What SGMP Has Afforded Me

Charnita Alexander, GMS, CTA is a member of the Michigan SGMP chapter and affectionately known as 'Char.'  She also is a Member-at-large for the Michigan SGMP Board. Here, Char tells her story of being a SGMP member and what her experience has afforded her. 
Greetings! I eagerly joined SGMP over six years ago.  The opportunity to meet and brainstorm with other professionals around the state on ways to make my meetings even better was an exciting thought and skill set I was eager to attain.  I have been employed with the State of Michigan for over 16 years, currently serving as a Senior Executive Management Assistant with the Military and Veterans Affairs Agency.

I used to have to make many phone calls over several days and even weeks in order to plan each and execute every aspect of my meetings and events.  I figured joining an organization made up of other meeting professionals in the industry could only help me meet others doing the same.

My SGMP membership has afforded me the opportunity to meet and network with government professionals from all over the state and even the country (at National conferences and events).  I have served on Local and National Committees and earned the Government Meeting Specialist Certification.  I am also a Certified Tourism Ambassador for my local CVB which also has many SGMP members on the roster as well.  I now have access to membership rosters and I am able to directly contact the professionals whose areas of expertise are just what I need to put on the very best meetings and events possible with the best in their fields.

I am very active in my community and always look forward to opportunities to bridge gaps!  I am a team player who can transition into a leadership role whenever necessary! 

We were challenged on a National Committee that I served on to define what a GOVERNMENT MEETING PROFESSIONAL was and there were so many differing opinions and factors to be considered. 

My definition of a government meeting planner was and still is very different than most.  I don't have a huge budget to back me up.  I am not allowed to ONLY work on meetings, training sessions, conferences and events.  I am called upon to assist with these events/activities when they come up as I am also expected to continually juggle the rest of my work load.

I am also faced with workplace politics that result in me almost being forced to hide my membership in SGMP.  Since others don't always see or understand the benefits, they give me a hard time when it comes to taking advantage of many of the benefits such as travel, networking, learning and having a wealth of resources at my fingertips.  Most would shy away from something that caused so much turmoil in the workplace, but it has the exact opposite effect on me.  It motivates me to get even more involved in SGMP and prompted me to join the board so I could assist in making changes to the way we reach out and expose state offices and our fellow planners and suppliers to all that is involved in being a part of this wonderful organization. 

I do not regret my decision to run for a seat on the current Michigan SGMP Board of Directors and successfully secure a Director at Large position.  There is a great deal of work to be done and as long as there are those who do not see and fully understand the value of SGMP, then we need to continue our outreach efforts to educate government professionals on who we are and what we do.  Membership has many privileges; but, it also comes with additional challenges, as I am constantly being forced to prove the value of being involved!  People want to know ALL of the benefits without coming in and discovering them for themselves.  The value often differs for everyone involved.  As for me, I say #JoinSGMP!