Why do we willingly sell ourselves short? In episode two of Dare to Interrupt, world-renowned professor of hospitality, events and tourism Dr. Lorie Tuma shares with us the power of her personal mantra, “Say Yes”. 

Through vulnerable and compelling storytelling, Lorie shines a light on her experiences with workplace bullying, post-traumatic stress disorder and anxiety, teaching us how to rise above complacency and design our own reality. Listen now.

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[Start transcript]

Courtney Stanley: Hi everybody, this is Courtney Stanley and welcome to another episode of Dare to Interrupt, a listening experience where you have the opportunity to be a fly on the wall and sit in on honest, unfiltered conversations with women who are considered to be the most influential and inspiring leaders in the world of events, hospitality, tourism and beyond.

Throughout their careers, these women have dared to interrupt conversations, their own comfort zones and societal norms to hustle toward their greatest levels of success.

I’m super excited about today’s episode because you guys are going to have the opportunity to hear from the first mentor that I ever had. And one of the most daring women that I know who lives and breathes by the mantra “Say yes.” Allow me to introduce you to my great friend, Dr. Lorie Tuma.

Lorie Tuma: Hey, Courtney, thank you so much for asking me to do this. I’m really excited.

Courtney: I am super excited to be sitting down with you. As you know, you are one of my favorite people in this whole world.

Lorie: Likewise.

Courtney: And you have given me so many lessons along the way, the last 10 years that we’ve known each other. It’s my honor to have some of these lessons shared with other people today on this episode.

Lorie: Thank you for having me. I’m really looking forward to this.

Courtney: So, how did you get your start in this industry? Where are you now and where did you start?

Lorie: Yeah, so I am an assistant professor at Grand Valley State University. I teach in the Department of Hospitality and Tourism Management. I teach mostly international tourism, recreation and special event classes.

Prior to this, though, I taught at Ferris State University. I taught at the University of Alabama, and I also taught at Central Michigan University in the event management program there. That was all my academic experience, but way before that, I just worked in the industry. I coordinated events for the 2002 State of Michigan Gubernatorial campaign, I put together events for Catapult Learning in Las Vegas. I’ve kind of been dabbling in and out of hospitality and tourism management for quite some time, actually the better part of my career. So, I bring a lot of practical industry experience along with some education along the way. Yeah, so here I am. It’s kind of an exciting ride.

Courtney: Yeah. And you’ve done a lot of work overseas, too.

Lorie: Yeah.

Courtney: You taught in the Middle East, you have taken students to the Festival de Cannes for many, many years. What was teaching in the Middle East like?

Lorie: Oh, a career highlight. I taught in Qatar. I actually created the curriculum for Meeting Professionals International.

Courtney: Amazing.

Lorie: Yeah, right? For their global certification program. And then I was asked to deliver and facilitate that program three different times, three years consecutively. For the Qatar Foundation, which was really just an honor and a privilege. I still to this day look back with the fondest memories.

Other than that, I served as a Visiting Scholar at Vancouver Island University for about 21 days. I taught graduate classes there. I loved that. That again, was just as a blessing. It was a very unique opportunity, and I’ll always cherish that as well.

Probably though, two of my career highlights have been, I had the opportunity to speak before the United Nations World Tourism Organization about a-year-and-a-half, two years ago, and present my research on integrating social media with a sustainable tourism curriculum.

And then, like you mentioned, over the past 10 years, I’ve taken over 120 students to the Cannes Film Festival where they coordinate events for the American Pavilion and also work with a lot of celebrities.

And you actually helped me with that.

Courtney: I did. Yeah.

Lorie: Remember when that happened? We just had an idea on how we could meet some of the university objectives internationally, and also integrate—well the new event management minor at Central Michigan University. And we kind of put the two together. And I remember you were in my office and I said, “I’m going to Cannes, do you want to go?” And you just said, “Yeah.” And it was the beginning of over 100 students really experiencing events on such an amazing scale. So, thank you to you.

Courtney: Well, it was a blast. And those were some fun times, that’s for sure. So, you have taught hundreds—no, probably thousands—of students over your span of your career. Is it easy to pick out the ones that you know will succeed?

Lorie: Yes and no. Sometimes yes. Sometimes you can immediately see it in their eyes and see who is more engaged in class, or who takes the time and initiative to stop by during office hours and get to know you.

But then other times students will surprise you too. And that’s one of the things I like about teaching this program is not everyone that takes our classes are hospitality majors or minors. Sometimes they’re just taking it as a Gen Ed, or an issues class, and they actually start learning more about the industry. And then realizing that this is something they’re very interested in, and they want to pursue as part of their career. So, yeah, you do see those students that I think are initially really into it. But you get some surprises, too.

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Courtney: Yeah. I always find myself being a little hypercritical if I’m guest lecturing because I feel like I can so easily pick out the ones that are going to go far. And then I see mistakes that others are making and I’m like, ‘Man, I wish you would just get it together because the skills that you learn here are going to take you so, so far.’

But then sometimes I’m wrong. I can even think back to people that I studied with, and they were the rebels. They were the ones who got Cs and the ones who brought weed on the school bus and those were the people that actually went out and they were entrepreneurial, and they killed it.

So, it’s hard to judge a book by its cover.

Lorie: Yes, it is.

Courtney: But one piece of advice that you have lived and breathed by is “Say, yes”. What does that mean?

Lorie: You know, it means so many different things. But for me personally, it’s more about bravery. And I think sometimes even—as women—I think sometimes we look at opportunities, and they’re so carefully crafted in such a way that they can almost be intimidating, and I hate that part of it. Because nine times out of 10, women are doing so many things that are maybe included in that menagerie of words or commentary. But they won’t apply for the job or they won’t go after the opportunity because they don’t think that they have the credentials.

But a very early time in my career, I just made up my mind that I was going to say yes to opportunities and then figure out how to do them better or how to do them at all. And I tried to carry that over in class. Now, I use “Say yes” in class too, just kind of keep their attention, “Say yes,” and I don’t mean for it to be real militant. But in the broader sense, it’s really a reminder to me to not hesitate to seize an opportunity that I may or may not be qualified for.

I owned a travel agency at one time. I built the travel agency and then sold the travel agency and went to work as a professional trainer. I never in a million years ever dreamt that I would end up as a tenure-track professor. But in my mind, I knew that I could do the job. And so, I just kept saying, keep going, keep going, keep going. And I think that’s part of the whole thing “Say yes” mantra. You have to consistently keep encouraging yourself and motivating yourself toward things that you think are impossible.

I tell students in class, think of the job that you want to hold someday that you think is just so unachievable and untouchable or think of someone that has a job that you’d really like to have. You kind of in your mind, say, ‘Oh, I could never have something like that.’ And then I say, “Now, flip it. Instead of daydreaming about it, make it your next target, and don’t settle. Refuse to settle.”

And I think we need to do more of that. I think we need to sort of adopt that way of thinking, so that we’re always consistently reminding ourselves that we do have value. And we do bring a lot to the table.

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Courtney: I think you’re right when you say that you have to say yes in order to let the doors open. And sometimes the doors are right there. Sometimes you have to hunt for them. But sometimes they’re right in front of you. And all you have to do is say yes, and somebody will even open the door for you. You don’t even have to turn the handle. All you have to do is acknowledge that you are open to that opportunity.

And I think a lot of people are scared to say yes, and a lot of people are really comfortable with the idea of settling. But why do you think that people choose the path of least resistance when that dream could actually be very attainable?

Lorie: Yeah, I honestly think its fear. I think it’s fear based. A good example right now, I don’t know if you remember Katie J. But Katie was one of my first students. She reached out the other day on LinkedIn and she said she had a position that she was aware of in Oregon that she’s trying to place with Nike. And I just randomly, it happened to come through my LinkedIn feed, and I said, “Oh, I want to help you with this placement.”

So, we started texting back and forth. And I just happened to know of a student who’s just coming out of the Disney College Program that also went to Cannes, who I know for a fact has all the credentials. She could do the job, she just needs maybe a good mentor, some encouragement. She maybe needs to revamp her resume, but she has all of the skills I’m sure that are required in this position. So, I connected the two of them. But I can kind of hear from the tone of her text messages that she was thinking, ‘Well, I’m not sure if I can do this.’

And I think that’s a good example of a fear-based decision. I think she’s looking at the company Nike, and she’s automatically intimidated thinking, ‘maybe I’m not good enough, or maybe I don’t bring those skills,’ when in fact, she really does.

So, I think our hesitation in going forward is I think a lot of it is fear based. I think as women, we need to minimize that. We need to start encouraging each other more, so that that really isn’t an issue.

Courtney: Yeah, I think it comes down to mentorship. And I think it comes down to leading by example.

Lorie: Oh, absolutely.

Courtney: And I don’t feel like there are enough women, especially those who have found great success, that are just really honest in saying ‘I was terrified.’

Or I actually didn’t go for this job, and I still regret it to this day, and I know I could have done it. Ten years later, I look back and I still am kicking myself because I held myself back.

So, going back to this “say yes” mantra that you live by and that you encourage your students and your peers to live by. Has there ever been a downfall to always saying yes to opportunities?

Lorie: Absolutely, there is. And it’s something that I still to this day struggle with. I think maybe the younger part of me in my career when I was first starting out “say yes” could be misconstrued for arrogance.

And even on my part, I remember opportunities that I went after that I probably I would have done better had I reached out to someone and like you said, asked for some guidance. I do have some really amazing mentors in my life. I have a scholarship mentor, I have a personal mentor, a professional mentor—just different people that I, like you, tap periodically and just, ‘give me some perspective, reel me in a little bit or help me see things differently’.

But most definitely. There have been landmines that I’ve stepped in. There have been things professionally, decisions that I’ve made that haven’t been in my best interest. But you know, you don’t know what you don’t know. And it’s a gamble. I think as I get older, I look back on the many mistakes that I have made professionally and personally, and I tend to just want to give myself a little bit of grace, like we talked about in class before. You gotta let some of that stuff go, and you just hope to God that the people that you work with, the people that know you, and love you, and care about you, extend that grace to you as well.

I go up for tenure next year, I submit my tenured materials, and I’ve worked really, really hard on this. It’s been just a really exhausting and comprehensive process. But I’ve stepped in some land mines. I mean, I don’t think you can provide the level of student engagement that I do without making some mistakes along the way. And the majority of the time, they’ve been my fault.

But you know, I’m just really hoping and praying and banking on the fact that my colleagues, when they do review my materials, they’ll see that my intentions were good, that I was in a learning curve and was just trying new things. And I think that’s what we can hope for is when we say yes, we realize we’re not always going to be able to pull it off, but we’ve surrounded ourselves with people that can really kind of soften the fall a little bit.

Courtney: Yeah, and I think that there are different ways to measure success. Like for you, my experience with you was so much more emotional. You really inspired me, and you saw potential in me, and you helped grow me into somebody that I didn’t even know I could be. And I’m not even there yet. And you’re still mentoring me, and you’re still growing me and you’re advising me.

And I think that that is such a huge win. But a lot of times when you are being promoted, the emotional impact that you’ve had on the people around you is not part of that decision-making process. And what you see is a really challenging and a lot of times toxic political game that’s being played. Have you ever had to deal with that before?

Lorie: Oh, absolutely. We’ve talked about this before, and it’s taken me a long time to be able to discuss it with any sort of detail or any sort of context. But I remember when I first graduated with my doctoral degree, and I was seeking a tenure track position. There was an opening a friend of mine had encouraged me to apply for a position at the University of Alabama, which was so different than Central Michigan University as an instructor.

I think you and I were corresponding at that time, and I was sharing a lot of my challenges with you. And to this day, even when I talk about it in class, I say, “You know what, it was the best and worst time of my life because I learned so much about myself personally.” But let me tell you, I got bumped up a lot professionally. And I attribute some of that to bullying and harassment on the job, and a lack of a support system.

But Courtney, I also hold myself accountable to a certain extent because I should have done my homework more on that. There’s a culture shift that exists between working in Michigan and working in Alabama. And they’re just two completely different environments. And I was so caught up in being the best, most driven, most successful, most producing, tenure track assistant professor there was that I missed it. I missed the cues that there were actually colleagues that wanted to socialize with me, and they wanted to get to know me better. And they were interested in me as a person.

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And so, I learned. I learned. But I say all that to say that, at the same time behind the scenes, there were some people there were that were extremely unkind to me. And I could have really benefited from a much stronger authentic support system.

I went away from that experience with a lot of heartache and heartbreak. And to be quite honest, I almost had a nervous breakdown there. I mean, it was a very, very difficult time in my life. And I was alone, all by myself. And I came back to Michigan with no job and had to put my career back together.

So, thank God it all worked out in the end, but I look back on that and I think, you know what? It could have been so much different.

But I also use that experience to fuel the way that I treat incoming tenure track colleagues now, or the way that I sort of assist and continue to help my students that are making the transition from college to first job or college to corporate America.

I mean, we, as women, we have to help each other. We have to not get caught up in seeing people fail and I don’t want to say enjoying that, but I mean, just watching it from afar. And I’ve talked with you about this before, paying your dues, I don’t believe in any of that. I think that we need to be more proactive in helping each other become better people and more successful in whatever we need to do. That’s necessary.

Courtney: Let me ask you this. And I’ve never asked you this before. If you were to get stuck in an elevator with the people who harassed you or bullied you the most during that time in your life, what would you do?

Lorie: Hmm. It’s interesting that you ask. I actually ran into a person who is now in a leadership position in that department at the University of Alabama, it was probably within the last two years. And I did take advantage of that opportunity.

I remember looking at her and I just said, “Why did that even happen to me?” I wanted to know, and I asked her the questions. “None of that was necessarily. Why did that even happen?” And she assured me that things have changed. They’ve been had some personnel changes and the person that created that environment for me is no longer there. She’s doing other things.

But I was just curious as to why it happened. And I think if I was in an elevator, I would do the same thing. I would just say, “Why would you as a woman—how could you stand by and see what was happening to me and not help me or not reach out to me? It’s like I was sinking. And nobody was there to reach out and help me through that.”

And I think probably a lot of women feel that way. I mean, I think as women in general, we try to be very empathetic and helpful, and that’s just our very nature, but in the professional arena, it seems to change sometimes. And it confuses me. It baffles me. I don’t understand why it happens. So, that would be the question.

Courtney: I’ve spoken at many, many conferences, and I have talked about toxic environments, and I have talked about the fact that bullying is a problem. And a lot of times, it is that woman-to-woman competitive, ‘this is my arena and I don’t want you in my space’ type of environment.

And I’ve had people, mostly young women, who have written to me over the years that maybe I spoke at a conference three years ago and I get a message from them on LinkedIn. And they are just in need of help and advice because they’re going through something similar, where they are being bullied by a manager, or by a peer or by someone who is maybe even two, three levels up. Maybe it’s even some sort of sexual harassment, and they don’t know what to do.

What would be your best advice for those people that are struggling with being victims of bullying or harassment?

Lorie: Oh my gosh. Find someone, find help. And quite honestly, it’s two steps. It’s if you have to reach outside of your work environment to find the support that you need, do it. If you need to find a mental health professional and spend time talking to someone about what’s going on with you, do it. Invest time every week, twice a week if you have to, but find some resources to help you manage what you’re going through.

Because the worst thing that you can do is refuse to recognize that it’s happening. And again, as women—and I find myself still doing this, although I think I’m getting better—we tend to sort of diminish the impact that it’s having on us physically, emotional, mentally, psychologically, physiology across the board. We tend to make it not as important as it is, and it is the most important thing.

So, I guess the first thing that I would say would be find some help somehow. And I did this in Alabama. I remember at the very end of my experience there, I remember I did file a report, they did relocate my office. And then I immediately engaged in counseling. I think I was seeing a counselor two or three times a week, just so that I could honor my commitment to the university, finish out the semester, continue to be a quality success or student-centered professor. And I was taking them to Cannes. I was taking a group of students to Cannes. I still had to deliver for the students.

So, that would probably be the first piece of advice. And then Courtney, the second part of this is, sometimes you just got to go. Sometimes you just you have to go. And that is what happened to me in Alabama. I just literally had to leave because I recognized that it was not going to be a good fit for me.

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And I remember someone saying to me, “Nobody quits a tenured-track position after the first year.” Well, I resigned after the first seven months. I mean, I just could not take it anymore.

Now in retrospect, I will tell you this, it was the best thing that I ever did. Because when I came back to Michigan, remember I called the Chair at Ferris State University. I said, “Just give me one class. All I need is one class.” Because I knew what I was capable of doing. I just needed to re-engage and I needed to sort of build some momentum.

And they gave me one class. The following semester, they gave me four classes. And then I received a call from Paul Stansbie at Grand Valley, stating that they had a failed search, and they had a visiting professor position available. Was I interested?

And coming to Grand Valley was hands down the best decision professionally I have ever made so far, because I’m surrounded by a faculty family that cares about me. I’m surrounded by colleagues who support me. I am not bullied here in any way. In fact, they tolerate me more than anything because I’m always the one trying to come up with new ideas or do new things.

And I have failed miserably here. I mean, it’s no big secret. But I’ve also had some success stories. But I finally found a good fit. I found a university that believes in letting me teach the way that I feel that I’m best at. They believe in supporting my initiatives. They supported my Cannes program. They let me research the topics that I feel are relevant to my own personal agenda. And they’re just really great people, and they love students.

So, I have found my fit here. I’ve found sort of my home, where I want to be and where I want to build my career. So yeah, it would be twofold. It would be reach out, get some help. And then if it doesn’t work, be prepared to walk.

Courtney: Yep. Yeah, I have also given that advice before because sometimes I feel like they’re just, you exhaust your options. You’ve gone to HR, you have confided in a mentor, you have even sought counseling. And sometimes things are just completely out of your control. And I think that there is a lot of growth to be had when we are presented with situations or confrontations where we don’t know how to react, we don’t know what to do. And it’s in those moments where we really can fall apart, and then we get back up again, or we seize the moment to stand up for ourselves. And that’s something that I’ve always struggled with.

My number one regret from every job that I’ve ever had is that I have not had my own back enough. I have not played into the political warfare, but I’ve seen it and I haven’t said much. Or I know that I can get further ahead by being taken advantage of that short term, or by just staying quiet.

And personally, that’s my deepest regret moving forward is looking back and knowing that I could have stood up for myself, and I would have still gotten what I wanted. And I would have maintained that dignity. And I think my confidence would have grown instead of falling apart and then having to regrow it every time I leave, or every time I’m let go, because I’ve been let go from positions before too.

So, I do know that you have been in a situation before where you were confronted with something really scary. What was that experience like?

Lorie: Yeah, so it’s interesting. I think I mentioned this to you last night when we were talking. It’s taken me a long time to get comfortable talking about this. But when I was earning my master’s degree, I was sitting in a classroom at Central Michigan University. And a man walked into the classroom, summoned the girl sitting behind me to the front of the classroom and took out a gun and shot her in the head three times.

And I talked to my students, I’m actually pretty transparent about it in the classroom, because I want them to understand sort of what my DNA is personally and professionally, but I remember it’s like going into a disco. You know how the disco lights sort of do like a shutter effect. That’s my memory of it. And when it initially happened, I know I was disturbed, and I know I had a very difficult time managing that experience.

But you know, what I’ve learned over time is that we don’t have the luxury of deciding or determining when PTSD is going to pop up in our lives down the line. And so, since the school shooting, I’ve had a couple of different times in my life when I was overwhelmed. And some things have happened to me that were just really difficult to manage. And so, I’ve had to seek help because some of that PTSD jumps back into my life and messes with me again.

And so, like anyone that is battling being an alcoholic or a drug addict, or anyone that maybe is disabled from a car accident or anyone with a disability, you don’t get to determine at what point that disability is going to be disabling to you. Sometimes you’re going to be able to just crush it and you’re going to be fine. And before you know it, it’s gonna sneak up on you and it’s basically going to inhibit every part of your life.

That’s happened within the last couple years, it happened shortly after the shooting as a very, very difficult thing to go through. But it’s also now a part of me, and I’ve learned how to take the worst part of that and use it as a way to fuel additional stressors or additional tragedies or additional challenges that I have personally and professionally.

So, yeah, it’s been a tough way to go. So, I don’t want to leave the impression with people that I’m cured of it, and that’s not going to pop up again. But I make it a habit to keep it very close to me. So, that I know that if I do face something that is difficult in my life, I can draw back on some of the things that kind of pull me through those tough times.

Courtney: I think what’s really admirable too, is that everything that you’re saying is so proactive. So, even if it feels reactive, it is proactive because you have dealt with such severe tragedy and stress in your life that you have learned from it. You have identified where you actually do need help, and you need to ask for that.

And for those of you who are listening, you just heard a little barking in the background, and we have a furry friend with us today and that’s Dabo, your emotional support dog.

So, I think it’s really cool that you have done what you need to do. And you have said, I don’t care what people think when they see me with my little furry friend walking next to me, I don’t care if people judge me for talking about such a horrible tragedy publicly. I don’t care if people think that I can’t handle the stress because I go to therapy. That’s not what is to be admired or taken away by this.

It’s that you have actually defined a new level of acceptability for yourself in what you will actually put up with and what you will tolerate and what you deserve. And I think that that is huge. And there are so many people in this industry, especially women, who are constantly dealing with things like bullying, sexual harassment, political warfare, the glass ceiling, confidence, imposter syndrome, any of those complexities—anxiety—and they just keep pushing forward.

And in an industry where we are considered to be some of the most stressed out people, we end up on the list of most stressful conditions every single year with Forbes magazine and other publications as well. And we have to recognize that this stuff is going to keep happening unless we say enough is enough. I’m going to say yes to the right things that serve me well.

Davo is Lorie Tuma's support dogLorie: Absolutely. I’ve had Dabo (pictured with Lorie) now for almost a year. And when I first got him, it was interesting because I had entered back into psychotherapy with Dr. Hamming, who literally to this day saved my life. He insists that I saved my own life, but he’s been such a support system for me. And I was going to see him once or twice a week just to get through a really difficult time. I remember we were talking about all different options—medication or at one time it was CrossFit—just different options I had available to me.

And then there was the dog option. And I’m like, “Well, how is that going to impact the way people perceive me at work? How’s it going to impact my classroom, the way students learn in the classroom and what are people gonna think when they see me with a service dog walking down the hallway or something?

You know, you just gotta lose it. Embrace the humility and you just have to really—he makes me a better person; he makes me a better version of myself. In whatever it is that you need to do to become a better version or the best version of yourself, I just say do it.

Because we are so fortunate to be living and working in a culture now where diversity and mental health, they are prevalent issues. They’re no longer suppressed. They’re no longer down at the bottom of a list. They are prevalent, they are above par. And we’re focusing on these issues and we’re finding that people desperately want to reach out, and we want to help our students, and we understand that everyone is dealing with things.

So, whatever it is that we need to do, or they need to do to be better versions of themselves, I say that is the way that we need to be thinking.

Courtney: Well, I think that is actually the perfect note to end this on. This has been a fantastic conversation. And I can’t thank you enough, Lorie, for just sharing the mentorship and the wisdom and advice that you have generously given to me over the past decade with everybody who’s listening to this episode.

So, I hope today that whoever is listening feels supported and feels validated and feels encouraged to say yes to the things that are best for you and to do whatever you need to do to be the best version of yourself.

Thank you, Lorie, so much for being a part of today’s episode.

Lorie: Thank you, Courtney, for having me.

Courtney: And for all of you listening out there, stay tuned for the next episode of Dare to Interrupt. See you soon.

[End transcript]

Listen to more Dare to Interrupt:

About our guest:

Dr. Tuma joined Grand Valley State University in 2014 as a tenure-track, assistant professor after serving as a faculty member at the University of Alabama and Central Michigan University. Her career in tourism and hospitality began with Pan American World Airways as an international flight attendant. Her practical experience in event management and event programming evolved as a multiple franchisee for Carlson Companies. Tuma coordinated events for the 2002 State of Michigan Gubernatorial campaign, developed a global event management curriculum for Meeting Professionals International, and taught event programming in the Middle East (Qatar) for three years.

Tuma co-founded the Beyond Hands On program which has provided students with community-based learning experiences at the Country Music Association, Boston Marathon and Super Bowl. Students have also worked directly with The Food Network, Carnival Cruise Lines, and at multiple film festivals nationwide. To date, Tuma has taken 121 students over 10 years to the Cannes Film Festival in south France. This experience provides opportunities to coordinate events for The American Pavilion and various other international film-related organizations.

In 2017, Tuma presented her research on the development of social media curriculum before the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) in Murcia, Spain. In 2018, she served as a Visiting Scholar at Vancouver Island University and team-taught a graduate course in the MA in Sustainable and Leisure Management program. She also delivered a public lecture as part of the World VIU Points Speaker Series hosted by the World Leisure Centre of Excellence at VIU.

About our host:

Courtney Stanley is a keynote speaker, writer, podcaster and career success coach with a background in experience design, community engagement and leadership development. Courtney is the host of Meetings Today's “Dare to Interrupt,” a podcast that provides a platform for the event, hospitality and tourism industry’s most influential and successful women to share their stories of adversity and success, unfiltered. Courtney believes that transforming past experiences into impactful conversations through raw, authentic storytelling challenges the status quo, connects people from all walks of life and results in great change for the world.

  • Courtney is the youngest member to have ever been elected to Meeting Professionals International’s (MPI) International Board of Directors
  • She is the recipient of Smart Meetings’ Entrepreneur Award, MeetingsNet’s Changemaker Award, the Association for Women in Events (AWE) Disruptor Award, the MPI Chairman’s Award and MPI RISE Award
  • Named Collaborate and Connect Magazine’s 40 under 40 and a Meetings Today Trendsetter
  • Recognized as one of the event industry’s most impactful change-makers 
  • Serves on the Events Industry Sexual Harassment Task Force, AWE’s Board of Directors, MPI’s Women’s Advisory Board, is a Meetings Mean Business Ambassador and is the co-founder of the award-winning movement, #MeetingsToo