NCBMP Ramps Up Industry Partnerships

For the National Coalition of Black Meeting Professionals, collaborative efforts break down current barriers while creating opportunities for future leaders.

Jason Dunn, executive director of the National Coalition of Black Meeting Professionals
Jason Dunn, executive director of the National Coalition of Black Meeting Professionals

The National Coalition of Black Meeting Professionals furthered its industry-collaboration efforts last week when strategic partnership with Destinations International was renewed during Business Events Week in National Harbor, Md. The action deepens the relationship between the two organizations, according to NBCMP executive director Jason Dunn.

"We believe in this work and value those partners who have blazed trails with us," said Dunn. "This strategic partnership, if done right, has the potential to empower communities, cities, states and countries across the globe."

New goals with Destinations International

The organizations outlined a handful of objectives they will continue to develop. They will:

  • Collaborate on and support the Destinations International Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Assessment Tool;
  • Establish a partnership to invest time and resources to develop executive-leadership education for diverse candidates, cultivating the appropriate skillsets to lead organizations;
  • Develop or contribute to a vetted vendor diversity portal that offers members from both organizations access to a range of minority-owned suppliers;
  • Develop, implement and sustain an advocacy strategy to support the above goals via innovative programming with regular engagement and quarterly meetings; and
  • Develop key partnerships with historically Black colleges and universities to strengthen the hospitality pipeline of Black talent, in conjunction with HBCU scholarship initiatives and the HBCU Talent Consortium

Strategic partnership with PCMA

Earlier this year, NCBMP outlined the objectives for its strategic partnership with the Professional Convention Management Association. Among the plans unveiled at PCMA's Convening Leaders 2023 in Columbus, Ohio, were the development of gender-equity research aimed at women of color, content development, joint audience growth and cross-promotion of products and events.

First and foremost, said Dunn, these industry alliances are designed to heighten awareness of and increase access to education — and to remove misguided barriers.

Making NCBMP members a part of the meetings community

"We did a survey in 2020, where we found that many of our members had been pigeonholed as what was termed as 'SMERF groups' [social, military, educational, religious and fraternal groups]," said Dunn. "I disagree with that assessment. But what happens is that many of our members are not given access to ASAE or MPI or PCMA because their organizations may not have seen the opportunity to invest in the professional growth of our members.

"On the other side," Dunn continued, "there are organizations with planners of color who were involved in these other professional associations but their managers or executives wouldn't pay for their memberships to NCBMP. So these partnerships are a way to have a neutral olive branch, to show that, yes, you are welcome here. We want to uplift our members and to break down stereotypes about the various industry segments — and to give members the opportunity to broaden their experiences."

Dunn and PCMA president and CEO Sherrif Karamat have worked together in various capacities, and there is some overlap in membership, but, Dunn emphasized, the new collaboration is a huge step forward for the organizations, and the content they're developing together will break new ground.

"Having joint, in-person programming from PCMA and NCBMP on a global level extends our reach and broadens our base," Dunn explained. The collaboration makes PCMA more of a unique and, frankly, invested partner in diversity, adding authenticity to the effort in the form of time and money, he added.

NCBMP has a similar partnership with Meeting Professionals International, and the organization is working on more collaborations that Dunn said can't talk about just yet. 

"As we begin to partner with like-minded persons, it only strengthens the industry," Dunn pointed out. "It is bigger than race, it is bigger than gender. It's about how we position ourselves as a collective to invest in the industry that we know provides a quality of life for all those who love it. We understand the power of tourism. If we're able to strengthen the members who represent our industry in an equitable way, we're also empowering the communities which they come from."