Past President’s Council


Bettyanne Sherrer
President, 2015-2016
During my tenure as President, I was extremely fortunate in the exemplary Board Members I had the privilege to work with. While many initiatives were launched and a lot was accomplished, I am most proud of the creation of CanSPEP’s first Educational Scholarship program. I am honoured to continue to serve the association through the Past Presidents Council which affords me the opportunity to act as an Ambassador for CanSPEP and mentor others to their leadership potential.
Caroline Aston
President, 2014-2015
Catherine Paull
President 2013-2014
Debbie Arato
President, 2012-2013
Rita Plaskett
President, 2011-2012
My greatest accomplishment: Creation of the Past Presidents’ Council I continue to volunteer and service on the PPC because CanSPEP is the life line for entrepreneur planners to stay inspired, engaged in our own business, current on business trends and services necessary to keep a healthy business growing and the support and network of like minded piers. It takes an army to build a village and it takes CanSPEP members to build our own business.
Rose Timmerman-Gitzi
President, 2009-2011
Heidi Wilker
President, 2006-2008
Most proud of the rebranding of the association from Independent Meeting Planners Association of Canada (IMPAC) to Canadian Society of Professional Event Planners (CanSPEP) I continue to volunteer and serve on the Past Presidents’ Council because I have a profound interest and belief in keeping the association grounded in both its past and its future.
Karen Eluck
President, 2004-2006
Karen Eluck has been President of her own company, KEP Events Limited, for over 35 years. She has enjoyed working as an event manager all over North America with a wide diversity of clients from fashion to corporate to gala fundraisers . She was the longest standing President for 2 ½ years and chaired the first conference on the West coast in Whistler BC.
Gale Gingrich
President, 2003-2004
The commitment I made when I took on the President role was to foster mentorship between senior and junior members. This program followed my Presidency for a few years by linking senior and junior members at our annual Conferences. I still maintain that mentorship should be one of the cornerstones of our Association. By far my proudest moment was when I was awarded the Inaugural Award of Merit for Leadership and I have continued my commitment to CanSPEP by serving on committees and as an active member of the Past Presidents’ Council including since my retirement. Over my many years of involvement, I have made lifelong friends and will be forever grateful to CanSPEP for the friends, opportunities to serve, great collaborations with my fellow members and lots of fun. it has been a great ride!
Sandy Biback
President, 2002-2003
My goal as President was to always be working collaboratively and put the member first. At a variety of times working with CanSPEP (& as a founding member) I’ve done a lot. Two things that stand out: Continually updating the Accessibility Guide from when I first wrote it with another planner shortly after ADA came into effect in US & before CanSPEP was an association; and the ability for members to ask for services, suggestions on what their needs are. I continue to be on the Past President's Council because history is vital to any organization to see where we’ve been, where we are and where we want to go. Because CanSPEP created something that was never created successfully before in the industry and because it is crucial that we continue to marry the past with the present with the future
Ingrid Norrish
President, 1998-1999
During my tenure as President, we grew the organization from an initial membership of 41 to over 70 members, who were published in the second membership directory. We were being recognized in the meetings industry and grabbed the attention of other independent planners who were interested in joining. CanSPEP, continues to be an important aspect in the growth, development and success of my business. My experiences of participating on the Executive Board, working on a various Committees, what I’ve learned, and the members I’ve met (and their support), has been rewarding. CanSPEP has meant a lot to me, and is one of the main reason’s why I continue to volunteer and serve on the PPC.
Joy E. Fox
Founder, 1996-1997

In the early 90’s I was an Independent meeting planner and regularly attended and participated in industry events. Internationally, I chaired a special interest group of Independent planners and was always blown away by how much I learned from other independents, at these events. There was nothing similar in Canada, but I knew there were a few around, so I wrote a note to an industry newsletter asking if any independent was interested in getting together to discuss issues pertinent to our niche in the industry. I offered to host and 10 people showed up to that meeting at my home in Oakville. It was obvious from the enthusiasm at that meeting, that everyone was as hungry as me, for the opportunity to meet on a regular basis and discuss issues pertinent to our business. We wanted to educate the business world about our business of being independent meeting planners, to create awareness and attract clients.

This first meeting was in 1995. The second meeting was hosted a month later, by a hotel and we had 24 people show up. We discussed strategy and formulated a plan of action. We were off and running! We continued to meet monthly, hosted by various hotels in and around Toronto.

The original name decided at the second meeting was Canadian Association of Independent Meeting Planners.

That was the start. That was our humble beginning. Other hotels jumped up to host us. We had quite a lot of media coverage, as our group was unique in Canada.

 I led the group and was the first President from 1996-1997. I was made Emeritus before the 10th anniversary in London, Ontario. The Joy Fox award was also created that year. Now we are coming up to 23 years, so I think it was a good call back in 1995.