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Shortly after I took the helm of this magazine in 2012, I met Keri Kelp Dinica—then the president of Metro Detroit NACE—for coffee, where she explained a new awards program that the local chapters of ABC, NACE and ILEA had put together. The idea, she said, was to raise the profile of the events industry in metro Detroit and to raise the bar for it.

Last night, as I sat at my table in the Silver Gardens Banquet Center, attending the Michigan EPIC Awards for the fifth time, I was struck by the fact that the entire thing was the creation of a group of volunteers. A bunch of motivated industry people came together and made something meaningful happen, and it has become what they envisioned: a meaningful, sought-after recognition for top-notch work.

Of course, because it’s an industry party, it’s also a blast. Derek Rafferty and his crew really couldn’t be more adorable or fun. Kristen Porchia seems to plan a stunning range of events, and to do so in shoes that are not for amateurs. Lotoya Vongrechin is loved and admired by everyone, and also rocks lime-green stilettos.

Perhaps most of all, the individuals who comprise the industry in our area are both deeply committed to producing breathtakingly beautiful and excellent events, and are vibrantly, enthusiastically supportive of one another. I love witnessing the excitement and desire to cheer each other on.

For a full list of winners, check out the awards website. Better yet, next year, be sure to go.

Girlie elegance and sophistication were the theme of a recent bat mitzvah planned by Elm Events. Bat mitzvahs, the coming-of-age celebrations for 13-year-old Jewish girls, walk a tightrope—they must celebrate a teen girl in a way that pleases her friends and adult family alike. Hundreds often attend the parties, which follow a religious ceremony and often raise the bar for personalization and opulence.

 

Chris Rowley, the Mount Pleasant Area Convention and Visitors Bureau's executive director, recently acquired her certification as a Government Meeting Specialist from the Society of Government Meeting Professionals .

The SGMP certifies employees of government entities through the voluntary GMS program whose  goal is to teach planners and suppliers to plan meetings and events in the most effective way possible for their government employers. The program requires participants to fulfill the ethical, personal and professional requirements that the SGMP specifies.

 

Robert Snyders, who retired in late March 2017, served for 20 years as the National Sales Director for Experience Grand Rapids.

“Bob has been an integral part of the sales team at Experience Grand Rapids,” says Tom Bennett, vice president of sales and services of Experience Grand Rapids.