• Progress Report on Past Up-and-Coming Hall of Fame Winners

    FROM THE Spring 2018 ISSUE

    Industry professionals share news, lessons learned and more since receiving their awards. 

Every year, Michigan Meetings + Events Magazine seeks out rising stars in the industry to honor in its Hall of Fame. Those newcomers—honored in the Up-and-Coming meeting professional, special event planner and supplier categories—are just getting a start in their professions. We wondered how their lives have changed since the award. For some it has been eight years. Here’s what past up-and-coming winners revealed about their career changes. 

2011 Up-and-Coming Special Event Planner

Special events and corporate giving manager at Children’s Hospital of Michigan Foundation in Detroit

MIM+E: You won while working in events at the Detroit Athletic Club. What changes have taken place since your award?
I have shifted from hospitality to nonprofit. I began with objectives that centered around responsibilities I was given at that time. I since learned that relationship-building skills and building more long-term relationships are what lead to executive leadership roles.

MIM+E: What advice would you put in a “just do it” note?
Reach outside your comfort zone and try new things. For example, I never thought I would be able to master public speaking!

MIM+E: What new advice do you have for meeting and event professionals?
Strong customer service skills and the ability to work with different personalities is everything. [That means] being able to connect with a client or donor on a deeper level, and to understand the vision and be able to successfully meet those expectations—and deliver on them.

MIM+E: What are you grateful for in your career?
I was able to take the skill set I leaned in hospitality and effectively apply it to the nonprofit industry.

Up-and-Coming Supplier

Co-owner of Good Fruit Video and founder of Beyond Our Barriers in Lansing

MIM+E: Since winning, how has your business—which creates marketing videos—changed?
We’ve been working to innovate in the video field, making it extremely easy and painless for our customers to get quality video. Unique tools and approaches to our work are starting to pay off with strong growth over the last few years. We continue to innovate and get better every day. Good Fruit produced a TV ad for the Lansing Community College Foundation, which won a 2014 Silver Paragon Award from the National Council for Marketing and Public Relations. In 2016, we won a “Take Pride in the South Side” award from the South Lansing Business Association. The Meetings + Events award validated that what we were doing was needed, and that we provide great value to our clients and customers.

MIM+E: Is there someone who inspires you?
Kellie Dean of Dean Transportation and Dean Trailways of Michigan. He is a friend, client and business partner, but also a mentor. Not only has he succeeded greatly in business, but also in philanthropy. I hope to emulate his successes.

MIM+E: Will you share new lessons you have learned?
Keep it simple and in your own niche. We execute on the vision our client brings to us. We are not a creative agency that takes a need and builds a concept with a script and storyboard. We simply execute on a vision brought to us, and use our natural documentary style to tell their story. You point, we shoot. That’s why we’ve been successful.

2014 Up-and-Coming Special Event Planner

Founder and president of Melissa Vitale Events LLC in Bloomfi eld Hills

MIM+E: What has been happening in your career since the award?
I have planned more high-end events with seven-figure budgets. At these events it has become more common for me to bring in celebrity performers, athletes and chefs. And since the award, the frequency and quantity of referral business has significantly increased.

MIM+E: What new lessons have you learned?
Over Labor Day weekend, I planned a wedding that included building a large structure on the Detroit River. It took a month to build.

MIM+E: Who inspires you?
My incredible husband and amazing children. My nine-year-old daughter wants to be a CEO when she grows up.

MIM+E: What are you most grateful for in your career?
That I absolutely love what I do!

MIM+E: What advice would you share with meeting and event professionals?
Be prepared to give your mind, body and soul to your clients.

2015 Up-and-Coming Supplier

Hotel manager, Mission Point Resort on Mackinac Island

MIM+E: What has changed in your life since 2015?
The past few years have been a whirlwind of change for me. I recently got married and my wife and I purchased our first home. Professionally, I have taken on a new role with Mission Point, [working] my way [from director of operations] to hotel manager. My daily workload has completely transformed. I am no longer the guy who does everything, but now the leader who challenges his team to always do better.

MIM+E: Will you share career or personal realizations?
You cannot change the world in a day. 

MIM+E: What would you put on a “just do it” note?
Work harder than everyone else around you; do not sit back and wait—and believe in yourself.

MIM+E: Do you have advice for meeting professionals?
Things are changing so often, it’s imperative to stay up on new trends.

2016 Up-and-Coming Special Event Planner

Principal at The Bash Events, Birmingham

MIM+E: What have been the career high points since receiving your award?
I’ve gotten to know more and more clients and been part of their special day. I’ve also been able to spread my wings creatively and try new things in the event industry at new locations.

MIM+E: What advice can you share?
Trust your intuition. And it is incredibly important to have a good work/life balance. Your business and clients will benefit greatly if you lead a fulfilling life.

MIM+E: What would you write on a “just do it” note?
Don’t be afraid to try new things

MIM+E: Who inspires you?
I look toward female leaders in every industry for inspiration. It’s important to me to go outside the event industry to be a part of the world as a whole. I admire [female role models’] drive, persistence and ability to focus in the face of adversity— and balancing life as part of a family and a professional.

2010 Up-and-Coming Supplier

Owner, Daphne Doerr Photography in Bloomfi eld Hills

MIM+E: What’s new with your career?
My business has definitely thrived since winning the award. I have photographed so many wonderful events, wedding and people that I feel so joyful thinking of the people’s lives made just a little more enjoyable by looking at some of my work on their walls.

MIM+E: What work-related note would you write to yourself?
I need to hop into more photos with my own kids and family. Time just seems to fly by and I suppose that’s why I adore photography—it helps to capture all the amazing moments of life.

MIM+E: What are you grateful for in your career?
When clients follow up with kind words [about the photographs]. It makes all the late nights of editing worth it.

MIM+E: What advice can you share?
Creating a community with fellow professionals is so important to help build each other up. I have had a couple clients who have since become photographers and I love sharing advice and referring jobs to them when I’m booked.

2013 Up-and-Coming Supplier

Director of development at Air Zoo in Portage

MIM+E: What are some of your career highlights since winning?
Besides the Meetings + Events award, in 2013 I was awarded Supplier of the Year and the President’s Award from the Michigan Chapter of the Society of Government Meeting Professionals. I continued on the board there until late 2016, and service to that organization has been a high point in my career to date. My wife Angie and I have also welcomed two children to our family—Stella and Leo, two hospitality professionals in the making!

MIM+E: You’ve returned to a former place of employment, the Air Zoo. What has changed as a result?
I rejoined the Air Zoo as director of development, overseeing fundraising and community partnerships for one of the coolest places in the state. Being a part of the leaderships at the place where I started in this industry is proving incredibly rewarding. I invite anyone and everyone to come visit me at work anytime! 

MIM+E: What career realizations have occurred?
I’ve found the underlying value in the work I do is helping people. It’s the reason to rate a day a success. There’s a good reason it’s called hospitality—it makes you feel good when you get to do it well.

MIM+E: What advice do you have for a meetings and event professional?
Just dive in. This industry is too much fun to not just make some great friends and enjoy the work!

2014 Up-and-Coming Meeting Professional

Director of conferences and special events, Michigan Associations of Certified Public Accountants in Troy

MIM+E: Has your career changed since the award?
I’ve been promoted and now oversee our conference and special event team that plans and executes 40 conferences and numerous special events each year. I also am a facilitator of the Michigan Society of Association Executives, Certified Meeting Professional Prep Course.

MIM+E: What lessons have you learned?
Being flexible and adaptable is extremely important in this industry.

MIM+E: What career or personal realizations can you share?
I’ve realized how important work/life balance really is—and that staying active and healthy is key to keeping focused and energized at work.

MIM+E: Who inspires you?
Aaron Wolowiec, Event Garde founder, and learning strategist and meetings coach, for his accomplishments and strategic vision. He has been a great friend and constant supporter of my career and I’m grateful for the knowledge and experience he shares.  

First came COVID. Then came the tornado.

The northern Michigan community of Gaylord was just starting to rebound from the pandemic with its groups and events business as a new season was getting underway when a rare EF3 tornado with estimated wind speeds between 136 and 165 miles per hour struck May 20.

Two people were killed and at least 44 were injured, according to official reports at the time. West Michigan meteorologist Bill Steffen said it was the strongest tornado to strike in the U.S. that month. 


A conference or convention venue might be described by meeting planners as offering ease and convenience for multiple reasons. It may be because its address is easily accessible from numerous compass points. Or perhaps it’s the destination—with a variety of opportunities for activities and entertainment close-by. And of course, it could be that the venue itself offers a peaceful, easy setting with all the comforts you could want. 

Well, at Treetops Resort, it’s all of the above. 


Options for unconventional seasonal gatherings abound across the state. 

From cities teeming with bright lights to snowy small towns, Michigan is a winter wonderland. If you’re looking for a way to make your event or post-event outing more festive, consider these unique holiday offerings. 

Peacock Road Family Farm