Alison Jo McKeithen, MBA, CMP, 38, works in Washington, D.C., as conferences manager at NMAC. As a 2018 40 Under 40 honoree, McKeithen discusses her passion for the events industry.
What I do: I educate leaders to stop the HIV epidemic. Through conference planning, I work to keep adult education interesting and relevant so my attendees continue to fight HIV in and for their communities.
How I got here: I worked at NMAC for nine years, starting as the meeting registrar. When I was promoted to meeting planner, I honed my event management skills. Looking for a challenge, I left to join the conferences team for the American Dental Education Association. After a short stint away, NMAC called me back to be the conferences manager to lead a new conference.
Greatest career accomplishment: I am proud to have been the lead planner for the inaugural Biomedical HIV Prevention Summit, which was a huge success. I am also proud of having earned my MBA, CMP and GWU Event Management Certificate while working full time.
Impressive stats: The 2016 inaugural summit’s estimated attendance was 600. Through dynamic plenary and attendee engagement, conference registration more than doubled in 2017.
Specific improvements I’ve made: I introduced the plenary in the round, presenting a new way to conceptualize how information is presented and received at our conference. This format allowed for attendees to have a greater connection and engagement with the topic and the plenary speaker. In-the-round set serves as the signature branding and defining feature, separating this conference from others in the HIV industry.