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Conference Home | Register Today | Registration Rates | Agenda | Speakers | Hotel & Travel | Silent Auction

IACETEach conference breakout and keynote address is approved for .1 CEUs as approved by IACET. Recognition Professionals International (RPI) has been approved as an Authorized Provider by the International Association for Continuing Education and Training (IACET), 8405 Greensboro Drive, Suite 800, McLean, VA 22102.

Saturday, January 9, 2016

8:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m.

Creating a Recognition Culture (formerly CRP IV)

Ryan Maddux, CRP, Wells Fargo

The second in our series of courses focuses on the underpinning theories of motivation and appreciation, cultural consideration, landscape of the industry and recognition systems and trends. Participants gain exposure to roles of recognition, engagement linkage, regulatory things to know, and the ABC's of motivational theory, Participants also become familiar with corporate culture definitions, components, and theory, recognition system methodology, embedding recognition, and current trends including gamification and social recognition.

By the end of this course, participants will be able to:

  • Become familiar with the recognition landscape
  • Name at least three motivational theories
  • Know regulatory areas impacting your recognition program
  • Define key cultural components
  • Identify key recognition components


Sunday, January 10, 2016

8:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.

RPI Board Strategic Planning Meeting


8:00 a.m. - 6:00 p.m.

Building a Recognition Blueprint (formerly CRP II)

Dee Hansford, CRP, Dee Hansford Consulting

This professional certification course provides baseline assessment tools, alignment between organizational strategy and recognition strategy, components of management responsibility, and common recognition measurements. Participants will map their own current recognition practices and programs with a recognition-specific audit tool, assess the gaps, set goals to close the gaps through a strategic recognition plan, identify ways to ensure management responsibility, and set meaningful measurements. Participants will also gain exposure to several assessment tools, recent best practice case studies, and measurement tips.


3:30 p.m. - 5:30 p.m.

Recognition Fundamentals

Barbara Ruddy, CRP

Recognition Fundamentals, an introduction to recognition strategy and best practices, was designed by Recognition Professionals International (RPI) to provide a roadmap to organizations on how to design, budget, implement and evaluate an effective and measurable employee recognition programs. In this session, attendees will learn what the base components of best in class for recognition programs are, how to build a communication plan for their client programs, and how to deliver program training that results in effective participation. If you provide Service awards, peer to peer recognition, sales recognition or safety recognition programs this session will give you the credibility you need with your clients. This course is very interactive. At the conclusion of the class, each attendee will have actual work documents that can be used to walk you through the process with your clients. Please note: This course is an additional $75.


5:30 p.m. - 6:30 p.m.

Welcome Reception with Special Entertainment from Fontanel Recording Artist Steve Mogck


Monday, January 11, 2016

8:00 a.m. - 9:00 a.m.

Continental Breakfast

9:00 a.m. - 9:15 a.m.

Conference Welcome

9:15 a.m. - 10:30 a.m.

Understanding the Roles of and Differences between Recognition and Appreciation

Dr. Paul White, Appreciation at Work

There is much confusion regarding recognition and appreciation. What are their purposes? How are they different (or are they)? Clarity will be provided to help explain much of the negative backlash by employees regarding employee recognition and how to avoid it. Learn about the benefits and challenges of helping managers and employees communicate authentic appreciation. Hear examples of how to successfully implement a process of training employees to feel truly valued by their colleagues.

Following this session you will:

  1. Be able to differentiate between the core aspects of recognition and appreciation, and explain their relationship.
  2. Understand the core factors necessary for employees to truly feel valued.
  3. Learn the best practices of successfully implementing a culture of appreciation across an organization.

10:30 a.m. - 10:45 a.m.


10:45 a.m. - 11:45 a.m.

Where to Start? Making Assessments Matter – through Tried-and-True Tools

Rita Maehling, CRP, HLT, Inc.

Whether you're looking for baseline assessment or additional tools to supplement your current Recognition assessment process, this practical session is for you. We’ll begin with an introduction of the RPI-designed audit sheet, which will assess and identify potential gaps in recognition program balance. This tool is often cited by Certified Recognition Professional (CRP) class attendees as one of the best practical tools within the curriculum – since it was designed by and for Recognition practitioners. Following this overview, we will open the discussion to find out how others have used additional assessments to ensure Recognition Program success. These tools may include:

  • Benchmarking
  • SWOT analysis
  • Budgeting
  • Surveys
  • Focus groups
  • Other

Following this session, you will be able to:

  • Assess the current state of your recognition programs using an RPI-designed audit sheet.
  • Identify at least one additional assessment tool to use for future Recognition planning.
  • Benchmark with at least five attendees to hear about their assessment efforts.

10:45 a.m. - 11:45 a.m.

Driving Strategic Change through Recognition and Rewards

Mercedes Escala, IBM

An energizing session that tells the story of creating cultural change and engagement through the power of rewards and recognition. Hear from IBM's Director of Global Recognition as she outlines her journey to centralize and simplify engagement across a diverse global population of 440,000 employees. You will hear how senior leadership influences the narrative and how rewards and recognition drive the larger corporate vision to achieve measurable results.

Following this session you will be able to:

  • Create cultural change and engagement that aligns with the rapid evolution of the tech industry.
  • Balance centralization with segmentation when building a recognition strategy in a global, diverse company.
  • Identify ways senior leadership can leverage recognition and rewards to reinforce corporate vision and drive business results to generate the best return on expense.

10:45 a.m. - 11:45 a.m.

Recognition Basics: Ideas to Make a Good Recognition Moment...GREAT!

Amy Hurley, LSW, CRP, & Caitlin Hill, CRP, The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center

How can you positively impact more people than just the few at your organization who receive awarded honors? What are some no- to low-cost ways to enhance the way you currently provide some of your recognition programming? How can you raise the number of people in your organization who use recognition tools on a regular basis? We will answer these questions and provide you with loads of ideas!!

Following this session you will be able to:

  • Organize your recognition tools.
  • Create specific itemized timelines.
  • Deliver quality creative programming with enthusiasm.

10:45 a.m. - 11:45 a.m.

People Create Your Competitive Advantage: Why Does Motivation Make the Difference?

Mark McCowan & Trevor Barkway, Synchro Marketing Australia

"People" take your business to customers and stakeholders. Motivated People ensure customers and stakeholders receive a positive and memorable experience. This presentation covers the importance of selecting the "right" people, establishing and targeting the right KPIs and providing the "right" recognition to maximize performance, improve profitability and grow staff. It also includes a case study of how Toyota uses Recognition to inspire Innovation — idea generation and implementation.

Following this session you will be able to:

  • Distinguish how effective recognition, without reward, can motivate a change of behavior.
  • Link recognition effectiveness to hiring practices.
  • Use social media techniques in a recognition-driven program.

11:45 a.m. - 12:00 p.m.


12:00 p.m. - 1:30 p.m.

Awards Luncheon & Special Presentation for 2015 Best Practice Award Winner

1:30 p.m. - 1:45 p.m.


1:45 p.m. - 2:45 p.m.

You Want to Do What? Making Negotiations Matter — 7 Elements of Negotiations

Vicki Hargrove, CRP, Hargrove Business Consulting

This session will provide a framework to apply to all types of negotiating for anyone new in his/her Recognition role. The principled negotiation framework decides issues based on their merits rather than through a haggling process focused on one side winning and one side losing. There will be examples, discussion, resources, and take-away tools.

Following this session you will be able to:

  • Identify the 7 Elements of Negotiation.
  • Prepare for a negotiation.
  • Discuss how to develop the best alternative to a negotiated agreement.

1:45 p.m. - 2:45 p.m.

Designing for Results: A Culture of Wellness — Creating Better Lives for Your People and Better Business Results for Your Organization

Amy Kramer, CRP, Maritz Motivation Solutions, & Jeff Croy, Yo-Fi Wellness, Inc.

We will share the importance of results-based design in a wellness program. We will review current employee wellness trends, program design best practices, a new model for wellness program application in employee programs, and a robust case study that will encourage all organizations to think differently about how they deploy wellness strategies today.

Following this session you will be able to:

  • Identify the best practices in wellness program elements for employee populations.
  • Apply a people-centric design to your wellness programs.
  • Review the results of this approach and identify gaps in your current strategy.

1:45 p.m. - 2:45 p.m.

The Ultimate Recognition Grudge Match... Executive Perceptions vs. Employees' Experiences

Rhonda Sunnarborg, MotivAction

How differently do your employees view recognition vs. your executive team? Where are the biggest gaps in understanding and practice? Rhonda Sunnarborg of MotivAction will take you through the latest findings on differences in perception — and what this means for your recognition program. This session will review the latest research findings and will also provide recommendations on how to shore up the gaps and create a recognition program that works for everyone.

Following this session you will be able to:

  • Distinguish how executives and employees view recognition differently.
  • Identify how executives and employees experience recognition differently.
  • Choose ways to close the gaps in perception and experience.

1:45 p.m. - 2:45 p.m.

The Behavioral Economics of Incentives

Scott Jeffrey, Monmouth University

Build your understanding of how Behavioral Economics impacts motivation. The speaker will cover some fundamental biases of human decision makers and how that will impact the selection and implementation of reward programs.

Following this session you will be able to:

  • Link Preference Reversals between stated preference (choice) and the provision of effort (performance).
  • Identify the power and paradox of choice (choice can make cash less controlling, but too much choice can lead to paralysis).
  • Design incentive programs to take advantage of fundamental human decision-making biases (ethically and beneficially to the employee).


2:45 p.m. - 3:00 p.m.



3:00 p.m. - 4:00 p.m.

Listen Up! Not Recognizing Your Employees’ Needs Could Be Hurting Your BusinessCANCELLED

Donna Levin,

The biggest mistake we can make is assuming employee recognition begins and ends with praise for a job well done. Our modern workforce demands recognition of employees as three-dimensional people (and this goes beyond free snacks and beer pong), who value personal and professional development equally. That's why progressive employers are infusing organizational culture with professional development programs and lifestyle benefits that enable successful work-life integration.

Following this session you will be able to:

  • Plan for the importance of listening to your employees, especially as the millennial generation continues to make up a majority of the workforce, and how this can affect your business.
  • Identify what employers can do to better recognize their employees needs and best practices for implementing?
  • List which employers are doing it right and how theyre making it happen.

3:00 p.m. - 4:00 p.m.

Coming Alive: Creating an Engaged Workforce

Ruth Ross, R Squared Resources

Engagement is what motivates people to not only feel dedicated to their job and their life, but also to feel rewarded by what they do and how they do it. It pushes people to look differently and go above and beyond, not because they have to but because they want to. With 68.5% of the U.S. workforce identifying themselves as disengaged, resulting in $550 billion a year in lost productivity, companies today can't turn a blind eye to the importance of having a fully engaged team.

Following this session you will be able to:

  • Describe the Return on Investment (ROI) of engagement and how to sell it to your senior leadership.
  • Achieve the 'magic' of an engaged workforce.
  • Identify how words and actions matter: how what you do and why you do it are the foundation of a great engagement strategy.
  • Get back on track when employees detour into disengagement.

3:00 p.m. - 4:00 p.m.

How to Pitch an Idea

Jason Thomson, CRP, Creative Mercenary

You’ve got a fantastic idea, initiative or concept. You’ve spent weeks honing the details. Now the moment of truth. Can you convince your audience that they want it, they need it and they should pay for it? Explore the better way to pitch your idea in a session created and hosted by idea- and presentation-master Jason Thomson. These are the ideas, approaches and successes they don’t teach you in business school – the elements that get your idea off the page and into production.

Following this session you will be able to:

  • The single most important question to ask when it comes to pitching a new idea
  • How to pre-sell and socialize your idea to a potential buyer
  • How to effectively prepare for a pitch – thinking about the presentation, the leave behind and the rehearsal
  • The pitch space – how to position the audience, set the tone and sell the day
  • What to do after the pitch is over to ensure it stays top of mind

3:00 p.m. - 4:00 p.m.

Service Awards: A Cornerstone for Employee Recognition

Jeffrey Fina, Michael C. Fina & Christina Papoulias, Marriott International

Service Awards have become the cornerstone of modern recognition programs, but can easily lose their appeal if not kept up to date as part of an overall strategy. Join Jeffrey Fina and Marriott Hotels Senior Benefits Analysis and Wellness Specialist Christine Papoulias as they discuss how Marriott’s service award program was modernized, keeping “work birthdays” an engaging fixture of the work culture while adding technology, logistics, and leadership savvy to companywide recognition efforts.

Following this session you will be able to:

  • Understand why and how service award programs lose effectiveness
  • Reinvigorate a service award program to increase reach, engagement, and perceived value
  • Make each service anniversary meaningful and memorable to the recipient

4:00 p.m. - 4:15 p.m.


4:15 p.m. - 5:15 p.m.

Using Our Hearts to Drive Business Success

Ginger Hardage, Senior Vice President Culture & Communications for Southwest Airlines Co.

Southwest Airlines has never thought of itself as a Company of airplanes. We are a Company of People, so nurturing a Culture that energizes and respects every Employee is a top priority. With 3,600 flights a day, serving 95 destinations across the United States and six additional countries, we are fueled by the hospitality and reliability of our 50,000 Employees. Herb Kelleher, the Founder of Southwest Airlines, has always said, “The hardest thing for a competitor to do is to copy our People.” Since Southwest first took flight more than four decades ago, we have always been a People-centric Company that puts our Employees first, connects our valued Customers to what’s important in their lives, seeks to return value to our Shareholders, and is at the heart of the communities we serve. Learn how Southwest Airlines keeps the collective heartbeat of our Employees strong by our expressions of gratitude though our various recognition programs which all align with our Purpose, Vision, Values, and Mission. After all, without a heart, it’s just a machine.


5:15 p.m & After

Free Night


Tuesday, January 12, 2016

8:00 a.m. - 9:00 a.m.

Breakfast & Morning Announcements with Jason Thomson, CRP


9:00 a.m. - 10:00 a.m.

Great Work: How to Make a Difference People Love

David Sturt, EVP O.C. Tanner Company, Author of New York Times bestseller Great Work: How to Make a Difference People Love


10:00 a.m. - 12:00 p.m.

PPAI Brand Show Floor


12:00 p.m. - 1:30 p.m.

Awards Luncheon and RPI Annual Business Meeting


1:45 p.m. - 2:45 p.m.

It’s Time to Celebrate! Best Practices for an Amazing Event

R. Scott Russell, Kathy Stark, CRP, & Barbara Ruddy, CRP, STARS

You have accomplished an amazing feat and reached an incredible milestone and now it’s time to celebrate. How can you make the event memorable and exciting for your attendees? Join Scott and his guest panelists for an exciting conversation surrounding Event Management Best Practices from industry leaders. In this session you’ll be part of the interactive discussion that focuses on:

  • Avoiding event management pitfalls
  • Knowing the ins and outs of Talent Acquisition
  • Budgeting for a successful event
  • Marketing your event
  • And more

Following this session you will be able to:

  • Assess your current event management process and know how to improve it.
  • Feel comfortable in booking talent or other live acts to enhance your event.
  • Benchmark with at least 3 panelists to align your best practices.

1:45 p.m. - 2:45 p.m.

Five Lifehacks to Change Your Culture by Friday

Brian Dodds, CRP, CorporateRewards

Lessons from everyday life that will change the way you look at your team and the way work gets done every day. No business rules, charts, graphs or worksheets, but an interactive session that will implant cues in your memory that make you a great teammate.

Following this session you will be able to:

  • Incorporate simple everyday mind cues to recognize your team.
  • Identify why people crave appreciation in their own personal style.
  • Drive change in our surroundings through new ways to listen.

1:45 p.m. - 2:45 p.m.

Making a Difference with Recognition of Life Events

Nan Barry & Amy Marhoefer, Southwest Airlines

A famous leader once said, "People don't care how much you know until they know how much you care." Southwest Airlines believes in putting Employees first and created an Internal Customer Care Team to recognize life events. Attendees will learn how we celebrate, comfort, and mourn with our Employees and their families during life events such as birthdays, company anniversaries, births, graduations, marriages, illnesses, and deaths. Hear first-hand testimonials from employees. 

Following this session you will be able to:

  • Understand the power of recognizing Employees' life events.
  • Learn practical ways to implement.
  • Start showing Employees how much you care.

1:45 p.m. - 2:45 p.m.

Banking on Success: How Mountain America Credit Union Made Implementing a Recognition Platform Look Easy

Theresa Harkins, RPI Past President, CRP, CCP, SPHR, Inspirus, Gary Sanford, SPHR, SHRM-SCP, AVP Compensation and Benefits, Employee Experience and Engagement Team, Mountain America Credit Union and Kelli Johnson, Client Success Strategist, Inspirus, LLC

Join us to see how Mountain America Credit Union, with Executive Support, successfully implemented a new recognition platform. Topics include the alignment of recognition elements within the scope of the design, review and execution phases. This session will also provide insight into how well-planned communications throughout the implementation process support the organization’s business objectives of core value-based recognition, consistency and sustained momentum.

Following this session you will be able to:

  • Identify the framework and tools critical to a successful enterprise-wide implementation.
  • Name the tasks in each phase of implementation to plan, review and execute on the initiative.
  • Distinguish how a successful implementation process with a scalable platform can extend the reach of recognition within an organization.


2:45 p.m. - 3:00 p.m.



3:00 p.m. - 4:00 p.m.

“How Much Will This Cost?” Making Budgets Matter — 7 Principles for Successful Budgeting of Recognition and Reward Programs

Roy Saunderson, CRP, Rideau’s Recognition Management Institute

Youre in charge of recognition and reward programs and the budget in your company. Your own manager or someone from finance will ask you that question, “How much will this cost?” This presentation guides you through seven principles to help you know how to establish a realistic and practical budget for recognition and reward programs. Youll learn what other leading company recognition professionals have done to address budget concerns and their recommendations for a win-win outcome.

Following this session you will be able to:

  • Identify seven guiding principles for developing an effective working budget for your recognition and reward programs.
  • List three methods for dealing with possible budget refusals or situational constraints.
  • Develop a draft action plan based upon one of the principles that you will take back to implement or work on further to finish.

3:00 p.m. - 4:00 p.m.

Change Management & Recognition

Chris Winkelspecht, Maritz Motivation Solutions

Almost every Change Management model embraced by leaders and HR professionals notes the importance of reinforcement. Yet recognition, perhaps the most universally available and effective tool to reinforce behaviors in organizations, is seldom seen in formal plans. This presentation will educate the audience on change management models; highlight the natural fit for recognition as part of the process; and present methods to position recognition products and services to support organization change.

Following this session you will be able to:

  • Position recognition as a catalyst for organizational change.
  • Identify real world examples of initiatives that included recognition as part of the change management process.
  • Apply the learning to a change management initiative in your organization.

3:00 p.m. - 4:00 p.m.

Does Motivation Drive Business Success?

Suzanne Schell, CRP, ROI Institute Canada

Measuring the business value in recognition programs continues to be a challenge. This session brings a systematic business alignment and measurement process that is implemented into your programs and RPIs Strategy Model and Best Practices. This interactive session will provide participants with opportunities to apply the content to their programs.

Following this session you will be able to:

  • Align to business measures.
  • List the 10 Steps of the ROI Methodology.
  • Capture the program value, impact and ROI and translate it into support, improvement and funding.

3:00 p.m. - 4:00 p.m.

The Importance of Making Recognition Part of Your Corporate Meeting Plans

John Mangini, CRP, Rymax Marketing Services/Brainstorm Logistics

More and more, we’re seeing employee recognition taking place away from the office and in formats that can create challenges for program administrators. In this presentation we’ll examine how to involve your meeting planners to help plan and design a recognition event as part of a larger event strategy. We’ll look at using different types of communication tools to create a pre-event buzz. We’ll discuss the importance of understanding who will be attending your event and how to accurately select and target your rewards to drive desired behaviors throughout the rest of the year. Most importantly, learn how to sell this plan to management and develop a post-event analysis of the initiative.

Following this session you will be able to:

  • Know how to incorporate a recognition experience into an existing event plan.
  • Be able to bring segmentation strategies into an event environment.
  • Know how to justify the costs of an off-site recognition event to management.


4:00 p.m. - 5:30 p.m.

Reception and Special Closing Keynote and Performance by American Idol Semi-Finalist Melinda Doolittle

Melinda Doolittle

Don’t miss this one-of-a-kind performance as Melinda shares stories from her autobiography Beyond Me and songs from her fantastic career. Melinda will be available for pictures and autographs at the end of her performance.


Wednesday, January 13, 2016

9:00 a.m. - 10:30 a.m.

Behind the Scenes at Mandalay Bay Optional Tour

Join us for a 90-minute look behind the scenes of the Mandalay Bay Convention Center for fun facts like:

“Any Given Saturday” – Mandalay Bay could have:

     **A large convention in-house – 25,000 attendees
     **Fight at the Events Center – 10,000 attendees
     **Sold Out Concert at the House of Blues – 1,800 attendees
     **Michael Jackson ONE – 1,734 attendees
     **Plus hotel, restaurant & casino guests
     **May have as many as 60,000 people on property at one time

You’ll get a peek into the intricate security offices, and check out the heat in the “Hot Kitchen”.

This tour is only offered once and registration is limited to 30 people. Be sure to register to secure your spot today!


8:00 a.m. - 6:00 p.m.

Designing and Implementing Recognition Programs (formerly CRP III)

Theresa Harkins, RPI Past President, CRP, CCP, SPHR, Inspirus

The last in our series of courses brings all the information together from the first three courses and covers designing the recognition program, evaluating progress made toward the goals and making needed changes. Participants gain exposure to program design in the areas of: organization structure, demographics, 3 levels of recognition, generations, communications, training, outsourcing considerations, negotiation, challenges of multi-site recognition implementation, and event and celebration planning. Participants also become familiar with the natural life-cycle stages of recognition programs, program evaluation, and change strategies to apply for any redesign.

By the end of this course, participants will be able to:

  • Identify criteria for making outsourcing decisions
  • Include appropriate program elements into your program design
  • Define a framework for day-to-day, informal and formal nomination and selection
  • Include program life cycle planning into program design
  • List key success factors for successful events and celebrations Develop a communication plan for designated stakeholders
  • Create a training plan which may be stand alone or incorporated into other training opportunities
  • Review the recognition program for on-going updates or redesign