The David Riddell Memorial Scholarship, created in memory of SITE Past President David Riddell, provides an opportunity for worthy individuals to participate in SITE educational programs. This year the SITE Foundation Board of Trustees selected four scholarship recipients based on financial need, nomination from a SITE Chapter leader and their contributions to SITE as David envisioned. The scholarship will fund costs to attend the SITE + MPI Global Forum in January. Windsor Crawford, Coordinator, Cultivate Premium Gifts and President, Young Leaders Program, SITE Southeast USA is one of the scholarship recipients. Here is an excerpt from her winning essay.

As I read through the David Riddell Memorial scholarship application process I took special note of whom David Riddell was, what he was passionate about, and why this scholarship was formed. The characteristics and passions that Mr. Riddell possessed are characteristics and passions of mine as well. First and foremost, I believe education regarding the theory behind incentives and the incentive industry is the cornerstone of being successful. Truly understanding my role as it pertains to giving others the best motivational experience and volunteering my leadership in the SITE Southeast Chapter and Young Leaders shows my dedication to being a servant leader. And, as I grow I hope to be able to give back to those in the SITE family providing a way for a other young professionals and future leaders to become better educated, make global connections, and be shaped by SITE leaders acting as mentors to evolve into leaders themselves.

Most recently I was reminded of how crucial my global, national, and local connections I have gained through SITE truly were. Being the global organization that it is, SITE may stretch far and wide but is also a close-knit family of passionate individuals. When my previous employer closed earlier this year, it meant so much to me to have Eda Ozden, the SITE Young Leader President, reach out and ask how I was and wish me success in my future endeavors. At that time encouragement from my colleague across the sea was much needed and greatly appreciated. Several others in the SITE family also reached out with potential job opportunities. When the horizon was looking bleak, it was humbling to know that your work speaks for itself, hear that you are truly an asset, and will be to your next employer. Another specific example of how my involvement in SITE Young Leader’s benefitted me was when Maggie Vaulman, a SITE Young Leader in Chicago, connected me with some SITE contacts for potential jobs opportunities. Gaining knowledge and insight about the ins and out and pros and cons regarding my next potential employer was extremely beneficial.

Thanks to Pam Shepherd, my mentor and “work mom”, I was able to secure my current position as Business Development Manager for Cultivate Premium Corporate Gifts for the Southeast region. In addition to the great referral and introduction, I had met my predecessor at the SITE Southeast Southern Supper 2016. That meeting also served as a great platform for attaining my new position. When the unexpected hit, it was so refreshing to see how the SITE family (all over the world) supported and encouraged me. Making connections is only one of the many benefits of being a member of SITE, it is also the education and professional wisdom that you can gain when you get involved. SITE exposes industry professionals to a wealth of experiences that evolve into knowledge and professional growth. Serving as President of the SITE Southeast Young Leaders Program taught me how to create member engagement, grow our membership, delegate tasks, assemble committees and their leadership, organize events and profit centers for the chapter, manage registration, manage marketing tactics, and join in with our local chapter’s efforts to market the event successfully.

I have also gained insights from speakers at multiple SITE events. A few years back at the SITE Texas and SITE Southeast Tech Summit, Judi Holler presented on the topic of being your own brand ambassador. It was a riveting morning session that taught me, even though your job may change, you need to create your own personal brand that stands out in the minds of others. Another take-away was from Jonathan Bradshaw’s session at the Young Leaders conference about how to make your product come to life – selling the experience rather than the space, rooms, or product. I know that what I have learned has become “real” knowledge and insightful wisdom as I consult with planners about their premium corporate gifting programs.

Receiving the David Riddell scholarship to attend the SITE + MPI Forum in Rome provides an excellent opportunity to further my SITE education and valuable relationships – a learning experience I would not have be able to provide for myself. I am grateful for the invaluable opportunity to continue my professional development, make global connections and be directed and shaped by SITE leaders worldwide.