Teresa G. Alfaro, CMP, 54
Director, Strategic Meetings and Events, Volunteers of America (VOA), Alexandria, Va.
What I do:
I manage all meeting and event planning for Volunteers of America. I am directly responsible for identifying venues and negotiating all hotel and vendor contracts for approximately 20 annual meetings. In addition, I manage all meeting details/logistics including, but not limited to, registration, F&B, AV production, website management, speaker and staff lodging, room performance management and more.
How I got here:
My quest for finding a job that would provide meaning brought me to VOA. VOA’s mission “to help the more vulnerable and to go wherever we are needed” changed the way I approach my work. I strongly believe when I help our bottom line, I am advancing VOA’s mission.
VOA’s annual national conference has doubled in attendance since I came on board in 2003. Over time, the portfolio has grown from 20 to 25 meetings while positioning VOA as a sought-after client. We remain attrition-free for all meetings I’ve managed.
My greatest career accomplishment:
Without a doubt, I am most proud of sharing my knowledge about the industry with the next generation. For the past 16 years, I have had the opportunity to work with many interns that have come through VOA eager to keep busy and learn new skills. My approach to working with them has always been a two-way street: They would learn about the fascinating job I do, but I would also soak in their innovative ways of doing things. The goal has always been to create a winning combination where both of us would learn from one another to end up with an enriching and memorable experience.
A specific improvement I’ve made:
Prior to my arrival at VOA, there were very few processes in place for any of the major meeting functions. I feel that I have significantly improved the organization’s meetings program by educating the leaders and staff that meeting planning is a strategic professional discipline that can help accelerate and support all important initiatives. As such, I have positioned myself as a powerful collaborator throughout the organization. I’ve accomplished this culture shift, in part, by introducing the organization to money-saving best practices.
What I do outside of work:
I have frequently participated in networking and learning events held in the D.C. area and attended meetings sponsored by PCMA, MPI, etc. I’ve had the privilege to care for and spend quality time with my aging mother.
Favorite vacation destination:
The Hyatt Zilara Cancun is one of my favorite hotels and Cancun, Mexico, is my all-time favorite vacation and beach in the world. I have visited many times and have had the opportunity to also enjoy Playa del Carmen, which is fascinating as well. The Andaz Mayakoba Resort Riviera Maya and the Grand Hyatt Playa del Carmen Resort are two beautiful and wonderful properties I’ve enjoyed there. I cannot wait to visit again soon.
Your favorite inspirational quote:
“Nothing can dim the light that shines from within.” —Maya Angelou