Meetings and incentives industry icon Connie Goldstein passed away on May 15 from an undisclosed illness. Goldstein founded Corporate Meetings & Incentives magazine in 1982 and is a former executive editor of Successful Meetings magazine. She went on to become a monthly columnist, editor and associate publisher, for the Sales Marketing Network.
A New York resident for many years, Connie Goldstein was born on January 18, 1931, in her beloved Philadelphia. In her later years, she made Sarasota, FL, her home where she was active in the Sarasota Democratic Party as well as the National Organization for Women (NOW).
Goldstein was the epitome of what an editor-in-chief for a business-to-business trade magazine should be. An astute businessperson, she understood the intricacies of this publishing space and knew the industry she covered backward and forward. In her day, there wasn’t anyone in the meetings industry who didn’t know who she was.
Her monthly column, Off My Desk, was legendary, and everyone in the industry wanted to be included. She was an active member of many industry organizations, most notably, the Society for Incentive Travel Excellence (SITE).
“For women in the meetings and hospitality industry, Connie was a role model when there were too few women role models, especially those willing to be heard. She was generous with her time and advice. It always felt that she was pushing a path for the rest of us. And although I wasn’t ‘that much younger’ (though she’d have said I was!) I looked to her for the sense of professionalism our industry needed to show,” said meetings industry veteran Joan Eisenstodt.
A consummate leader, she led by example and those who worked with her remember her fondly.
“I learned so much from Connie, especially on the incentive side of the business,” said Prevue Editor Barbara Scofidio, who worked under Connie as CMI’s managing editor from 1991-1996 until she took over as editor. “But I also learned how important it is for a business magazine editor to be active in his or her industry, to volunteer on committees and get involved with the associations (like she did with SITE). To strive to be a leader who helps move the industry forward; that is how I would describe her.”
Another editor who reported to her was Vincent Alonzo. “I was lucky enough to work for her on the staff of Corporate Meetings & Incentives for three years (1989-1991) at the beginning of my career. Much of the success I later had as editor-in-chief of Incentive, Successful Meetings and Meeting News I owe to Connie and the principles she taught me during the time we worked together,” recalled Alonzo, now a content creation and management consultant.
“During the interview process for the job at CMI, Connie took me to lunch with two other editors on staff. At one point, in response to a question about how I would approach learning about the meetings industry, I said I thought it would come to me in a gestalt-like manner. Connie laughed and announced to the table: ‘Well, we have to hire him now. He knows what gestalt means!’ It’s been decades since we’ve seen each other, but the news of her death has me feeling a deep sense of loss. A wonderful spark has left the world.”
Like Alonzo, I, too, considered Connie not only a boss and mentor, but also a friend. “The world has lost a great woman. I learned so much from her, and I will hold her memory close,” added Doyle.
“Connie Goldstein had smarts, style and a wicked sense of humor. She also had a huge heart. She trusted her editorial staff and taught us all about the meetings and incentives business. Connie sent me on my first business trip when I was 22 years old and offered sound advice to a young woman traveling solo. I admired her business savvy and the joy she found in travel. I haven’t seen her in years, but remember her with admiration and affection,” said Virginia Breen, associate professor of journalism, Purchase University.
A meetings industry insider who prefers to remain anonymous remembers her welcoming spirit when he moved to New York City from the Midwest. “She helped instill a genuine love for the industry, and for New York City, which she adored,” he recalled. “She introduced me to the culture of the city as well, inviting me to my first Broadway show. I remember discussing the performance with her, and she said what made Broadway unique is the voices on stage and the audience in attendance, the best in both cases. I never forgot that and think about her every time I’m at a show on the Great White Way. In a sense, she is always there with me.”
As she is now and will remain with many of us in the industry.