Winning the Business

People of APMP 9 and 10: Lucky Seven

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We try to not insert APMP staff into the People of APMP profiles – but for this story, we’ll make an exception.

This week is my lucky seven-year anniversary at APMP and these two ladies are largely responsible for that.   They are two of four people who interviewed me for the job and later hired me.

Attachment-1Betsy Blakney of CACI (left) and Kirste Webb of Information International Associates (right) were on the APMP search committee looking for a replacement Executive Director when David Winton retired after 22 years with APMP.  They were joined by David Bol of Shipley and Jessica Morgenstern of Leidos (neither pictured).   I recently bumped into Betsy and Kirste at a National Capital area event and asked to take a picture with them.

Betsy Blakney, has been the Volunteer Chair of APMP once before, and besides being one of the deepest and resource-rich proposal professionals that I know, also has another side.  She is an enthusiast of the Little Free Library Exchanges.  Betsy and her husband, Bob, built one outside their Northern Virginia home a few years ago and were amazed, right from the start, how many books come and go out of that library every week.  Betsy will be very happy to know that we included a link on how to start your own Little Free Library Exchange.

Most people might not know this, but from an APMP perspective, Betsy has moved our certification program ahead in significant ways. Most notably, Betsy is co-author with Charlie Divine, on APMP’s Glossary of Terms – the one publication that every bid, proposal, capture and BD professional should own.   It features APMP universally accepted terms with alternate terms for our industry and is available in the APMP store for only $25 USD.  It is the true underpinning for APMP’s Foundation Study Guide and certification exam questions.

Kirste Webb has twice been the volunteer Chair of APMP and has guided the association through growth big and small.  What you may not know about Kirste is that she is also a cigar enthusiast.  Don’t believe me?  Then take yourself right to the Smokin’ Ladies Cigar Club to see for yourself.  Kirste travels a lot in her job and has a cigar shop to visit in almost every port.

Kirste was also instrumental in APMP’s certification program by pushing for an APMP Body of Knowledge (BoK).  This was a high priority of hers during the new APMP Executive Director search.  Five years later, we rolled out the most complete version ever of an APMP BoK and helped Kirste fulfill a dream of having a single association-endorsed resource of best practice.  That’s the APMP BoK and Kirste was the leader of this effort.

Even though their legacies at APMP are indelibly stamped into our history, I’ll always thank them for bringing me into this great association.  Thanks to all of them, I can look back at seven incredible years of growth, change and one of the most rewarding professional experiences that I have ever known.  My introduction to APMP was through Kirste, David and Jessica.   My first year of APMP service was through Betsy.

Because of all that and them I have one the greatest jobs in the association industry, have professional friends all over the world and have the space and the confidence from our Board leaders to grow forward!  We wanted to be the industry’s professional development leader and we are.

Thank you for the help, guidance and leadership to get me to lucky seven!


Rick Harris, CF APMP, is the Executive Director of the Association of Proposal Management Professionals. During his tenure, the association has nearly tripled in size and now serves bid and proposal professionals around the world. He can be reached at rick.harris@apmp.org.

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