Fueling the Foundation: Celebrating Deborah Sexton’s Impact

Author: David McMillin       

The PCMA community is honoring former PCMA president and CEO Deborah Sexton’s 13 years of leadership with a new scholarship fund, a reception in Chicago, and an awards event in Las Vegas. Learn how you can be part of the action.

As Deborah Sexton prepared to leave PCMA earlier this year, the future felt somewhat undefined. “I’m not entirely sure of what’s on the immediate horizon,” she said in an interview before Convening Leaders 2018. “I want to get away for a couple of weeks to clear my head and determine what’s next.”

Sexton may have been uncertain about the short-term, but one fact was undeniable: She had transformed PCMA into an authoritative voice in the face-to-face industry. To celebrate that impact, PCMA’s Board of Directors voted to create a new scholarship in January, and more than 40 organizations and individuals have already made large contributions to the fund. Meredith Rollins, executive director of the PCMA Education Foundation, said that contributions have already surpassed the $140,000 mark. This Friday, before the ASAE Annual Meeting kicks off in Chicago, the PCMA Education Foundation will offer everyone an opportunity to be part of the launch of the scholarship fund with a reception at the Chicago Cultural Center. (Click here for advance tickets; they will also be available at the door.) “We wanted to bring everyone together face-to-face to celebrate Deborah,” Rollins said. “It’s another way to donate. With so many people from the industry in Chicago for ASAE, it will be a great way to honor her leadership.”

Rollins said that the scholarship has been customized to help someone who is already in the industry. “It’s for someone who has at least three years of experience,” Rollins said. “For those ready to take their career to the next level, the scholarship will include an exclusive coaching opportunity with Deborah in Chicago.”

In addition to a one-on-one mentorship session, the scholarship provides a $7,500 stipend for continuing education that the recipient can use for attending events and crafting his or her own educational experience. There are some benefits specific to PCMA, too, including a one-day shadowing experience of the events team at Convening Leaders and a three-year membership to the organization. “With all our new scholarships, one of our top priorities is to keep recipients engaged with PCMA,” Rollins said. “We want to provide more than financial support. We also want to welcome them to the community.”

Continuing the Celebration in Las Vegas

ASAE won’t be the only opportunity to celebrate Sexton’s impact. PCMA’s Southwest & Pacific Chapter will honor Sexton and Martin Balogh, associate executive director — meetings and travel group at the American Bar Association, at the chapter’s Industry Icon Awards on Oct. 15 at TAO at the Venetian during IMEX America.

“Like many in the industry, Deborah and Marty have shaped my career,” Kevin Boland, director of sales and marketing at Palace Hotel in San Francisco and president of the chapter, told PCMA. “Their dedication, ongoing participation, and willingness to share their experience are a true inspiration to us all. When I was young in this industry, both Deborah and Marty were big shots, but they were always very approachable. They’re the reason people work in our industry with pride. This event is a small way of saying thank you from so many people.”

If you will be in Las Vegas and want to show your own appreciation, too, click here to purchase a ticket for $150. And if you want to follow in Sexton’s footsteps, the Education Foundation is accepting applications for the scholarship through Aug. 24. Click here to learn more.

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