History and Background

The Society of Government meeting professionals was established in October 1981 in Washington, DC. Organizers of government meetings saw a need for a forum in which to discuss mutual objectives and techniques for conducting business meetings of the government. They sought to create an opportunity to meet on common ground with the providers of meeting services and facilities to review the latest trends in planning and implementing these events.  The motivating force behind the new organization was Sam Gilmer. His insight into the need for such a group proved prophetic. 


In 1984, the SGMP National Educational Conference was held in Williamsburg, and in 1986 it was held in Richmond. These conferences provided the beginning of interest in the formation of a chapter in Virginia. Several informal meetings were held involving a group of planners and suppliers who wanted to learn more about SGMP. Carl Thompson served as the 'Mentor" of this group and attended the organizational meetings to where attendees discussed potential members, candidates for office, and what SGMP could do for Virginians in the meeting industry.

On his way back to Washington, DC, Thompson saw a truck on Interstate 95 with "Old Dominion" in the company name.  He suggested this as the name for a new Virginia chapter and thus began the Old Dominion Chapter of SGMP.

The Old Dominion Chapter was chartered on December 10, 1987 in Williamsburg at the Fort Magruder Inn and Conference Center.  Carl Thompson represented the National Board at the charter meeting and installed the first Board.   Following the election of the first set of officers, a one-day retreat was scheduled to set the direction for the chapter's future, plan the programs, and create committees.  Chapter retreats have been yearly events since that first one.  Board members have been able to meet and discuss in depth the annual goals for the chapter at these retreats.

The first chapter logo was an outline of Virginia, enhanced by a dogwood blossom (the state flower).   The logo was changed in 1998, with approval of the National SGMP Board.  This logo featured two red cardinals (state bird) holding a gold Old Dominion banner over a blue outline of the State of Virginia.  The original dogwood blossom appeared on the logo.  In 2012, we updated our logo in conjunction with the celebration of the chapter’s 25th Anniversary.

Members have attended National SGMP Conferences since a small delegation attended the conference in Denver in 1988. Many members have presented workshops at the national conferences, sharing their considerable meeting planning knowledge with SGMP members around the country.  We have been pleased to host the SGMP National Board meetings on several occasions, and have hosted three SGMP National Education Conferences in 2002, 2011 and 2018 in Norfolk, Virginia.

Chapter members have also been very active on the National level, contributing in various capacities. Most notably, Charles Sadler, CHSP, CHSC, CGMP became SGMP’s first Deputy Director, and is now Executive Director & CEO. Three chapter members have served on the National Board of Directors:  Charles Sadler was elected as National Treasurer (2000-2002) and National 2nd Vice President (2003-2005); Maria Herring, CGMP was appointed to fill a vacancy as National 2nd Vice President (2008-2009); and Debra Kilpatrick, CGMP was also elected three times, as Director (2007-2009) and as Secretary (2011-2015).  Four chapter members have also been elected to national office on the Gilmer Institute of Learning: Debra Kilpatrick, CGMP, Phil Morgan, CMP, Wayne Callis, CGMP and Anita Yearwood, CMP, CGMP

Several Chapter Presidents served as Chair of the Chapter President’s Roundtable (CPR) during its existence – Harriett Edmunds, Gloria Colvin, and Phil Morgan, CMP.   Debra Kilpatrick, CGMP served as Vice-Chair on the CPR as well.  The CPR has since become the Joint Leadership, consisting of Chapter Presidents and 2nd Vice Presidents. 

The Old Dominion Chapter is proud to have won many national awards.  We are most honored that our chapter has won the most Program of the Year awards than any other chapter!  Please visit our Awards page for a complete listing.

Many national awards have also been bestowed upon chapter members, including four Sam Gilmer Award Winners!  Sam Gilmer Planner of the Year recipients include Harriett Edmunds in 2002, Phil Morgan, CMP in 2008, and Debra Kilpatrick in 2015.  Sam Gilmer Supplier of the Year recipients include Charles Sadler, CHSP, CHSC, CGMP in 2002 and Maria Herring, CGMP in 2007. Phil Morgan, CMP was also bestowed SGMP’s President’s Award in 2007 and Harriett Edmunds was selected as Convention South Magazine’s “Meeting Planners to Watch for” in 2007.

The Old Dominion Chapter initiated several innovative ideas such as Supplier Appreciation. Each year, the chapter honors and celebrates the support provided by our supplier members. The chapter also recognized the support of dedicated helpers who are not officially chapter members. Past recipients included Jim Edmunds, Fred Colvin, Patsy McGroarty, Debra Crawford and Felipe Rose.

The chapter has been active in offering a variety of professional growth and industry educational programs over the years, as well as opportunities for networking between suppliers and planners.  Educating our members remains our number one goal. Fundraising activities to help provide educational opportunities for our own members have included silent auctions, raffles and bake sales.

The Chapter also supports philanthropic causes annually, such as the Central Virginia Food Bank, Central Virginia Public Television, American Red Cross, Cancer Society, Heart Association, SCAN, Mutts with a Mission, as well as individual families. We have always supported the national charity at the National Education Conference.

This remains a very strong chapter and it is always striving to be better. Most of all, we are proud of the sense of family that our members have towards one another.