Have a seat at JW’s corner table – each month I will be visiting with one of our illustrious members for a one on one chat. You never know who will join me and what they might share while on the Hot Seat!
Our Hot Seater 2.0 is Dana DePonZi who appears to be a master juggler; after 8 years in Association planning, she joined Streamlinevents less than two years ago as Event Manager while also serving as our PCMA Chapter President and has just recently moved on to Kaiser Permanente as a Senior Event Planner working alongside our current President, Alexandra Carvalho. I invited Dana to JW’s Hot Seat, just before her move was announced and I know we are all looking forward to hearing her thoughts on PCMA, leadership and managing change. So now that we hope the dust has settled, we all want to know ~ how did you keep all those balls in the air?!
JW – Dana, you have been a PCMA member for 8 years, and moved quickly into leadership roles – What is your secret for balancing volunteerism with your day to day job responsibilities?
DD – Volunteering is a lot of work but so worth the reward. The majority of us are in the meetings and event industry because we love what we do so it’s great to be able to give back. Even if you only have a little extra time each month, our Chapter would love to have you get involved by joining one of our committees.
JW – Nice reminder, our committees are the lifeblood of our chapter and build lasting partnerships, thank you Dana! And while we are still talking PCMA, do you have a favorite PCMA moment that stands out for you?
DD – There have been so many great moments but I would have to say EduCon 2015 in Ft. Lauderdale was one of the most memorable. The education was fantastic, the networking was great and the memories made were incredible.
JW – And I am sure being at the beach helped a little!
We can see that life has changed quite a bit for you post Presidency – what learning experiences can you share with our readers?
DD – Serving as the Chapter President last year was an amazing experience and I’m thankful for those who encouraged me to take on the challenge. I definitely have more free evenings as I’m not consumed by PCMA projects/emails like I was but I’m happy to still be on the Board and will continue to stay involved even after this year. I learned quite a bit during my term, including how to be a better leader and how to be more comfortable speaking in front of others. Our chapter is small and mighty and has a wonderful group of leaders and members and I’m so grateful to be a part of it!
JW – Continuing on the learning path – when you made the move from the association world to corporate events and now to corporate planning – what was the biggest difference?
DD – Things happen much earlier on in the association world, i.e. booking of venues, programming, budgets, etc. and that was one of the biggest shifts. There is so much that happens last minute in corporate events which brought on a number of new challenges.
JW – Now that you are an experienced professional and a Mom, if you could go back in time, what advice would you share with a younger you?
DD – There would be two things…Appreciate your parents (I do now more than ever but as a teenager, not so much) and to take school seriously (I focused too much on sports and hanging out with my friends)!
JW – Nice, reminds me to call my parents, and that is a nice lead to our next query – what inspires you as you navigate through a day?
DD – Sometimes inspiration just happens when I’m least expecting it. Other times I’ll listen to my favorite music, talk with others, or just take a walk outside to let the natural beauty of the world around me inspire me.
JW – Do you have a favorite APP and if so, what is it?
DD – I have quite a few favorites, but the one I use the most (other than music apps) is Cozi. It’s a shared calendar that all family members can access and also has additional features such as shared grocery lists, to do lists, repeating events and more. You can also color code calendar entries by person which is super helpful so my husband knows when I’ll be traveling for work.
JW – Love the name and who doesn’t like color coding?!
So now for the really pressing question – What is your favorite Holiday?
DD – My favorite holiday, hands-down, is Halloween! The spirit of the holiday from dressing up in costumes, carving pumpkins, eating fun party foods, watching scary movies and trick-or-treating (with my son of course) is what makes this holiday so fun. October 1st is the day when decorations go up in our house and I have so many, I don’t even have the space to place them all out.
JW – I bet that means you have some killer sweets for the Trick or Treaters, too!
Most of us hope and look forward to retiring one day, do you have a retirement dream?
DD – Well, of course! I wish I could retire in a few years, but that’s probably not too realistic. My retirement fantasy is to own beach front property on a tropical island, rent out bungalows, offer yoga, surfing and cooking classes and enjoy the simple things in life!
JW – Sounds fabulous, sign me up for a visit!
Dana, thank you so much for sharing some time with us ~ we appreciate your commitment to our chapter and wish you all success in your new role at Kaiser. You have come a long way from the front desk of the Claremont Spa!
Readers, when you see Dana, please be sure and congratulate her on her move and watch out, she may have you volunteering on a committee before you know it!
Jennifer Lee Witherington, CMP, DMCP
National Director, Business Development
ACCESS Destination Services