Megan Levin, Executive Director
Refrigerated Foods Association
Can you provide some of your background as a meeting professional?
I fell into association management right out of college, and never left. I’ve worked with the Refrigerated Foods Association for 28 years, give or take a few years I dedicated to raising my two children. I began as the communications director; moved into the role of associate executive Director; then worked part time as membership director, until finally returning full-time as the Association’s Executive Director in 2014.
Why did you choose to become a meeting professional?
I graduated college with a degree in English, and everyone assumed I was planning to teach. I believed if I worked hard to develop strong communication skills, I could excel in a variety of jobs. I did not choose meeting management, but answered an ad that sounded interesting. After working for this small association management company for just a short time, I quickly discovered that I was well suited for the job.
What was the most challenging/fun event you have been involved in to date?
Our Fall Symposium, where we organize plant tours in a specific region is truly my favorite event. So much planning goes into selecting the location, securing tours, estimating the timing, and ensuring a good flow. Meeting planning always involves an element of surprise, and when moving people from place to place the surprises are guaranteed. No matter how much you plan, the unexpected comes and forces you to recover, recalibrate and resume.
What are the greatest rewards of being a meeting professional?
The relationships I have built over the past 28 years are priceless. Wendie, one of the association’s board members, has served the entire time I have been employed and is one of the most special people in my life. She began as my mentor, but has become my friend, advocate, teacher, and truly almost a sister to me.
How has COVID-19 affected you personally?
Many of us have lost friends and family members due to this illness, and it is hard to express the impact of this virus on me personally. There are so much enormous challenges and sadness caused by the pandemic, and it has been difficult to stay positive. I have made a point of doing something for others week, just to bring a smile or ease a burden.
Have you or are you in the process of planning any virtual/hybrid events? If so, which platform are you using?
Our Fall Symposium was virtual this year. We have a staff of two, and used the platform we already have in place (WebEx) to create an effective, valuable networking and learning opportunity for our members. It was a tremendous undertaking, requiring a ton of brainstorming and some sleepless nights as we figured how to make it happen.
What do you see as the future of the travel and tourism industry?
My hope is we will feel comfortable and be more than ready to travel again, particularly after a vaccine is made widely available. Many of us were successfully able to partner with hotels and other vendors to reschedule our meetings from 2020, so I anticipate great meetings with normal to above normal attendance by mid-2021 and beyond.