Dr. DeWayne Woodring Retires
Members of the meetings industry, including many of the faith-based community, celebrated one of its most active leaders, educators and promoters last month after the announcement of his retirement at the end of the year. Dr. DeWayne Woodring, CMP, CEM, stepped down as executive director and CEO of the Religious Conference Management Association Dec. 31, after a 30-year career with the organization.
Praised as a visionary by associates, Dr. Woodring not only helped raise the profile of religious meetings, he influenced the growth of professionalism within the meetings industry as a whole. “My whole life changed when I became a meeting planner,” he said in a recent video. “Meeting planners are among the finest people on Earth.”
Dr. Woodring served as chairman of the Convention Industry Council, where he was one of the original founders of its Certified Meeting Professional program, now the accreditation standard with this specialized field. In 1994, he received the highest honor in the meetings industry when he was inducted into the Convention Liaison Council Hall of Leaders for his distinguished contributions.
Dr. Woodring’s industry service was wide-ranging. He was a delegate to the White House Conference on Travel and Tourism. He also served on the International Curriculum Advisory Panel of George Washington University. As an industry advocate, he contributed to the passage by the U.S. Congress of the bill exempting qualified nonprofit organizations from taxation on exhibits. Later, he helped bring about an agreement with the music industry to lower the cost of music licensing and the exemption of religious organizations using music in worship settings.
Frequently called upon to lend his professional expertise to industry organizations, he served on numerous boards and committees, including the Marriott Customer Leadership Forum, the Customer Advisory Board of Red Lion Hotels and Inns, the International Association of Conference Centers Japan, and the Nassau/Paradise Island Advisory Board. He was also an advisor for the building of the Charlotte Convention Center, the Savannah Convention Center, the Puerto Rico Convention Center, and the expansion of the Indiana Convention Center and RCA Dome in Indianapolis. He served on the Board of Directors of the Foundation for International Meetings and the Indianapolis Convention and Visitors Association, and was a long-time participant in the American Society of Association Executives.
Dr. Woodring’s activities extended beyond this country and outside the meetings industry. He has overseen major international conventions and seminars in venues in Africa, Asia, South America and Europe (his travels have taken him to 136 countries). Through his leadership in philanthropy, he saw RCMA donate $700,000 in the past six years to the United Nations World Food Program. He also served for decades as chaplain of the Defense Orientation Conference Association, as one of 60 business professionals in the U.S. chosen by the Secretary of Defense to visit U.S. military establishments and exchange views with key defense personnel, including the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
A tribute to Dr. Woodring permanently resides in the Hall of Leaders in the Washington, D.C. Convention Center and Chicago’s McCormick Place, along with those of other honorees including Conrad Hilton and J.W. Marriott.
Dr. Woodring’s career accomplishments, his 80th birthday and his retirement were celebrated in a final night gala Jan. 27 at the RCMA World Conference and Expo in Kansas City, Mo.
Rev. Harry Schmidt is the new executive director of RCMA, moving up from his position as RCMA board vice president. Replacing him is Melvin Tennant, CAE, president and CEO of Meet Minneapolis, Official Convention and Visitors Association; it is the first time a supplier has held that position in the organization.
You can view the video interview with Dr. Woodring here.