As a meeting and events facility, we at Catalyst Ranch have the pleasure of working with Meeting Planners every day.  It occurred to us that these hard-working behind-the-scenes go-getters receive as much recognition as a gaffer on the set of Law & Order.  So we are setting out to change that!

This is the first in a ongoing series of interviews with men and women who plan meetings.  These are their stories. . .

Juan Phillips headshot

Name: Juan Phillips


Name of your Company: CASEL (Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning)



CASEL facilitator

  • Describe in your own words what a meeting planner does: The meeting planner ensures that all facilitators have what they need to achieve the outcome desired. This includes comfortable accommodations, materials and supplies, technical support, providing any special dietary requests, and onsite support.  The meeting planner also ensures that the audience is comfortable, lighting/room temperature is appropriate, and all-day necessities are pointed out (rest rooms, water fountain, etc.)  Overall, the meeting planner provides the oil that makes the engine run smoothly.
  • Describe something about the business of meeting planning that people might not know about: One key point is to put yourself in the shoes of the facilitator and the audience and say to yourself “What is it that I need that would make this event a success?” Then make all that happen.

CASEL team working in a circle

  • Name a recent challenge that you faced as a meeting planner and how you overcame it: I am currently planning an event that actually is two events back-to-back that involves different funding sources and school districts from Anchorage, Alaska, to Cleveland, Ohio. There are many moving parts to these events and have learned that getting overwhelmed only complicates matters.  So I researched software and Trello was recommended and this software really keeps things in order by subject.  I can easily glance at one aspect of the event, such as “rooming list is due by X date”.  Or “menu selection is due by X date”, etc.  Also, have another set of eyes to review complicated planning spreadsheets is always recommended.
  • How does your business support/enable work-life balance? What do you do to make sure you have “you time?” CASEL is all about social and emotional learning. They are more than willing to allow “work at home” time if there is a reason you need to be at home with your family, etc.  There is never a brow raised for leaving early to attend a family event or time to spend with your kids.  The day to day work at CASEL is very challenging and fast paced as our mission has sparked the attention of many in the field of education.  I’ve learned, though, to turn it off when I walk out of the door for the day because it is important to have “me time” 🙂

CASEL employees in CR Sausage Room