Jackson Mississippi Chapter Celebrates New Honor
Friday, November 26, 2004
Posted by: Kenneth McCardle, Southern District Director
The Jackson Chapter, with the assistance of Brian J. Reithel, Ph.D., CDP, convinced Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour to sign a proclamation declaring September 21 "Information Technology Professionals Day" in honor of all IT professionals in Mississippi. The Jackson Chapter celebrated by having a half-day conference that included technical tracks, a vendor show and data center tours, and concluded with a luau in honor of AITP President Sam Luke of Hawaii. About 400 people attended the event, which was primarily supported through sponsors. An authentic Hawaiian troupe provided entertainment for the luau.
The event was sponsored by the Jackson Chapter and attended by members of the Hattiesburg, New Orleans, Birmingham and Baton Rouge professional chapters. Student chapters were represented by members from Delta State University, The University of Southern Mississippi, The University of Mississippi, Mississippi State University, University of Louisiana-Monroe and Louisiana State University.
Several association leaders attended the event including:
Sam Luke, CSP, President
Brian J. Reithel, Ph.D., CDP, Executive Vice President
Mark Gilfand, CDP, Secretary/Treasurer
Kenneth McCardle, Southern District Director
Coney Barre, Southern District Director and past board member
Ernie Stewart, Executive Director, AITP Chicago headquarters
Kevin Jetton, National Collegiate Conference Director and 2002 President
Teresa Hickerson, Region 3 President
Fourteen sponsors participated in the event and covered most of the expenses. Through these sponsors, the Jackson Chapter was able to pay for the travel expenses of our association and region leaders as well as the student chapters attending the event. They also funded most of the decorations, food and entertainment, leaving only a minimum charge for professional attendees and no charge for students. Many new members were gained through the event as membership fees were collected as part of the technical tracks for non-AITP members. The combination of vendor sponsorships, attendance fees and chapter membership rebates received from the gain of new members, helped the Jackson Chapter produce a small profit.
Southern Farm Bureau Casualty Insurance was solicited as the anchor sponsor for the event, providing the facilities and event staffing, which freed the Jackson Chapter and their Board members to socialize and enjoy themselves without worrying about the details.
Cindy Todd and Kenneth McCardle handled the solicitation of sponsors while Gordon Skelton and Jim McCraw coordinated the speakers for the technical tracks. Marla Thigpen, Project Coordinator for Southern Farm Bureau Casualty Insurance was named as the event coordinator and handled all other details. Marla has many years of experience coordinating national events/conferences and gave many hours of volunteer labor, even though she is not an AITP member herself. She solicited 25 volunteers, mostly non-AITP members, to cover the responsibilities during the event. Even churches helped, with one sending a team to construct the outdoor stage and another church providing bottled water for the event.
The Jackson Chapter has recently developed a win/win relationship with local IT vendors. They have discovered a natural fit between the Chapter's desire to increase membership and the vendor's quest to more effectively market their products. This event was successful thanks to an experienced conference coordinator, great event facilities (provided by Southern Farm Bureau Casualty Insurance), an excellent volunteer event staff - with great leadership from the Jackson Chapter and its president Cindy Todd - and vendors who helped provide event funding.
Great things are happening in Mississippi for AITP!