Each month we’ll feature someone from the ICCA Association Community and ask them to share their vision, mission, thoughts and feelings about the work they do… and the kind of people they are.

This will help give members real insight into the heart of our association community… and the people they wish to connect with. This time Debbie Roepe, Executive Director, ISSVD.


Please explain to us in a few sentences, what your association does?

The International Society for the Study of Vulvovaginal Disease (ISSVD) is a professional organization dedicated to advancing the understanding, diagnosis, and treatment of vulvar and vaginal diseases. It brings together healthcare professionals, researchers, and educators to share knowledge, collaborate on research, and develop best practices in the field. The ISSVD also promotes public awareness and education about vulvovaginal health and advocates for improved healthcare for individuals with these conditions.


Why did you join the ICCA Association Community?

I am fortunate to have discovered ICCA and become a member of its esteemed community. ICCA provides me with invaluable networking opportunities, connecting me with organizations that share similar challenges and opening doors to explore new destinations and venues. Since joining ICCA, my event bookings have exclusively stemmed from connections made within the ICCA network. The wealth of knowledge sharing, business development prospects, and professional growth opportunities continually draw me back to ICCA. It has become my primary resource for all matters related to events.


Interesting facts about your association

An interesting fact about ISSVD is it was started in 1970 when a group of gynecologists attended a gynecology meeting and started talking about how important the dermatologist, pathologist and other healthcare providers are in helping to form a clear diagnosis and treatment plan.  They decided to form the ISSVD to bring all the specialties together. It is the only international society dedicated to the diagnosis and treatment of vulvar disease. Surprisingly, it is still not uncommon to find providers working on their own without the advice and additional support of another specialty’s expertise.


What is your top tip to other association professionals going into 2024?

My top tip for association professionals going into 2024 would be to prioritize adaptability and innovation. In today's rapidly changing world, it's crucial for associations to be flexible and open to embracing new technologies, trends, and strategies. And continue to network! Two minds are always better than one. We can learn so much from each other.


What is the most unusual and exciting place you have organized and/or attended a professional event?

The ISSVD has held two of its World Congresses on a cruise ship! The Royal Caribbean Alaskan cruise was the perfect setting for our event as they had dedicated meeting space and we were able to use the time ‘at sea’ to have our meetings and still enjoy time at a different port on several of the days. It was great for our event budget too, as all the food and beverage fell on the attendee side of the balance sheet since the fare was all inclusive.

It was not my favorite as it was challenging from the organizers side of things, but the attendees loved it, and it was well attended.


In your opinion, what is the most important challenge the events industry needs to tackle in the next decade?

In the contemporary landscape, a significant challenge that confronts us is the rapid pace of change. It is imperative for us to adopt a mindset that is receptive to novel ideas, experimentation, and alternative perspectives. Embracing this approach not only facilitates adaptation but also fosters innovation and collaboration, thus enabling us to navigate and thrive in an ever-evolving environment.

I look forward to meeting new colleagues and reconnecting with my ICCA friends at an upcoming event.