Join a Group for Campus Event Planners

Duke Special Event Planners Council membership is open to Duke employees

The Special Event Planners Council leadership, top row from left to right, is C.T. Woods Powell, Katie McKittrick and Quiana Tyson; bottom row left to right is Tracey Wiwatowski, Patrina Hemingway and Stacy Dalton. Photo courtesy of the SEPC
The Special Event Planners Council leadership, top row from left to right, is C.T. Woods Powell, Katie McKittrick and Quiana Tyson; bottom row left to right is Tracey Wiwatowski, Patrina Hemingway and Stacy Dalton. Photo courtesy of the SEPC

Katryna Robinson assists Duke departments with booking the right rooms for their events at Duke University Libraries and sometimes helps with the finer details such as room access, cleanup and caterer recommendations.

When she learned about a campus organization called the Duke Special Event Planners Council, she immediately became a member at no charge last fall to learn about event planning resources at Duke and preferred caterers. The council is comprised of about 100 meeting and event planning professionals from across the University and Health System whose work spans various departments.

“When you haven’t worked at Duke for 30 years, it’s helpful to learn everything there is to know about Duke, such as the availability of catering, and to receive and share nuggets of wisdom with other people,” said Robinson, executive assistant to the university librarian and vice provost for library affairs, Deborah Jakubs. “A lot of people didn’t know Duke Libraries had rooms that are available to rent for academic or research-related events.”

The Duke Special Event Planners Council is open to administrative assistants and program coordinators in which event planning is about 30 percent of their role to special events directors solely focused on event planning. Membership is free and requires filling out an online application.

On June 8, members are invited to a conference at the Pratt School of Engineering that will feature a vendor information fair of hotels, caterers and more, and panel discussions about formal invitations, Duke Conference & Event Services, the growing Durham hotel market, and other topics. The keynote speaker will be Sally Webb Berry, CEO and owner of The Special Event Company headquartered in Cary.

All council members will be sent an invitation to the conference, and members must RSVP by June 1 to attend.

Quiana Tyson, director of special events for Duke’s Pratt School of Engineering, said the council hopes to organize volunteer projects, downtown Durham tours and more in the summer and fall to build group membership.

“The council is a way for us all to work together to unify and bring Duke to the forefront of event planning,” Tyson said. “You can learn from people who are doing these jobs, and this is a way of building your toolbox at Duke.”