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CPCE Spotlight: Alicia Crosby, CPCE

Our CPCE Spotlight is where professionals share their motivation behind earning the Certified Professional in Catering and Events (CPCE). This month we are featuring Alicia Crosby, CPCE, Director of Events for The Baltimore Museum of Art.

If you are interested in being featured, please contact cpce@nace.net.

Q. Please provide some background on your current position and company. 

A. I am the Director of Events at The Baltimore Museum of Art (BMA). I have been at the Museum for a little more than 6 years. Unlike similar roles at some other museums and attractions, my position is in the Exhibitions Department, Finance and Administration Division, so I work closely with the scheduling of all exhibitions and openings. This allows me to understand the prioritization of the art and all exhibition-related programming, as well as know the schedule far enough in advance to have control over the institutional calendar for rental events like weddings, corporate dinners and fundraisers.

Q. Do you believe CPCE certification helped you achieve your current position?

A. It certainly didn’t hurt. The BMA hired me to start a rental program because of my specific expertise in Museum events and my years in the industry. I did not have my certification when I was hired at a manager level and excelled in my position, which led me to the role of Director. Achieving my CPCE certification was the icing on the cake!

Q: Do you have professional goals you’d like to share with readers?

A. I love public speaking and have presented a variety of sessions at many industry conferences over the past several years, most recently as the keynote speaker at the Maryland Special Event Summit. I have also been an adjunct professor at Notre Dame of Maryland University since 2004. I would like to explore more speaking opportunities and perhaps turn it into a full-time profession in the not-too-distant future.

Q. How and when did you first learn about CPCE?

A. I have been a member of NACE since 2002 and learned about the CPCE certification shortly after joining. At that time there were not a lot of CPCEs and only caterers were eligible to take the exam. Once NACE opened up the eligibility criteria and created a more well-rounded certification, I was excited for the opportunity to take it!

Q. Who or what encouraged you to apply?

A. Honestly, I applied for myself. I wanted the challenge and to prove to myself that I was an industry expert. I learn something new every day and it’s important to me to continually push myself and strive for excellence.

Q. Is there a reason you chose CPCE as opposed to other industry certifications? If you have other certifications also, do you feel they complement each other?

A. Being a long-time NACE member, I was most familiar with the CPCE certification and I thought it would be the best fit. I am not a full-time meeting planner, so CMP was not for me, and I thought CSEP was too similar to CPCE. I wanted to be loyal to NACE, as well as help raise awareness of the certification both within and outside of the industry, by becoming certified myself.

Q. Any tips for future applicants of CPCE?

A. Go for it! Know that you can do it and don’t question yourself. As long as you have worked in this industry for a few years, truly understand the various facets of the catering and events business, and always strive for excellence, you can’t fail. Once your application has been accepted: study, study, study to brush up on some of the concepts you know but don’t use everyday and find out what you don’t know.

Q. How the CPCE letters behind your name helped express to colleagues, clients, employers, or others your knowledge and experience in the industry?

A. I think that folks in the industry that are familiar with the certification know what it takes to achieve it, so those letters instantly instill trust and respect when they see them. For everyone else not familiar with what CPCE means, it’s a great ice-breaker!

Q. Do you have a favorite CPCE memory?

A. I took the exam online and I distinctly remember screaming with joy when I hit submit and instantly saw the results – I had passed. There was a group of colleagues immediately at my office door as I opened it with congratulations and a cake. My best friend (who works with me) commented, “We got you cake because we figured no matter what happened you’d have a cake to eat!” Words to live by.

Q. Do you have a funny or surprising story about CPCE or working in the catering and events industry?

A. I have so many stories I couldn’t even begin to tell them…wait for the book 😊

Q. What is your favorite part of working in the catering and events industry?

A. I’d have to say the people. Even though my motto is “I hate everybody” and I find myself saying it pretty much on a daily basis, the people I have met and the relationships I have formed have been incredible and inspiring and make all the crazy requests, weather-related issues, and high maintenance clients totally worthwhile.

Q. Are there any other thoughts you’d like to share in the CPCE Spotlight?

A. Challenge yourself and always strive for excellence. We are never finished and should always be learning. Just because you are an ‘expert’ doesn’t mean you know everything.

Get to know Alicia a bit more:

Alicia Crosby, CPCE, has worked in the catering and events industry in Baltimore for more than 20 years. Specializing in unique and historic venues, she is currently the Director of Events at The Baltimore Museum of Art and was previously the events director at the American Visionary Art Museum.

Alicia has also been the Chair of the Unique Venue Professionals of Baltimore (UVPB) for the past 4 years, and has been an active member of the National Association for Catering and Events (NACE) since 2002, holding many board positions with the local Baltimore Chapter, including three terms as chapter president, as well as serving on National committees.

In her spare time, she is an adjunct professor at Notre Dame of Maryland University, teaching everything from event management and wedding planning to pop culture and horror film classes. She has been teaching college courses at NDM since 2004.

Alicia resides in Baltimore with her long-time partner Bubby McGowan and their 6-year-old cat, Vladimir. She is an avid collector of anything and everything related to popular culture, horror films, tattoos, and 1950’s pin-up culture. If binge-watching television were an Olympic sport, she would win the gold every single time.

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Crystal Irwin


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