Perhaps more than ever, the regional associations in the promotional products industry are aligned with PPAI on the collaborative goals of pushing the promo community forward. In 2024, PPAI’s Regional Relations Committee (RRC) has big plans for that push, some of which involve leveraging the Association’s involvement.

Regionals And The RRC

Kara Keister, MAS, RRC delegate to the PPAI Board of Directors and owner of Social Good Promotions, compares regional associations to a localized version of PPAI.

“Basically, it’s a smaller scale version of PPAI,” Keister says. “They provide trade shows, industry education and networking opportunities but in your backyard.”

For Steven Lazarus, MAS, the RRC chair and VP of sales and marketing at Promotional Breezes, volunteering with a regional association is a way of giving back that becomes your own personal resource.

“I would consider it like your local chamber of commerce for the promotional products industry,” Lazarus says.

The full roster of the RRC includes:

  • Steven Lazarus, MAS, Committee Chair
  • Kara Keister, MAS, Regional Liaison to PPAI Board
  • Kendra Kirks-McDougal, MAS, HALO
  • Rocky Moreno, Executive Director, GCPPA, PPAMS, SPPA
  • KJ Summers, BAMKO
  • Jillian Fralick, MAS, SnugZ USA
  • Laura Munari, MAS, Executive Director, RMRPPA, AzPPA
  • Dana Porter, MAS, SAGE
  • Kate Alvarez, PromoShop
  • Quinn Bui, Rupt
  • Shannon Johnson, PPAI Staff Liaison
  • Christina Sanders, PPAI Staff Liaison (until March 25)
  • Stacey Felice, Executive Director, PPACW and PPAI Staff Liaison (as of March 25)

Many promo professionals over the years have sung a similar chorus when it comes to regional volunteerism: You get out of it even more than you put in.

“Volunteering at the regional level really changed the face of my career,” says Keister, who recently took over full ownership of Social Good Promotions.

Three Major Initiatives

At its meeting earlier this year at The PPAI Expo 2024, the RRC set forth three major initiatives to focus on in 2024. These big tent issues will be addressed by work groups within the RRC.

The first is membership. Regional associations are strengthened and made possible by the same people that they serve. “It’s important that the RRC stay on top of what challenges our members are facing as well as the successes they are experiencing to ensure their benefits as PPAI members remain relevant,” Lazarus says.

  • By becoming members of PPAI as business service providers last year, regional associations receive a long list of benefits that comes with membership.
  • It also creates ongoing alignment with PPAI, which in part, helped create what the RRC is referring to as “the great PPAI roadshow,” in which PPAI leadership travels to regional association events for townhall sessions about the recent restructuring of PPAI’s membership.

The second area of focus for the RRC is professional development. PPAI has long served as a leader in industry education, which leaves plenty of opportunities to work with regional associations on learning sessions that are tailored to regional challenges.

Finally, the RRC is focused on regional collaboration. In an ideal world, no regional association is significantly stronger than the others, as each can provide a blueprint, and those blueprints should be shared.

  • Collaboration among regionals is not a new concept. Executive directors and boards have often shared best practices.
  • That level of communication must be fostered and maintained.

“The RRC aims to encourage this type of collaboration and is facilitating conversations to gather information, create playbooks and even encourage regionals to communicate successes and struggles so we can learn from each other,” Keister says.

This sort of collaboration is a macro version of what regionals offer all of their members, who are working together to create a more seamless promo landscape.

“Friendly competitors share ideas and help each other out through regional associations,” says Lazarus.