People News: Clarion Events, San Diego Convention Center and More Announce New Leaders, Management Roles

November 7, 2023

Throughout the U.S. and across the pond, trade show-related organizations are welcoming fresh leadership, placing industry veterans at the helm of venues, event production and technology companies and destination management organizations. Take a look! 

Clarion Events North America 

Clarion Events North America recently added to its leadership team with the appointment of Nicole Peck as executive vice president of the Digital Innovation Portfolio, which includes Clarion’s flagship technology innovation brand, InsureTech Connect (ITC Vegas) and the premier mobile app marketing event, Mobile Apps Unlocked (MAU Vegas). She will spearhead this group of events from both a strategic lens for growth and development while focusing on building strong brands, teams and a positive workplace culture. 

Bringing a wealth of experience in brand development and driving digital innovation, Peck formerly worked as executive vice president of BizBash, where she was instrumental in positioning the company for acquisition by Tarsus, an Informa company, and more recently, served as vice president and general manager of Foundry Events for North America.

San Diego Convention Center  

The San Diego Convention Center Corporation recently welcomed 30-year venue management veteran and Certified Venue Executive Paul Turner as general manager, responsible for overseeing event management, venue operations, public safety and guest services for the 2.6-million-square-foot waterfront facility.  

Turner previously served as vice president of venue management and entertainment operations for Caesars Entertainment in Las Vegas, and prior to Caesars, held leadership positions with the Dallas Cowboys at AT&T Stadium, Philadelphia Eagles, Portland Trail Blazers and Cerritos Center for the Performing Arts.  


Freeman has appointed John Herrold as its CFO, tasked with leading the company’s finance organization focused on accounting, financial planning, tax, treasury and business analysis. He brings decades of finance experience to his new role.  

Prior to joining Freeman, Herrold was a managing director in the mergers and acquisitions group at J.P. Morgan, where he worked closely with Freeman over the past five years, including on the sale of Encore and the Sparks acquisition. During his 15 years with the firm, he worked with clients on evaluating and executing value-enhancing strategic transactions. 

His professional experience also includes roles at Accenture and GlaxoSmithKline, where he focused on strategic sourcing and procurement. 


Encore has hired Poonam Mohan as its new CIO, a role that will leverage technology to support the company strategy to elevate the customer experience by strengthening the culture, resources and employee career opportunities. Based in Dallas, she will lead the company’s internal technology innovation to streamline processes and solutions.  

Mohan joins Encore after 21 years at American Airlines, where she most recently served as vice president, corporate and enterprise technology. There she was responsible for the development lifecycle and operations for technologies supporting commercial and corporate, regional airlines, cargo and IT infrastructure. Her prior roles at American Airlines include managing director, flight operations and crew technology and managing director, revenue and planning technology. Before joining American Airlines, she worked as a consultant at PwC. 

Charlotte Regional Visitors Authority 

The Charlotte Regional Visitors Authority (CRVA) has appointed Steve Bagwell its new CEO. He will take the helm from outgoing CEO Tom Murray, who retires in November. 

Now in his 28th year with the CRVA, Bagwell currently serves as vice president of venues, responsible for overseeing the management of the Charlotte Convention Center, Bojangles Coliseum and Ovens Auditorium as well as back-of-house support services at the Spectrum Center and the NASCAR Hall of Fame. A CPA, Bagwell has held crucial roles in operations, technology and finance within the organization. 


Event production company Shepard has named 18-year industry veteran Sarah Aivaz as its senior vice president of business solutions, responsible for spearheading the company’s technological advancements. As the latest addition to Shepard’s executive team, she brings a proven track record of fostering innovation and driving transformation through technology.  

In her new role, Aivaz will focus on optimizing the customer user experience, working closely with Shepard’s newly appointed vice president of engineering, Chris Boozer 


U.K.-based exhibition and event website and client services specialists ASP has appointed Jon Benjamin as its new CEO, charged with leading the business as it expands into new markets and global territories, including the U.S., Middle East and Asia. Previously a director at both LinkedIn and News UK, Benjamin joined ASP in 2014 and was appointed to the position of managing director in 2020. 

Discover The Palm Beaches 

Discover The Palm Beaches appointed Milton Segarra as its new president and CEO. A Certified Destination Management Executive (CDME), he takes the reins from Jorge Pesquera, who recently retired after leading the organization for the past 16 years. 

Segarra first joined Discover The Palm Beaches as chief marketing officer in the fall of 2022, and prior to that, led the Coastal Mississippi Tourism Board and also served as president and CEO of Meet Puerto Rico. He also boasts an extensive history in the hotel industry, holding senior sales, revenue and marketing positions with Hilton Hotels and Resorts, Hyatt Hotels and Resorts and Sands Hotels and Casinos.

Atlanta Convention & Visitors Bureau   

Atlanta Convention & Visitors Bureau (ACVB) recently welcomed Andrew Clark as digital marketing manager, responsible for evaluating ACVB’s content strategy and executing initiatives across digital platforms. He will also create written and visual content to drive engagement with the goal of keeping Atlanta top-of-mind with business and leisure travelers.

Prior to ACVB, Clark served as the general manager at Hite Digital Atlanta, where he was charged with overseeing marketing campaigns for clients.  


Destination and event management company CSI DMC has promoted Melis Feingold from vice president, creative services to vice president, creative partnerships, responsible for leading the organization’s charge in elevating creative content and event design, nurturing stronger partnerships and consistently delivering exceptional client experiences. 

Bringing more than 19 years of event and marketing experience, Feingold has been an integral part of the CSI DMC team since 2016, holding a range of director, manager and senior sales and creative services roles. Before coming to CSI DMC, she worked as an event manager at A2 Events. 

Philadelphia Convention and Visitors Bureau 

The Philadelphia Convention and Visitors Bureau has welcomed David Nash as CRM and research analyst. In his new role, Nash will serve as project manager for all research-related projects, be the primary user of the organization’s CRM platform and play a key part in collecting, analyzing, interpreting and visualizing data for the PHLCVB team.

Before joining the PHLCVB, Nash served as director of information technology and database management for the Fayetteville Area Convention and Visitors Bureau, and prior to that, worked for Abbott Labs and ACS, Inc. A military veteran, Nash served in the U.S. Navy for seven years.  


Atlanta-based experiential marketing agency Exhibitus has appointed experiential marketing veteran Rodrigo Espinosa as its chief strategist, responsible for developing and executing strategies to expand the company’s experiential focus and create brand initiatives to support client growth nationally and internationally. 

Bringing more than 25 years of experience in experiential marketing, brand positioning, business development and net-new revenue generation, sponsorship, communications strategy, integrated marketing communications, global leadership and digital activations to his new role, Rodrigo has worked extensively in the technology, automotive and consumer goods sectors, building innovative brand experiences for industry-leading companies.  

Visit California 

Visit California has expanded its external affairs team with the promotion of Angie Pappas to associate vice president of external affairs and media relations, responsible for continuing to oversee the PR team while also taking on the responsibility of supervising the organization’s in-house events team. 

A dedicated leader in the hospitality industry, Pappas will leverage her expertise to spearhead the organization’s revamped structure, focusing on an all-encompassing external affairs strategy that includes ongoing planning, disaster preparedness, messaging and relationship cultivation with elected officials, media outlets, industry leaders and consumers. 

Before joining Visit California, Pappas served as the director of communications at the California Restaurant Association for six years, after which she transitioned to Visit California’s corporate communications team, where she has played a pivotal role in key campaigns for nine years.  

As part of this organizational expansion, Sustainability and Public Affairs Manager Dan Smith has been promoted to director of external affairs and will oversee the new role of sustainability manager.

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Partner Voices
Just when it seems like Las Vegas can’t get any bigger, brighter or more exciting for groups, MGM Resorts raises the bar again. The company continues to invest and innovate across its portfolio of Las Vegas resorts, with new attractions and upgraded experiences for attendees of all interests.  Remodeled Guest Rooms MGM Grand is the largest single hotel in the world with over 5,000 guest rooms and an 850,000-square-foot conference center. It is home to the newly remodeled MGM Grand Studio Tower—700 reimagined guest rooms with a fun mid-century vibe. Nearby, the iconic New York-New York Las Vegas Hotel & Casino recently completed a $63M redesign and remodel of its 1,830 guest rooms and 155 suites. Down the street, Bellagio Las Vegas is sporting renovated rooms in the Spa Tower with sunrise-inspired decor and luxurious soaking tubs in Premier King rooms after a $110-million transformation. Reinvented Luxury Experiences The Luxury Meetings District, made up of Bellagio Las Vegas, ARIA Resort & Casino, Vdara Hotel & Spa, The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas, Park MGM and NoMad Las Vegas, is now more connected than ever before. A new interior walkway opened this October for a seamless attendee experience – connecting Vdara, Bellagio, and The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas, guests can now walk from Park MGM to Bellagio in around 15 minutes. New on the scene in the Luxury Meetings District is Cathedrale at ARIA, TAO Group’s upscale establishment specializing in exquisite French-Mediterranean cuisine offering elevated private dining experiences that opened in May. Heralded by World’s Best 50 Restaurants, GQ and VOGUE, LPM at The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas is opening this fall and will deliver its signature spontaneity and imaginative celebration of France’s Mediterranean cuisine, art, and culture to the unique luxury resort in impeccable fashion.  A “New Wave  for Mandalay Bay A new wave of enhancements and experiences has arrived at Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino, including Flanker Kitchen + Sports Bar, an 8,445-square-foot restaurant that opened this June, perfect for pre- and post-game eats and drinks. Event planner’s favorite, Chef Michael Mina’s StripSteak, received a full renovation and now includes one of the largest private dining rooms on The Strip. Retro by Voltaggio debuts a one-year residency with a fun take on pop culture of the 80s and 90s with classic American dishes. An exciting addition planned for 2024 is Swingers, a 40,000-square-foot oasis of street food, miniature golf and art at Mandalay Bay. Most exciting for meeting planners, the 2.1 million-square-foot Mandalay Bay Convention Center  is undergoing a complete refresh, with lightened space, added eye-catching art, and improved technology infrastructure for even more flexible space. Energy-efficient digital signage now leads the way with faster internet speeds and new AV options. From renovated guest rooms and meeting spaces to celebrated dining options and dedicated teams, MGM Resorts is dedicated to delivering exceptional and innovative meeting experiences.