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by Leo Jakobson | November 05, 2015
The Meetings Industry Fund founders Chuck Fazio, Heather Scherer, David Peckinpaugh and (on the phone) Susan Sarfati
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A new organization has been formed to assist members of the meetings industry who are in need. In September, the Meetings Industry Fund was established to provide short-term financial assistance to professionals who are directly involved in the planning, execution, delivery, and support of meetings.

A registered 501(c)(3) not-for-profit charitable organization, The Meetings Industry Fund was created as a permanent forum through which the close-knit meetings community can help one another through personal crises by providing financial and emotional support, says David Peckinpaugh, president of Maritz Travel and one of the founders of the Fund.

"One hundred percent of the fund raised will be given out to members of the meetings industry that are going through difficult circumstances," Peckinpaugh says, adding that it is volunteer-driven and operates with minimal overhead. "The goal is to raise $100,000 in individual donations."

Tax deductible donations to the fund can be made at their website. Currently, the founders are providing a 25% match of all grants.

The group notes that, "within the landscape of the meetings industry, foundations are set up to support education and research to advance the profession. We identified a gap: None of these funds are designed to support individuals in need." Despite that, members of the industry have frequently responded to crises with an outpouring of financial and emotional support, Peckinpaugh notes.

Two grants have already been made, one to assist with medical bills and another to help a grantee escape an abusive relationship.

Priority areas are health, shelter, and food; other requests will be evaluated on a case-by-case basis. All applications will be reviewed by and voted on by the board. The current financial assistance limit is set at $1,500, although the board may be flexible.

Confidential grant applications can be made at themeetingsindustryfund.org or by emailing in an emergency.

The Board consists of the following:

Founders & Permanent Board Members

David Peckinpaugh
President, Maritz Travel Company and Experient

Susan Sarfati
CEO, High Performance Strategies

Heather Scherer
President, ATC Travel Management

Neal J Couture, CAE
The George Washington University

Chuck Fazio
Photographer, Artist-in-Residence, American Forests

Advisory Board


Al Rickard, CAE, President, Association Vision

Susan Robertson, CAE, Executive Vice President, ASAE

Eduardo Chaillo, CMP, CMM, CASE, Global General Manager, LATAM, Maritz Travel

Rob Milko

Karen Gonzales