Thursday, November

9:45 am Early Bird Networking

10:00 am Program Begins


How to Thrive

in the Gig Economy

COVID-19 has thrown a wrench into the world of meetings and events and has changed the ways in which people do business. Job loss or a significant drop in income for planners and suppliers has been widespread.

Whether by need or choice, many planners and suppliers are taking advantage of the "gig economy" to make a living from a variety of income sources or to carve out a new path that suits their career, lifestyle, and financial goals. Businesses have embraced the solutions that the freelancer economy presents, and meetings planners and their organizations are taking note. Is the gig economy just a new wave of freelancing, or is it different?

Take part in this vibrant discussion with our panel of freelancers, companies that hire freelancers and a talent professional to discuss their experiences, successes, and challenges.


Gretchen Hartke
Owner, Hartke Designs and author of “So, You Want to Join the Gig Economy...Now What? Tales From a Freelance Veteran”

A teacher at heart, Gretchen started her career as a middle school teacher and earned her MS in Instructional Systems Technology from Indiana University. Over her 23-year career as in instructional designer and project manager, she's created learning experiences for organizations like BlackRock, McDonalds, Sanofi Aventis, John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, W.K. Kellogg Foundation, and Walgreens. Her book, “So You Want to Join the Gig Economy…Now What? Tales from a Freelance Veteran,” guides those who are looking launch a career as an independent as well as how to be a more valuable consultant.

Sheila Murphy
Founder Partner, FlexProfessionals

Sheila Murphy is Co-Founder/Partner of FlexProfessionals, a niche staffing firm that matches experienced professionals seeking meaningful, part-time employment with growing businesses in need of top talent. FlexProfessionals works with seasoned professionals with at least 10 years of experience and has successfully placed a wide variety of meeting planning professionals in part-time and project roles. Featured on The Today Show, Sheila is a career re-entry expert, work flexibility advocate, and seasoned speaker/trainer on a variety of job search and career development topics. 

Annette Suriani, CMP, CFMP, DES
Business Events Strategist, AMS Meetings Solutions

Annette M. Suriani, CMP, CFMP, DES is chief business events strategist for AMS Meetings Solutions, an association and meetings management firm she founded in 2012.  With more than 20 years of association management experience and managing trade shows and annual meetings, she works with medical, faith-based groups, foundations, and social groups. Annette’s volunteer commitments include PCMA Capital Chapter, PCMA Headquarters and Kids Give Back. She also hones her event planning skills by serving as Chair of the social committee for the 200-unit condominium complex she lives in by planning monthly events that include wine and cheese tastings, Zumba classes and happy hours. She currently serves as the Executive Director of the Association of Meeting Professionals and works with approximately half a dozen clients on their annual meetings and events.


The views and opinions expressed during programs organized by Reston Herndon Meeting Planners (RHMP) are those of the speakers and participants and do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of RHMP or its committee members.

Reston Herndon Meeting Planners (RHMP) 

APEX Meetings is the managing agent for RHMP

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