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| Written by Marie Johnson, CMP

Employee Spotlight: Denise Farrell Joins PCMA POWER Chapter Board

Denise Farrell, Director of Global Procurement, has joined the PCMA POWER Chapter 2021 Board and will serve as the Education Officer. PCMA’s mission is to deliver superior and innovative education to promote the value of professional convention management.


At M&IW, we are fortunate to have many individuals, like Denise, who want to be involved in the meetings and travel industry to both learn and serve. Denise brings her years of experience as both a planner and supplier to her new role. As we emerge from the pandemic and reimagine events of the future, we need to look for ways to bring forth more creativity, impactful content, engaging attendee experiences, and more! In her role, Denise will collaborate with other industry thought leaders to deliver innovative educational and professional growth opportunities to our community.

Read PCMA POWER Chapter Press Release >

Additionally, in December, PCMA announced that they acquired the Corporate Event Marketing Association (CEMA). This acquisition will propel both organizations into an exciting new chapter as businesses and organizations adjust to the evolving role of business events in an omnichannel world. And, members from both organizations will benefit from new professional development and networking programs. CEMA and PCMA will cross-pollinate peer-to-peer learning and idea exchange forums and educational and experiential learning content.

By unanimous vote, the PCMA POWER Chapter is proud to announce the 2021 Board of Directors.  Thank you to everyone who voted and congrats to all members on next year’s board!

Denise, congratulations on joining the PCMA POWER Chapter 2021 Board of Directors. How long have you been a member of PCMA?

I have been a member of PCMA and the POWER chapter for ten years both as a Supplier as well as a Planner. I have had an active role in the Education and Sponsorship committees over the last nine years.

For those unfamiliar, tell us more about the POWER Chapter. How is it connected to PCMA and how is it unique?

PCMA’s POWER Chapter is one of 17 chapters that serve its 7,000 members. This chapter is approximately 170 members from Pittsburgh, Ohio, West Virginia, and the Erie Region. We host approximately seven educational events a year – one in Cleveland, one in Columbus, two in Pittsburgh, and one in Cincinnati. The chapter also has a strong history of community service. With a number of University campuses within our borders, we strive to connect with students who are interested in our industry early to develop their professional careers.

You will be serving as the Education Officer for the PCMA POWER Chapter. What can we expect to see with the educational platform for PCMA in 2021?

In 2020, the chapter hosted three virtual events and plans to return to its normal cadence. For 2021, we are hoping to provide at least seven events to our membership. For the first few months of the year, we will provide these educational events via a virtual platform – with the first event being in February. Our membership crosses state lines and so we will be cautious initially with bringing the group together. 

We will host events in March and May and use Global Meeting Industry Day (GMID) in April to foster more connections – perhaps our first opportunity to bring people together in a regional format. We usually take the summer off and then join Ohio MPI and ASAE for a collaborative industry event in September to kick off the Fall events.

The education committee will meet for the first time in a few weeks to develop the themes for this year, yet we plan to start with a panel discussing considerations and ways to moving back to in-person events.  Since we host education to benefit supplier and planner members, we will investigate all sides of this situation.

Tell us about your current role at M&IW in Global Procurement. How long have you been with M&IW?

I have enjoyed four years with Meetings & Incentives Worldwide as the Director, Procurement. I work with a team of professionals that have an average of 18 years of experience in the hospitality industry.  Our daily work is to procure venues for our clients’ in-person and hybrid events. Being dedicated in this role provides us the opportunity to engrain ourselves in the initial logistical part of the event lifecycle.  We pride ourselves on being flexible and willing to customize our services to meet the needs of our clients. This is an exciting part of my role because we can be both creative and a strategic partner to our stakeholders.

What do you enjoy most about your position at M&IW?

I know it sounds cliché. However, I love the talented people that I work with every day! Colleagues that will jump in head-first, wicked smart, and creative when introduced to a challenge; clients who are true partners in our work; and suppliers who take great pride in their venue and/or destination and want to share the unique ways in which a client event can shine. 


Let’s talk about sourcing during a pandemic. COVID has had a significant impact on our industry. How has it affected your role and your team? What has changed or is changing?

Never in March of 2020, did I imagine we would be impacted so long and so deeply by this pandemic.  Our industry has again been changed by this recent event. As a consultant to our clients, early on my advice was changing weekly. Now that I feel like I have settled into a bit more of an understanding of our current situation and the shape of the next 12 months. Truly working with each hotel is showcasing additional learning since no two hotels are in the same financial or staff situation and thus look at each event differently.

Of course, cleanliness and safety protocols (i.e. physical distancing) will be key decision factors as we bring people back together face-to-face. However, for our clients to truly succeed with their event, it is more important than ever to bring all stakeholders together to have a thorough discovery session around the event goals, attendee locations, and ability to meet as well as the logistics.  

No longer are repeat, or postponed, meetings a simple “rinse-n-repeat.” Every aspect needs to be reviewed in a new light. There are so many new factors that our procurement managers need to navigate. We are finding that our clients have already developed or are discovering a new list of ‘hot buttons or decision factors.  In the past, a destination or set of dates may have driven the entire decision. Whereas in the current environment, the ability to meet space requirements, distance attendees have to travel, and contract terms take precedent. 

What advice would you give our clients as they move forward in 2021 with sourcing hotels and venue space for their in-person events?

I would highly recommend clients begin with an understanding of their meeting and travel policy. This guidance is crucial and again gives specifics on moving forward with in-person events. I would also suggest looking into the future and understanding in-person event needs for the end of 2021 and 2022.  With events being postponed from 2020 and early 2021 as well as the need for additional space to accommodate the physical distancing, there will be compression in many areas and over preferred dates.  It is a good time to stick your toe in the water and see what options are available.

Share something unique about you that not everyone would know, an interest, hobby, or fun fact.

I have some unique pet-peeves… patterns on clothes need to carry around to the back of the garment and salt and pepper shakers on a table need to match. Oh… and the right way to hang toilet paper is with the loose end draped over the top!

Denise Farrell with her Puppy
Denise Farrell Family