Name: Steven Hill
Title: Conference President
Organization: Eastern Diocese and National Brotherhood Ministries
Location: Wilmington, Delaware
Birthplace: Wilmington, Delaware
Education: Studied Business Administration, Delaware Technical and Community College
Career History: Project manager for 13 years and professional meeting planner for 12 years
Growing up, Steven Hill didn’t have the opportunity to travel much, but it was at the top of his list of life goals.
“I grew up in the inner city in a single-parent home in a rough area, and I just always knew I wanted more than what I saw around me,” said Hill. “I knew there was more to life than the four corners I saw every day. It’s funny because I would always pray and say, ‘I want to be able to travel the world.’”
Even though Hill didn’t have the means to travel at that time, he had an active imagination sparked by watching game shows, where the grand prize was a luxury vacation.
Hill became the youth conference president of the National Brotherhood Ministry (Church of Christ Holiness USA) in 2009. Since 1968, the organization’s annual youth conference has attracted young people from around the country. Taking the position was not without some unexpected challenges: The previous president left him with no budget available to host the conference.
“Ultimately, we had to eliminate the meeting planner position because we couldn’t pay one,” said Hill. “So I was the meeting planner and the president, and by doing both jobs, I actually found it easier because I didn’t have to wait on a middleman.”
Hill discovered that he was a good steward of the organization’s money and a natural at brokering agreements with the properties. And he was saving commission money by not having a meeting planner contracted to do what he could do himself.
“The only thing I didn’t know how to do was write up a contract, so I went to meeting planner conventions and conferences,” he said. “I would go to the classes they offered, like ‘how to avoid attrition,’ ‘how to protect your group,’ ‘how to work with a CVB’ and so on. As a member of RCMA [Religious Conference Management Association], I was offered a two-year course to become a CFMP [Certified Faith-Based Meeting Planner], so I got certified.”
Building on that, Hill is now in his 13th year of meeting planning; he plans not only the annual youth conference but also the diocese convention and the national Brotherhood Ministries retreats. He has been able to incorporate meaningful projects into the conferences. One of his most important additions has been having the youth attending the conferences participate in a service project in their host city.
“I grew up very humble, and as a kid, I never experienced being in a position to travel in an airplane or stay in a hotel room,” said Hill. “I don’t want these kids to take it for granted, so I ask them to participate in something that can give back to the people where we are.”
In one instance, he charged each participant with bringing canned goods to be donated to a local food bank where they were meeting in Cary, North Carolina. They raised more than 400 pounds of food, and not two weeks later, the area was hit with a series of devastating tornadoes that killed dozens of people and caused hundreds of millions of dollars’ worth of damage. They followed up their original donation of food with a fundraiser. Hill believes that his group is making a difference rather than simply gathering youth together at a conference.
“I love it, and I enjoy it,” he said. “I’m able to travel, and the prayers from when I was a little kid have been answered.”
Tips from Steven Hill
• Take the necessary time to listen and familiarize yourself with your clients, their needs and their history.
• Always be professional and honest when doing business and keep deadlines.
• Always contact the local convention and visitors bureau first when considering a particular city/hotel/venue, as they have many resources that can help you.