The Professional Convention Management Association (PCMA) began in 1956 with its first Annual Meeting held in Philadelphia. PCMA incorporated as an organization shortly after in 1957. Initially, PCMA was designed to be a networking association for health care association meeting executives. Throughout the years, PCMA's initial focus shifted to providing both networking and educational opportunities for meeting professionals at all levels, plus suppliers, faculty and students. Currently, PCMA represents more than 6,500 members from 17 chapters in the United States, Canada and Mexico.
In 1985, PCMA established the PCMA Education Foundation. The role of the Foundation is to support educational programs to improve professionalism in the meetings industry and to provide university-level meeting management curriculum through fundraising and grant giving. Each year, a new Board of Trustees is elected to lead the Foundation and is supported by the work of committees and task forces. Five fundraising events are held by the Foundation each year; these events are: The PCMA Education Foundation Dinner Celebrating Professional Achievement, Partnership Summit, Party With a Purpose, Silent Auction, and the Annual Giving Campaign. These events allow the Foundation to fund student scholarships, provide grants for meetings industry research and education initiatives, and fund communities in need.
Since 1956, PCMA's signature educational event has been its annual meeting: Convening Leaders. Over the years, attendance has grown from six in 1956 to more than 3,700 in 2012. The meeting takes place each January and features numerous educational sessions and networking opportunities. Education sessions are designed to deliver new strategies and innovative solutions to attendees. In 2006, PCMA celebrated its 50th Annual Meeting in Philadelphia.
Convene magazine, published by PCMA since 1986, is the leading meetings industry publication for educational content and professional development. Convene has won numerous awards, including from Association Media & Publishing, the American Society of Association Executives (ASAE), the American Society of Business Publication Editors (Azbee), Trade Association Business Publications International (TABPI), Association TRENDS, and the Society of Publication Designers.
PCMA's current president and CEO is Deborah Sexton, a 30-year veteran of the meetings and convention industry. Prior to joining PCMA in 2005, she served as President of the Chicago Convention and Tourism Bureau. Sexton is also president of PCMA's Education Foundation.