Throughout 2013, we’ll be convening virtual panels during our PYM LIVE Events. Below you’ll find our line-ups, their speaker headshots and bios. Archives of our educational panels will be hosted on the PYM YouTube channel. See our full event calendar here.
As managing director of Meetings and Media, Jim Alkon (@jalkon)has witnessed change in the meetings industry at every turn and helped organizations alter their businesses and strategies to maximize growth along the way. He has run brands and industry publications, increased revenue and profits, breathed new life into titles, repositioned troubled ones, created new content vehicles and revenue sources, improved corporate websites and monetized them effectively, launched events left and right, and initiated customized client programs. Just a few of the brands he has influenced: the Convention Industry Council, Global Exchange Events, Meetings Jobs, Event Leadership Institute, Meeting News, Agenda/Best Events magazine, Business Travel News, Travel Agent magazine and EXPO magazine. He also has held an executive role at event technology company etouches and is currently president-elect of Meeting Professionals International’s Westchester-Southern Connecticut (WestField) Chapter. He recently served on the executive committee and board of directors of MPI’s Greater New York Chapter as vice president of education, where he was honored in 2013 with the prestigious President’s Award, as well as serving as education chair for the Committee of the Year. Jim has spoken on subjects ranging from Event Technology Trends to The Multigenerational Workplace to Managing Meetings Effectively and Efficiently. He has been involved in industries as diverse as film production, pharmaceuticals, and spas and wellness. A graduate of Syracuse University, in his spare time Jim can be found with his family, his dog, playing golf poorly, reading novels, playing the piano, and rooting for any sports team that has the word “Boston” on its jersey. Visit www.meetingsandmedia.com or contact Jim directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Hybrid Event Consultant/Virtual Emcee Emilie Barta‘s #1 goal is engaging the audience…no matter where they are located. She helps design the audience’s experience before the event, hosts the audience’s experience at the event, and continues the audience’s experience after the event through the power of video, online communities, and social media. Emilie’s 15+ years of broadcast/video experience AND physical event experience enable her to help meeting, conference, and trade show organizers plan successful, visually stimulating, and interactive virtual and hybrid meetings. Known for her audience engagement expertise, she is forging new territory in the blended conference world and in creating the role of virtual emcee to ensure that the virtual audience feels like they are in the room even though they are not physically in the room. Connect with her @EmilieBarta.
John Chen (@bigkid) is the energetic CEO of PLAYTIME Inc., infusing corporate team building and leadership skills through technology and adventure. Their latest offering is Geoteaming™, a GPS-Powered Team Building event where you go for a high-tech treasure hunt using GPS, Pocket PCs, Digital Cameras and 2-way radios to find hidden items. Using his unique Competitive-Collaborative Design, Geoteaming™ is not only about team building, but about team-to-team building as teams compete for high-score while collaborating to achieve a company goal. Through this process, John’s clients learn how to balance the paradox of competition and collaboration through his 7 Keys for Cross Team Collaboration. John has worked with over 100 Fortune 500 clients in over 650 events around the world including Barcelona, France, Taiwan and Shanghai to provide value through team building skills. He is the author of “50 Digital Team-Building Games.”
Midori Connolly is the Chief AVGirl of AVGirl Productions and co-founder of an AV company, as well as senior tech advisor to 7 Degrees Communications. She is a professional speaker and writer who specializes in providing end-to-end hybrid meeting design, strategic technology planning, and technological execution. Her passion is to make technology more human, approachable, and sustainable. You can reach her at email@example.com or via Twitter: @AVGirlMidori.
Joan Eisenstodt founded Eisenstodt Associates, a Washington, DC-based meetings and hospitality consulting, training and facilitation company in 1981. She brings 35+ years experience to her work with associations, corporations, hotel companies and DMOs, to facilitate and design meetings, conduct training, perform departmental audits and negotiate contracts. Joan, a hospitality industry expert witness, is on the Editorial Advisory Board of the Journal of Convention and Event Tourism. In the industry, she is involved in ASAE, DMAI, MPI, and PCMA. Currently she serves on the Education Task Force for PCMA, on DMAI’s Committee on Social Responsibility & Diversity, and as a recent chair of ASAE’s Ethics Committee. A respected and engaging trainer, Joan’s passions for life-long learning, meeting design, risk anticipation, contingency planning, ethical and inclusivity practices, have been well-recognized by MPI, HSMAI, and NSA; by the PCMA Foundation for Lifetime Achievement as an Educator, and by IACC with the Pyramid Award and with the Mel Hosansky Award for Distinguished Service. In 2004, she was inducted into the CIC Hall of Leaders. Often called the “conscience of the industry”, you can interact with Joan on Twitter (@joaneisenstodt), through her blog, and on LinkedIn.
Kent Emeson is a UNLV graduate that has been a meeting planner for over 20 years with companies like IBM, Network Associates, Harcourt Education and Carlson Wagonlit Travel. Experienced results-producing strategy, marketing communications and brand strategies with a proven record of accomplishments in multi-pronged integrated marketing campaigns, live event marketing, online advertising, channel marketing management, brand/product launches, training initiatives, media purchasing and planning, social marketing campaigns, complex product launch marketing programs, training and staff development, and Strategic Meetings Management (SMM) for impactful bottom line results. His Twitter handle is @earsonmarketing.
Claire R. Gould is the owner of Rx for Events International and Rx for Catering LLC, a full-service events design and logistics company that has done work in more than 30 countries. A large part of Ms. Gould’s company is designing menus and negotiating culinary for meetings and events, in addition to exhibit design, strategies and general meeting planning. Her company has done work for the Coca-Cola Co., Aerion Supersonic Business Jets, Honeywell International and HCC Life Insurance, among others. Gould teaches and writes about culinary and banquet trends and topics. Follow her on Twitter @Rx_for_Catering and Rx For Events on Facebook. E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
Traci Gregory, CEM, resides in southern California and has been in the meeting industry for nearly 20 years. She planned her first international conference at age 16 on behalf of her church youth conference. That conference hosted over 2,500 attendees in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada. Traci went on to learn both hotel and facility service prior to becoming a full time meeting planner. She has more than 10 years of experience as a senior events manager, organizing trade shows, conferences, corporate events, and consumer events attracting thousands of attendees. Currently, she is the director of Transforums. You can find her on Twitter @raciplace.
Gregg Herning (@PeabodyOrlando) is an award-winning hospitality professional. He’s known best for his creative and innovative approach to hospitality sales and marketing, and has served in multiple capacities with the Peabody Hotel Group for 11 years. He began his Peabody career as director of sales and marketing for the group’s flagship property, the Peabody Memphis and later became general manager of the Peabody Little Rock hotel in Arkansas. He helped the property earn the Forbes Four Star designation, the first in the state’s history. In 2010, Gregg was promoted to vice president of sales & marketing. He was named “Leader of the Year” by Peabody Hotels President/CEO Martin Belz in 2006 and honored with the President’s Award for Special Achievement in 2010 and 2012. Gregg devotes much of his effort to developing sales and marketing talent for the hospitality industry, frequently speaking and serving as an adjunct instructor at hotel schools across the country. You can read more at greggsblogg.com, where he posts entertaining commentary on life, living and moving the needle.
Jeff Hurt, executive vice president, education and engagement, Velvet Chainsaw Consulting, has worked in events/nonprofit arena for more than 20 years including Keep America Beautiful as a consultant/trainer/writer; Keep Texas Beautiful as Education Coordinator; Professional Development Manager for Meeting Professionals International; Professional Development Manager for Promotional Products Association International; and Director of Education and Events for the National Association of Dental Plans. He has also served on several board of directors for several North Texas, state and national charities and organizations. You can read more about his ideas for meetings and events on his blog Velvet Chainsaw’s Midcourse Corrections and follow him on Twitter @jeffhurt.
Liz King (@lizkingevents) started her first company in 2010 in the midst of the down economy. By sharing content on Twitter, Facebook, and her blog, she gained expertise in the event planning industry and has become a leader and influencer. Named one of the 40 Under 40 Up-and-Coming Event Planners in 2011 by Connect Magazine and awarded the #Eventprofs Most Thought Provoking Blog and People’s Choice Award created a platform for Liz to build her business and strong brand even further. Working with clients on events like Green Drinks NYC and S.H.E. Summit Week, Liz helps entrepreneurs integrate technology into their events to better engage their attendees. In addition, she also hosts her own events. As the founder of The Planner Collective and co-founder of PlannerTech, Liz is dedicated to educating her fellow event professionals as well on how technology can enhance events.
Emily Kratt (@emilyrve), a New York City native has been passionately working in the meetings and events industry for nearly a decade. Emily has worked at some of the nation’s premiere Event Production and Destination Management companies since studying Special Event Management at New York University. Emily started her career working for David Stark and Avi Adler (who are still pioneers in event design) where she worked on such events as the “Metropolitan Opera Gala”. She later worked in New York City at two of the largest Destination Management Companies working with fortune 500 clients managing a variety of meetings, incentives, product launches and special events with multi-million dollar budgets. Before moving to Austin, Emily Kratt was traveling to the European market bi-annually to sell and market her destination in addition to partnering with the CVB for both Austin and NYC on tradeshow marketing efforts to bring large corporate business to her respective destinations. Emily is well versed in the different cultural nuances of all international clients. In Emily’s last position 60% of her client base was international corporate clients from different markets such as: automotive, financial, tech, pharmaceutical, energy, association, etc. In the summer of 2011 Emily relocated out to Austin to work at Red Velvet Events. Although Austin is not considered an international destination, Emily is committed to putting Austin on the map and showcasing the magic of the Live Music Capital of the World. When Emily is not representing her new hometown she is traveling around the county producing exceptional events for her diverse client portfolio.
Judy Kucharuk (@judylaine) is the owner of Footprint Management Systems Inc., a consulting company specializing in sustainable meetings and conference innovation. When Judy is not wearing her green meeting planner cape, you may find her speaking or writing about green meetings and events, social media, and conference innovation. Recent accomplishments include being a co-winner alongside Shawna McKinley, MeetGreen and Trevor Roald, QuickMobile for the 2012 IMEX/GMIC Commitment to Community Award for “Get your Green on”, a sustainability game built into a mobile event app.
Christy Lamagna, CMP, CMM, CTSM, (@SMEChristy) is the founder and chief strategist of Strategic Meetings & Events (smeplanners.com), an event planning company that specializes in producing events that achieve clients’ marketing and sales goals. With an ability to see the big picture while simultaneously understanding events down to the minutiae, Christy’s ability to create, market and execute programs has made her a leader in the industry. A former vice president of a Fortune 20 company and a member of five startup organizations, Christy has built successful marketing, event, travel and trade-show, departments for companies while helping them create or strengthen their brands and the infrastructure that supports them. Christy teaches event and meeting management classes at a college level and is working on an industry textbook on the science of strategic planning. She speaks at industry events whenever possible as a way of giving back to the profession that has given her 21 years of career satisfaction.
Cheryl Lawson (@partyaficionado) is the owner and founder of event planning and marketing firm, Party Aficionado, and creator of the Event Planning Tools mobile app. Party Aficionado helps companies develop social marketing strategies both online and face-to-face, using full event coordinating capabilities, and coaching to help companies engage their audience. Cheryl is also a self published Children’s book author of The Adventures of Precious the Dog series, and is the mastermind behind Social Media Tulsa and the #SMTulsa Conference. Social Media Tulsa is the areas most active social media group. To learn more visit: http://partyaficionado.com/.
Cindy Y. Lo is owner and event strategist behind Red Velvet Events Inc. in Austin, Texas. Red Velvet Events has been planning unique and flawless meetings, conferences and social events around the world for 10 years. You can follow her on Twitter @RedVelvetEvents and see more of what she does with meeting design by watching this short video.
Meredith Martini, M.S., is the ChiefPlayWorker and owner at PlayWorks Group and meetingWorks, event and meeting planning firms based in Atlanta. Meredith specializes in creating interactive learning in meetings, conferences & events through meeting, content & team-building design. “I find inspiration in my daughters and husband and sometimes (unfortunately),” she says, “reality television!” You can reach her @PlayWorksGroup or at playworksgroup.com.
Qualena Odom-Royes is a Certified Meeting Professional (CMP) and Certified Special Events Professional (CSEP) with over 18 years experience in strategic marketing, meeting management, event production, budgeting, vendor relations, and contract negotiation. As principal event planner of EventEssentials, she designs and executes 20-30 events and meetings across the United States per year, including fundraisers, galas, golf/tennis tournaments, sales meetings, incentive trips and trade shows for a variety of companies, such as Cox Communications, Scholastic, Experient/Maritz and Taste of Atlanta. She is currently involved with Clayton State College and University’s Continuing Education Program, acting as a curriculum developer and instructor for its Meeting and Event Planning Certificate. You can find her on Twitter at @eventessentials.
Jeffrey W. Rasco, CMP (@jeffrasco, @attendeenet) is a veteran meeting professional with nearly three decades of experience and the founder and CEO of Attendee Management Inc. (attendeenet.com), which provides online registration expertise and a full range of registration and housing services. Jeff is a popular speaker on technology and its impact on meetings, and especially those people who plan and support them. He has written well over 100 articles and columns on meeting technology, and is frequently quoted as an expert in the trade press. He has received a number of professional honors, most notably Meeting Planner of the Year from Meeting Professionals InternationaI in 1996, their international Chapter Leader of the Year in 1994, the only person to have been awarded both of these prestigious honors. He was also named the MPI Texas Hill Country Chapter’s Supplier of the Year in 2005 and Houston MPI’s Planner of the Year in 1987.
James Rota @Dazzlevents is the founder of Dazzle Creative Events dazzlevents.comand director of creative strategies with Strategic Meetings and Events smeplanners.com. He holds a degree in Hotel and Restaurant Management. His extensive experience in the hospitality industry, a background in interior design and his creative ingenuity have led to accolades by his clients and recognition in the event industry.
Lindsey Rosenthal channeled her knack for creating unique and memorable event experiences and her prowess for effective and profitable fundraising campaigns to establish Events For Good, a social enterprise based on the practice of fundraising event strategy. Lindsey integrates a strategic thought process into fundraising events and works with her clients to build a fundraising strategy that incorporates events into a long-term donor plan. She is one of the volunteer founders of several EventCamp conferences, continuing education focusing on experimentation, innovation, and driving the event industry forward. She holds a Master of Tourism Administration (MTA) from The George Washington University in event management and philanthropy, a bachelor’s degree from Cornell University in hospitality, and is an adjunct professor teaching event management to undergraduate students. Lindsey has been recognized as an authority on customer service and loyalty in the event and fundraising industries and has been featured in several industry publications, both in print and online, and currently serves on the Washington, DC advisory board of BizBash Magazine. She also serves as an executive producer and host of Event Alley Show, the first call-in radio show for the event industry. Lindsey speaks around the world about event sponsorship, corporate social responsibility, cultural sensitivity, and best practices in event management. Reach her on Twitter at @eventsforgood.
Kristi Casey Sanders is the VP of creative/chief storyteller of Plan Your Meetings (PlanYourMeetings.com) and site selection chair for the Society of American Travel Writer’s Eastern Chapter. She frequently speaks at industry functions about how meeting professionals can prove their worth, meet responsibly, create innovative experiences and change the world. She’s proud to be one of MPI’s 20 Proprietary Content Speakers for 2012-2013, as a subject matter expert on the topic of using technology to plan “Smarter, Faster and More Efficiently.” Follow her on Twitter @PYMLive or @KristiCasey. #yaypym!
Bonni Scepkowski has worked in the fields of corporate travel, hotels and meeting planning for 30 years. She began her career in corporate travel, learning every aspect from international documentation to running a travel department. She segued into meeting planning, loving every minute of it, and then into hotel sales to learn the ‘other’ side of the business. She founded Stellar Meetings and Events in 2001, and focused on strategic meetings management before strategic meetings were cool.
Bonni’s attention to relationships, as well as details, has been the catalyst for her success. Her desire for win-win-win situations is rooted in a desire to be “the planner that you don’t dread seeing as you come down the hall.” She believes that her relationships with vendors is at least as important as her relationships with her clients.
Bonni has lived in New Jersey for her entire life and has grown rather weary of Jersey Shore, Jersey Housewives, etc. Personality- wise, she thinks that she’s a laugh riot. Bonni lives with her forever fiancée (they WILL get married eventually) and also has one child, three step children, two perfect granddaughters, and two no-less-than-perfect pugs. In her very rare spare time, she enjoys travel, food, reading, yoga, and food.
Gary Schirmacher, CMP, (Senior Vice President, Strategic Account Services, Experient, A Maritz Travel Company) has 28 years of experience in the hotel and meeting planning industry. In his current role, he leads Experient’s Strategic Account Services department, which includes service renderings such as domestic and global sourcing and meeting planning logistics. Additionally, Schirmacher leads Maritz Travel Company’s industry presence. Gary joined Experient in January 1996, as the director for the western region. Gary was awarded the company’s highest award, the Pinnacle Award, in 2005. He was inducted into the Colorado Meetings Hall of Fame in 2011 with the Lifetime Achievement Award. He served as Chairman of the Meetings Industry Council of Colorado from 2002-2007. Gary is a member of PCMA, MPI and CSAE. He is past-president of the Rocky Mountain Chapter of PCMA. He is currently serving a third two-year term on the PCMA Educational Foundation Board of Trustees. He is a frequent speaker at many major industry meetings. You can follow him on Twitter @garyschirmacher.
Paul Salinger (@psalinger) is an event designer, event strategist and a member of Oracle’s marketing management team. As a vice president of marketing he is primarily responsible for creative marketing concepts, strategiccommunications, working with executives on messaging and event presentations, and working with event marketing on integrating event design and sustainability into the event planning process. Paul is an advocate and evangelist for a more sustainable and responsible approach to events and is past president and current board member of the Green Meeting Industry Council. He has been in the events business, on both the supply and client side, for close to 40 years.
Dennis Shiao is Director of Product Marketing at INXPO and author of the book “Generate Sales Leads With Virtual Events.” At INXPO, Dennis is responsible for go-to-market strategy and execution, and for shaping product and platform evolution via the “voice of the customer.” Dennis has managed virtual event campaigns for Cisco, HP, Oracle and Microsoft, among others. Dennis blogs about virtual events at INXPO, and on his personal blog, “It’s All Virtual.” Dennis can be found on Twitter at @dshiao.
Derrick Stomp (@djstomp) combines a strong sense for trends with creativity and passion for people. He’s able to bridge the gap between people and technology by focussing his creativity on what’s both useful and usable. Due to the seemingly odd combination of studying Business Information and Technology, Human Health Sciences and Physical Therapy, he’s capable of exploring problems and solutions from very different perspectives. He’s co-founder at twoppy.com, a platform for event organizers to create their mobile event guide for free.
Bud St. Pierre has been the director of sales and marketing at The King and Prince Beach & Golf Resort for 11+ years. He oversees group sales, the reservations office, all print and digital marketing and public relations. He and his team have designed two websites and their own customized booking engine for the resort. The team also started the resort’s social media accounts, and continues to actively market through those channels. Bud started in the industry as a convention services head houseman, working his way up to be the catering and convention services director. He has since worked in fourhistoric properties throughout the East Coast, in group sales. As technology evolves in the hotel and resort industry, The King and Prince embraces the new marketing opportunities. While the industry is ever changing, Bud still believes that great service and southern hospitality are the keys to getting “heads in beds”.
Tracy Stuckrath (@tstuckrath), CSEP, CMM, CHC, is founder and chief connecting officer of Thrive! Meetings & Events and an event planner who is one of 277 people in the world to hold a designation as a Certified Special Events Professional (CSEP). She’s also one of the 15 million people in the United States with food allergies. In 2009, while attending a professional training program on nutrition, she decided to combine her expertise in producing events with her newly discovered food allergies and nutritional training to make the world healthier one event at time. She educates and empowers the hospitality industry to serve more inclusive, nutritious and health-enhancing foods. Tracy is a member of Georgia Chapter of Meeting Professionals International, the International Special Events Society, International Association of Culinary Professionals and FARE, the world’s leading organization working to increase awareness of food allergies as a serious public health issue. In her spare time she works as a chef’s assistant at Cook’s Warehouse.
Follow the links to view the archived educational sessions on our YouTube channel.
Moving the Needle emphasizes the need for all of us, in our individual roles to move past mediocrity. At the end of the day, have we made a difference in our execution? Have we exceeded the expectations of our guests or attendees? To remain competitive, this is the new norm.
Attendees will hear real-time ideas on getting our business (and personal) lives back to a pre-recession mentality. Four years in the “doldrums” has been wearing to our energy and confidence levels. As leaders in our industry, we need to accelerate our return to robust activity levels. It’s time to implement new protocols and be the sparkplug in your circle of influence.
The program will offer suggestions on fresh approaches to meetings, reports, and communications, both internally and externally. Learn the greatest lesson we can take away from the movie Moneyball. Learn ways to put the silver bullet into the “energy vampires” in our daily lives.
Offering virtual elements alongside your face-to-face gatherings is one of the most efficient ways to engage new audiences, increase attendance and create new revenue streams for your event. Whether you’re working on a shoestring budget or have room to grow, this session will cover some essential technological tools you can integrate to enhance your next event.