Karen Kotowski

Editor’s Note: After 10 years of service to the meetings industry, Karen Kotowski resigned on Friday. Smart Meetings talked to her last month about her time with the organization devoted to championing event professionals around the world through Certified Meeting Professional program.

Karen Kotowski’s only experiences with event planning were sorority functions in college—until she was tasked with pulling off an annual legislative conference for a Fortune 500 company’s lobbying group. She relied on the study manual for the CMP exam for reference.

“Who knew that some years later, I’d be the publisher of that manual,” she reflects.

MoreQuiz: Are You Ready to Add CMP to Your Name?

Since being thrust into planning, Kotowski has gained her footing, and then some. In January 1993, she began as a meeting planner at National Association of Home Builders. Her mentor promoted her from within until she reached a vice presidency. In December 2008, she joined Events Industry Council (EIC).

Typically, the meetings and hospitality industries see a lot of movement, with people changing companies every couple of years. What has kept Kotowski stimulated enough to remain at her jobs for decades at a time? “Interesting work and the people that I work with. Also, seeing an opportunity to reach your full potential and having an organization that supports that is key,” she says. “I am still growing and learning. There are always new challenges and opportunities every day. And I just love this industry.”

Kotowski gives an EIC member credit for sparking the idea of collaborating with Canada and Meetings Mean Businessmato create North American Meetings Day. It has since grown to be a global phenomenon, with EIC providing research to underscore the economic impact of meetings in the United States and beyond.