Tarsus Group’s Rachel Wimberly Named 2021 IAEE Woman of Achievement at Ninth Annual Women’s Leadership Forum

October 6, 2021

The International Association of Exhibitions and Events (IAEE) recently wrapped up another successful edition of its signature Women’s Leadership Forum, during which Tarsus Group’s Rachel Wimberly was honored with the 2021 IAEE Woman of Achievement Award.   

The award recognizes an IAEE member who has led the way in advancing women through her outstanding leadership in the industry and her community.  

Wimberly, who is executive vice president of business development, Tarsus U.S. for Tarsus Group, parent company of Trade Show News Network (TSNN), has been a member of IAEE for 14 years and serves on the Mid-South Chapter Board. She is also a member of the Society for Independent Show Organizers and UFI, The Global Association for the Exhibition Industry.

“Rachel is one of today’s most inspiring and motivational female leaders in the trade show industry and IAEE community,” said Kellie Shevlin, chairperson of the IAEE Awards Committee and executive director of Craft Beverage Expo. 

Shevlin noted Wimberly’s impressive career, including her work at TSNN, where she climbed the ranks and used her position as editor-in-chief to spotlight the best women in the industry, often highlighting female business leaders and giving them a platform to talk about their successes and challenges in the trade show industry. 

Shevlin added, “In fact, her entire career is a testament to her ability to get things done.” 

Cathy Breden, executive vice president and COO of IAEE, praised Wimberly for her contributions to the industry and for being a mentor and role model for other women.

“Rachel has spent most of her career giving voice to the events industry and has worked her way up to a powerful leadership position with an international company,” she said. “She shows up, works hard and paves the way for other women to assume positions of leadership.” 

Rachel Wimberly at 2021 IAEE Women's Leadership Forum
Rachel Wimberly at 2021 IAEE Women's Leadership Forum

Wimberly accepted the award with open arms, celebrating the important role IAEE and her industry colleagues have played in her career. 

“I am beyond honored to be given the 2021 IAEE Woman of Achievement Award,” she said. “I absolutely love this industry, and to be recognized by my fellow colleagues whom I admire so much means a lot.”

She added, “IAEE has always been at the forefront of supporting women—thank you for all that you do!”

Diverse Career Path

Wimberly started her career after graduating from New York University with a master’s degree in journalism and landing her first job writing at CNN Business News in New York for “Moneyline with Lou Dobbs” and providing international updates. During her career, she has worked around the country as a writer and editor for various publications, including The New Mexican, The New York Times and Variety, and she also transitioned at one point to the film industry, leading feature film development for Riche-Ludwig Productions and Eagle Cove Productions, working on six feature films that were under first-look deals with Warner Brothers. 

Wimberly ventured into the exhibitions and events industry in 2006 as senior editor of Tradeshow Week, after which she joined TSNN in 2010. As editor-in-chief of the brand, she launched the TSNN and Corporate Event News websites and seven newsletters. After growing TSNN to the top online news source for the trade show industry with more than 150,000 readers, she was promoted to president of Tarsus Media in 2017, overseeing TSNN and Corporate Event News. In 2018, she took on her current role as EVP of business development, Tarsus U.S., focusing on mergers and acquisitions and building the B2B exhibitions company’s fast-growing U.S. portfolio. 

Wimberly’s favorite aspect of the trade show industry is the people she has met along the way. 

“They are truly the best people in the world, and I am very grateful to be able to be around so many talented and smart colleagues,” she said. 

One of the recent accomplishments Wimberly is most proud of is heading Tarsus Group’s Future Leaders Program, which identifies talent within the company and enrolls them into a year-long program to enhance their leadership skills.

“While it is not just for women, the last program that we ran had all women future leaders in it, and I was thrilled to be able to support this fantastic group with their growth within the company,” she said.

Wimberly is happy to be seeing women move the trade show industry forward, with many of the largest shows in the U.S. run by women, she noted.

“Now, we just need more of them in the C-suite of the companies in our industry,” she said. “I encourage women to step forward and into the spotlight where they belong.”

IAEE Women’s Leadership Forum

One of the ways they can learn to do so is through female-centered events such as the annual IAEE Women’s Leadership Forum. The 2021 edition, held Sept. 22-23 in Baltimore, Md., attracted more than 100 attendees and featured sessions tailored to meet the needs of women at all stages of their career. 

“This event offers a meaningful experience to participants in search of relatable content that can be immediately applied to their career goals, regardless of what those may be,” IAEE’s Breden said. “This year’s speakers once again delivered valuable insights and timely information that was met with great enthusiasm from attendees.”

Sessions presented at the 2021 Women’s Leadership Forum included:

  • Embarking on a Permission Mission: Giving Yourself the OK to Succeed
  • Navigating Conflict: How to Advocate for Yourself and Be Heard
  • Stories, Not Statistics: Using Emotional Intelligence to Transform Multi-Generation Team Success
  • Blazing Trails and Creating Pathways: Personal Insights on DE&I
  • Define Your Beauty: Harnessing the Power of Your Personal Uniqueness

According to Breden, since the Women’s Leadership Forum launched in 2013, it has evolved with the goal of teaching leadership skills in any stage of career or life, and the event is just one of the many benefits of IAEE membership for women.

“The IAEE membership is a community and an ecosystem,” Breden said. “We offer various women’s forums throughout the year, and we have monthly Women’s Buzz Hours, where our women members come together to share, discuss and support one another.” 

All photos courtesy of 2021 IAEE Women's Leadership Forum. Top photo (left to right): Julie Cerza, chair of IAEE Women's Leadership Committee; Rachel Wimberly, executive vice president of business development, Tarsus U.S.; Cathy Breden, executive vice president and COO of IAEE.

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Partner Voices

As event professionals and destinations adjust, adapt and evolve in these uncharted waters, it is imperative that substantial resources be put in place for all of the people responsible for planning and executing trade shows, expositions and conventions. An example is Mohegan Sun, which built an industry-leading, COVID-19 Resource Center with a combination of pictures from recently held successful events (the property reopened on May 1, 2020) along with several widely available and informative documents, such as an evolving operational framework: