2019 Annual Meeting & Awards Ceremony Summary
Monday, January 21, 2019
Posted by: Jackie Frend
THE GUILD OF PROFESSIONAL TOUR GUIDES OF WASHINGTON, DC
Annual Meeting Summary – January 8, 2019
Polaris Room, Reagan International Trade Center
Thank you for the huge turnout for our Annual Meeting, Awards Ceremony, Education Seminar and Used Book Sale. Registrations were at an all-time high and at maximum capacity of 175 (with no one on the wait list)! For those of you who were unable to attend, Tony Spadafora and I have summarized the Awards Ceremony and Annual Meeting below.
Mary Beth Lane, Awards Committee Chair, presented the 2018 annual awards to the following:
The 2018 Motor Coach Operator Award recipient was Cornelius ‘Bo’ Lane of Agape Travel and Tours. Guild member Aaron Killian nominated Bo and recounted that when he started guiding he felt some newbie jitters. Aaron mentioned them to his mentor who asked “Do you know who your driver is?” When Aaron responded “Bo Lane,” his mentor said “Don’t worry. Just ask Bo for help.” Bo was recognized for his knowledge of the city and for understanding our visitors’ needs and wants. Bo’s wife, children and grandchildren also attended the awards ceremony.
New Guild member Mike Burns was the recipient of the 2018 Ginny Moser Award, for having received the most continuing education units in one year. Meghan Hanson and Rosanna Minchew placed second and third respectively.
The recipient of the 2018 Jill Blakeman Award was Jim Carr, co-chair of the CMG Committee, who was recognized for his continuing efforts “to research and to offer knowledge to Guild members.” As co-chair of the CMG Committee, some of his work is under the tip of the iceberg we see. One example is the Mars candy museum at their world headquarters in McLean. “I got through two checkpoints,” Jim reported. We do not have a site visit scheduled yet, but he is still working on it. Jim paid homage to the women who founded the Guild and to his CMG co-chair Shannon Mikush. Jim’s sons attended the ceremony and Jim said “My favorite word is Dad.” You can read Pete McCall’s interview with Jim in the “Latest News” section on our website.
Due to the government shutdown, the 2018 Tourism Industry Contribution Award recipient was precluded from attending. Ann-Louise Colgan of the U.S. Institute of Peace will be honored at a later date. Ann-Louise was nominated by Maribeth Oakes, Co-Chair, Government & Tourism Committee.
Five members received the “Service to the Guild Award.” President Jackie Frend noted that many eligible Guild members did not nominate themselves in the past, so the board now nominates eligible members. This year’s five recipients (in alphabetical order) were: Christian Eliason, Bill Harris, Mary Beth Lane, Maria Limarzi, and Corky Rainey. These awards are given for long-term volunteer service: 15 service points over a continuous five-year period. Details on these points are found in the Guild’s Policies & Procedures Manual and include commitments such as service on the board.
Highlights of Reports from the Board:
President Jackie Frend highlighted some of the Guild’s accomplishments in 2018 including:
-- The Guild remains the largest tour guide organization in the U.S., with 527 members at year end (427 Guides, 49 Affiliates, 51 Friends);
-- A fully staffed Board -- Treasurer, Bart Smith, and Communications Co-Chair, Kelvin Carter volunteered in the past 2 months;
-- Published “Join the Guild” brochures targeted at tour operators and new tour guides;
-- Hosted the largest Job Fair in the Guild’s history (over 30 Affiliates and 150 Guides);
-- Successfully launched the new website – over 2,000 hits monthly (10% from overseas);
-- Capital Guide Online continues to be popular and successful (averages over 700 hits monthly);
-- Offered 73 education, training, business meetings, book club and other events with over 2,800 online registrations (over one-third were free to attend);
-- Conducted 2 surveys in which close to 200 guides voluntarily participated; the surveys will help shape the Guild’s Strategic Plan;
-- Published the Guild’s first Resource Handbook, intended as a study guide for tour guides wanting to join the Guild. The Guild Resource Handbook will help prepare them for the test. While it doesn’t provide all the answers, it has links to resources useful to new and veteran guides alike. The Resource Handbook will serve as an excellent refresher for Guild members as they prepare for the busy spring tour season. You must be logged into the website to access the Guild Resource Handbook.
Jackie noted some challenges for 2019 including:
-- Developing a Strategic Plan – the Board is analyzing input from Guild members who completed the online surveys which will help shape that plan;
-- Provide better programs for our guides who depend on guiding as a livelihood;
-- A Nominating Committee Chair will be appointed who will find volunteer members to serve on the Committee with the goal of finding volunteers to serve as Officers on the 2020-2021 Board;
-- Ensuring Board members are computer literate which will defray the cost of hiring a web consultant;
-- Continue to be transparent with all the work the Board is doing.
Corky Rainey, First VP, reported that he will co-chair the strategic planning effort along with Bill Adams, Administration & Professional Conduct Chair. Corky was responsible for organizing the successful 2018 Job Fair and has already scheduled the next Job Fair for October 22, 2019 at WIMSA. Registration is open online. Other responsibilities include working with Affiliates and Friends. We added 6 new Affiliates in 2019 along with 9 new Friends.
Second V.P. Maria Limarzi organizes the business meeting locations and speakers. The next business meeting will be held at the Library of Congress on February 12 and on March 12 the business meeting has been arranged at the Newseum, in part to quell rumors of its eminent demise. Via data obtained from our website, Maria presented a PowerPoint presentation displaying Guild member participation per member type. Maria noted that the meeting in Olney, MD was the most sparsely attended, though the Maryland contingent was pleased that this meeting put the M in DMV. Any member who wants to receive Continuing Education Units (CEU’s) for attendance will now have to register online. “The internet has been in common use since 1991 . . . we’ll help you if you have trouble” Maria noted. Her address is astonishingly simple: “I’m old,” she insists. You can email her with any questions, including the purchase of Guild badges. The Guild provides members’ first badge for free as members advance from Guild Guide, to Guild Certified Guide, to Guild Certified Master Guide.
John Days, Guild Guide Representative, encouraged all Guild Guides to continue earning CEU’s in order to move up to Guild Certified Guide. John invited all Guild Guides who are close to having enough CEU’s to contact him. He encouraged everyone to enroll in the CMG program, if for nothing else than taking advantage of the educational programs. “Jim and Shannon do a marvelous job of opening up opportunities.” John is also Book Club co-chair, and he encouraged members to vote for four books among the 19 nominees. Participation is lively, and events are timed to allow out-of-town guides to attend, as they did at the last meeting.
Russ Norfleet, Communications co-chair, announced a new board member, Kelvin Carter, has stepped up as co-chair. They want to bring back the newsletter, once so “ably edited by [former journalist] Pete McCall … I’ve been through the Member Directory, and there is a lot of talent out there,” observed Russ. “Let that percolate . . . we need articles.” Some articles are included on the public section of the website, supporting our marketing efforts as well as Guild communications. Other articles are for members only so you need to be logged into our website to read those.
Chris Bauer and Pat Abler, co-chairs of the Education Committee, encouraged members to check the website for upcoming events. Last year’s 31 events ranged from museum updates to tax preparation. Next year’s may include a tour of Southern Virginia to follow Nat Turner’s footsteps through the Dismal Swamp and beyond. As new events take shape, you can find them by checking the Guild’s website under “Calendar” and, thanks to Shirley Timashev for sending the Capital Guide Online monthly, all upcoming events are listed there as well.
Shannon Mikush and Jim Carr, co-chairs of the CMG Committee, informed members that the program welcomed four new CMG’s in 2018: Joe Steinbock, Clara Sachs, Karen Miller, and Jackie Frend. Shannon Mikush acknowledged Jim Carr’s role in setting up events like our book discussion on 111 Places Not to Miss in Washington, DC and invited everyone to “join us in the adventure.”
Government and Tourism co-chair Mary Beth Oakes had to take out her glasses, like George Washington. The first of the Committee’s three tasks, contacting government officials to increase visibility and to lobby for support, would seem like an endless battle. The second mission, increasing tourism within the DMV, would give us denser crowds to battle with, at least in the spring. Finally, this committee works on alliances with local tourist organizations to support the Guild’s “branding” efforts. Along with the Communications Committee, and with the Board-wide effort to increase year-round opportunities, this committee organizes events such as ‘The Guild Gives Back,” volunteer cleaning efforts at the Korean and Vietnam memorials, and Destination DC’s DC Loves Busses event, now going into its eighth year. The also attend meetings of the National Capital Planning Commission. Ellen Malasky attended the SYTA (Student Youth Travel Association) conference this year and distributed the Guild’s new brochure aimed at tour operators, inviting them to join the Guild and listing all the benefits of membership. This committee also worked with the U.S. Institute of Peace (USIP) in creating the National Peace Trail, which led to Ann-Louise Colgan of the USIP to be the recipient of the Guild’s 2018 Tourism Industry Contribution Award. This effort will counter some guests’ impression of the Mall as the magical misery tour of blood and death, and focus on America’s role of promoting peace and progress.
Christian Eliason and Sandra Moore, co-chairs of the Training Committee, thanked their network. Heidi Watson continues to administer the Guild test for guide membership. Mary Beth Lane coordinates with the Washington National Cathedral for training and certification of our guides. Karen Miller assisted with a “tune-up” for guides before the Spring season. Another rite of Spring is the Motorcoach Guiding Workshop. This year it will also include an orientation to Anacostia. “If you think you know DC, and you don’t know your neighborhoods – you don’t know DC,” Sandra said. Some sites will be Cedar Hill, the second home Frederick Douglass purchased in DC, one of the Boundary Stones, the Arts Center, Community Museum, and - of course - The Big Chair.
Finally, Lanna Nguyen, Senior Marketing Manager for TCMA, the firm which manages the building for the GSA, gave us a brief introduction to the Reagan Center. It is the only federal building dedicated to both private and public use. Woodrow Wilson Plaza is more than a pedestrian link between the Mall and downtown business district. There are food courts, concerts, festivals, a section of the Berlin Wall and the Wilson exhibit. The Capitol Steps, a musical comedy ensemble, offers humorous bipartisan satirical songs on weekends, and Guild attendees received the CD full of them, called “Make America Smile Again.” If you missed the meeting, you may want to borrow a CD.
[Note from Tony Spadafora: If you attended the Reagan Center tour afterwards, you may want to write up your notes. You can send them to Russ Norfleet for possible publication. Remember, as Shirley Timashev reminded us at the meeting, “You get out of the Guild what you put into it.” Personally, this writer has gotten more. Thank you.]
Jackie Frend (President)
Tony Spadafora (Communications Committee)
January 20, 2019