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PPAI is one of your strongest com-

petitive advantages because of the 80

professionals who comprise its manage-

ment and staff. Through their vision,

their skills and their collective efforts,

they have cemented PPAI’s stature

everywhere I have travelled—to confer-

ences and regionals all across this coun-

try, in Canada, Europe and China.

Everywhere I go in the promotional

products world, PPAI is considered the

gold standard. You may already know

this through the outstanding member

services and excellent programs PPAI

provides. And you certainly know our

exceptional senior leadership: Paul

Bellantone, CEO, who leads the

Association with his vision, intellect, pas-

sion and wisdom, and Bob McLean,

executive vice president, who works tire-

lessly behind the scenes to ensure that

the trains run on time and that the entire

team is working effectively. But you

might not know about the rest of the

people who make it happen. This month

I’d like to tell you some of their stories.



magazine you’re reading is

just one of the award-winning family of

publications produced by Tina Berres

Filipski and her team of James Khattak,

Jen Alexander and Julie Richie. Last sum-

mer Tina celebrated her 20th anniversary

at PPAI. During her two decades, Tina

has overseen the growth of PPAI publica-

tions from a single title,


, to the cur-

rent lineup which includes the twice


PPB Newslink

, daily






Expo East Daily

. This year in


alone, this team has delivered more

than 1,000 pages of editorial content and

generated more than 21,000 monthly

page views on its website.

We’re lucky to have Carol Gauger,

MAS, back at PPAI after a stint in the

industry as a supplier. Carol is a familiar

face to most of the industry through her

extensive work supporting our 27

regional associations. In addition, Carol

directs our member engagement initia-

tives which includes working with our

many volunteers and committees. Aside

from their stellar work,


is the

keyword on Carol’s team of accom-

plished professionals including Lisa

Beck, an avid NASCAR fan, at 29 years;

Valerie Schenewerk, a sci-fi expert, at

nine years and Melissa Weber, the girl

with a perpetual smile for everyone, at

seven years.

Keith Vincent and his team of pro-

fessionals are responsible for all PPAI

marketing, research, public relations and

In Praise Of An Extraordinary Team


4 •


• JANUARY 2016


of serving on the PPAI Board, you will begin your term

with a two-day orientation at PPAI headquarters in Dallas. For me it was a time to learn in-depth

about our Association and how it operates. But more than anything else, my most significant take-

away from those meetings four years ago was the quality of the 80 or so staff members who make the

magic that we call PPAI. “Very strong team,” I thought to myself, as one by one each PPAI director presented

to the four of us newbie directors the raison d’être of their department, their short- and long-term objec-

tives, their resources, their action plans, and an understanding of how each of their programs was tied to a

goal in PPAI’s overall strategic plan. I’ve been a CEO for more than 40 years—in companies with as many

as 1,600 employees—so I don’t impress easily when it comes to evaluating management. But this team was

special. And now, four years later, as I near the end of my term and complete my year as chair of this

great Association, I can confirm for you that my initial impressions were just the tip of the iceberg.

Rick Brenner, MAS+

PPAI Chair of the Board



Continued On Page 89