Event Strategist,Christi Rich (Courtesy Photo)

With over a decade of experience in the event management industry, Christi Rich has organized domestic and international affairs for non-profits, corporations and social clients. “What I’ve done in my career has really been strategy. It’s not just logistical planning, it so much more,” Rich told the AFRO.

The steps to implementing a successful event are plenty. Rich has experience in budgeting, marketing and promotions, script writing, customer service, sponsorship recruitment, vendor and volunteer management, and more. “Strategy is making sure the client’s message is delivered and the attendees have received that said message and will carry through into the next steps of whatever you’re looking to do with that event,” she said.

Currently, she works with nearly a dozen clients from varying industries, planning multi-day gatherings, managing long-term contracts and providing day-of support. She also consults with health and advocacy groups, higher education institutions, foundations, performing arts organizations, and community associations about the strategic direction of event departments and the purpose of hosting events.

Rich was introduced to event planning while studying to be a pharmacist at Rutgers University in New Jersey. During an internship at a chemical company, she was tasked with planning an international sales meeting. Impressed with her work, Rich’s manager spoke of her talent for event management. “She said this is a whole career path, this is an industry,” Rich said. “I said no way; and she said yes, but of course I didn’t listen.”

After earning a Bachelor’s degree in Economics, she worked in healthcare at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York. “After a few years working there, I said this isn’t for me. I told my parents I think I don’t want to be in healthcare and I think I want to do this events thing. They thought I was crazy.”

Following her instincts, she enrolled at The George Washington University and earned a Masters in Tourism Administration. Her first position out of graduate school was as an event coordinator for the Smithsonian Institution where she planned special events in every museum on the National Mall as well as the National Zoo. She then became Director of Special Events at Georgetown University, managing a team to coordinate alumni events, board meetings, university reunions, homecomings and building dedications. She then broadened her skill-set working for corporate agencies.

When deciding to work independently, she contacted previous partners, vendors, and colleagues to see if it was a good idea. “Once I made that decision, people were calling me with opportunities before I had even gotten myself truly up and running,” she said.

As a full-time entrepreneur for two years, she has built a confidence she never knew she had. “I think it’s taken me a very long time to realize that I actually am good at what I do,” she said. “I’ve never been a person who likes pats on my back and to be consistently celebrated. I like to celebrate others. Even in an event I say it’s someone else’s and I’m happy if no one says anything to me – that means the event went well.”