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Meeting Professionals International (MPI), an organization with 20,000 members, has offered the global Certificate in Meeting Management (CMM) program since 1998. The CMM has been a senior, elite credential held by only 938 in the world.

In 2012, MPI formed a limited liability company (LLC) with the Global Business Travel Association (GBTA). On Dec. 18, 2013, a press release announced their intent to offer a revised, joint program still called “CMM” but reduces the experiential requirement from 10 to five years and eliminates the acronym, making CMM a “standalone trademark.”

Response to this announcement was quick and powerful within an online networking group on LinkedIn for those who hold the CMM credential. Their immediate consensus was that the changes devalued the prestigious credential.

The LinkedIn CMM Group was founded in 2008 by Ann Rebentisch, CMP, CMM, of Handshake Events in Los Angeles and has half the CMMs in the world as members. After numerous online discussions, Rebentisch organized a series of conference calls averaging 50 CMM participants each from South Africa, Switzerland, Monaco, Canada and the U.S. MPI responded by hosting their own conference calls open to existing CMMs and those interested in achieving the new designation.

On Jan. 27, GBTA Foundation Executive Director Daphne Bryant sent emails to those who held the SMMC credential from their “sunsetted” Strategic Meetings Management Certificate program. Bryant informed them that honorary CMM designations were being awarded to them.

“Our group was livid and devised a plan to quantify and convey our sentiment to MPI,” said Rebentisch.

In mid-February, an online survey for the CMMs who earned the credential by completing the program was launched, and 20 percent of the world’s CMMs responded.

“Only 5 percent agreed with the choice to grant CMM credentials to holders of the SMMC. Eighty-eight percent opposed the program changes overall,” Rebentisch added. “The survey had strong, objective data and was shared with MPI at the request of its chief executive officer, Paul Van Deventer.”

An online petition based on the survey drew 411 signatures in one week and was submitted by Rebentisch to MPI just after midnight on Mar. 5. The recipients were Michael Dominguez, CMP, chairman; Van Deventer and Chief Operating Officer Cynthia D’Aoust.

Van Deventer responded, “We will be meeting to aggregate and review all the data and input we received over the past sixed weeks; based on that review, we will develop recommendations regarding any changes or updates to the CMM program.”

A time frame for the decision was not specified.

To see petition signatures and comments, visit http://www.ipetitions.com/petition/preserve-the-certificate-in-meeting-management.

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