About Us



For You History Buffs:
The concept for a Minnesota Chapter of Society of Government Meeting Professionals came about on February 7, 1997 when Bob Easton of the Bloomington Convention and Visitors Bureau convened a meeting at the St. Paul Café of seven individuals to explore the possibility of a “Northern Lights” chapter.  The “original seven” were: Jenniefer Edone, Kahler Hotel, Rochester; Stephanie Grimaldi, St. Paul CVB, Jo Maniaci, Office of Special Events and Planning, State of Minnesota; Marsha Signorelli, Duluth CVB; Judy Nichols, Regal Minneapolis Hotel; Roger Williams, Minnesota Department of Children, Family and Learning and Bob Easton, Bloomington CVB.  The official Steering Committee roster was later listed to include the above plus Rebecca Brass, Sheraton Metrodome and Lee Schutz, Office of Special Events and Planning.  Several members of this group already were members of other SGMP chapters and had attended the National Education Conference. This committee set about to find out if there was sufficient interest in Minnesota for a local chapter to call their own. The group met in various locations on numerous occasions in planning sessions.

April 8, 1997   An awareness meeting  
June 10, 1997   One day educational program attended by 64 people  
September 19, 1997  Chartered at the Radisson Inn, Saint Paul, Minnesota 

Dignitaries included:  
• Mayor of Duluth
• Executive Director of the Saint Paul CVB
• Executive Director of the North Metro CVB
• Representative from the Minneapolis City Council
• Executive Director of the Greater Minneapolis CVA
• Director of the Minnesota Office of Tourism, and
• A majority of SGMP’s National Board 

The first public exposure for the impending chapter was a one-day Educational Program held on June 10 that year at the Minneapolis Regal Hotel. SGMP membership information and application forms were distributed to all attendees.

These efforts culminated in Minnesota Northern Lights becoming the 25th Chapter of SGMP on September 19, 1997 at a chartering ceremony held at the St. Paul Radisson Inn. At the time Minnesota was the fastest chartered chapter time wise in the history of SGMP. In conjunction with the Minnesota Northern Light’s chartering the National Board met September 19-21, 1997 at the St. Paul Radisson Inn.

First Slate of Officers:  
President   Jo Maniaci, Office of Special Events and Planning  
First Vice President  Lee Schutz, Office of Special Events and Planning  
Second Vice President  Marsha Signorelli, Duluth Convention and Visitors Bureau  
Secretary   Dino LoBaido, Bloomington Convention and Visitors Bureau  
Treasurer   Roger Williams, Minnesota Department of Children, Families and Learning  
Directors   Judi Nichols, Regal Minneapolis Hotel  
Stephanie Grimaldi, Saint Paul Convention and Visitors Bureau  
Char Christensen, Tri-County Action Program, Saint Cloud  
First Committee Chairs:  
Membership   Judi Nichols, Regal Hotel Minneapolis  
Communications  Patricia Hayes Kaufman, The Design Company  
Program   Jay Liebert, Embassy Suites Airport 

The chapter is proud of the fact that it has been actively involved in several Community Services Projects since inception: CEAP (Community Emergency Assistance Program, Inc.), Greater Minneapolis Crisis Nursery and currently the Pay It Forward Women’s Cancer Fund.

The Minnesota Northern Lights Chapter celebrated its ten-year anniversary in a festive fashion at the Kahler Grand Hotel in Rochester on September 20, 2007.