People News: Events DC, Messe Stuttgart, BlueHive and More Welcome New Talent, Elevate Team Members

November 15, 2022

While the job market may be cooling off in many markets across the nation, the trade show and events industry appears to be staying steady as show organizers, tourism agencies, event tech companies and more continue attracting new talent, promoting staff and expanding their executive teams. 

Events DC

Events DC has chosen Angie M. Gates as its new president and CEO. Starting Nov. 14, Gates will guide the organization tasked with generating economic and community benefits for D.C. residents and businesses through impactful events. A 20-year veteran in event management, entertainment, film and public service with expertise ranging from tourism and hospitality to film and venue operations, she recently served as D.C.’s director of the Office of Cable, Television, Film, Music and Entertainment (OCTFME). 

Gates was named the first African American general manager of the iconic Warner Theatre and earned Washington, DC its first Emmy at the 60th Annual National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences Award show. She also recently received the President’s Lifetime Achievement Award from President Joseph R. Biden. 

She succeeds COO Samuel R. Thomas, who served as interim president and CEO following the resignation of Gregory A. O’Dell in March.

Messe Stuttgart 

Messe Stuttgart Inc., one of Germany’s major trade fair, congress and event organizers, recently appointed events industry veteran Philip McKay as president of its American subsidiary. In his new leadership role, McKay is responsible for furthering the company’s business expansion into the U.S. market. 

McKay’s also serves as CEO of nGage events, a private organizer of trade fairs, exhibitions and conferences based in Scarborough, Maine. Prior to founding his company in 2012, McKay held executive roles at myriad global companies including Gartner, Key3Media, World Market Center and Questex.


Dana Esposito recently joined exhibit, events and interiors design firm BlueHive Exhibits as executive vice president of strategy, responsible for supporting the account executive and creative teams, and focusing on customer needs while championing their brands and goals. She will also be applying her skills in process refinement to further support and grow BlueHive’s operations and best practices.

Bringing more than 25 years of award-winning trade show design and industry strategy experience to the BlueHive team, Esposito is the co-chair of the Experiential Designers and Producers Association (EDPA) University Affiliations Committee, serves on the EDPA Board of Directors and was an adjunct professor at BSU, where she instructed future exhibit designers. 


Global venue and event management software leader Ungerboeck has tapped seasoned software and technology marketing veteran Laurie McGrath as its new chief marketing officer (CMO). Bringing more than 25 years of product marketing, branding and communication experience as well as a deep knowledge of SaaS technology GTM strategy to her new role, she is responsible for leading global corporate branding and product marketing initiatives, including market positioning, product strategy, public relations, social media, corporate communications and demand generation.

McGrath most recently served as CMO at international supply chain firm Tecsys, where she led the company’s global rebranding and integrated digital marketing efforts. She has also served as CMO for healthcare firm Intalere (now Vizient), interim CMO and vice president of marketing for leading global cloud and IT outsourcing provider Savvis, a CenturyLink company, and vice president of product marketing for IT firm SourceMark International.  

ASM Global  

Leading venue management and event strategy company ASM Global has appointed Patrick Lynch as its senior vice president, private events, U.S. In his new role, he will work closely with ASM Global’s national sales force focusing on new business opportunities for the country’s largest private event portfolio.

An experienced sales leader with more than 20 years scaling revenues across various industries including financial services, technology, hospitality and restaurants, Lynch most recently worked as head of sales and customer success for the e-commerce and marketing platform Mercato.

Georgia International Convention Center

The Georgia International Convention Center (GICC) in Atlanta promoted Diann Jackson to senior catering sales manager following eight years serving on the venue’s catering sales team. In her new role, she is responsible for driving networking, relationship-building and sales for Proof of the Pudding catering team at Georgia’s second-largest convention center, which is part of the Gateway Center campus adjacent to the Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport.

Prior to her current tenure at GICC, Jackson worked for 26 years as the senior catering manager of the Georgia World Congress Center, and prior to that, served as senior sales manager for Levy Restaurants. 

Tourism Diversity Matters 

Tourism Diversity Matters (TDM) has made two recent appointments in response to growing demand for its organizational DEI expertise and strategy development for tourism organizations.  

TDM expanded its executive leadership team with the appointment of DEI and multicultural tourism expert Yvonne Drayton as its new director of operations, a newly created position in which she will support the development and reach of TDM’s DEI organizational culture assessments, educational training and workforce development, including the national apprenticeship program.  

Before joining TDM, Drayton was lead principal of Drayton Cross Consulting, where she conducted culture analyses and devised data-driven strategies to build DEI competencies across organizations in the commercial and nonprofit sectors. She also brings extensive tourism and meetings knowledge to her new role.  

Prior to that, Drayton served as president and CEO of Riscoe & Associates for three years and as executive vice president for eight years. 

Also joining the TDM team is Sofia Mendoza as executive assistant, responsible for supporting the organization’s communications and operations. She brings office managerial and executive assistance experience from both agency and manufacturing settings at Torrid and Lucrescent Bearing Corporation, along with international marketing capabilities from her time at IBG America in El Salvador.  

Oklahoma City Convention & Visitors Bureau 

The Oklahoma City Convention & Visitors Bureau (Visit OKC) recently celebrated three hard-working marketing and sales staff members with much-deserved promotions.

Maryam Kari was promoted from digital marketing manager to senior digital marketing manager. In 2022, she successfully spearheaded the newly redesigned, and, as well as managed the launch of the Modern Frontier Attractions Pass. Her social media campaigns consistently perform above targeted goals.

Katy Birchett-Smith was promoted from convention sales manager to senior convention sales manager. An active leader within the local hospitality community, she has developed several new initiatives related to Visit OKC’s emerging convention scene and achieved more than double her sales goal last fiscal year. 

Lindsay Vidrine was promoted from vice president of destination marketing to senior vice president of destination marketing. From marketing creativity to public relations wisdom and overall strategy, she consistently delivers and provides experiential knowledge from years of working in the tourism industry.

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Partner Voices
Overview: The award-winning Orange County Convention Center (OCCC) goes the extra mile to make every day extraordinary by offering customer service excellence and industry-leading partnerships. From their dedicated in-house Rigging team to their robust Exhibitor Services, The Center of Hospitality brings your imagination to life by helping you host unforgettable meetings and events. With more than 2 million square feet of exhibit space, world-class services and a dream destination, we are committed to making even the most ambitious conventions a reality. In October 2023, the Orange County Board of County Commissioners voted to approve allocating Tourist Development Tax funding for the $560 million Phase 5A completion of the OCCC. The Convention Way Grand Concourse project will include enhancements to the North-South Building, featuring an additional 60,000 square feet of meeting space, an 80,000- square-foot ballroom and new entry to the North-South Building along Convention Way. “We are thrilled to begin work on completing our North-South Building which will allow us to meet the growing needs of our clients,” said OCCC Executive Director Mark Tester. “As an economic driver for the community, this project will provide the Center with connectivity and meeting space to host more events and continue to infuse the local economy with new money and expanding business opportunities.” Amenities: The Center of Hospitality goes above and beyond by offering world-class customer service and industry-leading partnerships. From the largest convention center Wi-Fi network to custom LAN/WAN design, the Center takes pride in enhancing exhibitor and customer experience.  The OCCC is the exclusive provider of electricity (24-hour power at no additional cost), aerial rigging and lighting, water, natural gas and propane, compressed air, and cable TV services. Convenience The Center is at the epicenter of the destination, with an abundance of hotels, restaurants, and attractions within walking distance. Pedestrian bridges connect both buildings to more than 5,200 rooms and is within a 15-minute drive from the Orlando International Airport. The convenience of the location goes hand-in-hand with top notch service to help meet an event’s every need. Gold Key Members The OCCC’s Gold Key Members represent the best of the best when it comes to exceptional service and exclusive benefits for clients, exhibitors and guests. The Center’s Gold Key memberships with Universal Orlando Resort, SeaWorld Orlando and Walt Disney World greatly enhance meeting planner and attendee experiences offering world-renowned venues, immersive experiences and creative resources for their events. OCCC Events: This fiscal year, the OCCC is projected to host 168 events, 1.7 million attendees, and $2.9 billion in economic impact.  The Center’s top five events during their 2022-2023 fiscal year included:  AAU Jr. National Volleyball Championships 2023 200,000 Attendees $257 Million in Economic Impact MEGACON 2023 160,000 Attendees $205 Million in Economic Impact Open Championship Series 2023 69,500 Attendees $89 Million in Economic Impact Sunshine Classic 2023 42,000 Attendees $54 Million in Economic Impact Premiere Orlando 2023 42,000 Attendees $108 Million in Economic Impact