New Charity Helps Meeting Professionals in Need

David Peckinpaugh

Meeting planners spend their days taking care of clients and attendees. A new organization, however, wants to take care of them for a change. Called The Meetings Industry Fund, the new 501(c)(3) foundation will help meeting professionals in crisis by providing financial assistance to planners in need. If a meeting professional is out of work, for example, and faces a medical emergency, the fund might assist them with their medical bills.

"Our industry is made up of amazing people and organizations that do fantastic work on behalf of our industry," said David Peckinpaugh (pictured), president of Maritz Travel Company, who co-founded The Meetings Industry Fund with Susan Sarfati, CEO of High Performance Strategies; Heather Burkee Scherer, president of ATC Travel Management; Neal Couture, director of government procurement law and business programs at George Washington University Law School; and Chuck Fazio, industry photographer and artist-in-residence of American Forests, who originally conceived the idea. "The one gap we noticed was for an organized effort to help out individuals in crisis, and The Meetings Industry Fund is all about them. We know our industry will pitch in to help our colleagues who have short-term financial needs."

The fund's initial goal is to raise $100,000 in the next 100 days.

"We can support our friends and colleagues in the meetings industry when they need us the most," Sarfati said. "Our community can give generously to support The Meetings Industry Fund. It's about helping each other and it doesn't get much better than that."

Added Scherer, "I have witnessed firsthand the kindness and generosity of industry friends to each other in times of crisis. Through a collaborative effort, we hope to provide an even greater level of support to our friends in need."

Meeting professionals who wish to contribute to the The Meetings Industry Fund can learn more and make a donation via the fund's website.

Concluded Fazio, "I am personally thrilled that after years of being a vision in my brain, the fund has come to fruition and is now here to help people in an industry that was there for me several years ago when I really needed the help."

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