Rhonda's Accomplishments include past president of SITE, a recent recipient of the Jane E. Schuldt Master Motivator Award 2019, Named A 2019 Changemaker in MeetingsNetmagazine for launching and growing a new mentorship program as part of SITE’s Women in Leadership Committee
Rhonda will celebrate 30 years in the industry next year. She started in the incentive industry with Maritz Travel where she held a variety of positions. In 2004, (the late) Jane Schuldt of World Marketing Group, invited her to SITE’s Global Conference in Toronto as a first-time attendee. Rhonda joined SITE that same year.
“Looking back, I had joined a great association and was a member, but I wasn’t involved. There wasn’t a chapter nearby so didn’t think I could get involved. Several years later I made up for it when Kurt Paben (former CEO of Aimia, based in Minneapolis) reached out and got me involved on the sponsorship commmittee with him for SITE NITE North America. From there I took on sponsorship for SITE Classic. Then Mary McGregor reached out and talked to me about running for the SITE global board and then the executive committee. Little did I know then that it would lead me to running for SITE global president in 2015.”
Being a part of the SITE global board, says Rhonda, was a great professional and personal learning experience. From the professional side, learning and working with different cultures was extremely rewarding for her, she says, but at times it was also frustrating.
“It took me awhile to understand the full value of each culture and how to work together. That new understanding helped me grow professionally, wanting to continue learning and growing. On the personal side, I gained deep lifelong global friendships, travelled to some incredible places and developed a greater appreciation for wanting to give back.“
Having had the opportunity to work in the meeting and incentive space for almost 30 years, Rhonda has had the opportunity to travel to some incredible places. “I love learning and experiencing other cultures,” she says, and counts Tanzania as one of her most memorable incentive trips.
“It was a favorite for many reasons but, in particular, the beautiful country and people. From a personal perspective our family has had the opportunity to travel to South Africa, New Zealand, Egypt and many other special places.
One place my son and I had the opportunity to go was Belize on a mission trip. While I only was able to go two years, he continued going for six!. If you haven’t been to Belize, it is a beautiful country but also has some very underprivileged areas. The village we worked in did not have access to higher education. Some members of our church were providing scholarships to teens to attend the next level of education.
This was also my first encounter with human trafficking. I found out that young girls were being sold into marriage at 13. One of the young ladies that was awarded the scholarship was sold into marriage and had to forgo her opportunity for an education. Thankfully, I was able raise awareness of what was really happening in this small village but I believe we have a responsibility as an industry to try and stop it going forward.”
In 2015, SITE signed the ECPAT code to end child sexual exploitation and Rhonda urges everyone she meets to do the same. In addition to signing the code, Rhonda has had the incredible opportunity to work with and develop “amazing people” through the years.“We grew up together and learned from each other and that makes me very proud.”
Rhonda’s personal interests when not working includes morning runs or workouts and spending time with family and friends. She enjoys traveling and excursions to her lake house at Lake of the Ozarks in central Missouri.
In terms of movies and music, she says, “last year produced some very good movies from ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ to ‘A Star is Born’ but one of my favourites was ‘Green Book’. As for music, I like everything from U2 to Kenny Chesney and Zac Brown.”
Rhonda enjoys eating healthy but also enjoys chips and guacamole now and again. “Everyone has weaknesses!,” she says.
If she were hosting a meal at her favorite restaurant her guests would all be friends and family. “In all honesty, I truly enjoy spending time with family and friends with the limited free time I have. That type of evening is most special to me.”
As far as career advice, she says, “I have been given a lot of advice during my career. One piece od advice was prior to the first presentation I ever gave. They said, ‘Rhonda, nobody at the presentation knows what you are supposed to say so just do your best, you know the business. it will all work out. It did, and we did win that piece of business! However, the best piece of advice to everyone comes from the Bible, Luke 6:31: ‘Do to other as you would have them to do to you,’ If we could all just live that way, imagine the endless possibilities?”
Note: SITE/Prevue Survey
Last year, SITE and Prevue conducted the first survey on the challenges women face in our industry. The participation on a global basis was fantastic. Based on the feedback received, there were some areas we wanted to dive into deeper to gain a broader understanding while at the same time, gather feedback on what we can do together and individually to improve the current environment. Your feedback and input will be incredibly valuable in broadening our knowledge.
Thank you in advance for taking the time to complete and thank you to the SITE Women in Leadership committee, Prevue, Aoife McCrum, AWE, MPI and EISHTF for all their support!
To take the survey go to this link SITE/Prevue Survey