Longtime RCMA Leader Dr. Woodring Will Step Down

November 15, 2011

After 30 years serving as the head of the Religious Conference Management Association, Dr. DeWayne Woodring has announced his departure as the organization’s executive director, effective Dec. 31.

The RCMA board unanimously appointed its vice president of the board, Rev. Harry Schmidt, as the new executive director. Schmidt has served as president of Christian Life College, Mt. Prospect, Ill., for almost two decades.

Replacing Schmidt as RCMA board vice president is Melvin Tennant, president and CEO of Meet Minneapolis, Official Convention and Visitors Association, marking the first time a supplier has held that position within the organization, according to RCMA officials.

Woodring started with RCMA in 1982 with a small group of mainly Protestant clergy working evenings out of closet office in his home.

"DeWayne has been a loyal servant of the organization and of the meetings industry,” RCMA Board President Melvin Worthington said. “He has nurtured the phenomenal growth the organization has achieved.”

During Woodring’s service as executive director, the number of RCMA members has grown from nearly 100 to more than 2,000.

Active within the meetings industry, Woodring was a delegate to the White House Conference on Travel and Tourism and chairman of the prestigious Convention Industry Council. Woodring also served on the International Curriculum Advisory Panel of George Washington University.

Schmidt has been an ordained minister since age 22 and serves as a member in the Fellowship of Christian Assemblies and as first vice president for the Full Gospel Fellowship in Dallas.

Schmidt is the founder of Ascension Convention and chairman of Mission Possible Foundation. He directed the formation of the International Education Fellowship, and he serves on the boards of Commonwealth Christian Ministries and WillGo Ministries.

“The foundation DeWayne built ensures this will be a smooth transition for RCMA,” Schmidt said. “My calling has always been unmistakably in organizational development, and I look forward to the opportunity to continue to grow RCMA and nurture these leaders of excellence.”

Under Schmidt’s leadership, the RCMA board will focus on the following tasks:

 - reaching out to planner and supplier members who have not been involved at all or in a long time with RCMA

- creating more engagement opportunities through new committees and councils

- embracing technological advances that will allow RCMA to reach a broader audience

- ensuring a culture of inclusion of all those involved in faith-based event management and sales

The 2012 RCMA World Conference and Exposition, themed “Dare to Dream,” will celebrate the organization’s 40th conference, Woodring’s 30 years with RCMA, his 80th birthday and his retirement, as well as the association’s new leadership.

The conference will take place Jan. 24-27 in Kansas City, Mo.

“This felt like the right time to pass on the mantle of leadership,” Woodring said. “And I know RCMA will continue to thrive under Harry’s leadership for years to come. I look forward to the celebration with all the RCMA members in January.”

Add new comment

Partner Voices
Less than six months ago, Lisa Messina joined the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority (LVCVA) as the first-ever chief sales officer after leading the sales team at Caesars Entertainment. A 12-year Las Vegas resident, Messina is a graduate of Cornell University’s School of Hotel Administration and serves on MPI International’s board of directors. TSNN had a chance to catch up with this dynamic leader and talk to her about her vision for the new role, current shifts in the trade show industry, creating more diversity and equity within the organization, and advice to future female leaders. Lisa Messina, Chief Sales Officer, LVCVA With Las Vegas becoming The Greatest Arena on EarthTM, what are some of the things you’re most excited about in your role? Our team was at The Big Game’s handoff ceremony earlier this month, and I couldn’t help but think, “We’re going to crush it next year!”  These high-profile events and venues not only drive excitement, but also provide unmatched opportunities for event planners. Allegiant Stadium hosts events from 10 to 65,000 people and offers on-field experiences. Formula 1 Grand Prix will take place in Las Vegas in November, after the year-one F1 race, the four-story paddock building will be available for buyouts and will also offer daily ride-along experiences that will be available for groups. And, of course, the MSG Sphere officially announced that it will open in September, ahead of schedule, with a U2 residency. It’s going to be the most technologically advanced venue as far as lighting, sound, feel, and even scent, and it will be available for buyouts and next-level sponsorships inside and outside. There’s no ceiling to what you can do when you’re doing events in Las Vegas.  Allegiant Stadium As the trade show and convention business returns to the pre-pandemic levels, what shifts are you noticing and how do you think they will impact the industry going forward? Our trade show organizers are very focused on driving customer experience. Most of our organizers are reporting stronger exhibitor numbers and increased numbers of new exhibitors, with trade shows proving to be almost or above 2019 levels. Now our organizers are really doubling down on driving attendance and focusing on the data to provide that individualized, customized experience to help attendees meet their goals and get the best value. Some companies continue to be cautiously optimistic with their organizational spend when it comes to sending attendees, but I think it will continue to improve. As the U.S. Travel Association makes more progress on the U.S. visa situation, we also expect a growing influx of international attendees. What are some innovative ways the LVCVA helps trade show and convention organizers deliver the most value for their events? We focus on customer experience in the same way that trade show organizers are thinking about it. We got rave reviews with the West Hall Expansion of the Las Vegas Convention Center (LVCC), so over the next two years, we will be renovating the North and the Central halls, which will include not just the same look and feel, but also the digital experiences that can be leveraged for branding and sponsorship opportunities.  Vegas Loop, the underground transportation system designed by The Boring Company, is also a way we have enhanced the customer experience. Vegas Loop at the LVCC has transported more than 900,000 convention attendees across the campus since its 2021 launch. Last summer, Resorts World and The Boring Company opened the first resort stop at the Resorts World Las Vegas , with plans to expand throughout the resort corridor, including downtown Las Vegas, Allegiant Stadium and Harry Reid International Airport. The LVCVA also purchased the Las Vegas Monorail in 2020, the 3.9-mile-long elevated transportation system that connects eight resorts directly to the convention center campus. This is the only rail system in the world that integrates fares directly into show badges and registration. For trade show organizers, these transportation options mean saving time, money and effort when it comes to moving groups from the hotels to LVCC and around the city. Also, the more we can focus on building the infrastructure around the convention center, the more it supports the customer experience and ultimately supports our trade show organizers. Scheduled to debut in Q4, Fontainebleau Las Vegas will offer 3,700 hotel rooms and 550,000 square feet of meeting and convention space next to LVCC.  What are some of the plans for advancing DEI (diversity, equity and inclusion) within your organization? We’re currently partnering with instead of working with a leading consulting firm, to lay the foundation and create a solid DEI plan and be the leader when it comes to DEI initiatives. The heart of that journey with the consulting firm is also talking to our customers about their strategic approaches to DEI and driving innovation in this space.  What are your favorite ways to recharge? My husband and I have an RV and we’re outdoorsy people. So, while we have over 150,000 world-class hotel rooms and renowned restaurants right outside our doorstep, one of my favorite things to do is get out to Red Rock Canyon, the Valley of Fire, and Lake Mead. Five of the top national parks are within a three-hour drive from Las Vegas, so there’s a lot you can do. We love balancing the energy of Las Vegas with nature, and we’re noticing that a lot of attendees add activities off the Strip when they come here.  Valley of Fire What advice would you give to women following leadership paths in destination marketing? I think it’s about being laser-focused on what you want to accomplish; building a team around you that lifts you and helps you achieve your goals; and being humble and realizing that you do it as a group. No one gets this done alone. Thankfully, there are a lot of women in leadership in this organization, in our customers’ organizations, and in this city that we can be really proud of. We’re a formidable force that is making things happen.   This interview has been edited and condensed. This article is exclusively sponsored by the Las Vegas Convention & Visitors Authority. For more information, visit HERE.