Report: #1450537

Complaint Review: Meeting Professionals International

  • Submitted:
  • Updated:
  • Reported By: United States
  • Meeting Professionals International United States

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Meeting Professionals International unprofessional behavior, duplicitous in claim of addressing sexual harassment

  • 2017: Paul Van Deventer, president and CEO of Meeting Professionals International (MPI) stated in a press release, “Since November 2017, MPI has proactively taken steps to demonstrate that it will not tolerate harassment in its global community and to educate members on how to prevent, report and respond to harassment"


  • 2018 Spring: a report was submitted of sexual harassment to members of South Florida’s Meeting industries leaders that incurred in the South Florida Hospitality/Meeting Coalition (meeting planners and vendors that service the meeting industry located in South Florida)


  • 2018: Repeated emails were sent and were ignored, until Diane M. Hawkins, SPHR, SCP, Vice President People, Performance and Administrative Services   Meeting Planners International, Dallas/Fort Worth Area responded on June 20, 2018, at 7:53 PM,

Diane Hawkins <hawkins@mpiweb.org> wrote:       “

“We are in receipt of what we consider to be your numerous defamatory and malicious emails sent to both MPI Global and MPI Southern Florida Chapter volunteers.  We consider these to be unwarranted harassment and intimidation and therefore, these must cease immediately. 

We will not acknowledge or respond to any further emails or any other forms of communication to anyone at MPI Global or MPI Southern Florida Chapter 

Any such communication will be considered by us to be an unwarranted continuation of harassment and your intimidation and any such continuation will be dealt with accordingly.”

Just to be clear, the HR manager of MPI sent me an email threatening to take some action against me for harassment, for reporting to MPI leadership in South Florida & HQ of harassment by members of their south Florida Hospitality/Meeting Coalition.  This is after her boss, the MPI president, has gone on record as that as Nov 2017 MPI HQ has ” educate members on how to prevent, report and respond to harassment."  So I guess the prevention training is basically to threaten the victims of harassment with harassment if they report it, so they can shut them up?

[Please reference RipOff Report: #1447898 for formal & informal legal response.]

  • Ms. Diane Hawkins SPHR certification is from the Society for Human Resource Management.  On their web site they display the following responsibilities


Core Principle

As HR professionals, we are responsible for adding value to the organizations we serve and contributing to the ethical success of those organizations. We accept professional responsibility for our individual decisions and actions. We are also advocates for the profession by engaging in activities that enhance its credibility and value.


To build respect, credibility and strategic importance for the HR profession within our organizations, the business community, and the communities in which we work (I think the persons who sexually harassed me, those that harassed my wife to keep my mouth shut, and those members of South Florida event/hospitality collation who callously handled my reports of repeated harassment [i.e. emails and phone calls to my wife threatening her to make me not submit a public complaint] have a lot of respect for Ms.  Hawkins with her SPHR certification – not too sure victims of harassment do; if I was an MPI employee, the message of what to expect if they were to report harassment in the Dallas office to the HR department is loud and clear).

To assist the organizations we serve in achieving their objectives and goals. (and I have stated MPI media campaign about dealing with any form of harassment is a scam, so in a way Ms.  Hawkins is assisting).

To inform and educate current and future practitioners, the organizations we serve, and the general public about principles and practices that help the profession.  (Were to begin?)

To positively influence workplace and recruitment practices.

To encourage professional decision-making and responsibility. (I guess this only includes others, not oneself if you have a SPHR certification)

To encourage social responsibility. (again, were to begin?)


  • June 23, 2018 5:59 PM

Ms. Hawkins

Subject: "Informal discovery request / follow up to charges made in MPI email subject Harassment"

[Reviewing our options]….now that direct negotiationshave failed; and legal warning has been issued regarding defamation, harassment and malice (among others civil charges).

I am going to assume you just got carried away (like the lady at UAB) with the criminal charge of [please reference RippOff Report UAB Compliance Office Report: #1412602] intimidation/threatening behavior.  If I am assuming incorrectly, please let me know so I can include that in our legal due diligence (and some additional specific / legal context would be appreciated). [Side Bar-no response to this statement, thus we take silence as agreement]

We understand you are under no obligation to provide this information – as long as your organization understands that not doing so will be recorded as bad faith action in resolving said issues.

We have already provided a majority of the information that we would surrender to you in a formal discovery process when we submitted our harassment complaint to your South Florida Office on Ancomp and Crystal Bay Caterer [see RipOff Report 1383074  Crystal Bay Caterers Sam LoPiccolo Catering Concerning Health Inspection report - consistent violations and fines and fines going back to 2012 Boca Raton Florida – for Ancomp, please reference above UAB RipOff Report]– but of course if you feel we have left something out (particularly in that this scope is now no longer focused just on  Crystal Bay Caterer and Ancomp – but now includes MPI vs myself) we will show good faith in return and provide what you request, if reasonable.

1)      The link to The MPI Principles of Professionalism on the below web page is giving a 404 type error,


We request you either redirect us to a site that works or send a PDF copy via email.

2)      On web page/ press release below



Your organization stated “Since November 2017, MPI has proactively taken steps to demonstrate that it will not tolerate harassment in its global community and to educate members on how to prevent, report and respond to harassment”

We request you provide a sample of documentation (i.e. email or marketing document sent to certain MPI members, powerpoint presentation made to membership, information that was included in a press kit) that was used to communicate or educate members, specially your south Florida chapter.

[Advice on easiest way to send information and legal observations & confirmations]

Thank you for your attention



  • July 7th – as of posting of this complaint, no response from MPI or other Event Industry Organizations that have formed the “so called” Coalition to Stop Harassment.  # StrongerToGether” is appropriate, you can hear those wagons circling, just not for sexual harassment.


When Ms. Hawkins stated that she would deal with me “accordingly” that seems to be to find herself a corner, sit down and kept her mouth shut going forward.  Not very noble or brave, but it is smart. If she stays that way, I won’t escalate this to the Society for Human Resource Management – I will just keep this where it belongs, Meeting Professionals International.


This report was posted on Ripoff Report on 07/06/2018 11:33 AM and is a permanent record located here: https://www.ripoffreport.com/reports/meeting-professionals-international/-/meeting-professionals-international-mpievent-industrymeeting-plannersstrongertogether-1450537. The posting time indicated is Arizona local time. Arizona does not observe daylight savings so the post time may be Mountain or Pacific depending on the time of year. Ripoff Report has an exclusive license to this report. It may not be copied without the written permission of Ripoff Report. READ: Foreign websites steal our content

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#3 Author of original report

Georgia lawmaker drops pants on TV - and this time it was not Crystal Bay Caterer owner Sam LoPiccolo

AUTHOR: - (United States)

POSTED: Monday, July 23, 2018

For MPI South Florida / Hospitality Coalition members and associates  – which includes organizations / companies as , Ft Lauderdale Convention and Visitors Bureau, American Cancer Association, Hilton Hotels of Florida, Sheraton hotels in Florida, Boca Chamber of Commerce, Ancomp DMC, Kaye Communications, Saffer & Company (and let’s not forget Debbe Barker with Flipfold LLC Florida) – everyone that has been made aware of the complaint regarding Crystal Bay Caterers Sam LoPiccolo inappropriate behavior (i.e. dropping his pants and pressing his bottom them against someone without their consent) – and responding in silence, or worse – threatening phone calls and emails, not just to myself, but to my wife – threaten to take “appropriate action” against me for exposing their organization as part of the network of complicity of sexual harassment – these same organizations that still rewards companies like Crystal Bay owner Sam LoPiccolo with more business and endorsements after being made aware of said facts.

You all might want to look up the Miami Herald today (7/23/2018) google “Georgia lawmaker screams N-word and drops pants on TV in ‘Who is America?’ by By Scott Berson July 23, 2018 10:32 AM to see how we handle such inappropriate behavior here in Georgia. Up here in Georgia, we do not consider this behavior of Rep. Jason Spencer appropriate or funny –the same behavior (regarding his pants and bottom) that Crystal Bay Caterers owner Sam LoPiccolo has been reported for in this report.   Both Sam LoPiccolo, and community members reaction is that this is acceptable behavior and I was the problem.  As you can see, up here in Georgia, we have a different view.  To be fair, the Miami Herald today seems to agree with us by calling this behavior “bizarre and graphic” and that this person “disgraced himself” and should “should issue a public apology for this shameful incident” and “There is no excuse for this type of behavior, ever”

One difference between Spencer and Sam LoPiccolo – “Spencer apologized for the “ridiculously ugly” segment but refused to resign, according to the AJC. “  Last email I got from Sam LoPiccolo he stated I was the one who should apologize to him for reporting his actions (not that they were untrue, just that I reported the actions/events).  Sam LoPiccolo first email to my wife (and again, not me, but my wife) he stated I should just “get over it.”

Of course, this does not address the issues of Sanitation reports on Crystal Bay Caterers owner Sam LoPiccolo – but at this point, if anyone still thinks Crystal Bay Caterers owner Sam LoPiccolo is a reputable company that is worthy of your business and money, what is the point ……

MPI, I am still waiting for a response to my letter I sent over two weeks ago– the above is just further evidence of your absurd press releases claiming some leadership position in addressing issues like sexual harassment. 

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#2 Author of original report

MPI is not an Organization just made up of volunteers, it is a money making Corporation commercializing sexual harassment

AUTHOR: - (United States)

POSTED: Saturday, July 14, 2018

I have gotten some feedback MPI is made up of only hospitality volunteers, they are not like GE – a money making corporation, and thus my standards of behavior is too high and unfair. Let me address that feedback.

MPI is a Corporation, and thus revenue and key executive salaries are public record - some web sites estimate MPI revenue to be over 13 million a year (Paul VanDeventer, MPI President and CEO LinkedIn page claims annual revenues ranging from “$150MM to $1,000MM” – his number must be factoring in the new revenue stream of Sexual Harassment classes)

On web site Comparably, out of the roughly 350 employees “The average estimated compensation for executives at Meeting Professionals International, including base salary and bonus, is $270,302, or $129 per hour. The median estimated compensation for executives at Meeting Professionals International including base salary and bonus is $252,536, or $121 per hour. At Meeting Professionals Inte rnational, the most compensated executive makes $720,000, annually, and the lowest compensated makes $52,000.

With numbers like this, again – Meeting Professionals or Planners (the title du jour) International has no excuses for such an unprofessional and incompetent way they handled this (and probably other) sexual harassment report.

MPI is not an Organization just made up of volunteers, it is a money making Corporation with a CEO in spitting distance of 1 million a year in compensation (probably more, if you consider soft, non-reported  competition; like never having to pay for a hotel room, or always getting upgraded at catering events, restaurants, airlines and such).

MPI is a corporation attempting to commercializing sexual harassment and its victims – or potential victims -  as a new revenue stream. Actually, I be okay with that, if they just did a competent, good faith job. Otherwise, they should go back to their original business model, providing sales opportunities to companies that sale goods and services to meeting planners.

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#1 Author of original report

Society for Human Resources Management advice on how not to handle a complaint - MPI did over 4

AUTHOR: - (United States)

POSTED: Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Society for Human Resources Management has a lot of good documentation, and when I say documentation, I do not mean press releases patting themselves on the back for something -The MPI Sexual Harressment program, when pressed, is clearly equivocal at best (that is giving MPI the benefit that they are not being dishonest or negligent - just not showing good judgement and really thinking things out on a subject that already has caused a person harm and their actions just causes more harm, at min - by giving false hope of justice).   


The online article is "shrm.org/resourcesandtools/hr-topics/employee-relations/pages/whatnottodo.aspx"   - or you  can google "

What Not to Do with Employee Complaints By Rebecca R. Hastings, SPHR Jan 26, 2011


Whatever the specifics behind the MPI program is (to date, besides press releases claiming how great they and their program is - I have been unable to get a straight answer on what it is) - they should read this article, some specific points they should focus on 

  • Ignoring the complainer in meetings, in e-mails and during office activities.
  • Rushing to judgment and taking sides.
  • Threatening action or criticizing an employee for filing a charge
  • Firing, demoting, disciplining (or in this case some ambiguous " dealt with accordingly" put down) the worker or otherwise treating the employee differently.


My suggestion to MPI - if this was something that happened within my company, I would not go to the Sales Office, the Marketing Office, or the Office that plans parties or meetings.  I go to an office staffed by professionals trained and experience in said events - the Human Resources Office.  The fact that it was a HR SHRM certified "professional" - though sadly ironic, is more of a personal failing than a profession failing.  I have a certification in Disaster Recovery for Enterprise IT systems - most people with my certification are very competent; but I will admit there are some exceptions to that rule for even certification - there are some people with my certification I would not trust to recover a document I deleted, but was still in my desktop recycle bin.


When I was in the hotel/convention business and a member of MPI, I remember in 1990 ADA was just coming out. Back then MPI seemed more professional and sober, less flashy and self-promoting - In Atlanta we had a MPI training program, done by a lawyer, that reviewed the new ADA laws coming out, it was a good education event.  You will not find a record of this program of awareness or social responsibility on the internet, they did not do any flashy press releases or have senior MPI members giving noble quotes - because the focus was not self-promotion, it was professionalism. They did not form a committee of political appointees within their ranks, they got a lawyer who specialized in the subject matter to do the presenting and offering suggestions on internal programs to meet the new ADA requirements. 


MPI should go back to that strategy - Victims of Sexual Harassment have enough barriers/problems without MPI, through what appears to be pure opportunism, giving false hope of a viable recourse to right a wrong. Again - this is assuming best intentions gone bad. If MPI chooses to proceed it would indicate my first claim it is a scam would sadly seem to be the correct one.  


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