People News: Major Moves at Informa, Emerald, Visit Oakland and More

December 17, 2019

What year-end slow down? There's no rest for the trade show industry as new hires, promotions and appointments are still in full swing this holiday season. Take a look at the latest people moves.

Sally Shankland announced she is stepping down from her position as president and CEO of Emerald Expositions Events for personal reasons last week, and will transition to executive director and senior advisor in 2020. Her replacement for the time being will be Brian Field, currently Emerald’s current chief operating officer, who will serve as the company’s interim president and CEO effective Jan. 1. A search for Shankland’s permanent replacement will begin early next year.

Messe Düsseldorf appointed Wolfram N. Diener as the new president and CEO, succeeding Werner M. Dornscheidt, who will retire in June 2020 after nearly 17 years at the helm of the German trade fair company. Erhard Weinkamp was also named managing director of operative trade fair business, succeeding Hans Werner Reinhard, and will begin his new role on Jan. 1, 2020.

Informa Markets made two senior appointments this month. Mark Temple-Smith, who has two decades of experience in international exhibitions, was appointed COO; while Nancy Walsh, who was most recently Freeman’s senior vice president of brand experience, was appointed president of fashion.

Visit Oakland promoted Rhanee Palma to chief sales officer in December. She is the first Filipina-American to hold a C-suite position within the organization, and among the first in the history of the CVB/DMO space as well.

Stephanie Glanzer has been appointed senior vice president and chief sales officer for MGM Resorts International. In this role, she’ll oversee the company’s convention sales and operations — in which she is well versed, having been with the company for more than 21 years.

Naji El Haddad is now regional manager for the Middle East-Africa region for UFI, the Global Association of the Exhibition Industry. He is taking over for Nick Savage and will work from UFI’s Dubai office.

Philadelphia CVB promoted Maria Grasso to vice president of citywide sales and convention sales this month. She’s been with the organization for 20 years.

Eric Vaughn has been promoted to director of banquet culinary operations for Caesars Forum and Las Vegas Region. He has 18 years of experience with Caesars Entertainment and has also operated celebrity chef restaurants with toques such as Gordon Ramsay and Steve Martorano.

Erik McKinney joined Dayton, N.J.-based experiential marketing agency Impact XM as executive creative director in November. Previously with George P. Johnson, he has experience working with clients such as Lexus and Amazon and will help craft live brand experiences for Impact XM clients.

Marco Bloemendaal left his post as senior vice president of sales with Visit Milwaukee in November to take on a new role as global vice president of sales for PCMA. He’s now based in Chicago. 

The Board of Directors of the Dallas Tourism Public Improvement District announced Fred Euler as new executive director of the hospitality nonprofit. A 45-year veteran of the hotel industry, he was most recently GM of Hyatt Regency Dallas.

Kris Maleig
Kris Maleig ​​​​​​

Kathy Ehlman has joined the Cincinnati USA CVB as senior sales manager for specialty markets. With more than 20 years of hospitality sales experience in the region, Ehlman will be responsible for prospecting new business in the state association, cultural fine arts, hobbies and direct sales segments.

SmartSource Computer & Audio Visual Rentals, based in Hauppauge, N.Y., has hired Kevin McPherson as technical account manager. He’ll be providing technical support to clients and supporting sales team processes in his new role.

Atlanta CVB welcomed Kayla Donahue as national sales manager in late November. Previously with Hyatt Regency Atlanta, she will work on group meetings utilizing 251–1,200 rooms on peak and representing the CVB at trade shows.

Optima Graphics, a wholesale supplier of graphics and exhibits to trade show retailers, has three new additions to its sales team: Dave Brown, who previously worked with the company for 20 years; Reid Sherwood, who was with the company from 2000-2007; and Gina Porcaro, who first joined Optima in 2008.

Kris Maleig was named director of facility management at New Orleans Ernest N. Morial Convention Center. A 15-year veteran of the center, he’s held positions as a mechanic, foreman, kitchen manager and building operations manager. Also at the convention center, Eric LeBlanc has been named creative services manager and will oversee the newly-created creative services division for customers.

Philadelphia-based event experience company Spectra had four promotions and two new hires within the last month. Amy Minniti was promoted to vice president of deputy general counsel; Richard Schneider was promoted to executive vice president of food services and hospitality; Tyler Fike was promoted to vice president of finance, food services and hospitality; and Blair Cardinal was promoted to vice president of communications. In addition, David Livingston joined the Spectra Partnerships team as vice president and Mike Reinert joined as new vice president of procurement.

Sunny Bath
Sunny Bath

Experiential events and exhibits company Hargrove welcomed Scott Finlayson as new senior vice president of operations. He was most recently COO for the Blue Man Group.

Following Tarsus Connect’s acquisition of BizBash earlier this month, Matt Johnson, Connect’s executive vice president, was named new president of BizBash. He has been with Connect for 15 years.

Andy White has rejoined dmg events as senior vice president for the company’s design and hospitality division, which includes INDEX and The Hotel Show, two of Dubai’s most established events. Also at dmg, Sunny Bath has been appointed vice president of data management.

Brand experience agency Unicorn Events continues its U.S. expansion with new hire Zachary Tranter, who will head up domestic projects as senior project manager in the New York City office. He was previously head of events and visits for the Consulate General of Canada in New York.

Ray Pineault has been appointed regional vice president for Mohegan Gaming & Entertainment, while Jeffrey Hamilton has been promoted to president and GM at the company’s flagship property, Mohegan Sun Connecticut. 

NürnbergMesse added Remo Zimmermann to its management roster. He will lead the new Services unit beginning in July 2020.

Have people news to share? Send an email to to share your news for inclusion in a future story.

Add new comment

Partner Voices
Less than six months ago, Lisa Messina joined the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority (LVCVA) as the first-ever chief sales officer after leading the sales team at Caesars Entertainment. A 12-year Las Vegas resident, Messina is a graduate of Cornell University’s School of Hotel Administration and serves on MPI International’s board of directors. TSNN had a chance to catch up with this dynamic leader and talk to her about her vision for the new role, current shifts in the trade show industry, creating more diversity and equity within the organization, and advice to future female leaders. Lisa Messina, Chief Sales Officer, LVCVA With Las Vegas becoming The Greatest Arena on EarthTM, what are some of the things you’re most excited about in your role? Our team was at The Big Game’s handoff ceremony earlier this month, and I couldn’t help but think, “We’re going to crush it next year!”  These high-profile events and venues not only drive excitement, but also provide unmatched opportunities for event planners. Allegiant Stadium hosts events from 10 to 65,000 people and offers on-field experiences. Formula 1 Grand Prix will take place in Las Vegas in November, after the year-one F1 race, the four-story paddock building will be available for buyouts and will also offer daily ride-along experiences that will be available for groups. And, of course, the MSG Sphere officially announced that it will open in September, ahead of schedule, with a U2 residency. It’s going to be the most technologically advanced venue as far as lighting, sound, feel, and even scent, and it will be available for buyouts and next-level sponsorships inside and outside. There’s no ceiling to what you can do when you’re doing events in Las Vegas.  Allegiant Stadium As the trade show and convention business returns to the pre-pandemic levels, what shifts are you noticing and how do you think they will impact the industry going forward? Our trade show organizers are very focused on driving customer experience. Most of our organizers are reporting stronger exhibitor numbers and increased numbers of new exhibitors, with trade shows proving to be almost or above 2019 levels. Now our organizers are really doubling down on driving attendance and focusing on the data to provide that individualized, customized experience to help attendees meet their goals and get the best value. Some companies continue to be cautiously optimistic with their organizational spend when it comes to sending attendees, but I think it will continue to improve. As the U.S. Travel Association makes more progress on the U.S. visa situation, we also expect a growing influx of international attendees. What are some innovative ways the LVCVA helps trade show and convention organizers deliver the most value for their events? We focus on customer experience in the same way that trade show organizers are thinking about it. We got rave reviews with the West Hall Expansion of the Las Vegas Convention Center (LVCC), so over the next two years, we will be renovating the North and the Central halls, which will include not just the same look and feel, but also the digital experiences that can be leveraged for branding and sponsorship opportunities.  Vegas Loop, the underground transportation system designed by The Boring Company, is also a way we have enhanced the customer experience. Vegas Loop at the LVCC has transported more than 900,000 convention attendees across the campus since its 2021 launch. Last summer, Resorts World and The Boring Company opened the first resort stop at the Resorts World Las Vegas , with plans to expand throughout the resort corridor, including downtown Las Vegas, Allegiant Stadium and Harry Reid International Airport. The LVCVA also purchased the Las Vegas Monorail in 2020, the 3.9-mile-long elevated transportation system that connects eight resorts directly to the convention center campus. This is the only rail system in the world that integrates fares directly into show badges and registration. For trade show organizers, these transportation options mean saving time, money and effort when it comes to moving groups from the hotels to LVCC and around the city. Also, the more we can focus on building the infrastructure around the convention center, the more it supports the customer experience and ultimately supports our trade show organizers. Scheduled to debut in Q4, Fontainebleau Las Vegas will offer 3,700 hotel rooms and 550,000 square feet of meeting and convention space next to LVCC.  What are some of the plans for advancing DEI (diversity, equity and inclusion) within your organization? We’re currently partnering with instead of working with a leading consulting firm, to lay the foundation and create a solid DEI plan and be the leader when it comes to DEI initiatives. The heart of that journey with the consulting firm is also talking to our customers about their strategic approaches to DEI and driving innovation in this space.  What are your favorite ways to recharge? My husband and I have an RV and we’re outdoorsy people. So, while we have over 150,000 world-class hotel rooms and renowned restaurants right outside our doorstep, one of my favorite things to do is get out to Red Rock Canyon, the Valley of Fire, and Lake Mead. Five of the top national parks are within a three-hour drive from Las Vegas, so there’s a lot you can do. We love balancing the energy of Las Vegas with nature, and we’re noticing that a lot of attendees add activities off the Strip when they come here.  Valley of Fire What advice would you give to women following leadership paths in destination marketing? I think it’s about being laser-focused on what you want to accomplish; building a team around you that lifts you and helps you achieve your goals; and being humble and realizing that you do it as a group. No one gets this done alone. Thankfully, there are a lot of women in leadership in this organization, in our customers’ organizations, and in this city that we can be really proud of. We’re a formidable force that is making things happen.   This interview has been edited and condensed. This article is exclusively sponsored by the Las Vegas Convention & Visitors Authority. For more information, visit HERE.