Selina Mirza Cooper, Project Manager
Texas Floodplain Management Association
Cedar Park, Tex.
Can you provide some of your background as a meeting professional?
I started with the Texas Academy of Family Physicians (TAFP) in Austin, Tex. as a secretary for the education department. My role evolved within a year of working with them into Conference Manager, in which I managed five big conferences for the association over my nine-year span with them. I started working with the Texas Society of Anesthesiologists in a similar capacity and now, with Texas Floodplain Management Association, I manage all conferences, meetings and special events.
Why did you choose to become a meeting professional?
I had no idea a career as a meeting professional existed when I graduated from college. Being a meeting professional was everything I had wanted in a career but just could not grasp what it was would be called. Being a meeting professional has given me the ability to travel all over the U.S., and the ability to get outside my comfort zone. I get to work with some of the best people in the world too.
What was the most challenging/fun event you have been involved into date?
The most challenging has been with my current employer – the ‘fun’ event was planning a simple casino event with an anticipated registration number of only 200—in this case, we had an overwhelming, unexpected number well over 350. Try cramming this number in a small space with casino games, a food buffet and dessert bar with seating for only 200.
What are the greatest rewards of being a meeting professional?
The people – it pains me to see what COVID-19 has done. All the meeting professionals and hotel staff have been the absolute reward for me as a meeting professional and one of the main reasons I have not left this industry. I do hope I can retire as a meeting professional. There is nothing like it in the world.
How has COVID-19 affected you personally?
I am thankful no one I know has come down with this thing. COVID-19 has taken all I love to do personally away from me—my love of travel, my love of hugging people, my ability to come and go to places as I please, and so much more. But at the end of the day, it has not taken my health, my family, my job, and my faith away.
Have you planned or are you in the process of planning any virtual/hybrid events? If so, which platform are you using? If not, what are your thoughts on virtual/hybrid events?
I am in the middle of planning a two-day virtual event for my organization. We are using PSAV for production and Chime as the platform. We will be doing a hybrid event in April of 2021. Hybrid events are great and a win-win for all involved.
What do you see as the future of the travel and tourism industry?
I see a bright future ahead and it has to do with those of us who love the industry. And if we have anything to do with it, we will be back stronger and even better than ever. That is what we do as meeting professionals.