Mickey Schaefer has been involved with association management and the meetings industry for over 30 years. She began her career with ten years of service as Executive Director of the Missouri Academy of Family Physicians, and then branched into the supplier side of the industry as National Sales Manager for the Convention & Visitors Bureau of Greater Kansas City. She received her designation as a Certified Association Executive (CAE) in 1981 from the American Society of Association Executives (ASAE).
In 1984 she joined the staff of the American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP -- $75 million budget; 400 staff) serving first as Director of the Membership Division, then Director of the Meetings & Conventions Division. She also served as Exhibit Manager and, later, Convention Manager for the AAFP’s Annual Scientific Assembly ($9 million budget; 20,000 attendees; 600,000 g.s.f. exhibit space) before being promoted to Vice President. From 1996 to 2005 she served as Vice President over five AAFP divisions, including Administration, Meetings & Conventions, Membership, and Strategic Planning & Marketing, where she was responsible for 110 staff and a budget of $45 million. While a Vice President at AAFP she directed the organization’s market research and strategic planning efforts and was responsible for shifting the Board of Directors toward a strategic governance model.
She completed her Graduate degree with an emphasis in Marketing and Organization Development in 1995 and served in a variety of volunteer and leadership positions while residing in the Greater Kansas City area, including the Big XII Conference, the Kansas City Society of Association Executives, the PCMA Heartland Chapter, and the Board of Directors of the Greater Kansas City Convention & Visitors Bureau.
Schaefer has been named among the 25 Most Influential in the Meetings Industry by Meeting News and Successful Meetings magazines on four occasions, most recently in 2012. She has held numerous influential leadership positions within the meetings industry and association community, including serving on the board of directors for the Healthcare Convention & Exhibitors Association, past Chairman of the Board of the Professional Convention Management Association (PCMA), and Director on the PCMA Education Foundation Board of Directors. She was honored by PCMA in 2003 with the Foundation’s Professional Achievement Award.
In 2003 she was selected by her peers to become an ASAE Fellow—a prestigious group of top association leaders within the American Society of Association Executives (ASAE). Most recently, she was selected by the CIC to be inducted in 2006 into the prestigious CIC Hall of Leaders, which honors the industry’s outstanding leaders and innovators.
A proven innovator and driver of change, Schaefer championed industry standardization as Chair of the APEX Commission (APEX = Accepted Practices Exchange) of the Convention Industry Council (CIC), a council comprised of the 32 organizations within the meetings, conventions and exhibitions industries. She worked for ten years with major stakeholders throughout the U.S. and Canada to shape the future of the industry through the development of industry process and technology standards, similar to past standardization efforts of the real estate and banking industries.
In 2006, she implemented a ground-breaking nationwide certification program for frontline workers – the Certified Tourism Ambassador™ (CTA) program (e.g. John Smith, CTA) -- to build destination 'product' knowledge andshape the destination experience at the front-line. . This nationally-recognized certification program has grown to over 8,500 CTAs in 17 states, involving over 100 DMOs. www.CTANetwork.com .
As Schaefer's passions are people and strategy, she has continued to be a champion for the visitor experience and in 2011, finalized extensive industry research to determine the standards and best practices of the Experience-Dedicated™ Destination, encompassing extensive analysis of visitor experience dynamics. This work led to the formation in 2012 of The EXPERIENCE Institute — its purpose is to: "Advance consumer-driven standards that provide a path that enables communities to deliver positive experiences for their citizens and visitors." www.TheExperienceInstitute.org
A seasoned, industry professional, Schaefer continues to be dedicated to a strategic vision that will have a profound impact on the meetings industry, tourism, and associations for years to come.