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From Passion to Advocacy

September 7, 2018
By Missy Johnson, Principal at MJMeetings

Advocacy is a word that has been on my mind for several weeks now. With the sharp divide in our nation’s current political climate, the news I read or watch is full of stories about advocacy.

But other words are also often used to describe advocacy – words like passion, compassion and activism.

As I absorb what’s going on around me, I realize that in order to cope with all of it, it’s best for me to break down what often feels very big into smaller, more relevant pieces that affect me and my reality.

That’s why this word – ADVOCACY – has been on my mind lately. Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary defines advocacy as follows:

(a noun) as: (1) the profession or work of an advocate; (2) the action of advocating, pleading for, or supporting a cause or proposal.

To be honest, I’ve never really thought of myself as someone who is a strong advocate for anything in particular. Sure, in conversations with friends or family I’ll vocalize my core values and those that align with my character and the way I think life ‘should’ be. But, I’ve never seen myself as a dedicated disciple to any one cause or movement. Until today.

I realized as I’ve been thinking so much about advocacy, and watching many examples of it recently in the news, that I too am an advocate – a strong and dedicated one – for the meetings industry

This realization just made the big, wide world feel a lot smaller and more meaningful. You see, I identify strongly with the other words often associated with advocacy – passion, compassion and activism – but never made the connection for myself.

I’m a strong supporter of the U.S. Travel Association’s Meetings Mean Business campaign that advances our industry by rallying advocates, working with stakeholders, conducting research, engaging with outside voices and much more.

The Meetings Mean Business Coalition is an industry-wide coalition comprised of over 50 members that unites the meetings industry with one strong voice.

Their messages are powerful and help to showcase the undeniable value that business meetings, tradeshows, incentive travel, and conventions bring to people, business and communities.

If you want to be an advocate for the meetings industry too, explore the MMB website to:

*Find and contact your government officials to tell them how important meetings are to you.
*Download toolkits and infographics about the true impact of our industry.
*Learn about Global Meetings Industry Day (GMID) and how to celebrate it.

Finally, I advocate for my industry in other ways too:

*By earning and maintaining my Certified Meeting Professional (CMP) designation which holds me to ethical standards.
*By maintaining my 17-year membership in the Professional Convention Management Association (PCMA) thereby giving them a collective membership voice from which to advocate.
*By acting as a leader within my local chapter of PCMA and encouraging the growth of new leaders.

What about you? Have your turned your passion into advocacy? Share your experiences with me. We’re all in this together.

This op-ed first appeared in MJ Meetings.