This website uses cookies to store information on your computer. Some of these cookies are used for visitor analysis, others are essential to making our site function properly and improve the user experience. By using this site, you consent to the placement of these cookies. Click Accept to consent and dismiss this message or Deny to leave this website. Read our Privacy Statement for more.
About RPI

Recognition Professionals International (RPI) is the only professional association at the forefront of workforce recognition through its sole focus on recognition innovations and education as a systematic method for improvements in the workplace. RPI is endorsed by top authorities in the industry, has an impressive membership of Fortune 500 organizations (see Member Organizations) and is the only association offering Certified Recognition Professional (CRP) courses.

Jump to: Vision | Mission | History of RPI

Vision Statement

At Recognition Professionals International, we make THANKS matter!

Return to top

Mission Statement

It is the mission of Recognition Professionals International 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.

Return to top

A Brief History of RPI

In April, 1995, Debbie Patrick of AT&T Universal Card headquartered in Jacksonville, Florida and Rafik Bishara of Eli Lilly Pharmaceuticals in Indianapolis, set out for a Performance Management conference in Dallas.

They hadn’t met but each had high hopes of learning more about how to enhance the successful recognition strategies they had helped create for their respective organizations. To their mutual disappointment, they found only a few breakout sessions devoted to recognition and most of them were pretty rudimentary.

Not to be thwarted, they joined forces and decided to create their own "sharing conference.” Colleagues were invited to Jacksonville in September of 1995 for a daylong event designed to provide expert advice, intensive networking and a chance to see recognition in action at AT&T Universal Card.

The new manager for Cast Recognition at the Walt Disney World Resort, Dee Hansford, was delighted to be able to attend with her team and what they learned proved to be invaluable! In fact, they were so inspired that they decided to host the next sharing conference within six months.

Kathe Farris of BankBoston hosted the following conference and the truly remarkable Pamela Sabin took what had been an informal conference to an entirely new level of professionalism when the group met at Chevron headquarters in San Francisco in 1996. In 1997 Incentive Automation hosted the first "conference style” event with keynote speakers and break out sessions. It was at this conference that RPI’s board of directors began to form. By then, the number of attendees was growing and represented private and public sector organizations as well as a healthy contingent of service providers.

Kimberly Smithson remembered attending the Bank Boston conference where she was impressed by the bank CEO’s reference to recognition as "a $1 Billion dollar decision in turning around their business post-merger.”

It seems that pre-recognition, the company was losing $500 million and after instituting recognition as a business strategy; the company posted a $500 million profit! Kimberly described that as a definite turning point for her and immediately saw the potential for an organization to foster strategic recognition in the workplace.

As the organization started to take shape, over 100 letters were sent out to prospective companies and business leaders inviting them to join the effort to build the association. Three companies (Sears, BI, and the O.C. Tanner Company) made significant financial contributions and became the original (Founding) sponsors of RPI. In all, over $100,000 was raised from the founding sponsors and the initial board to formally organize RPI. An association management company was sourced to help grow the organization and provide day-to-day support. The effort started in 1997, but RPI was officially "born” in 1998. The first conference as an association was held in Atlanta, GA with 90+ attendees and the second conference was held in Orlando FL.

Recognition Professionals International (RPI) is the leading resource for global strategic workforce recognition. RPI is the only professional association that engages both practitioners and resource providers to provide holistic value to the global recognition industry. RPI is at the forefront of workforce recognition through its focus on recognition innovations and education as a systematic method for improvements in the workplace. RPI is endorsed by top authorities in the industry, has an impressive membership of Fortune 500 organizations and is the only association offering Certified Recognition Professional (CRP) courses.

Recognition Professionals International’s mission is to enhance organizational performance through workforce recognition by:

  • providing access to best practice standards, education, research and the exchange of ideas
  • creating opportunities for our diverse membership to grow professionally
  • advocating recognition and engagement strategies as a means to promote organizational excellence

Recognition Professionals International (RPI) is the only non-profit professional association at the forefront of employee recognition through its sole focus on recognition innovations and education as a systematic method for improvements in the workplace. RPI is endorsed by top authorities in the industry, and is the only association offering Certified Recognition Professional (CRP) courses and designation. As a trustee of the Forum for People Performance Management and Measurement at Northwestern University Research Center, RPI provides input into its research agenda and has the added benefit of considerable access to academic leaders in the field of human capital.

Return to top