Recognition Professionals International (RPI) is a nonprofit association that comprises business professionals who are committed to the art and science of employee recognition. It is the mission of RPI to bring awareness, credibility and accountability to employee recognition through a powerful and passionate network of Recognition Professionals. As advocates for positive employee experiences that foster engagement, we share best practices and provide tools, strategies, thought leadership, education and professional certification.

Our Story

In April 1995, Debbie Patrick of AT&T Universal Card and Rafik Bishara of Eli Lily Pharmaceuticals set out for a performance management conference. They were met with only a few breakout rudimentary sessions devoted to recognition. As a result, they joined forces and decided to create their own “sharing conference.” 

In September 1995, colleagues were invited to Jacksonville for a day-long event designed to provide expert advice, networking and a chance to see recognition in action. The new manager for Cast Recognition at the Walt Disney World Resort, Dee Hansford was so inspired by the event that she hosted the next sharing conference. What followed were events hosted by Kathe Farris of BankBoston and Pamela Sabin of Chevron. In 1997, Incentive Automation hosted the first conference-style event with keynote speakers and breakout sessions. It was at this conference that RPI’s board of directors began to form. By then, the number of attendees grew and represented private and public sector organizations, who became known as Business Practitioners, as well as a healthy contingent of Solution Providers.