Michael Downs, CAE, CMP, works in Indianapolis as director of conventions and meetings at Kiwanis International. As a 2019 15 Over 50 honoree, Downs discusses his passion for the events industry.
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What I do: As the director of conventions and meetings for Kiwanis International, my main focus is to make sure that all 40-plus of our events, ranging from 10 to 5,000 are handled in an efficient and cost-effective manner.
How I got here: After many years as the chief staff executive for Key Club International (sponsored by Kiwanis International), I was “voluntold” to help with the Kiwanis International convention. This assignment placed me on a different trajectory into the meetings field.
Greatest career accomplishments: Two of my greatest accomplishments have been around the ability to get speakers that are highly sought after yet limit their availability at events. In 2014 in Paris, France, I was able to convince Ruby Bridges to join us and talk about her experience in school integration in New Orleans. In June 2019, we will welcome Jim Collins at our event to discuss moving organizations from good to great.
What I am working on now: This year, we are trying to refocus our annual event to be more membercentric and adding a sense of fellowship on a larger scale. We have truly shifted our focus from planning a convention and are now working to design experiences.
What I do outside of work: I am an active member and past president of the Indiana Society of Association Executive, past Vice President of Education for the Indiana MPI Board, and a member of Kiwanis International which focuses on serving the children of the world.