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Premier event for government meeting professionals to be held in Huntsville



December 17, 2020


(Huntsville, AL) – Government meeting professionals from across the United States will converge on Huntsville for the annual Society of Government Meeting Professionals (SGMP) National Education Conference (NEC), May 18-20, 2021.

The Huntsville/Madison County Convention & Visitors Bureau (CVB), along with SGMP officials, hope to welcome roughly 500 in-person attendees to the Rocket City as part of this event. CVB sales manager Erica Bradford spearheaded the organization’s effort to secure the event for the Huntsville area.

The Society of Government Meeting Professionals was founded in 1981 and is the only national organization in the United States dedicated exclusively to individuals who plan and execute government meetings. The NEC is SGMP’s premier annual conference, bringing together meeting professionals from 19 individual chapters covering 16 states, plus Washington, D.C.

SGMP also administers the Certified Government Meeting Professional (CGMP) program, the highest designation available for government meeting professionals.

The conference will be held at the Von Braun Center, with the Embassy Suites by Hilton Hotel & Spa serving as the headquarter hotel. Out of consideration for current CDC health guidelines, the 2021 convention will be SGMP’s first-ever hybrid event, offering both in-person and virtual programming.

Marie Arighi, director of sales and event services for the Von Braun Center and 2nd Vice President of the SGMP National Board of Directors, said, "The SGMP NEC is the largest annual event where government professionals come together for education, professional development, and networking. The core competencies of the society are beneficial to anyone working in the government meeting sector. Hosting this event is a wonderful opportunity not only to showcase Huntsville and the Von Braun Center to planners with a reported buying power of $1.2 billion, but also because it’s the 40th anniversary of the NEC. We’re looking forward to providing a great celebration for the organization.”    

Pammie Jimmar, vice president of small business and events for the Huntsville/Madison County Chamber and President of Huntsville’s own Rocket City SGMP chapter, also expressed excitement. “We are so thrilled to be selected as the 2021 host site for the NEC. Hosting an event of this stature will afford the Rocket City Alabama Chapter the opportunity to showcase our amazing city to government planners and suppliers across the country.”

The CVB looks at the confirmation of this event as a sign of the slow but steady return to business travel, which has been heavily impacted by COVID-19.

“Travel and tourism is a major economic driver for our area, bringing in roughly $1.6 billion in economic impact in 2019,” said Judy Ryals, president/CEO of the CVB. “While 2020 numbers will certainly look different, we feel confident that 2021 will be a start on the road to recovery as we welcome groups like SGMP and others. Being home to Redstone Arsenal and various other federal entities makes Huntsville the perfect host city for this event, and we look forward to showing attendees everything we have to offer.”

For more information, please visit the Society of Government Meeting Professionals’ website at, or contact Kristen Pepper, director of marketing for the Huntsville/Madison County CVB, at or by phone at 256.551.2294.





About the Huntsville/Madison County CVB:

The Huntsville/Madison County Convention & Visitors Bureau (CVB) is a non-profit 501(c)(6) organization which was developed in 1970 to create economic growth for Huntsville/Madison County by marketing the city as a top-of-mind convention and visitor destination. As the official city/county agency which promotes the area as a tourist destination and convention site, the CVB works with an array of hospitality industry partners to market our destination to visitors of all types.