In Memoriam: Doug Heath, CMP

Doug Heath, CMP, a former vice president at PPAI, passed away on November 20, 2020, in Orlando, Florida, following heart surgery. He was 77.

Heath joined PPAI in 1992 as vice president of finance and administrative services, and spent several years as a member of the Association’s executive team before leaving to join the faculty at the University of North Texas in Denton where he helped establish its hospitality management program. He also formed his own distributorship, GCI Promotions, which he operated until his death. He lived in the Dallas area for nearly 30 years before relocating with his wife, Kathy, to Orlando in 2014.

Heath started his long and successful career in the hospitality industry, working at the Palmer House Hotel in Chicago, which led to joining the American Institute of CPAs as its meeting director. In 1972, he became one of 150 charter members of the organization that would become Meeting Professionals International. A decade later, he was named executive vice president and CEO of MPI and was instrumental in moving the association from Ohio to Dallas. It was through MPI that he met PPAI President Emeritus H. Ted Olson, who recruited him to PPAI.

Dennis Cormany, PPAI’s longtime controller who retired earlier this year, remembers Heath as a boss and a friend. “Doug was very personable and a great mentor and confidant to me,” says Cormany. “He was great at association management. We became good friends.” Cormany also recalls that Heath was largely responsible for driving PPAI toward establishing its online presence in the early ’90s. He says Heath was at the forefront of moving the Association from mainframe computers to PC-based management systems, expanding the use of technology in PPAI’s accounting systems and overseeing its transition from mainframe data to its current membership database platform.

Former PPAI President and CEO Steve Slagle worked with Heath for about a year. “When I joined the PPAI staff as president in early 1996, Doug was the vice president for finance and administration. He was one of two vice presidents at the time, and his range and scope of responsibilities was incredible. Aside from overseeing the finance, IT and human resources areas, he also had responsibility for the expositions and meetings, education, regional relations, government relations and general office management. Quite a job for just one person as more than half the team reported to him.” Slagle adds that he was soon able to hire a third vice president and split the scope of Heath’s responsibilities to allow him to focus on finance, IT, HR and general office management.

“Clearly Doug was a meeting planner at heart given his tenure with Meeting Professionals International and roles earlier in his career,” says Slagle. “I recall that Doug had a passion for education, too, as evidenced in his teaching at the college level and presenting after he left PPAI. From the early 1990's until the mid-‘90s Doug certainly influenced PPAI's early forays into the use of the internet as a means for delivering services to the membership and to having a presence in the industry. I extend my sympathies to Doug's family, as I know he’ll be missed.”

Heath is survived by his wife of 52 years, Kathy; daughter, Amy Kathryn Rounsavell and her husband, Brad; granddaughter, Kathryn; son Christopher and his wife Moriah; and two grandsons, Raymond and Benjamin.

Private services for Heath are pending. The family requests donations in Heath’s name to Second Harvest Food Bank of Central Florida.

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