2018 40 Under 40: Jim Clapes

By Connect Staff, August 3, 2018

Jim Clapes, 37, works in New York City as conference and events manager at the Drug Policy Alliance. As a 2018 40 Under 40 honoree, Clapes discusses his passion for the events industry.

Connect with Clapes on Instagram.

What I do: I am directly responsible for the planning and management of the biennial International Drug Policy Reform Conference, annual staff Retreat and 20 to 30 additional organizational events throughout the year. As a one man show at DPA, I am involved in all aspects of the planning process, including site selection, vendor acquisition and management, contract negotiation, budget development/reconciliation as well as social media outreach and management.

How I got here: I did a Congressional internship during my senior year of college and while I realized Capitol Hill wasn’t for me, I knew I wanted to relocate to Washington, D.C., and marry my interest in event coordination with the non-profit sector. After nearly 8 years at the U.S. Green Building Council, I pursued my life long dream of living in New York City and accepted a position with the Drug Policy Alliance.

Greatest career accomplishment: I’m most proud of the opportunity to be selected as Executive Board Chair of the LGBT Meeting Professionals Association, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit association that is committed to the professional advancement of LGBT meeting professionals as well as diversity and inclusion throughout the entire meetings profession.

Impressive stats: I noticed a significant interest in and lack of sponsorship support for my 2015 conference, compelling me to completely overhaul our entire sponsorship prospectus.  I worked with and consulted a number of industry colleagues for several months before developing a re-imagined piece, which generated an 80 percent increase in overall sponsorship revenue for the 2017 conference.

Specific improvement I’ve made: When I first assumed my role at DPA in 2014, the organization had never created printed save-the-date or registration mailers for the conference. I worked to create two mailers that were mailed to previous attendees of the past two conferences, subsequently resulting in a 30 percent increased attendance from the previous conference.

What I’m working on: For DPA, I’m planning our annual All Staff Retreat, which will be held in Denver. In addition to the basic meeting logistics, I’ve also been appointed as a head of a specific internal committee that will be developing an entire program of off-site activities, meals and other opportunities for our staff to experience and leave a lasting impression in Denver. I’m also laying the groundwork for the 2019 International Drug Policy Reform Conference in St. Louis.

What I do outside of work: In addition to serving as Board Chair of LGBT MPA, I do a lot of yoga in my free time. I also am a huge fan of any horticulture, so I love looking at, searching for, and taking pictures of flowers. I also love the theater and living just a few blocks away allows me to see a good number of Broadway shows.

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