PCMA Foundation Celebrates the Event Industry’s Brightest Stars At the 2021 Visionary Awards
On Aug. 26, the PCMA Foundation recognized more than 20 business events industry leaders at the 2021 PCMA Visionary Awards, which honors exceptional industry professionals for their significant contributions to their organizations and the business events community.
Held at the Hilton Washington in Washington, D.C., the vibrant event hosted more than 500 guests, who celebrated with a red carpet experience, an awards show and an after party featuring Austin-based band, The Nightowls.
“The Visionary Awards is an opportunity to celebrate our amazing colleagues, while also supporting the PCMA Foundation,” said Angie Ranalli, chairwoman of the PCMA Foundation, which funds educational scholarships and critical event industry projects to empower the career advancement of students and professionals while supporting the future of the business events industry.
She continued, “To the innovators, the game-changers, the risk-takers and above all the visionaries that provide the power behind business events, thank you for your hard work, dedication and passion. Congratulations to all of our honorees and finalists.”
This year, the Professional Excellence Awards honored six recipients, who were selected by an awards committee that reviewed all the nominations, chose the finalists, reviewed the finalists again and then selected the winners based on a blind online vote. They included:
- Supplier of the Year: WeeMin Ong, Vice President of Conventions and Exhibitions, Marina Bay Sands
- Business Event Strategist of the Year: Bob Bejan, CVP, Global Events, Studios and Marketing Community, Microsoft
- Digital Experience Strategist of the Year: Victoria Fanning, CMP, DES, Sr. Manager, Digital Events, Medical Group Management Association (MGMA)
- Event Designer of the Year: Amy Ledoux, retired as Chief Learning and Meetings Officer, ASAE
- Community Advocate of the Year: José Quan, Founder and Owner, Eventia
- Outstanding Service to a Chapter: Kim Allison, Senior Director of Sales, Georgia World Congress Center—Capital Chapter
In recognition of leaders who made a significant impact during such a challenging year filled with so much uncertainty, the PCMA Foundation added three new awards to its roster: the Wayfinder Award for an individual and an organization and the Groundbreakers Award.
Created to honor an individual and an organization for their innovation, courage, leadership and solution-focused approach in the face of a significant external challenge, this year’s Wayfind Award was scooped up by IMEX Group CEO Carina Bauer as the individual award winner, while Hyatt Hotels Corporation received the organizational award.
Carol Wallace, former president and CEO of the San Diego Convention Center Corporation, received the inaugural PCMA Groundbreakers Award, which honors industry trailblazers who represent diverse sectors of the business events community, recognizing those who have made a significant contribution to their organizations and to programs advancing inclusion and equity.
Also recognized during the awards ceremony were the Lifetime Achievement Honorees: Bill Grusich, senior vice president at Associated Luxury Hotels International, and Lisa Delpy Neirotti, Ph.D., professor and director of sports management programs at The George Washington University.
Due to current travel restrictions and border closures, the PCMA Foundation will honor Ben Goedegebuure, vice president and global general manager at Maritz Global Events, with his Lifetime Achievement during the 2022 Visionary Awards.
Other finalists for the Professional Excellence and Wayfinder Awards who were honored included:
- Karen Watson, Cultivate Event Design and Consulting
- Camille White-Stern, Splash
- Rose Horcher, Choose Chicago
- Lora Stanley, Visit Anaheim
- Carly Silberstein, Redstone Agency Inc.
- Ben Elliott, Live Productions Australia Pty Ltd
- John Woo, GES Events
- Megan Finnell, CMP, Medical Group Management Association (MGMA)
- Toni Zoblotsky, Hilton Corp.
- Michelle Guelbart, MSW, a recognized voice in the movement to eradicate human trafficking and child exploitation
- Allen Anderson, Anderson Hospitality Services, Greater Philadelphia Chapter
- Andrew Horsfield, Hyatt Place Ottawa West, PCMA Canada East Chapter
- Michael Clarke, Marriott International
- Patrizia Semprebene Buongiorno, AIM Group International
- Events DC; PCMA Rocky Mountain Chapter
“We are all in the business of bringing people together—convening with purpose to deliver the human connections that help enrich our communities and our quality of life,” said PCMA President and CEO Sherrif Karamat. “We advance industries and social change. We are resilient. We are innovative and we passionately believe in our ability to change the world. The world is a better place when we are together.”
To attend the 2021 Visionary Awards, PCMA required proof of full vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test for all guests. Check out a video recap of the event here.