Desirée Knight, CAE, CMP Fellow, DES

Sr. Director, Meetings & Events, American Psychological Association

Desirée Knight has been an integral part of AREMA since joining in July 2000. She expertly manages a diverse range of events, including the AREMA Annual Conference & Exposition, various seminars, webinars, and educational meetings. A graduate of West Los Angeles College, Desirée is a prominent figure in the event planning community. She holds a Certified Meeting Professional (CMP) designation, which she earned in 2006, and served as the 2023-2024 Board Chair for the PCMA national board.

An active member of the American Society of Association Executives (ASAE), Desirée achieved her Certified Association Executive (CAE) designation in 2018 and was a scholar in the ASAE Diversity Executive Leadership Program (DELP) for the 2016-2018 class. Additionally, she is a member of the League of Railway Industry Women (LRIW) and the International Association of Exhibitions and Events (IAEE).

Her contributions to the industry have been recognized with accolades such as being named one of Meetings Today’s Meeting Trendsetters and receiving the 40 over 40 Award from the Senior Professionals Industry Network (SPIN). Desirée also actively participates in various industry customer advisory boards. In her personal time, she has a passion for traveling.

Check out our interview with her below…

What do you like most about your career? What do you like the least?

I love being creative and making a difference for my organization. Daily I help fulfill the vision of my organization and help members increase their professional development. In my job, I help to make a difference for them.

What is your glass ceiling or ultimate career goal?

My ultimate career goal would be an Executive Director for an Art Association. This would allow me to combine (2) of my passions art and the association world.

How do you create work life balance and what do you do for me time?

I think I do a great job with work-life balance. I know how to unplug and visit tropical water on a secluded island.  I am scheduled this year for Europe and Cuba. During my trips, I will not work or check email.  That is a hard line for me.

Do you find it difficult to have or maintain a healthy relationship, why or why not?

Luckily for me, I have a great relationship with my partner. We communicate well which is one of the key components of having a very healthy relationship.  Because of her work schedule and my travel schedule, we give each other plenty of space and what girl doesn’t need her space from time to time?

Tips & Advice

What Interview tips would you give to new professionals entering the workforce to help them land their ideal job?

Here are a few Interview questions I would ask:

  1. What would I have done in this role for you to consider me a successful hire in 6 months? One year?
  2. What are the biggest challenges facing the department currently?
  3. I always end with “I just have one more question: is there anything I’ve said, or anything on my resume, that you might be curious about, need me to elaborate on, or that might cause you to hesitate hiring me, that I may talk about to answer any questions or concerns you may have” and I always shake their hand and make eye contact and say “I really want this job”.

Do not stay in one position too long. It is important to evaluate where you are yearly and to ask the hard questions.  Is this job getting me to the next level?  If the answer is no I identify what you need in the next job to get you there.

Reinvent yourself and the way you handle your job.  For example, my job when I first started was simply the same meeting but with a different date each year. After (3) years of that craziness, I would come to the staff meeting with ideas on how to change it up. My ideas were shot down at first, but then I got smart and started planting seeds letting my ED think it was his idea.  Because it was coming from him then the meeting started changing.

BONUS TIP: Never, ever let your boss, coworkers or stakeholders see you sweat and always dress the part. You never know who is watching you.