NIGP Forum is all about the people. I look forward to reconnecting with my NIGP Family every year at Forum.

If you’ve been to NIGP Forum, there’s a good chance we’ve met. I have been attending Forum since 2006 when it was held in Tampa. This year will mark my 16th Forum, and I am as excited as ever to reconnect with my NIGP family while meeting new attendees. 

My Forum Experiences Through the Years

Forum has helped me navigate every stage of my procurement career. Back in 2006, I was relatively new to the procurement profession. Forum was a great way to earn contact hours and get to know other procurement professionals at varying levels. I attended my first Forum with my supervisor, who was serving on the NIGP governing board. Even though she was busy for most of the event, she made sure I knew what to expect and helped introduce me to some people so I could connect with the larger NIGP community.

During my career, I held several NIGP chapter positions in Kansas City and Missouri and served six years on the NIGP talent council. I recently retired from procurement. I now serve as an NIGP Ambassador at Large, which allows me to travel to different chapters in North America and meet NIGP members from all over.

What Forum Means to Me

Forum is an exceptional opportunity to learn from the best procurement minds in North America. When I was a practitioner, I made sure to attend the plenary sessions and relevant panels throughout the day. I always believed in the importance of making the most of my time there, especially because my organization sponsored me and gave me the opportunity to attend. 

But the real magic happens in between the sessions and in the evening. Getting to know other attendees at networking events, over dinner, and going out in the evening is the best way to find and grow your NIGP family. 

Forum is particularly special to me because of what it means for my family. My wife and I attended Forum together for many years. She saw my potential and encouraged me to get out of my comfort zone. I would have been happy to sit quietly in the corner observing, but she saw something in me that allowed me to connect with more people on a meaningful level. 

My wife of 45 years passed away in 2022. That was a hard year for me. I started dealing with a host of health issues on top of my grief, and I almost didn’t attend the event. I decided to go only because I was honored with the Volunteer of the Year award. When I entered Forum that year, I was flooded with love and support from the many friends I had made throughout the years. Their encouragement deeply touched my heart and helped me realize that no matter what I was going through, I had a support network ready to lend a helping hand in any way they could. I realize now that I would not have been able to make it through that period without the support of my NIGP family.

I have a lot of procurement experience, so I’m so glad to be an Ambassador at Large for NIGP. We retirees have a lot of wisdom and experiences to share, and we can still teach and talk to people coming up the ranks in procurement. I aim to keep attending Forum and continue adding value by encouraging members to get involved with NIGP at the national or chapter level. 

My Advice for Forum First Timers

Attending Forum can be intimidating, especially if you aren’t going with someone from your chapter or organization. Here are my three tips. 

  • Don’t be shy: Everyone is open and ready to make new friends. Don’t be afraid to join a group! And say “yes” when someone invites you to join them for coffee or dinner. This event is all about building your network, so attend the networking and social events between and after sessions. 
  • Find a mentor: NIGP has an excellent mentorship program. If you don’t know many people yet, this might be a good time to find a mentor who can help you get the most out of Forum. 
  • Go to the first-timers event: There’s a specific event just for first-timers at the beginning of Forum. Make sure to attend! I’ll be there, as will members from the Talent Council and other councils. 

If we haven’t met yet, come find me and introduce yourself! And if you’re already part of my NIGP family, I look forward to reconnecting with you at this year’s Forum.

Forum is an exceptional opportunity to learn from the best procurement minds in North America.

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Forum is an exceptional opportunity to learn from the best procurement minds in North America.