Anyone with a Delorean or more than 20 years industry experience can tell you the event planner role looked very different in the ‘80s. This is true for everyone, but especially Koleen Roach, director of meetings and conference management at St. Paul-based Securian Financial Group, who fell into the industry.

Her first job at Dayton-Hudson Corporation was not in event planning. “I was working in the human resources department running all their training and development—basically running all of the programs logistically,” she says.

Roach’s supervisors quickly recognized her knack for organizing and offered her the opportunity to take on more meeting planning responsibilities. The go-getter embraced her new obligations with aplomb. “They didn’t really have an official meeting planner position at that time,” Roach says, “and so I was sort of doing a lot of the stuff in a bubble without an accurate title.”

When she asked her then supervisor, now seasoned mentor, his expectations, she was given only one: remain unflappable at all times. This precious advice saw her through the evolution of the developing industry. “As the meeting planning industry sort of became more refined, I was able to create the position for the first time in the history of the company,” Roach explains.

Eventually, Roach moved on to Securian, which has a corporate culture that includes an emphasis on community involvement. “It’s very important to Securian that we give back to the communities, not only in which we serve, but in which we bring our events,” Roach says.

In 2009, Securian hosted an incentive program in South Africa. Roach arranged for each attendee to be given a backpack, which they filled with school supplies over the course of the trip. Then the group went to Livingston, Zambia to deliver the backpacks. “It was really a beautiful and emotional time,” Roach says.

While her start in corporate event planning may have been ambiguous, she’s here to stay. “It’s an incredible job that is fascinating … I feel incredibly blessed to have this company that I work for,” she says. “It’s an amazing company.”

Minnesota offers vibrant autumn color and provides a kaleidoscopic backdrop for your event.

New England often gets the most credit for its spectacular fall color, but many rank Minnesota in the top tier for seasonal beauty, making fall an ideal time for meetings anywhere in the state. From the North Shore of Lake Superior to the Twin Cities and Rochester, there are a variety of venues with ideal seasonal settings that can cater to groups of all sizes. 

Duluth

 

Experience Rochester MN appointed Angie Richards to the position of vice president of sales. She previously held the position of area director of sales for Avra Hospitality in Rochester, Minn. 

Richards will lead Experience Rochester MN’s sales team, which is responsible for the booking of meetings, conventions, and other events at Mayo Civic Center as well as group sales for the entire city.

 

Radisson Blu Mall of America promoted Kate Anastasi to director of sales and marketing. Anastasi has been with the Radisson Blu Mall of America team for eight years and has held many support and leadership roles within the sales team. She had most recently served as the assistant director of sales and marketing. Anastasi won the 2021 Radisson Blu Manager of the Year award.