Dr. Kim McNair planned the Odessa Chambliss Quality of Life Fund Faith & Fellowship Luncheon at Rosen Centre Hotel in Orlando in May 2022. It had a Decade of Praise theme and 750 attendees. The annual fundraiser had been postponed for two years due to the pandemic.
“We were thinking 300 to 500 attendees might show up, but they came back with a vengeance,” says Atlanta-based McNair, owner of Kim McNair Productions.
The faith-based event planner was surprised to have the same attendance as she had welcomed years prior—before COVID-19 began wreaking its havoc.
Odessa Chambliss is the grandmother of famed NBA player and celebrity spokesperson Shaquille O’Neal. Chambliss’ children host the event every year, and this year, gospel singer Dottie Peeples performed as the event’s entertainment. “Every year, they get together to raise money for nursing students,” says McNair. “Odessa was a great woman.”
While the event was a success, McNair echoes other planners we’ve heard bemoan F&B costs rising due to inflation. “Food cost is going to be up everywhere,” she says. “I’m ready for that, so we’re doing a lot of light bites now.”
However, she hasn’t had much of an issue with booking hotel or event space. “I’m already booking for 2023 though. I’m looking out that far.”
“We also handled an event at the Georgia Aquarium in May 2022 and we had to add three more tables at the last minute,” says the faith-based planner. The event was Dining for a Difference, a fundraiser for the Families First Resiliency Movement.
The evening soiree honored some big names such as Wendy Stewart, president of global commercial banking at Bank of America, and Kevin Greiner, president and CEO of Gas South, among others.
“It was an amazing annual event, but Families First hadn’t held it in two years. To come back from that and have that kind of reception…” McNair says, “...well, it was obvious everyone was ready to get out.”
What Did You Do During COVID-19?
“Things stopped during the pandemic, but I taught some master classes for people in the event space,” says McNair. “I was doing a lot in the virtual space and to keep my colleagues and audience engaged.”
She planned the red carpet gala A Night to Remember at Atlanta Marriott Marquis. All proceeds benefited programs and services provided by Nicholas House for homeless families. “Otherwise,” McNair says, “2020 was kind of blah, and [in] 2021 things came back a bit.” She planned two big events in 2021, but that was it.
McNair also launched a virtual leadership academy for high school girls that eventually turned into an in-person event.
“I had a friend with an empty event space who let me host 20 girls.” In June 2020, she got them together and has been holding two sessions a year in-person ever since. “That kept things rolling and was a passion project,” she says. McNair taught them entrepreneurial skills, leadership and how to get prepared for life after school. “That’s my ministry to them. I now have six of the ladies in college and two at an HBCU.”
What’s on the Horizon?
The Southeast is back for McNair’s events: “I planned the ninth annual Women on the Move Summit in September 2022 at Porsche Experience Center—a luxury event venue near Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport.” Next on the docket, she has a nonprofit event for small-business owners where Chick-fil-A is the title sponsor, as well as another sporting event fundraiser for kids.
“I’m still trying to make things as touchless as I can,” says McNair, knowing her staff may have to act differently from attendees. “We have gloves on everywhere. Masks have been touch and go and more relaxed,” she says—something the industry is seeing as a whole.
“I don’t know what’s going on with monkeypox though,” she says with a chuckle. “Let’s just do the best we can!”