As vice president of conferences, meetings and events at the National Minority Supplier Development Council, Suzette Eaddy, CMP, handled strategic leadership and management of all NMSDC conferences, meetings, trade shows and special events. While she retires on Jan. 7, 2016, after 25 years with NMSDC—and previously as deputy director of the National Urban League conferences department, where she began her career in 1972—Eaddy wants to pass on what she’s learned to a new generation. Recognized as one of the industry’s most influential leaders and a consummate professional, Eaddy still has plenty to say. Christine Born talked with her about the highlights of her long career.
Starting Jan. 8, what do you plan to do?
I haven’t really figured it out. At first, I am going to relax and recharge. I have a notebook filled with ideas and things to be followed up on. I would like to start a mentoring program for the National Coalition of Black Meeting Planners. I think it’s desperately needed, and I would like to be instrumental in making it happen.
How did you first get involved in the meetings/hospitality industry?
By happenstance. I was a bookkeeper at a small nonprofit and needed to make more money. I applied for a position at the National Urban League. The story is that I was interviewed as a courtesy. I was young—22 years old—and an older gentleman who had friends in the organization already had been selected for the job. According to my soon-to-be boss, I so impressed him he hired me instead. The job was conference registrar. Over the years, he pushed me to become the exhibit manager and then deputy director of the conferences department. I stayed there 18 years.