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  • Courtney Stanley

Celebrating the Event Industry's 2022 Women to Watch

Updated: Mar 9

When brainstorming how I could best elevate and celebrate the phenomenal women of the event industry for this year's International Women's Day, I decided to launch the inaugural 2022 #WomenToWatch Awards. Visibility is a key ingredient for success, so why not shine a light on leaders who are making an incredible impact on our community and the people around them?


What I did not consider was how inspired I would personally feel when reading the entries that hundreds of men and women from across the globe wrote when they nominated their colleagues, mentors and peers.


The women you're going to scroll down and read about are amazing. They are compassionate, gritty, creative, resilient, strong, kind, empowered, and authentic. They are the women who make the meetings industry - and the world around them - better.


So please, join me in celebrating and honoring the women who have been nominated by their peers for this year's Women to Watch Awards. Cheers to you, ladies!



2022 #WomenToWatch

 

Aaron Lewis

Office Manager, Pink Ribbon Girls

One word that describes her: Magnetic

Her runway song: Unstoppable by Sia


Aaron is a woman to watch in 2022 and every year on after. She is the kind of person who can take something broken and make it whole again, someone who assists in making people's dreams come true, and someone who will never let you down. Aaron brightens every room she walks into with her encouraging and warm disposition and has a gift to magnify everything good and wonderful to create a sense of belonging. Not only is Aaron incredibly kind, warm, and encouraging; she is unstoppable. She never asks how hard the work is and takes each request that is asked of her and makes it better than anyone could ever imagine.



Amanda Ma

Chief Experience Officer/ Founder, Innovate Marketing Group

One word that describes her: Inspiring

Her runway song: Run the World by Beyoncé


Amanda Ma is a powerhouse as a leader, collaborator and woman. She is not only a #girlboss but an ally to all departments in her company and beyond. She has strong connections to her community and is a kind and selfless person. I am very inspired to work with such a strong woman who leads with example, gets results by inspiring her team, and is delightful to talk to, always with a smile on her face and a kind word to share.



Amy Brierley

Group Head of Marketing, Corinium

One word that describes her: Strong

Her runway song: Girl on Fire by Alicia Keys


Amy is the most amazing boss I've had. She has her team's back 100%. She encourages us all to grow and follow our passions. Not only is she amazing internally, but externally she is killing the game, and has recently been nominated to sit on the HubSpot Customer Advisory board, which was massively competitive. She's one to watch for sure!



Anca Trifan

Creator, Founder and CEO, Tree-Fan Events

One word that describes her: Knowledgeable

Her runway song: Woman by Ke$ha


I had the pleasure to meet Anca virtually last year. I’m in awe of her knowledge of the event production and technology industries. Her podcast is a must-listen! Anca is just an all-around amazing human being making it work juggling her career, family, fitness, and more. Anca has been a phenomenal pillar in the local event community and a supporter of #eventprofs at-large. Her podcast is an amazing demonstration of how much she cares about the event community and how much she selflessly gives back to it.



Arielle Barlage

Conference Services Manager, Rosewood Miramar Beach

One word that describes her: Unstoppable

Her runway song: Girl on Fire by Alicia Keys


Arielle did everything right in her undergrad career preparing to enter the hospitality industry. She was a model student and leader in her program. With exceptional academic performance and a highly diverse set of internships, she was actively recruited and had accepted a position in the Marriott Voyage program for the summer of 2020. Arielle was ready to launch into the career she had dreamed of for years. She had earned it. She was hard-working, loyal, and one of the most outstanding leaders our program had experienced in its history. When Covid hit in 2020, I watched as Arielle's future faded. One by one, the structural pieces of her carefully constructed plan built through her own hard work, perseverance, and innate savvy faded. After the sudden and chaotic shift to fully online, Arielle finished her last 8 weeks at university, graciously accepted there would be no commencement to celebrate, and then waited to see if the spreading impact of Covid would reach her. It did. Her position with Marriott was revoked soon after graduation. She faced post-graduate life and a job search in the midst of a global pandemic. I was in regular contact with Arielle during this period and she faced these changes with the same poise, mindset and grace I had watched during her years at college. Arielle never once complained or faltered; she simply redirected and kept moving. This is Arielle. When faced with adversity, she straightens her shoulders and draws on something powerful from inside her soul and moves forward with a smile. Arielle had established strong relationships and had a network so she began taking the positions available and in these positions, her ability to maximize her skills and to contribute to any team was quickly recognized. Arielle built a forward-momentum of promotion and growth that has in only two years propelled her further than her original plans. Today, she is a proud member of the Rosewood Miramar Beach team providing exceptional experiences to their guests. Arielle is without question a force: independent, brilliant, and deeply considerate of those that surround her. If ever I have considered giving up, Arielle would be my inspiration to keep moving. To be... in a word, unstoppable.



Ashley Lawson

Vice President of Business Partnerships, Achieve Incentives & Meetings

One word that describes her: Fearless

Her runway song: All Star by Smash Mouth


Ashley Lawson is an industry rockstar! Ashley embodies professionalism, adventure, kindness, compassion, passion and is the consummate event industry leader! She simultaneously travels the world to show our industry safe travel standards, held a very visible and time-consuming volunteer role as 2021 President of SITE Midwest, AND sells and operates programs around the world for her family's incentive company. And, she does it all with a huge smile on her face!



Audrey Alloul

VP of Digital, Kenes Group

One word that describes her: Human

Her runway song: Formation by Beyoncé


Audrey is an outstanding woman and a kind and loving soul who deserves all the love back. She is a true innovator - she has started a number of new initiatives over the years at Kenes, and is now heading our new digital department. Audrey is a kind and loving leader with her team. She is trustworthy - she has your back and as she believes in teamwork - she will always make sure she is next to you, rolling up her sleeves and doing the work. Audrey is a force at the office, but she is also an amazing friend, a loving mother to three beautiful children and a fun wife (as her husband Noam attests to all the time). I cannot imagine not working with her. She is infectious with her drive and passion, a kind and giving teacher, and simply a woman that is a well-rounded and beautiful human being.



Blair Mitcham

Owner, Wedding Planner, BAM Events

One word that describes her: BOSS

Her runway song: Truth Hurts by Lizzo


Blair is the definition of a Girl Boss. She is an owner of BAM Events, a full-service wedding planning company, and this year launched a second business, Bustle Hustle Co. Based on what she learned through event planning, she sought out the niche market for a day-of bridal concierge service. This is in addition to her already thriving business, Virtually Yours, where she is a virtual assistant for multiple clients. As if owning and managing 3 companies isn't enough, Blair is a major advocate and leader in the events industry. As immediate past president of the ILEA Boston chapter, Blair recognized that the chapter was lacking in incoming leadership and is about to step back into the role as President for the ILEA Boston chapter, after sitting on its board for 2 years after her initial presidency. She also sits on the Massachusetts Live Events Coalition board as the Director of Membership.



Byanca Ellul

Meeting Services Specialist, HIMSS

One word that describes her: Fierce

Her runway song: Brave by Don Diablo, Jessie J


Byanca is one of the few women I know that would take charge of a project with very little knowledge, learn everything she needed to know, and successfully lead many other young women towards the finish line. Byanca would take on any major project with a vengeance, and she would successfully bring it to fruition and make it one of the most memorable conferences imaginable. She lets nothing stop her, and she always finds solutions to every single problem. She is an amazing young woman that is respected and honorable.



Carleeka Basnight-Menendez

Founder, INSO Inc. Inside-Out

One word that describes her: Energetic

Her runway song: Sound The Alarm by The Knocks


One of the most appreciated voices of our time comes through the vessel that is Carleeka Basnight-Menendez. She is the creator of the F-IT Method, The A.V.E., Menopause and Mimosas, MenoCon and Black Menopause University (BMU). Carleeka believes that when you change your perspective, you are then able to change your life. No stranger to doing the work, Carleeka has managed to obtain a B.S. in Biology Pre-Med and an A.S. in Histological Technology, all while raising a family and working a full-time job. The world has responded to the undeniable gift found in Carleeka Basnight-Menendez, as she is the recipient of the ACHI Magazine Editors’ choice award, Jacksonville’s Best Motivational Speaker, Success Women's Conference National Influencer, Speakercon drop the mic winner, and many more. Carleeka Basnight-Menendez is the voice the world needs now.



Carrie Sims

National Director of Business Development, Go West Creative

One word that describes her: Determined

Her runway song: Girl on Fire by Alicia Keys


Carrie is one of my mentors and showed me the BizBash DC events market when I moved there. When she departed the company and I took over as DC market manager, she was incredibly helpful there too and to this day remains one of my close friends. She is the picture of tenacity and will stop at nothing to achieve whatever goal she has.



Cat McGuire

Founder, WholeHearted

One word that describes her: Resilient

Her runway song: Superwoman by Alicia Keys


There are so many reasons why I believe Cat is a Woman to Watch! She is resilient, positive, professional and a pleasure to be around. Her company WholeHearted focuses on improving workplace cultures while supporting important causes and local businesses, which I believe is incredibly admirable. Above all, she is always striving to go above and beyond, all with a kind and thoughtful purpose.



Catherine King

Director, Business of Data Team, Corinium

One word that describes her: Passionate

Her runway song: ​​Confident by Demi Lovato


Catherine was recently named one of Conference News' 30 under 30 due to her personal and professional development and progress in our wonderful industry. In just 3.5 years of being in events, Catherine has led her company's video content capabilities whilst championing their main DE&I work via initiatives such as their Leading Female Exec monthly Panel Discussions on LinkedIn Live. She has been purposefully building her personal brand to encourage others to live in their truth, showing herself to be the colourful loud lady she is (and unapologetically so)! Catherine also recently announced the launch of her virtual event in an effort to raise funds for the people of Ukraine.



Claire Hoffman

Executive Editor, BizBash

One word that describes her: Thoughtful

Her runway song: Stand by You by Rachel Platten


Claire is the most well-rounded, all-encompassing, humble, brilliant women I've ever worked with. Her knowledge of the events and meetings industry is so deep and profound. Claire has held various editorial roles at BizBash, the event industry’s preeminent trade media, for the last 14 years, starting as an editorial assistant and eventually taking over the executive editor role in 2020, in the midst of the pandemic. Throughout that time, she’s worked tirelessly to highlight the event professionals—the unsung heroes—who are hard at work behind the scenes of the world’s coolest gatherings, and offering tips and insights that can help them do their jobs. Her writing pairs standout storytelling skills with comprehensive knowledge of the industry, and she specializes in taking complex topics and presenting them in an easy-to-digest way that informs, entertains, and—most importantly—makes the entire event team’s work shine. Her kindness and soft smile truly radiate in any room (even a Zoom room!). She deserves an accolade of this nature! She has proven her loyalty to and love for the industry, and I am beyond proud to call her my colleague and friend.



Debbie Garcia

CEO, virsitour

One word that describes her: Innovative

Her runway song: Don't Stop Believin' by Journey


Debbie is such a multitalented entrepreneur that she stands out in any audience. She brings the skills of a TV and Radio professional, the experiences of being a hotel marketing and sales person and the talents of an experienced meetings, incentive planner. In the midst of Covid, she recognized an opportunity to disrupt and challenge an industry in a way that made both event planners and hotel and venue suppliers sit up and say, "Wow... where have you been, how do we get aboard?" She helps define the word 'entrepreneur' in a special way.



Devon (Montgomery) Pasha

Associate Director, Alumni Events, Office of Alumni Relations at Drexel University

One word that describes her: Driven

Her runway song: Brick House by Commodores


I have known Devon in a professional capacity for two years, but it is only in the last few months that we have communicated more frequently regarding the events surrounding our industry and her passion for leadership and teaching and her genuine desire to contribute to our industry. As a champion of equality, inclusion and being a person who inspires others to celebrate diversity, it is my pleasure to highly recommend her for the “2022 Women to Watch” award. Devon’s first call to me just a couple of months ago was to inform me that she had been asked to teach as an Adjunct Professor at Drexel University’s Undergraduate Events Management program. I commended her for taking such an active role to develop young students, especially young women who were looking for a role model. Devon shared with me that she has always had a burning desire to collaborate with other women, as there is a huge opportunity for teachers to bridge the gap in gender equality and she really wanted to make a difference for these young women. Devon felt that the best way to do this was to lead by example and show others that education, hard work, commitment, focus, and grit are essential elements that will ensure every girl’s dream can and will become a reality. Devon is a bright young woman, thirsty for knowledge with a passion to have influence in other people’s lives, and I find that very admirable. I believe Devon would be a positive reflection of any organization, especially if they wish to provide a platform for young girls and women to show that with arduous work and dedication, anything is possible. Devon would be a great ambassador for women around the globe and I honestly feel she is the woman to watch in 2022 and beyond.



Disa Cameron

Account Manager, Encore Global

One word that describes her: Fantastic

Her runway song: Peru by Ed Sheeran


Disa is an incredible resource for people in the meetings and events industry. She is your pocketknife who can help you to adapt to any situation coming your way. Disa is kind, open-minded, patient, talented, and involved in her community as VP of Communications for the MPI Ottawa Chapter. She is truly passionate about our industry. Recently she has been involved in the Diversity Equity & Inclusion Committee at Encore Global and is also part of an internal mentorship program. With Disa, it's all about sharing with and empowering those around her.



Donna Stewart

Corporate Risk Manager - Workers Compensation, Caesars Entertainment, Inc.

One word that describes her: Capable

Her runway song: Titanium by David Guetta


From the very young age of 14, Donna started working and never stopped. By 17, the dysfunction of her parents and their unintentional decisions left her with nowhere to go, no one to turn to, and no idea of how she would get by. It was then that she imagined who, where, and what she wanted to be in life, and started setting her sights on how she would get there. The mantra "See it, Believe it, Achieve it" became the saying that put her to sleep at night. Life led her to the opportunities that she wanted because she believed she was capable of doing anything. Life also had its barriers that changed her path a couple of times, but there is not one change that resulted in failure. Donna has worked in leadership roles for some of the world's largest corporations, including Walmart, Wells Fargo, and Caesars Entertainment, while volunteering for some of the most worthy foundations like Make-A-Wish. She believes that life is what you make it and is not always about a title, a victory or money. If you see yourself as the person you want to be, and believe in yourself that you are that person - you will achieve it! You are capable of doing anything!



Elaine Debonis-Durrman

Senior Human Resources Leader, Charter Communications

One word that describes her: Strong

Her runway song: We Are The Champions by Queen


Elaine is a mentor, colleague and friend. She is a champion of women in every aspect of her life. Elaine gives much of herself and shares her knowledge with young women in all aspects of business and personal situations. She struggles like other women, but what makes her inspirational and a woman to watch is her desire to coach and mentor women to be strong, brave and awesome in all aspects of their lives! She is a queen who leads and wants to bring all women along for this fantastic ride.



Emileah Baumen

Program Manager, Digital Main Street

One word that describes her: Dynamic

Her runway song: One by One by Diplo


Emileah is a rock star who built the ShopHERE powered by Google program into an award-winning small business support initiative. Through her guidance, over 20,000 businesses were able to create or optimize their eCommerce presence, allowing them survive during the pandemic. This was absolutely critical as Canadian SMEs were hit incredibly hard by lockdowns and continued mandates. Along with this, Emileah is a constant advocate for youth mentorship and is active in a number of community organizations as a mentor for RISE Asset Development, the City of Toronto's Local Leadership Fund, and more. She is also an active participant and guest speaker with community-based organizations, post-secondary institutions and more. Emileah is a dynamic leader who takes charge of every situation and is not afraid to jump straight into any scenario. Her leadership has helped Digital Main Street scale across Canada and become the pre-eminent SMB support program in the country. During a time when the country has gone through so much, Emileah has been a shining light in ensuring we preserve small businesses as the backbone of our country.



Emily Hartstone

Vice President, Magellan Management

One word that describes her: Inspirational

Her runway song: Survivor by Destiny's Child


Emily is an incredible meeting planner for an association management company and created her own promotions brand. All the while, she battles chronic illness without asking for sympathy. Instead, she shows strength to inspire others. Despite her health challenges, Emily goes above and beyond for all clients and events.



Erika (Lohmar) Kulovitz

President & Executive Producer, akire productions

One word that describes her: Admirable

Her runway song: Confident by Demi Lovato


Erika has depth of knowledge on all aspects of her business, from the super technical backstage, to the front stage, on stage and everything in between. She makes event production and show-calling look effortless, even when we all know it’s the opposite. Going off on her own to start akire productions, which is thriving, was super admirable. She can do it all! She is not only knowledgeable in her expertise on-scene, but she is a leader that helps her team to grow, while also hearing out their ideas and leveraging them to be better leaders and to continually improve business experiences for their clients.



Estefania Zarate Angarita

Marcom Specialist, Kenes Group

One word that describes her: Star

Her runway song: Fly Away by Tones & I


Estefania (or Nia as we all call her) is a truly magnificent, strong, smart, and driven woman, and I have the immense pleasure of working alongside her. She is not afraid to be her true self, showing her professionalism but also embracing what makes her truly unique and herself. If she needs her crystals, yes, she will pull them out and have them by her side while brainstorming with you. She is kind, loving, and wild at the same time. She is a nomad at heart, a star-seeker in her soul, and a curious and loving professional who is invested in the people and stories around her. We need more women like Nia: unapologetically authentic, human, loving and strong.



Evelyn Hall

Executive Assistant | Meeting Planner, Reata Pharmaceutical Inc.

One word that describes her: Ambitious

Her runway song: I'm Every Woman by Whitney Houston


Evelyn Hall is resilient, resourceful, graceful, determined, wise and confident. She is a Strategic Business Partner that the entire organization can rely and depend on. She is passionate about the meetings and events industry and has leveraged her 30+ years in the administrative field, her contacts, and her resources to plan sustainable and meaningful events. Evelyn was displaced during the COVID downsizing in 2020. She didn't allow that to stop her from pursuing her passion and utilized the time to gain even more knowledge about the industry by attending the MPI University Virtual Classes. She is on track to obtain her CMP, is on the Board of Directors-MARCOM for MPI DFW 2022 - 2023 chapter, and has recently been selected to be part of the Admin Awards Ambassadors Program. She does all of this on top of being a wife, mother, and caregiver to her Mom-in-Love (her husband's mother), and is a Girl Scouts of NE Texas Co-Leader, where they do amazing projects to better the community and mentor future leaders.



Heather J. Wilson

Director, Experiential Marketing, dbt Labs

One word that describes her: Multipotentialite

Her runway song: Gotta Be by Des'ree


A three-time cancer survivor given six months to live many years ago, Heather was fortunate to learn the true meaning of life: living. There is a quote from her favorite movie, "The only time a [hu]man should be in a box is when he's [they are] dead," that represents her outlook well. The word I chose for her, multipotentialite, represents a person who has various interests and doesn't box themselves in, nor do they expect others to do this. Heather has received several awards and career achievements (Business Traveler of the Year, various global awards and publications, etc). She is constantly pursuing better - and finds it essential to continue learning and growing. She has returned to school to do just this, while building out the Experiential Marketing program at dbt Labs and coaching her team to pursue their goals. Her team is building out THE annual conference dedicated to the advancement and practice of Analytics Engineering - Coalesce - and doing so in a data-informed manner. Coalesce will be a multi-hub global conference unlike any other that will set new benchmarks for the entire industry.



Heather Mason

CEO and Founder, Caspian Agency

One word that describes her: Passionate

Her runway song: Girl on Fire by Alicia Keys


Heather is one of the most innovative and forward-thinking people I know, not just in the events industry, but in general. She is never satisfied with just getting things done. Instead, she is always looking for ways to make things better by re-examining systems and processes to see if there is a better way to do things. She is also a fierce advocate for women, especially women entrepreneurs, and leads her teams with passion and determination.



Heather Reid

Contract Negotiator, Planner Protect

One word that describes her: Fierce

Her runway song: Shake It Off by Taylor Swift


If you're a meeting planner, you want Heather on your team. She will go to the ends of the earth to advocate for her clients and help them save money and time on their venue contracts. She is ethical, just and her keen attention to detail is impeccable.



Holly Duckworth

CEO, Leadership Solutions International & American Mindfulness Association

One word that describes her: Passionate

Her runway song: Roar by Katy Perry


Admit it, you've taken one of those personality tests and said to yourself, "That's so not me," and then a few days later looked at it again and said, "Yikes". As a meetings industry veteran, Holly has been advocating for mindfulness, wellbeing and health for more than 15 years, providing keynotes, wellness centers and trainings directly for the meetings industry. Now that the pandemic has us all seeking workplace-friendly ways of doing this work, Holly is on fire as she continues to blaze trails, founding the non-profit American Mindfulness Association to advance the professionalism of the neuroscience and secular practice of modern mindfulness into a respected industry. These companies were visionary for their time and now have become impactful for millions around the world. Holly is a powerhouse when it comes to leading people and groups to be their best and exceed their goals while advocating for the mental health of meeting industry partners and meeting attendees.



India Rhodes

Partner, Wilkinson Rhodes

One word that describes her: Resourceful

Her runway song: Girl by Maren Morris


India Rhodes is certainly a 2022 Woman to Watch. She and her mother are partners in an international, award-winning event design company called Wilkinson Rhodes, based in Texas. Between being raised by an original #girlboss and her degree in theatre production, India brings to each event a perspective that marries artistic flare with a stage director’s eye for synchrony and precision in the execution of even the smallest details. While at Wilkinson Rhodes, India has produced events throughout the US and internationally. India is known for her mantra, "The F-word is flexible," when onsite. With a sense of humor and her intrinsic flexibility, India is truly a master at finding innovative solutions to creatively tell her client’s story and share their vision. India is very involved in the event industry through her service as a board member of the SEARCH Foundation, international board member for ILEA, and involvement in Event Pro's Take Action. She loves to volunteer to better our industry. On a personal level, India loves hiking in the Colorado mountains, volunteering with the Junior League, and has her trusty rescue dog Smooch at her side. (She has the BEST story about how her dog was an heir in a will).



Jackie Botelho

Founder & CEO, Above and Beyond VIP Concierge Inc.

One word that describes her: Disrupter

Her runway song: Legendary by Welshley Arms


Jackie Botelho bootstrapped her Hospitality and Event Agency in 2017, using the $30k she had in savings and built her website/company from YouTube videos and Google. Though she took a hotel in California from #11 to #3 on TripAdvisor in less than 4 months, she decided to go back into corporate sales, which she realized was a big mistake. She then decided to go all-in on her company and do what she loves, building a POWERHOUSE company that is changing the game for hospitality and events in NYC. Jackie has never been great at taking "no" for an answer or letting anything stop her from doing what she believes in, so despite being shut down due to the pandemic, she worked 20-hour days and is now the Event Planner and Concierge/Experience Curator for 12 hotels and 35 corporate companies! She did all of this on her own and now has a team of 5 rockstar women.



Jamie Snively

VP of Partnerships & Marketing, akire productions

One word that describes her: Calm

Her runway song: Happy by Pharrell Williams


Jamie exudes happiness as much as possible in her career and life. She's constantly trying new ways to encourage happiness around her. Creating experiences is one outlet for her happiness and she loves seeing when it brings happiness around her (both professionally and personally). Jamie is goal-oriented and focused. She maps out goals for each month that serve the world around her, including: building up the next generation of event professionals, creating more educational opportunities for entry-level meeting and event professionals, engaging with clients, focusing on health, spending more time with family creating her own experiences and memories, backpacking some of the Pacific Crest Trail, and building a Little Library for her neighborhood.



Janice Cardinale

CEO, Cardinale Creative

One word that describes her: Benefactress

Her runway song: Thank You For the Music by ABBA


Janice has been an event industry powerhouse for over 25 years. As a successful businesswoman, she has owned and operated three separate businesses, with her current company being Cardinale Creative. Her career has allowed her to evolve into a champion for mental health and compassion within our industry. Her current mission is to shift the conversation around mental health, best practices, stigma, and work culture within the event industry, currently heading up the brand new advisory board for MPI Global on Mental Health. Janice is also Chair of the Seneca College Advisory Committee for their Event Management - Creative Design graduate program. She is actively involved in the program by speaking to and mentoring young event professionals early in their career. She established Giving Butterflies as a project to raise money for bursaries for students and mental and physical health problems facing event professionals and vendors. Janice is a visionary who absorbs everything around her and projects it forward. She has won numerous awards for her work including the Industry Leader award, the Most Fascinating Woman in Events award, Best Conference award, and Reader's Choice Award for Favourite Entertainment Company. Janice has not only established herself as an industry leader, but she is a queen-maker herself, building the next generation of strong, powerful and strategic women leaders.



Jeanne Procope

VP, Conference Operations & Strategy, Blavity

One word that describes her: Veracious

Her runway song: Roar by Katy Perry


Jeanne is the new Vice President of Conference Operations and Strategy for media company, Blavity, the largest network of platforms and lifestyle brands serving the multifaceted lives of black millennials. She is an award-winning force in the industry who has been running citywide events with upwards of 25,000 attendees – responsible for defining the strategy, planning and execution for AIA. Jeanne brings her powerhouse approach and leadership to the media world as the lead for Blavity’s, AFROTECH conference. Jeanne understands the business and the importance of research and data in defining the strategic direction for events. I had the opportunity to partner with her on a nonprofit event and that's where I saw the enormous potential and value in Jeanne as an executive leader. We became instant friends, and she has been a supporter for me over the last several months during my own career transitions. Over the next year, Jeanne will make a name for herself in the media world, leading with compassion, courage, and true vision for shaping the strategy and operational excellence of the events and experiences in her charge. The word I used to describe Jeanne is veracious. She is a truth-teller. When I ask her a question, I better be ready for the answer because she is going to tell me exactly what she thinks and that is what I love about her. My favorite saying is to surround yourself with people who will always tell you the truth because they have your back, and you can trust those people. Jeanne is that person for me both in my personal and professional circle and she inspires me every day. Jeanne Procope is an amazing mom, friend, colleague, and my pick for one heck of a Wonder Woman to watch in 2022!



Jenn Artura

Global Event Executive & Advisor, Jenn Artura Advisory Group

One word that describes her: Creative

Her runway song: I'm Every Woman by Whitney Houston


Jenn Artura is the quintessential Boss Lady! She is a thoughtful and strategic thinker, takes on risks, and finds creative solutions. What make her special is her steadfast commitment to uplifting others, especially women, and helping them to own their voice and rise to their full potential. She is definitely one to watch as her efforts will take her to the highest places!



Jennifer Bertolino

Director of Catering Sales, Levy Convention Centers

One word that describes her: Ambitious

Her runway song: Finesse by Bruno Mars


The last two years have certainly proved to be some of the most challenging. When the live events industry was at a standstill, Jennifer took the opportunity to give back and fight for our icommunity to come back to life. In the first 3 months of the pandemic, her venue turned into a field hospital, where she handled both sales and operations of the service of over 82,000 meals to staff, patients and military personnel involved in Boston Hope. Once the hospital closed in June, it was clear that the event industry was in real trouble. Friends and colleagues were out of work, venues were closed, and the restrictions were so tight that there was no end in sight. Jennifer jumped right in over the summer of 2020 with the newly-formed Massachusetts Live Events Coalition. The focus of the coalition is to bring awareness to the 12 million event professionals that had lost their jobs, businesses, and livelihood. Together with the organization, she helped put on events such as The Empty Wedding, The Empty Event and Multiple Case Pushes and Rallies to gain the attention of our local government leaders to help our colleagues. Through the local chapter, and later the National LEC, she started an affinity program to provide resources, such as discounts on groceries, therapy and virtual business management to event professionals nationwide. She has been heavily involved in ILEA, the International Live Events Association, and currently sits on their Board of Governors, working to create a strategy for the events industry as we reopen and move forward. Jennifer is someone that you can always count on to be in your corner. She has been a strong leader and mentor for those in her office as well as throughout the industry. She leads her team by example, jumping in wherever needed and supporting all departments. When the city of Boston reopened, Jennifer was managing clients for both the Hynes Convention Center and the BCEC. She led the team to finish a strong Fall return to business, managing over $6M in catering. In 2022, she is looking to grow the team and the business back to pre-pandemic levels and emerge stronger than ever. The best is yet to come.



Jennifer Bravo

Investment Advisor, Entrust Financial LLC

One word that describes her: Impactful

Her runway song: Roar by Katy Perry


Jen is an enigma. Aside from being fiercely intellectual, she has a passion for promoting women both in her field and in everyday life. After conquering the financial world in NYC, she was determined to bring her skills and passions to the suburbs where she could continue to advocate and make her mark. Despite her young age, she is making waves in the financial sector for sure, but beyond that, she is growing into a vigorous supporter and promoter of women in her community and beyond.



Jennifer Veselko

Associate Director of Sales, Caesars Entertainment

One word that describes her: Dynamic

Her runway song: Unstoppable by Sia


Jennifer inspires others to be the best version of themselves while she aspires to give back her best to all that interact with her, personally and professionally. With a passion to lead, she consistently supports her team ahead of herself. Her innate sense of observation and her ability to anticipate the needs of others is the strength that has guided her through over 25 years in the hospitality business.



Jenny Ng

Event Planning Senior Manager, National Co-op Grocers

One word that describes her: Connector

Her runway song: Diva by Beyonce


Jenny has been an Event Strategist and Meeting Planner for over 10 years and is currently the Event Planning Senior Manager at National Co+op Grocers. She helped start the MPI MN Chapter DEI committee and serves as one of the chairs. Her passion is in creating innovative and inclusive experiences where everyone feels welcomed, heard, celebrated, and supported. As a planner, she sees herself as a connector. A huge goal of her work is to provide awareness and resources and to share the experiences of those not represented and not included in conversations. Some of her initiatives have been community chats around DEI topics and a toolkit for industry professionals to use. Jenny believes in collective action, so she has started collaborations with other industry professionals to have a more global reach. She envisions herself as a woman who wants to move towards progress and action. She is also part of the AAPI EventProfs, where the group is educating and bringing awareness about the AAPI Community and AAPI hate. She is an avid pickleball player and loves bringing new people to the game and community.



Jessica Toro

Event Manager, Clio

One word that describes her: Energetic

Her runway song: Brave by Don Diablo, Jessie J


Jessica is truly an industry innovator. When faced with an obstacle during any event she produces, she is always thinking of creative ways to overcome those challenges. She is constantly looking for new trends and ideas to elevate her events. Jessica always continues to further her education and knowledge in the events industry, constantly learning and exploring new professional development opportunities. Currently she has achieved her CED and DES (within the same year) and is working on completing her CMP designation. Additionally, she is a passionate volunteer in the industry community and constantly shows kindness to new members.



Joanne Dennison

Founder, The Meet Guide

One word that describes her: Impactful

Her runway song: Good as Hell by Lizzo


Joanne is the Fairy Godmother of the CMP. She inspires her students to not just pass the exam, but makes them leaders in their own lives. She's the voice on your shoulders pushing you to always keep your goal in mind and to sit in the attendees' chair. Joanne changes lives and is too humble to admit that she is responsible for shaping an industry of leaders and CMPs.



Jodi Gold

Senior Event Planner, Siagel Productions

One word that describes her: Strong

Her runway song: That's My Girl by Fifth Harmony


Jodi has been a force in the event industry over the last few years. She is the queen of Mitzvahs in the Jewish community. She has taken leadership roles in the International Live Events Association (ILEA) on a local level, as both the Director of Programs, a role where she coordinated all in person and virtual meetings for the association, and the VP of Membership. As the Membership VP she has created programs to retain and recruit members of the organization and keep them engaged in a time where many have stepped back from associations given the financial situation of the event industry. She is a leader who has a tremendous amount of passion for the event industry and the success of people in it. She has also been involved with the ILEA association on an international level, bringing event pros from all over the country to the Boston area. She has also taken home two Esprit Awards: Best Social Event and Best Event for a Non-Profit. I do hope we see Jodi thrive next year and move to a role as President of the ILEA Boston chapter. Having her as a friend and in my corner is something I will be forever grateful for. She is one of the most caring and thoughtful people I have ever had in my life. I don't know where I'd be without her guidance and friendship!



Jolene Jang

Grassroots #StopAsianHate Advocate, Jolene Jang

One word that describes her: Advocate

Her runway song: Survivor by Destiny's Child


I met Jolene a few months ago when working on AAPI awareness. Before Covid-19, Jolene was a speaker on diversity and innovation and part of ILEA. She then shifted gears towards AAPI advocacy. I have been floored by how much energy and time she has put into awareness and educating about AAPI hate. She has put together many trainings and podcasts to create awareness, teaching others how to be ally and make our industry more inclusive. She also has trainings showing the ROI if the events industry is not more Asian-inclusive. She has created 95+ videos in 124 days to raise awareness on #stopasianhate, manages two Facebook groups and frequents 12 Facebooks groups daily, and listens to stories of harassments, attacks and pain, daily. Jolene reaches out to podcasters, YouTubers, and municipalities to increase awareness about anti-Asian hate and publishes a steady stream of posts to make our industry and world a more inclusive place.



Julieta Trifonova

Director Kenes Bulgaria & Account Manager Original Events, Kenes Group

One word that describes her: Mentor

Her runway song: Rise Up by Andra Day


Julie has been my mentor for the past decade. We started together at another PCO, but quickly saw something in each other and our paths have aligned since then. Julie is a kind and loving person, one who always takes care of the people around her. However, she doesn't forget her own needs and early on she showed me the importance of loving myself and doing things with which I show myself kindness and love. What an amazing woman, mother, and professional!



Kate Patay

Chief Strategist, Patay Consulting, and Chairwoman, SEARCH Foundation

One word that describes her: Bold

Her runway song: Look What You Made Me Do by Taylor Swift


In the face of adversity, you want a leader who will choose to do what is right, not what is easy. Kate leads the way and champions many causes for our industry, including women's equality, LGBTQIA+ support and crisis relief, while advocating for transparency and ethical business practices. She sits not only at the helm of Patay Consulting, the firm on speed dial for numerous industry heavy-hitters, but she is the chairwoman of the SEARCH Foundation, which has been assisting industry individuals in crisis for 25 years.



Kathryn Frankson

Director of Event Marketing, Informa

One word that describes her: Badass

Her runway song: Taking Care of Business by Bachman Turner Overdrive


Kathryn is many things: a talented marketer, a new mom, a fearless eventprof, an inspiring role model, and a good friend. She is one of the busiest, most successful and badass women I know in this industry, but she always has time for a chat and a heartfelt exchange. She's just superhuman! Seeing her work through her pregnancy and have her baby while still managing to stay on top of industry trends, engage on social, and make time to speak at virtual events, is truly inspiring. She's one fearless woman to watch!



Kelly Saling

SVP & Chief Sales Officer, Visit Seattle

One word that describes her: Dynamic

Her runway song: Roar by Katy Perry


Kelly is a force! Her positive, charismatic vibe mixed with her sharp mind and inclusive approach to team-building and sales growth are unparalleled. Kelly possesses the unique ability to share intentional feedback in a humorous way, while sticking to the core objective of the conversation. She is a bright light in any room and it has been a joy to get to know her through the MPI Women's Advisory Board and witness her hard work with Visit Seattle, resulting in her 2021 promotion to SVP and CSO.



Lauren Harwell

General Manager, Imprint Events Group

One word that describes her: Effervescent

Her runway song: Lose Yourself by Eminem


In the past year, Lauren reestablished the foundation of our Las Vegas division and rebuilt the team from one to seven within a matter of months as the live events industry bounced back in late 2021. In a destination full of glitz and glam, Lauren is 100% authentic and truly stands out as such. Her approach to every opportunity is to build a long-term partnership and not focus on “what’s in it for me” or how to get the quick sale. She is seeing that authenticity and hard work turn into success for her and her team as they are being awarded large-scale opportunities left and right. She is a humble leader who champions the efforts of her team through hard work, kindness and passion. She exudes an authentic passion for her work and has an infectious spirit and energy. She is simply a CLASS ACT and one to be reckoned with! Lauren is one of those women who are truly and genuinely there to support and grow other women. From being named GM of an up-and-coming local event company to holding career-boosting book clubs to bringing together women in order to grow successful relationships in and out of the boardrooms, she's not only a fierce champion of growing opportunity for diverse talent but models leadership as someone who is well respected and a known champion for those around her going after their dreams! She can stop a room with her entrance and find a friend in anyone she meets!



Leila Beltramo

Destination Sales Manager, Visit Montgomery

One word that describes her: Caring

Her runway song: This Girl is on Fire by Alicia Keys


Leila has been leading the DEI work of the Potomac Chapter the past year. In the time I have known her, I have seen her have conversations and plan events such as a chat on Human Rights Day. Leila continues to share resources not only with her chapters but also invites other chapters and destinations to be part of the work. She has been a great leader and a great resource to other chapters and industry professionals.



Lisa Pugsley

Talent Development Director, Ametros

One word that describes her: Adventurous

Her runway song: Jump In The Line by Harry Belafonte


Lisa has been such a positive mentor and influence in my life. She is the type of person who, even in the face of a crisis, exudes positivity. On a daily basis, she is there to lend an ear and provide sound advice on both a personal and professional level. She is someone who takes interest in others' goals and consistently checks in on a regular basis to ensure that they are still working toward those goals, whether they are professional goals, wellness goals, or financial goals. She does the same for her friends that she would do for her colleagues and neighbors. She is the type of woman who supports other women that we need more of in this world!



Magdalina Atanassova

Marcom Director, Kenes Group

One word that describes her: Leader

Her runway song: Respect by Aretha Franklin


Maggie is a strong woman, leading change and always thinking out of the box. She is creative, naturally positive, and leads MARCOM for a global company, Kenes Group. She empowers and inspires those around her while making efforts to improve herself, the environment, and the world around her.



Mary Gettel

Director of Education, Health Care Association of Michigan

One word that describes her: Kind

Her runway song: Humble and Kind by Tim McGraw


Mary believes strongly in living life to the fullest because you only have one life on this earth. She is a Sudden Cardiac Arrest survivor. Mary has Long QT Syndrome, and was one of the unfortunate individuals that never knew she had the condition until her heart stopped one day while she was sleeping. Her husband, a local EMT and an electrophysiologist at Sparrow Hospital, saved her life. Without his quick actions, Mary would not be here today. Additionally, two of her children also have Long QT and she is strongly advocating for them and doing her absolute best to increase awareness of this condition along with other heart conditions that are flying under the radar. She a firm advocate of continued growth and tries to learn something new every week, encouraging others to set their own goal of continued growth. Over the last year, she has earned two professional certificates: On-Site Pandemic Protocols and Pandemic Meeting and Event Management. She's also a mom of three amazing, super talented children - Sophia (6), Amelia (5) and Cooper (3) - and a very stubborn one-year old Great Pyrenees puppy named Bailey. These four babies and her husband are the lights of her life and they are her driving force. She works hard every day to ensure she's providing for them the best she can and showing them all the love in the world.



MaryAnne Bobrow

President, Bobrow Associates, Inc

One word that describes her: Dedicated

Her runway song: I Am Woman by Helen Reddy


After many years managing associations and planning and executing events of all kinds, and after being selected as the 2011 Meeting Professional Internationals' member of the year, MaryAnne decided that she needed to increase her commitment to our industry beyond speaking engagements. Her focus now is giving back to the industry by adding to her volunteerism in two specific yet separate areas. The first is to increase the recognition of small business owners through MPI global's Independent and Small Business Owners community and to provide them with the innovations and strategies to successfully operate their businesses and not on planning meetings. The second focus is on human trafficking awareness, which she became involved with many years ago and now has served on MPI's Anti-Human Trafficking committee since its inception three years ago. Her company belongs to The Code and she collaborates with ECPAT and other organizations to increase awareness that these victims of crime are human beings that have survived horrors most of us cannot imagine. MaryAnne shares her passion for both efforts equally and continues to make them a major part of her volunteerism.



Megan Henshall

Global Events Strategic Solutions Lead, Google

One word that describes her: Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious

Her runway song: Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious by Julie Andrews, Dick Van Dyke and The Pearly Chorus


Megan is visionary with the magic ingredient of being pragmatically strategic. This super smart lady knows how to make innovation happen. I see her using collaboration and partnerships to generate momentum and collectively leverage the best our industry has.



Melanie Shoesmith

Data & Analytics Portfolio Marketing Manager, Corinium

One word that describes her: Awesome

Her runway song: Firework by Katy Perry


Mel always inspires and leads the way in innovative event thinking! She's always seeking to help each person on the team where she can and is an all-around awesome human. She is going to continue to dominate the marketing space and I love watching her progress!



Melissa Park

Global Event Producer, Melissa Park Events

One word that describes her: BOLD

Her runway song: ​​Work Bitch by Britney Spears


I am never not impressed with this woman. Let’s start with work: Mel’s dedication to both her clients and the event industry is astounding. During the pandemic, Mel found more than one way to keep herself focused (hello new masterclass - The Mel Factor Method) and gave ideas to her fellow event professionals to get the entire industry rebounding. Now that it has, I see her constantly moving from one city to another on site visits and executing programs, taking calls while in a taxi, coordinating multiple moving parts of virtual & hybrid events and delivering AWESOME, non-boring programs for her clients. She doesn’t know what it means to half-ass something and that’s amazing. Either she’s going to do it right (and I mean MEL right, not just anyone right) or she’s going to pass it up. She is such a source of both inspiration and entertainment! Whether it’s a journalist, fellow planner, or just a call with me - everyone she encounters RAVES about how fun she is to talk with. The woman has constant energy, offers a devoted listening ear, and shows a fierce devotion to her friends. She is not only someone to watch but someone to get as close to your circle as you can.



Mia Masson

Head of Content, Swapcard

One word that describes her: Confident

Her runway song: ​​Girl on Fire by Alicia Keys


Despite Mia being relatively new to the events industry, she has grown an extensive network and has secured great opportunities for herself in 20 short months. She ambitiously slid into the DMs of every eventprof she thought was worth knowing (unsurprisingly, that list keeps growing every month) and that allowed her to start building relationships with and learn from many wonderful people. Mia has been outspoken about stress, mental health and being a woman in the historically male-dominated sector of technology. Trust me, this is just the beginning of Mia's impact on the industry.



Michele Polci

Director of Citywide Catering Sales Las Vegas, Caesars Entertainment

One word that describes her: Loyal

Her runway song: ​​Girl on Fire by Alicia Keys


Her thoughtful and curated approach to our industry is mindful of her company goals, fresh concepts to present to customers, and continued connection to giving back in the local Las Vegas community and nationally on the SEARCH Foundation board.



Nancy Snowden

Manager, Education Experience, Meeting Professionals International

One word that describes her: Driven

Her runway song: ​​Bad Reputation by Taylor Swift


Nancy is bold, innovative, and compassionate. I was lucky enough to have her as my manager and blessed to still call her a friend. She empowers and elevates those around her by providing advocacy and knowledge-sharing. She works and designs with a people-centered mind. She creates experiences that provide transformation & elevation. Nancy is revolutionizing our industry by clapping back at the notion we should be proud of how stressful and unhealthy our jobs are. That's not a merit badge! She's spreading her gospel to everyone who will listen that integrating the eight dimensions of wellness into our work, life AND the experiences we design will positively impact our personal and professional wellbeing and our organizational and client bottom lines.



Naomi Clare Crellin

Founder & CEO, Storycraft Lab

One word that describes her: Visionary

Her runway song: ​​Like a Woman by Kacy Hill


Naomi leads with empathy, courage, fierce creativity, agility, and joy. I would follow her into the dark with confidence in her ability to discover new places and direction on where-to-next. She founded our creative startup, Storycraft Lab, in March 2020, right at the beginning of the pandemic, and in this duration of time has been able to develop a thriving, innovative, and growing business. She is the queen of hustle, yet she makes space for her team to grow and we gain observation/insight into her growth too. I am grateful to have a boss, friend, leader as inspiring as Naomi. Everything she touches is magic. She has led us to new projects and relationships that are career-enhancing and I'm having so much fun.



Natalia Kovicak

President, The Economics Club of Grand Rapids

One word that describes her: Passionate

Her runway song: ​​Anything Keith Urban!


Natalia is a passionate and accomplished event professional and an incredible mentor. In her long time role with The Right Place, she dreamed up and then brought to life to many of that organization's marquee events. Argentinian by birth, Natalia has a deep love for West Michigan - she assumed the role as President of Econ Club in an effort to continue serving this community. She has grand visions for the Club and I have no doubt it will continue to be relevant and inspire the next generation of leaders. Lastly, Natalia is the very definition of "lift as she climbs" - I have personally benefitted from her mentorship and guidance over the years, as have countless other young women.



Nicole Price

Corporate Governance Coordinator, Carson Tahoe Health

One word that describes her: Courageous

Her runway song: ​​Hero by Mariah Carey


Nicole Price is strong, courageous, enduring, and determined! She has overcome great loss in the past two years, losing her husband who was only 33 years old. Nicole's strength never wavered as she took on the roles of a single mom to their 4-year old son and the head of the household, and through this hardship maintained her professional role for the C-Suite at Carson Tahoe Health. Additionally, Nicole returned to college to complete her BBA so that she can grow her professional discipline and be the best mom with the best career possible. Her professional acumen and determination to keep going make her an example to all facing difficult challenges, and she is someone to keep our eyes on!



Rachael Riggs

WellBeing Leader, Maritz Global Events

One word that describes her: Connector

Her runway song: ​​Just Like Fire by P!nk


Some women to watch stand out front and build a brand/message. Others stand just one step back and with vision, commitment and courage make shit happen. This is Rachael. Rachael and first I met online, then had a few zoom calls, and finally connected face-to-face at IMEX. As the WellBeing Leader at Maritz, she navigates conversations about balancing business objectives and wellness. We share a passion for the wellbeing of all who serve the fast-paced, sometimes exhausting world of meetings and events. Rachael connects this critical message of wellness to build a network of professionals who believe the same thing and want to take decisive action to make the job as an event professional more sustainable and the events they plan healthier for their participants.



Rachel Dix

Executive Officer, Aberdeen Home Builders Association

One word that describes her: Passionate

Her runway song: ​​Roar by Katy Perry


Rachel cares, and her actions show it. She tackles a lot being an executive at a young age, sitting on the board of a local credit union, working on her masters, and just recently threw her name in the ring for state senator. All of her efforts stem from her passion for the industry, for fairness in hiring opportunities, housing opportunities, business development and growth, and also in community involvement. She is a woman to be celebrated. I admire her, and her passion and engagement inspires me to keep going and to get involved.



Renata Sankar

Event Production and Project Manager, Renata A Sankar Production Ltd

One word that describes her: Inspiring

Her runway song: ​​I Am Woman by Helen Reddy


Driven to succeed and passionate about making connections, Renata Sankar is definitely a 2022 Woman to Watch. A huge supporter of family, Renata believes that the world is better spent together. A creative professional with experience and qualifications in Sports Management and Management Studies, Renata has an eye for detail and is always able to make her out-of-the-box vision come to light to the delight of her clientele. Her viewpoint is unlike any other, and her ability to utilize her creativity is unmatched.



Rosalinda Luna

Senior Manager, Meeting Planning Team, Capital Group

One word that describes her: Tenacious

Her runway song: ​​Ain’t No Mountain High Enough by Marvin Gaye, Tammi Terrell


Rosalinda is newer to the industry, but in the last couple of years she has done an incredible amount of strategic work for her team and the services they bring to meetings across Capital Group. She has engaged and empowered her team to operate smarter, align services with changing business needs (pivot to virtual), enhance technology efficiencies and leverage 3rd party resources, while onboarding new planners, diving into a new industry and providing leadership during a critical period. Doing all of this within two years, I know she has only just begun to impact this industry and other people who work within it.



Samantha Nicastro

Head of Business Development, SITE global

One word that describes her: Sunshine

Her runway song: ​​Surface Pressure by Jessica Darrow


Sam is sunshine. Her days are overflowing with conversations that support all the work SITE and the SITE Foundation do, bringing in engaged sponsors for the events and research that support our beloved MICE industry. Her bright smile and spirit light up any space she enters, live or digital. With two girls under two years of age, she still makes dinner every night, finds time for family and friends, and always brings great perspective and a sense of humour to any situation. Sam has mastered the 25-hour day without complaint - I know because I talk to her for at least 12 of them 5 days a week! Sam is not afraid to take on any conversation, any subject, or to learn whatever she needs to for success to follow. Watching her career progress so far has been a blast, and where she goes from here: limitless. I love how she shows her daughters that you can imagine any life you want!



Shannon Ferguson

Co-Founder & CEO, FanSaves

One word that describes her: Resilient

Her runway song: ​​Bring It All Back by S Club 7


Shannon is relentless and resilient is her pursuit to make FanSaves soar and she truly never gives up. She uses any hardships she has overcome (like the passing of her mother or a divorce) to help inspire other people that they too have it in them to create and follow their dreams. Through all of this, she exemplifies kindness, fairness and leadership daily to our team of 11 and she makes it her mission to ensure every employee feels comfortable, empowered and excited about their role. She is growing our sports-tech startup in a male-dominated industry and is often the only woman in the room, but she continues to use her voice to make an impact. In the Fall os 2021, FanSaves won the Best Ottawa Business Award for Best Leaders for Diversity, Equity & Inclusion, an honour that wouldn't have been possible without Shannon's profound need to ensure these three pillars are ever-present at FanSaves.



Sophie Holt

Managing Director, Explori

One word that describes her: Intrepid

Her runway song: ​​Roam by the B52's


Sophie is the managing director at Explori, the leading visitor and exhibitor insight specialist to the events industry, working with some of the biggest events and exhibitions companies in the world. She is an advisor to GRS Explori in the Middle East and overseas, leading research for the Professional Convention Management Association (PCMA) and the Society of Independent Show Organizers (SISO). She is truly global ambassador for the events industry. With a background in event and exhibit marketing, Sophie is in-demand for speaker sessions around the world (the US, Dubai, Thailand, Taiwan and Russia to name a few) and her sessions are regularly among the highest scoring of the conferences. Sophie is incredibly passionate about making the events industry better and believes in supporting organizers to run more valuable experiences. Sophie is also an advocate for the underrepresented in the industry and a vocal member of the Women in Exhibitions UK chapter.



Stephanie Jayko

Chief Experience Officer, Knock Out Productions

One word that describes her: Driven

Her runway song: ​​Run The World by Beyoncé


Stephanie is an incredible event professional who truly loves this industry. She is continuously propelling the industry forward with new ideas and concepts. She takes every opportunity to learn, develop, and progress her company and her career. In her latest endeavors, Stephanie has educated thousands of event profs on the importance of being culturally conscious and teaching the industry how to create more globally-inclusive events. Aside from pushing the envelope, Stephanie cares deeply about our industry and is involved in important initiatives such as serving on the board of directors of the SEARCH foundation to help event profs in need. She pushes her colleagues to be their best and supports everyone around her in their successes and wins. Her drive, heart and expertise certainly make her a Woman to Watch!



Sunita Devi

Director, Kimmel Center, New York University

One word that describes her: Inclusive

Her runway song: ​​Confident by Demi Lovato


Sunita inspires me. She is very open and honest. She has real conversations about diversity and what it means to have a culture of inclusion. She is an empowered woman who shares her support to celebrate each other’s wins and looks for opportunities to promote other women. She serves as a role model, offering her guidance and support in the achievement your goals. She deserves recognition because she truly cares about the world around her.



Tami Adams

Founder, Speaker Manager & Coach, TA Speakers Management

One word that describes her: Collaborator

Her runway song: ​​Uptown Funk by Mark Ronson


Tami is a dedicated, passionate and caring events professional. She’s honored to own her own speaker management and coaching company where she gets to use her voice to help others raise theirs and help change the minds and attitudes of people through the power of speech. Tami has a huge heart and is always looking for unique and collaborative ways to bring people together and spread human kindness everywhere. Recently she co-created a social media campaign called the reintroducing me challenge. This challenge was an idea inspired from a vulnerable post she shared to help kick off the year and reconnect with her network. So much has changed in our industry and so many have shifted - what better way to reconnect on a human level in our industry through reintroducing one another and challenging others to take part? Tami is on a mission to create positive change in attitudes, beliefs and promote true human connection wherever she goes. She also co-produced the first ever nurses' week Resiliency ReBoot virtual event where she engaged 1300 nurses and helped them reduce burnout and compassion-fatigue on the front lines. No matter what Tami is involved in, she has a huge heart and everything she creates comes from a place of making a positive difference and building on human connections within our industry. She is selfless, creative and brave, and is always lending a helping hand.



The Ladies of Storycraft Lab: Amelie, Katy, Maya, Natalie, Bekah

Experience Strategists, Storycraft Lab

One word that describes them: Intrepid

Their runway song: ​​Good as Hell by Lizzo


These women are thoughtful, creative and smart, bringing their passion, dedication, empathetic and brilliant minds to every client and project. Their work makes the world a more delightful place for attendees but also for the planners and creators that build the events that attendees experience. They also support one another as a true sisterhood, all invested in one another's success. It's a joy to support them as they grow professionally and personally, and they inspire me every day.



Thuy Diep

Senior Experience Designer, Haute

One word that describes her: Witty

Her runway song: ​​ by Maye


Thuy Diep, along with all her industry certification acronyms, adds to the culture of creative & event agency Haute as Senior Experience Designer. She continues to positively impact the #EventProfs industry as 2021-2022 Past President for the International Live Events Association (ILEA) Los Angeles chapter, volunteers on the 2021-2022 International Committee for DEI (Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion) for ILEA HQ (she has been heavily involved with ILEA for a decade this year), serves on the Board of Directors for SEARCH Foundation (she just committed another three years serving on the board to SEARCH until 2024), and also tells it like it is on the #EventBrew Podcast. All of her industry achievements truly speak for themselves, but knowing Thuy personally, I know hands-down that she meets all of the qualifications as a 2022 Woman to Watch. Her charisma and positive mental attitude make her go above and beyond what anyone expects. Thuy is the full ideal #EventProfs package - she's so very creatively talented in her profession - pushing the envelope in the world of possibilities to design experiences for the targeted group, yet she's humble and kind to everyone from CEOs to Coordinators. Thuy is a role model to the future generation of our industry, making it priority to guide and mentor others, not to mention how she puts her time into so many volunteering efforts for the past decade of her life. If you're lucky enough to spend any amount of time with Thuy, you'll know her secret sauce: energy that naturally brightens the room and instantly changes the mood as she genuinely loves to learn about others' stories. If you mention collaboration and ideas, she'll tell you to not tempt her with a good time and is always down for adventure.



Tracy Judge

Owner, Soundings

One word that describes her: Connector

Her runway song: ​​Courage by P!nk


In a few short years, Tracy has grown her staffing and recruiting company to 10 full-time staff and a community of over 1,000 contractors. Taking advantage of the need for virtual event planners, her company has provided staff for major players like Notified and Cvent. She is constantly connecting people to opportunities, often when it doesn't even benefit her company, unselfishly paying it forward. She has served on the MPI board, and routinely speaks at conferences to help others launch successful small businesses.



Umu Sowe

Director of Food & Beverage, Live Nation Canada

One word that describes her: Unwavering

Her runway song: ​​Anything Beyoncé!


When you meet Umu, you feel her presence and strength; she challenges you and wants to be progressive and change the game for young women and peers. As a person of colour, she leads with DE&I each and every day, and she is shifting the concert hospitality experience at Live Nation through her leadership and systems at Toronto's newest entertainment venue, HISTORY. This woman is humble; many don't know all the incredible festivals, side hustles, and support she gives because she never expects the recognition or anything in return. She is a woman to watch because she stands for something meaningful and is a leader for younger generations, showing that they can make an impact, too.



Victoria Gilbert

Event Manager, Cheeriodicles

One word that describes her: Passionate

Her runway song: ​​Firework by Katy Perry


Tori is one of the most well-rounded and compassionate event professionals I've had the pleasure of knowing. Her experience in this industry is broad and all-encompassing. Her dedication and passion for people and love for our industry has truly made her a stand-out leader in any situation she is put in. She creates welcoming communities via her volunteer efforts in local ILEA chapters and management of a Ladies Networking group in Dallas. Her understanding of exactly what it means to be an #eventprof is evident to anyone who knows her. She is the biggest cheerleader and supporter of all those around her and is the first person to jump into a project with a smile on her face. Tori is a feisty firecracker who will always find ways of making events fun and engaging while being precise and diligent about every detail. She has truly found her happy place working in CSR and team-building at Cheeriodicals and brings a new perspective to the idea of giving back at events. It is no secret that she is a fierce friend and amazing advocate for our industry and strives every day to leave the industry and the world a better place.