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Innovation and Leadership: Unleashing Potential in the Year of the Wood Dragon


Contemplate for a moment:

    • How can we navigate uncertainties in the landscape during 2024?
    • Why is 2024 seen as an auspicious and important year for leadership?
    • How can we foster collaboration and drive visionary initiatives with long-term impact to stakeholders?

A Year for Innovation and Transformation

The Year of the Wood Dragon is a distinctive and auspicious time in the Chinese Zodiac, believed to bring a blend of dynamic energy, visionary thinking, and the potential for transformation. In Chinese astrology, each year is associated with one of the five elements (wood, fire, earth, metal, water) and one of the twelve animal signs. Unique from the other animals, the Dragon is a mythical creature, considered as powerful and symbolizes strength, vitality, and good fortune. The Year of the Wood Dragon only occurs every 60 years and the last one was 1964 which brought many revolutionary changes, including the end of racial segregation in the United States and Beatlemania.

Consider the last few years, how they correlated with the Chinese Zodiac and what it was like for you and your organization:

  • 2020 was the Year of the Metal Rat and it symbolized change, grit, resourcefulness, and survival.
  • 2021 was the Year of the Metal Ox and it symbolized endurance, discipline, persistence, and anchoring ourselves in a new reality.
  • 2022 was the Year of the Water Tiger and it symbolized family and relationships, adventure, making changes and taking risks.
  • 2023 was the Year of the Wood Rabbit and it symbolized staying alert, trusting our intuition, managing surprises, and creating hope.

Cathi Hight and an esteemed panel of thought leaders in our industry will share insights on how we can leverage Wood Dragon energy to evolve, lead, and transform the future. Register for this thought-provoking webinar to consider how you can unleash the dynamic energy of the Wood Dragon to drive innovation, foster collaboration, and develop long-term sustainability with the start of this new lunar year!

What could you achieve in the Year of the Wood Dragon?


  • 1

    Explore the significance of 2024 and the characteristics of Wood and Dragon energy.

  • 2

    Discover opportunities the Year of the Wood Dragon could present for member-based organizations.

  • 3

    Realize insights on how to leverage Wood Dragon energy for strategic initiatives, innovative programming, and partnerships.

Explore the insights of Cathi Hight and an esteemed panel of thought leaders in our industry as to how we can leverage Wood Dragon energy to evolve, lead, and transform the future.

Our Esteemed Guest Panel

Guest Speaker: Vonnie Mikkelson

President & CEO, Springfield Chamber of Commerce

Vonnie is a native Oregonian with roots in the Eugene-Springfield metro area, holds a BA in International Relations and Political Science from Willamette University (Salem, OR), a non-profit management certificate from the University of South Florida, is currently enrolled in the US Chamber institute of Organizational Management, and has nearly 20 years of experience in association management and leadership. She was hired in 2015 as President and CEO of the Springfield (Oregon) Area Chamber of Commerce, a Chamber with 790 member organizations in the Springfield-Eugene metro area, a Net Promoter Score of 64, and a retention rate of 92%.

During her 15-year Chamber career – two chambers in two states – Mikkelsen has focused on creating new and improved small business, economic development, and workforce programs through cross-industry and public-private partnerships. In 2017, Mikkelsen formed the Springfield Chamber’s WorkReady partnership, a coalition led by industry leaders to solve workforce challenges in collaboration with local education and government entities. WorkReady was recognized by ACT as the 2019 Oregon Workforce Champion and presented the Outstanding Chamber Program Award by WACE in 2020. Mikkelsen was named Executive of the Year 2023 by the Oregon State Chamber of Commerce (OSCC) for demonstrating innovation, influence, collaboration, and leadership.

Vonnie is a past chair of the Oregon State Chamber of Commerce, a founding board member of the Springfield Chamber Foundation, and is active in regional and national Chamber professional associations including the OSCC, Association of Chamber of Commerce Executives, the Western Association of Chamber Executives, and the US Chamber of Commerce.



Guest Speaker: Nikki Devitt

President & CEO, Petoskey Regional Chamber of Commerce

Nikki is a passionate community champion and is honored to lead an organization that emboldens positive outcomes by building a culture of thriving businesses to create a thriving community. With a background in broadcasting, management, and marketing, she works creatively to build relationships and connections that foster positive change and growth for those around her.

Nikki is a U.S. Chamber IOM graduate and currently serves as Chair of the Northern Michigan Chamber Alliance. She is on the Board of Directors of the Michigan Association of Chamber of Commerce Professionals (MACP) and the Association of Chamber of Commerce Executives (ACCE). She was appointed by Governor Gretchen Whitmer to be a member of the Michigan Statewide Housing Partnership. She is a also a member of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Business Leads Fellowship program, a member of the ACCE Leadership and Diversity cohort, and donates her time to Northern Community Mediation and Women’s Resource Center of Northern Michigan.

Nikki’s true passion has always been the stage and she has been active in the performing arts for nearly her entire life. Currently in her spare time, she performs with Little Traverse Civic Theatre, NorthStar Performing Arts, and Murder Mystery, Inc.



Guest Speaker: Trevor Mitchell

Executive Director/CEO, American Mensa, Ltd. and the Mensa Foundation

Trevor is a charismatic and motivated certified association executive with a proven ability to analyze key business drivers and develop strategies for implementation quickly. An energetic leader with high integrity, delivering a solid track record for leading successful high-performing teams to achieve desired outcomes such as increased member value and revenue/income generation through innovations.

As the Executive Director/CEO, of American Mensa, Ltd. and the Mensa Foundation, Trevor works with both boards in developing strategies that support the mission of American Mensa and the Foundation, developing and implementing the strategic goals and objectives, and enabling the boards to fulfill its governance function effectively. Throughout his career, Trevor has been active in the association management profession as well as in industry events. He currently serves as the Chair of the Texas Society of Association Executives.

A Promoter of “Good Change”

Cathi Hight, is President of Hight Performance Group, an organizational development firm that helps develop healthy organizations to manage constant change, enhance customer loyalty and “work smarter, not harder.” Cathi facilitates strategic planning, develops investor models and strategies, and helps leaders navigate trends and prepare for the future.

She has over 30 years of experience in performance improvement, strategic planning, board development, and membership development within association, chamber, education, finance, healthcare, manufacturing, nonprofit, and technology sectors.

She is a certified Motorola University instructor for continuous improvement and Wiley Authorized Partner for Everything DiSC and The Five Behaviors of a Cohesive Team.

Cathi is recognized nationally for her work with associations and is the author of The Member Retention Kit and A New Approach to Tiered Membership, and developer of the Work Smarter, Not Harder program.  She provides resources to help associations stay relevant, effectively communicate the value of membership, increase their bottom line.

She has presented at many state and national conferences for associations and chambers of commerce and has been an instructor for Institute for Organization Management (IOM) since 2004.

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