Colleen Rickenbacher Headshot


Inducted in 2016

Shaping the Industry

Colleen Rickenbacher has worked in the convention, event, exposition and travel industry for more than 40 years. She began her career at Pennsylvania State University, creating innovative special events raising funds to support university projects, then moved to Florida where she developed unique, experiential incentive trips for five years. Eventually, she moved to Texas and this is where she found her firm footing. She made major contributions in the development of the convention and tourism industry in North Texas working with the Fort Worth and Dallas Convention & Visitors Bureaus for 23 years. Utilizing her polished background designing top-tier events and planning, her move into the speaking world of protocol and etiquette was a natural career progression. This is now where she is touching many people not only in the hospitality industry but all walks of life with her unique style of educating and entertaining.  

Single Most Important Contribution

Colleen’s single most important contribution would have to be the legacy that she leaves with the many people she has touched through her educational sessions, her books, the one-on-one training she provides and the myriad memorable creative events she has developed. People still talk about her unforgettable Harley event, the Beauty and the Beast closing reception and the Titanic trip. Or they remember all of her quick tips on etiquette from dining and setting the table to the proper way of exchanging business cards. Her goal is to make each event or protocol/etiquette tip memorable and useable while making each person in the room feel extraordinarily special.  She continues to be extremely active in many organizations, serving on Boards, writing her books or assisting with the CIC manual updates, sharing her knowledge generously as she continues with her mentor and prison programs.

Expansive Influence

Colleen has been very involved in industry organizations throughout her career and has had a tremendous influence on many parts of the industry. From her early beginnings in tours, festivals, special events and incentives to destination marketing, conventions, expositions, meetings, tourism and protocol she has made a positive mark on the industry. She has redefined education, training and multi-cultural programs for all aspects of the industry and all levels. She continues to be an effective advocate for the industry, and has been recognized for her leadership over and over again through the years. She was named as one of the Top 25 Most Influential People in the Meetings Industry by MeetingNews magazine (2005). Then in 2009, Texas Meetings and Events Magazine honored her with their Lifetime Achievement Award and inducted her in their Hall of Fame. Just in 2014, Meeting Professionals International Dallas/Fort Worth Chapter named Colleen to the Hall of Honor. This honor has been given to only three of that chapter’s members in its 39-year history.

Distinguished Achievements of Last Value

The influence Colleen has made on the industry is revealed in the many certifications and awards she has received during her tenure in the industry. Among them are 2014 MPI Dallas/Fort Worth Hall of Honor, Top 25 Most Influential People in the Meetings Industry by MeetingNews magazine, Hall of Fame Inductee and Lifetime Achievement Award from the Texas Meetings and Events Magazine, Meeting Professionals International’s Marion N. Kershner Memorial Award. Significant contributions of lasting value to the overall industry. Meeting Professionals International Dallas/Fort Worth Planner of the Year and also their Supplier of the Year Awards. In 1999 the National Speakers Association Meeting Partner of the Year award and also the Meeting Partner Award from the NSA North Texas Chapter. She wins constant high honors each year for a “Speaker of the Year,” “Program of the Year,” and “Top Speaker of the Year,” awards from various associations or organizations for her presentations.

Outstanding Service to Industry Organizations

Colleen was the first female Vice President at the Dallas Convention & Visitors Bureau. She was also the first woman to serve as Chair of the CMP Board for the Convention Industry Council. Her countless memberships and her certifications (CMP, CSEP, CPC, CTA and CPECP) show that she has a knowledge and an understanding of every part of the industry and is passionate about actively giving back just as much as she has gotten from the industry from the past 32 years she’s been involved.

Contributions to Society

Colleen is active in her community through her contributions of time and energy to the professional development of others. She is part of numerous Mentor/Mentee programs ranging in helping students in elementary school to new member programs with various professional organizations. She also has a great passion for the Prison Entrepreneurship Program (PEP) of Texas, where she teaches them business aspects, from writing resumes, tipping, interviewing, dressing professionally (even how to tie a tie for the first time), business skills, and dining etiquette. She is also active in the Altar Society Christ the King Catholic Church, the World Affairs Council Dallas/Fort Worth, the MPI DFW Chapter with the Gemelli Chapter in Italy, and Executive Women International.