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Meeting Leaders: Don Duszynski

Executive Profile

Name: Don Duszynski

Title: Regional Manager

Organization: Meeting Professionals Expectations Inc.

Location: Placitas, New Mexico

Birthplace: Chicago


University of Wisconsin, BS in biology, math and secondary education

Colorado State University, Ph.D. in zoology

Career History

University of New Mexico: Professor and chair, biology department; director, Museum of Southwestern Biology (1970-2011)

American Society of Parasitologists: National Scientific Program Officer (1987-2008)

Meeting Professionals Expectations Inc.: Regional Manager (2007-present)

Don Duszynski’s parents, first-generation Americans whose parents had immigrated from Poland, worked multiple jobs and encouraged their son to study hard and go to school.

“The one thing my father taught me was to work hard,” said Duszynski. “Always work hard, do the best job and be honest. And that I was going to go to college.”

Duszynski grew up in West Chicago and, after high school, joined several of his classmates at the University of Wisconsin. And work hard he did — he played varsity football until an injury benched him, carried three majors (math, biology and secondary education); and worked part-time jobs as a swim team coach, pool manager and forklift driver. He had planned to return home and be a biology teacher and football coach, but at the urging of one of his professors, he applied for graduate school and eventually earned a PhD in parasitology from Colorado State University.

“For a little Polish boy from Chicago who had never been west of the Mississippi, there was no choice — I was going to Colorado,” said Duszynski. “It was the best decision I could have made.”

After getting his PhD, Duszynski was offered a job as an assistant professor at the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque. He eventually became chair of the biology department.

“Very early on I got a call from the president of the American Society of Parasitologists, the organization for people that study parasites,” said Duszynski. “She asked me to be the scientific program officer and develop the program for our national meeting — to build the scientific program, put everything together and schedule the workshops.”

Duszynski held that role for several years and gradually accumulated other meeting duties, such as coordinating hotel stays. He started attending conferences for event and meeting planners so he could network. At one of the conferences, he was approached by someone from Meeting Professionals Expectations, which helps various organizations plan meeting logistics. They needed someone who specialized in planning educational conferences. Duszynski got the job, and he now works with three groups — the American Society of Parasitologists, the Society of Neologisms and a group of veterans.

He’s found that college educators meet for specific purposes — to exchange ideas, recruit students and elect voluntary board members.

“They can be very intense — they’re not like corporate meetings where people go to play golf,” said Duszynski.

Duszynski keeps a history of each of his groups that includes details like where they have met, hotels they used and the group’s spend on rooms, food and beverage. He uses the histories to approach new conference destinations.

In addition to planning meetings, Duszynski does work in his educational field, including research projects in Japan, China, the Czech Republic, Mexico, Egypt and Costa Rica. He publishes papers and is writing his sixth book.

“I’ve always had a very complex life,” he said. “I do this [meeting planning] for fun, for social entertainment, for meeting new people and as a way to travel and enhance my life.”

Tips from Don Duszynski

Never go into a city without first contacting the CVB and acquainting them with you, your group, the projected dates of the meeting the group wants to hold there and their specific space needs.

Know your group thoroughly. Build a meeting history of each group you represent. Be sure to include a copy of your group’s meeting history in the RFP submitted to hotels.

Attend three to four meeting industry events each year. These are critical to help you network with industry professionals, learn current market trends, and meet new colleagues in CVBs and hotels across the nation.