Greater Midwest Chapter

May 21 2013

GMC 20th Anniversary Member Profile: Bob Donovan

Maureen Beck

Bob Donovan, Senior Director, Meeting & Travel Services for the American Hospital Association, was a board member of PCMA before there were chapters.  The notion of establishing chapters stirred up controversy because of serious concerns about costs.  Those in favor of chapters prevailed, thus giving birth in 1993 to GMC and several other chapters. Bob leant his skills to GMC by becoming a board member.

This deep commitment lead to the 2001 creation of the Robert J. "Bob" Donovan Award. The award reflects the fact that “Bob is a career-long member and former president of PCMA, and is both respected and highly regarded for his strong commitment to build the industry. The award recognizes a worthy meeting professional who leads by example, inspires volunteerism, and is committed to the future growth of the industry.”  When asked about the award, Bob replied, “It blows me away. I was flabbergasted that they created an award in my name.  I don’t think I’m worthy of that.”

Bob originally did not plan to attend the 2001 GMC awards ceremony because of a significant conflict, an AHA board meeting.  One of his employees insisted that Bob needed to attend the Awards Dinner. She said that fellow member Kathy Kozminske would receive an award, so Bob acquiesced. Hints suggested that Bob was up for the coveted Dick Daignault Award. When the emcee described the winner, Bob realized it was not him and he felt a little let down. He was so astonished when he was informed subsequently that he had won the newly minted Bob Donovan Award that he said, “I thought I was winning the Dick Daignault Award!” He is deeply grateful about the award’s creation. According to Kathy Kozminske, Bob reacted with grace and humility and said, “But I’m not even dead yet!” The Awards Committee purposely chose to honor someone who is living rather than memorialize them when they are gone. The creators noted that Bob “is a great mentor.”

Kathy shares that the chapter created the award “because Bob Donovan has given so much. Bob would always offer to help people. If they were looking for a job, he would ask them to send him their resume so that he could pass it on.  Bob will stop what he is doing and make time for everyday situations.”

One of the benefits Bob has derived from PCMA is networking for solving common problems.  He recalled a conversation with another attendee in the hall at an Annual Meeting. It resulted in Bob finding a solution to a vexing problem that his department had spent countless hours trying to resolve. 

We asked Bob what he most appreciated about the GMC leadership over these 20 years and he mentioned their willingness to serve. “All of the presidents of GMC have been great.  Each one has had a different focus and that’s a positive.”  Community service, student members and education are examples he provided.

Bob feels that chapters are important. “They provide education. Not everyone is able to attend the national meeting.” The networking done in chapters is invaluable and often results in the formation of important friendships. He cautions, however, that chapters “can fold up and go away.” To avoid that, more members need to get involved in the GMC and we need to create opportunities for that involvement.  Bob recommends that members should always be on a committee. He further advises: “Get involved. Get recognized. Volunteering always helps you.  It increases your self-confidence. PCMA helps you to better yourself. Start a conversation. People are always willing to help.”