE Magazine, September/October 2011
Northern Arizona Center for Entrepreneurship and Technology, NACET

NACET Supports And Promotes Job Growth, Sustainability

Northern Arizona Center for Entrepreneurship, NACET:

Based in a small town in northern Arizona, this business incubation is fostering the growth of emerging companies with big ideas, while also creating jobs and expediting the commercialization of technology-based companies’ products.

Northern Arizona Center for Entrepreneurship and Technology (NACET) began as a virtual program in 2000 until it rooted the organization in Flagstaff. The 10,000-square-foot building housing 24 offices and six labs was completed Nov. 2008.

The organization is shedding light on and executing a different approach to increasing economic development in the area ― economic gardening. This approach grows companies locally so they have a much better chance of remaining in the area, instead of relocating many times, says Russ Yelton, president and CEO of NACET.

Linked to eight incubators in six foreign countries, NACET provides technology commercialization services both domestically and internationally with accepted clients specializing in different realms, including clean energy, biotech and software.

The organization provides entrepreneurs the essential elements to success, according to Yelton, with one-on-one assistance setting quarterly goals as well as helping clients meet said goals, provide student teams advanced software, and access to its laboratory, which includes millions of dollars of equipment.

NACET has more than 40 mentors in addition to regular staff; the mentors are comprised of various professionals, including attorneys, CPAs and others.

“As we’re working with the clients and developing their plans and many times their management, which we spend a lot of time doing, we can get a contract reviewed by an attorney or a marketing plan reviewed by someone who does just that,” Yelton says.

NACET also functions as a tech transfer office for Northern Arizona University.

“We assess with all of the technology transfer activities, and make sure the companies have access to patents coming out of there,” Yelton says.

Since its opening in 2008, NACET is now 100 percent occupied with 33 companies, all of which are expected to graduate and be self sufficient within one to five years, depending on the type of company.

Less than two years ago, NACET housed nine companies, and the organization’s success only continues to flourish.

In 2009, NACET’s clients spent $17 million, had a regional impact of $29 million, and NACET documented 103 new jobs created on an average salary of $85,000, Yelton says.

NACET has met and exceeded its goals, its EDA grant requires it to create 500 jobs in 10 years. Yelton says they estimate it will be done in six to seven years.

Yelton owes NACET’s success to its linkage to the community. Funded by the City of Flagstaff and NAU, NACET has “specific, very strategic alliances,” all of which co-promote one another.

“Without the support of the city, university and other organizations, there’s no way we can have the success we have,” Yelton says. “Because of the EDA grant, our program is also regional so we have clients from Phoenix all the way to Flagstaff.”

NACET is even involved with the reservations, including the San Carlos Apache tribe, which has recently opened an incubator focusing on Native American artists. NACET helps to provide training to the incubator manager as well as training to entrepreneurs on the reservation.

NACET is also under contract with the Navajo Nation for an incubator feasibility study, as well as in discussion with the Hopi tribe to identify potential models that will work on the reservation. However, there are challenges.

“Because (reservations) have such high unemployment, part of our focus has been on looking at things that a lot of Native Americans purchase off the reservations and identify opportunities for entrepreneurs on the reservations to start those businesses to provide those items and services,” Yelton says.

From the reservation to the university, NACET also provides a working environment for students in its hands-on internship program as well as its Student Business Incubator program, where students learn the ins and outs of effectively managing, marketing and running a small business.

According to Yelton, the program, in short, sends this message to students: “Why go find a job when you can create one for yourself.”

Above all, it’s the opportunity to network that is one of the most attractive qualities of NACET and its services.

“We have a lot of instances where we have one client, and we will see potential benefit of relationship with another client; so there’s a lot of introductions,” Yelton says. “To be able to sit down with a lot of your peers who are also undergoing a lot of the same business-development-related experiences is something you can’t get if you rent an office by yourself.”

For more information about NACET, visit www.nacet.org or call 928-213-9234.

 

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Advice from the CEO:

1. Don’t fall in love with your technology. Just because you can do something cool in the lab doesn’t mean anyone else cares.

2. Realize your own limitations. No one in business is an expert in all areas. Realize how far you can grow a company and when you need to bring in management that has more experience and capabilities than you do.

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NACET

2225 N. Gemini Dr.
Flagstaff, AZ 86001
928-213-9234
www.nacet.org

Kevin Helland - AZRE Magazine March/April 2011

After Hours: Kevin Helland

A Few Facts About Kevin Helland

Senior Vice President
GPE Commercial Advisors
Born at RAF Bentwaters, Woodbridge Suffolk, England
Attended Northern 
Arizona University
With GPE for 1 year; 20+ years in Arizona commercial real estate

Favorites

Sports Team: Anything Arizona
Leisure Activities: Time with 
family, golf, fishing
Destinations: Been to Napili Bay, Maui, Hawaii (Great snorkeling in nearby Honolua Bay); Costa Rica; Norway (Yes, I am a Viking); Brainerd, Minn.; Australia. I would like to see France, Spain and Italy (visit villages and eat, drink, 
eat, drink).

Personal Insight

Aside from my family, I am especially proud of graduating from graduate school with distinction while working and raising a child as a single parent.

Accomplishments

Ask me in a few months and I can divulge such an accomplishment. It is in the works.

Community Service

Helland is an active supporter of West Valley Community Little League; he has coached Arizona youth soccer; and is a supporter 
of the NAU Alumni Association.

What would people be surprised to know about you?

I am a classically trained chef. I worked my way up the culinary ladder and eventually became executive banquet chef at the Wigwam Resort. I still dabble in gourmet cooking and especially enjoy preparing Pacific Rim cuisine.

Advice

Received: Be humble, nimble 
and hungry.
To Share: Establish a great sense of customer service. Be honest, forthright and diligent in representing your clients. Be known for something.

For more information about Kevin Helland and GPE Commercial Advisors, visit gpe1.com.

AZRE Magazine March/April 2011

Native American Cultural Center, AZRE March/April 2011

Public: Native American Cultural Center

NATIVE AMERICAN CULTURAL CENTER

Developer: Northern Arizona University
Design Builder: Brignall Construction
Architect: Studio Ma
Size: 12,000 SF
Location: Knoles/McCrearey Dr., Flagstaff

The $4.85M Native American cultural center will be housed at NAU’s North Campus. It will include large gathering rooms, student meeting rooms, director and graduate offices, student lounge areas and conference rooms. Subcontractors include Midstate Mechanical, JF Ellis, SEACON Electric, Skyce Steel, Bold Framing, Ignace Brothers and Kinney Construction Services. Expected completion is 3Q 2011.

AZRE March/April 2011
ACA Board of Directors

Arizona Commerce Authority Board Of Directors Comprised of Statewide Leaders

The Arizona Commerce Authority aims to boost Arizona’s economy by creating jobs for Arizonans, attract and bring in new business, as well as show corporations Arizona is a better operating environment and a better place to collaborate and grow.

The following ACA Board of Directors are leaders within their respective fields:

Metro Phoenix

Chair: Gov. Jan Brewer
Co-Chair: Jerry Colangelo, Partner, JDM Partners
President and CEO: Don Cardon
Hon. Kirk Adams, Speaker, Arizona House of Representatives
Richard Adkerson, CEO, Freeport McMoRan Copper & Gold
Benito Almanza, State President, Bank of America Arizona
Dr. Craig Barrett, Chairman of the Board and CEO (Retired), Intel
Michael Bidwill, President, Arizona Cardinals
Donald Brandt, Chairman of the Board and CEO, APS
Drew Brown, Chairman of the Board, DMB Associates
Les Brun, Chairman and CEO, SARR Group
Hon. Robert Burns, President, Arizona Senate
Steve Cowman, CEO, Stirling Energy
Dr. Michael Crow, President, Arizona State University
Jerry Fuentes, President, AT&T Arizona/New Mexico
Dr. William Harris, CEO and President, Science Foundation Arizona
Linda Hunt, President, Catholic Healthcare West Arizona
Mike Ingram, CEO and President, El Dorado Holdings
Sherman Jennings, Chair, Governor’s Workforce Policy Council/
Human Resources Site Leader, The Boeing Company
Anne Mariucci, Regent, Arizona Board of Regents
Dr. Vicki Panhuise, Chair, Arizona’s Aerospace & Defense Commission/
Vice President, Honeywell Military Aircraft
Mary Peters, President, Mary E. Peters Consulting Group
Doug Pruitt, Chairman and CEO, Sundt Construction
Dr. Patrick Soon-Shiong, Executive Chairman, Abraxis BioScience
Mo Stein, Principal and Senior Vice President, HKS Architects
Pat Sullivan, CEO, Flypaper Studio
Roy Vallee, Chairman of the Board and CEO, Avnet

Tucson

Gary Abrams, CEO and President, Abrams Airborne Manufacturing
Peter Herder, Chairman of the Board and CEO, Herder Companies
Dr. Robert Shelton, President,  University of Arizona
Judith Wood, Chair, Governor’s Council on Small Business/ President, Contact One Call Center

Flagstaff

Dr. John Haeger, President, Northern Arizona University
Michael Manson, Co-Founder and CEO, Motor Excellence

Prescott

Dr. Jeanne Swarthout, President, Northland Pioneer College

Yuma

Victor Smith, President and Owner, JV Farm
Northern Arizona University Health + Learning Center, AZRE March/April 2010

Education: Northern Arizona University Health + Learning Center


NORTHERN ARIZONA UNIVERSITY HEALTH + LEARNING CENTER

Owner: Northern Arizona University
Contractor: Mortenson Construction
Architect: OWP/P | Cannon Design
Size: 270,000 SF
Location: San Francisco St. & Mountainview Rd. in Flagstaff

Construction on the $79.1M addition and renovation began in fall 2009, with anticipated completion in fall 2011. Project includes 57,000 SF of student health spaces; 71,000 SF addition and 39,000 SF renovation of student recreation space; 34,000 SF athletics space and 69,000 SF of general classroom space. Subs include Corbins Electric, Interstate Mechanical Corp., Suntec Concrete, Metal-Weld Specialties Inc., Kovach Inc., Maverick Masonry, Trainor Glass and Auza Construction.

AZRE March/April 2010

High-Tech Hopes For Arizona

The State, its universities and business groups work to make Arizona a high-tech powerhouse.

When the new millennium arrived, high-technology activities in Arizona were on a slide. The industry was unable to keep pace with the job demands of an expanding population or match employment growth in other economic sectors. That was then.

The state’s high-tech picture is much brighter now. Semiconductor, aerospace, defense and optics firms continue to be major forces in Arizona’s tech industry. But there’s also a growing presence of companies specializing in biotechnology, information technology, nanotechnology, renewable energy and other areas that fit under the high-tech umbrella.

A roll call of companies with their headquarters or major divisions based in Arizona is an impressive one. That list includes names you should recognize, such as semiconductor powerhouse Amkor Technology, optical-engineering firm Breault Research Organization, On Semiconductor and the highly diversified Avnet Inc. It also includes a high-tech Who’s Who: Raytheon, Intel Corp., Honeywell International, General Dynamics, Boeing, Motorola, W.L. Gore & Associates and IBM among others. And they have been joined by relatively recent arrivals such as Jobing.com, Ensynch Inc., Google, Monster, Amazon.com and PayPal.

“With Boeing, General Dynamics, Honeywell, Intel and Raytheon, you’ve got some big players here,” says Ron Schott, executive director of the nonprofit Arizona Technology Council.

Also, while the bulk of these companies are spread across Maricopa and Pima counties, Arizona Department of Commerce spokesman David Drennon points to significant aerospace, defense and agricultural technology activity in the Yuma area and the growth of bioscience in Flagstaff.

None of this happened by chance. It took, Schott says, a lot of hard work by a lot of different groups and individuals.

“If you set up a positive business climate, these people are very, very intuitive and they’re intelligent,” Schott says. “And if they see things that are happening, people who are trying to make it a positive business state, they recognize that.”

The steps that led to the current high-tech business climate are numerous and varied.

Gov. Janet Napolitano formed the Council on Innovation and Technology in 2003 to generate new development strategies. Later, the Legislature passed such measures as the Angel Investment Tax Credit Program to entice investors, and the “sales factor” tax bill, which led to Intel committing $3 billion in a new Chandler-based 300mm wafer-fabrication facility.

Other important developments include the formation of Science Foundation Arizona and the Translational Genomics Research Institute, or TGen.

Also vital is the role being played by the University of Arizona, Arizona State University and Northern Arizona University. It’s no coincidence Google took up residence on the ASU campus.

Alaina Levine handles corporate relations for the U of A’s College of Science. She also coordinates the Professional Science Master’s Degree Program, a workforce development program that serves Arizona’s high-tech industry.

“Individual business leaders know that if they’re going to start a company here or if they’re going to bring a company here, clearly they need to know that they’re going to be able to staff it with very talented individuals and that there has to be a critical mass of those individuals,” she says. “Otherwise, it’s not worth the investment of moving or starting the company here.”

Arizona Business Magazine Dec-Jan 2008Likewise, those universities need to be widely respected for their academics and research programs. The highly regarded Eller College of Management at U of A and the Biodesign Institute at ASU are just two examples of the level of academic excellence found in the state.

Arizona’s rapid growth translates to a need for even more high-value jobs in the tech sector. And further industry growth will require the availability of vital business resources outside of the dominant population centers.

“It’s a positive, glass half-full scenario here in the state,” Schott says. “That doesn’t mean we don’t have problems, but we’re trying to work and focus on those problems and improve the environment the best we can.”

Why Meeting Planning Has Become A Top Career Pick

Planning Big

Why meeting planning has become a top career pick

By David M. Brown

$122.3 billion. That’s what businesses, small and large, spend on meetings and conventions annually. And that’s one great reason why, when choosing their careers, so many young people are choosing meeting planning.

 

Planning BigEither as independent firms or employees, meeting planners ensure that events, from seminars and incentives to Fortune 500 annual meetings and conventions, are successful for their clients, both tactically (did it run smoothly?) and strategically (did the gathering fulfill corporate goals?). While the perception may be that this is a females-only profession, males are participating in its many facets: administrative; communications; financial; sales; hospitality; audio-visual; staging and production; and long-term visioning. “If you consider the bigger picture, the industry, there are men filling various roles,” says Katherine Christensen, CMP, president and owner of Chandler-based Katherine Christensen & Associates and PRA Destination Management–Arizona. The Certified Meeting Professional, CMP, is an industry certification earned through examination, as well as work and association experience.

“[Students] see the industry as a $120 billion business, and the thought of the myriads of detail necessary to conduct a major event, whether small or large, is challenging for their skills,” says Jim Fausel, CMP, CMM, faculty associate with the School of Community Resources and Development at Arizona State University. There, students pursue one of two elective accredited courses: Meetings and Convention Management and Special Events. Fausel also serves as the director of the Professional Meeting Managers Partnership and, as an independent meeting professional, has led Scottsdale-based The Conference Connection since 1984.

Programs at quality universities such as ASU and Northern Arizona University help students realize that this is a career they never even considered, until they learned what it was all about. “Meetings management is the sleeping giant in academia, and more and more students want to learn how to plan effective meetings,” adds Fausel.

The degree at ASU is a Bachelor of Science and Recreation, with tourism as the section in which meeting management is taught. ASU also offers adult learning courses, he notes: “We target those working in nonprofits, government, associations and corporations who are told to plan and set up a meeting, but don’t have the experience to do so.”

Dr. Gary Vallen, professor, from the School of Hotel and Restaurant Management at Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff, says the appeal is that meeting planning is a “thrill-a-minute industry.” He asks, “Where else could someone take a leadership role putting on high-end conventions from such diverse topics as a National Home Builders Conference (one of the largest physical show requirements of any in the world) to the world’s largest cocktail and nightclub show?” He adds, “Or put on smaller themed events like a James Bond dinner, or a racecar/Nascar evening for various conference groups?”

His Gary Vallen Hospitality Consultants hosts casino-themed evenings for social purposes or charitable fundraisers. Vallen helped initiate the NAU program in 1988. He teaches Hotel Operations, Casino Gaming Management and Meetings and Events Management, and, during a recent semester sabbatical, developed four courses in meeting, events and expositions management: Meeting Planning; Conventions and Expositions; Festivals and Special Events; and Topics in Meetings and Conventions Management. NAU first offered these courses this spring.

A Business Convention
“Meeting planning as a career is growing more popular in part because of the increasing awareness of our industry,” explains Karla Vogtman, convention services manager for the Greater Phoenix Convention & Visitors Bureau.

“Almost every organization holds some type of meeting. As long as companies meet, the demand for professionals in our industry will continue,” adds Vogtman, an ASU alum.

She, in fact, works with the CVB’s convention sales department to service groups hosting meetings in the Valley. This includes providing housing and registration assistance; developing community awareness; coordinating site inspections and venues; hosting off-site activities; supplying destination and promotional collateral; and providing marketing assistance to convention groups. “In other words, I act as the destination specialist and work as a liaison between members and meeting planners,” she says.

Her path is illustrative of the many opportunities a meeting career offers: She started in the multi-cultural affairs department, moved to the convention sales department and now works with groups in convention services. “A degree in this field requires you to focus on communication, business and a variety of other skills I utilize every day.”

While the popularity of meeting planning as a career is a national trend, tourism’s place as the second largest industry in Arizona is particularly inspiring young people here. “Arizona as a destination is very popular and our seasons are high in the fall. From January through June, when all in our industry work very hard, oftentimes without days off, we do it to serve our visitors,” Christensen notes. As a result, most meeting and convention planning is hospitality-focused in Arizona, although medical, real estate and financial concerns significantly rely on these professionals as well.

In fact, it’s becoming a necessity, she emphasizes. “It’s a profession that is finally being recognized as an industry,” After all, she points out, “People take their taxes to a CPA, as they are schooled and study in that field, or other experts in their fields like attorneys or mechanics. Why would they not have their meeting/event planning needs tended to, by a professional?”

Plan to Associate with Colleagues
Meeting planning has evolved, though, explains LoriAnn K. Harnish, CMP, CMM. “Today’s meeting planners are event and meeting extraordinaires who are far more strategic than tactical,” explains Harnish, noting that Fast Company Magazine has listed the meeting industry as one of the top 20 professions for the next decade. “Yes, they have resources at their fingertips and checklists galore to ensure every detail is not overlooked or forgotten. However, their main focus is being strategic, that is, aligning their meetings objectives with the visions of the organizations they serve.”

Hornish is president of Scottsdale-based Speaking of Meetings, which ensures that a company’s strategic objectives are the components of every meeting and event. The CMM, Certified Meetings Manager, which develops this strategic visioning, requires a five-day, in-residence course and other components.

She is also president-elect of the 460-member, Phoenix-based Arizona Sunbelt Chapter of the Dallas-based Meeting Professionals International, established in 1972. The largest association for the meetings profession, MPI includes 20,000-plus membership in 68 chapters and clubs in the United States, Canada, Europe and other countries. The chapter assists members with networking, education and vocation tools, as well as works with students for internship opportunities.

AZ Business Magazine October November 2006“Our state has had a chapter for more than 25 years, and that tells you how important meeting planning has been for several decades,” explains Christensen, a member since 1993 who has served in various roles, including president. “It isn’t new; it is just perceived as a necessary profession for corporations, associations and organizations to assist in their planning.”

Everyone agrees: For those planning this as a career, plan ahead. “Throughout the country, this background opens the doors to employment,” Fausel says. “Those companies and associations looking for meeting-management assistance usually turn to those individuals with the training and education in the meetings industry to be part of the team.”

www.kc-a.com
www.asu.edu
www.nau.edu
www.conferenceconnection.org
www.visitphoenix.com

Arizona Business Magazine Oct/Nov 2006