Madelyn Marusa was recently awarded this year’s Paul Flackett IMEX Academy Award. The award recognizes long-term commitment to the industry, an industry Madelyn has been a part of since 1980 when she was recruited from a San Diego based tour wholesaler to an incentive company, as a planner.
She joined PRA in 1983 and discovered SITE in 1984 as a great place to network and promote Southern California to the incentive market. Her early mentors included Patti Roscoe, owner of Patti Roscoe & Associates, Dick Graham of Control Data based in Minneapolis and Anne Wold, owner of Gallagher Wold and first International President of SITE.
“Avid SITE members at the time, encouraged me to participate in this global organization,” Madelyn recalls. She’s also been active in ADMEI serving on the board for 11 years, a 36 year plus member of MPI (where she served as a past San Diego chapter president and chaired several international comittees).
“My journalism school professor at SDSU persuaded me to look at the hospitality industry for public relations internships since it was a growing industry in San Diego. I was lucky to land an internship with the San Diego Convention Bureau,” says Madelyn.
Madelyn still loves to travel and to spend time with her 10-year-old grandson who enjoys soccer and baseball. “I love to watch my grandson’s athletic games and spend time with friends and family, play golf and go to the beach.”
Madelyn says, “My passion is this industry, the people and the memories we create” and has several client trips that were unforgettable. “In 1980, I was on the team for a major beer company’s Master Distributors incentive award which was one of the first U.S. incentive programs allowed in mainland China. Another great program while at PRA San Diego was for a German insurance company’s week of experiencing coastal southern California on Harley-Davidson motorcycles, “Easy Rider” style.
A source of pride in her career includes the development of Marine Corps Air Station Miramar into a major incentive experience. Madelyn was also part of the team that launched SITE Classic, a major fund raising event for the SITE Foundation. “The inaugural SITE Classic was held in Monterey in 2007. Dedicated volunteers, both planners and generous supplier-sponsors supported the event. A source of pride for all involved was the tenure of this committee that served 10 years and made the successful event it still is today”.
Madelyn’s favorite movies are romantic comedies like "The Out-of-Towners", and she loves The Beatles, Queen and Carole King. She’s an avid reader of best selling novels.
If she could host a table at her favorite restaurant –with a menu of oysters, wedge salad and steak—she’d invite: Lucille Ball for her humor, Richard Branson for his ideas and business tips, Walt Disney for his out of the box, creative thinking, Arnold Palmer for his graceful golf style. “And all of them are great story tellers,” she says.
And the best career advice she’s ever received?
“Hire people that are smarter and more adept than you, It will benefit you in the long run.”