Celebrating Black History Month 2024 With RX’s Milton Montaque and AVIXA’s Rochelle Richardson

February 22, 2024

Taking place each February, Black History Month is an ideal time to honor and celebrate the achievements of Black people in the trade show industry and events and renew our commitment to continue fostering diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI).

We want to recognize and highlight Black industry leaders and share their experiences. This week, we are featuring Milton Montague, senior director, Americas innovation and development for RX, and Rochelle Richardson, senior vice president, expositions and events for AVIXA. Here, we discover what they’re most proud of when it comes to how their organizations support the Black community and what tips they can offer to the next generation of Black leaders in the events industry. 

Milton Montaque, Senior Director, Americas Innovation & Development for RX

Milton Montaque, RX

His role: RX Senior Director of Innovation & Development for the Americas Milton Montaque leads a team of web designers, developers and other innovators across Brazil, Mexico and the U.S. He is focused on driving innovation in ways that exponentially enhance the experience of customers who attend and exhibit at RX’s business-to-business and business-to-consumer conferences and exhibitions. 

His leadership: Montaque is the Chapter Chair of the RX African Ancestry (AAN) employee resource group. RX AAN focuses on creating and fostering an environment for employees of African Ancestry to be included, challenged and supported in developing and maximizing their potential, building and educating a strong network of allies, and finally strengthening RX’s connection with the Black community.

What are you most proud of in terms of the ways your organization has been supporting the Black community?  

I’m incredibly proud of the way RX has supported my community, I’m even prouder to have had a hand in it, and that’s the best place to start explaining what brings me a sense of pride.  

I’m happy that RX has asked employees like me for our input on what should be done and how we can make a difference. RX has pledged $1 million to combat racism and promote diversity. So far, we’ve formed a Global Race & Ethnicity Forum to not only allocate funds to nonprofits that can help this goal but also to educate our employees around the world.     

We’ve got task forces in place dedicated to improving attraction, retention and career growth of BIPOCs (Black, Indigenous and People of Color). To help with that mission, we’ve formed a partnership with the BYP Network, and at a local level, we’ve partnered with Waterside School, a school serving children and families regardless of limitations in income or circumstance. Waterside coaches them through college, and we have included their alumni in our internship program.    

We’ve started a chapter of RELX’s African Ancestry Network employee resource group (ERG), which distributes amazing content to educate, and sometimes entertain, our employees. What I’m most proud of is that despite all that has been done, no one thinks we are finished. It’s acknowledged that there is more to do, and RX keeps pushing forward.     

What is your advice for the next generation of Black leaders in the events industry?  

Remember that you have a unique and valuable perspective that many of your colleagues do not. We work in an industry that boils down to bringing buyers and sellers together. It’s our job to help them connect and capitalize on those connections. Just as our customers are not homogeneous, neither are their customers. You are in a unique position to shine light on cultural holes that your colleagues may have when attempting to facilitate those connections. You are also in a unique spot to shine that light on the cultural holes of the exhibitors and visitors at your events.    

Rochelle Richardson, Senior Vice President, Exhibition and Event Services, Audiovisual and Integrated Experience Association (AVIXA)

Rochelle Richardson, AVIXA

Her role: As Senior Vice President, Exposition and Events, Richardson leads the growth strategy and operations for the association’s largest annual North American exhibition and conference for the pro-AV industry, InfoComm, in addition to all of AVIXA’s conferences and events in North America.

Her leadership: A strategic leader in exhibition and events management, with more than three decades of experience, Richardson’s career spans the gaming, hospitality and for-profit trade show industries, both domestically and internationally. She obtained her CEM Certification in 2011 and is a member of International Association of Exhibitions and Events (IAEE) and Meeting Professionals International (MPI), and is a past IAEE Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Chair (2019–2021).

What are you most proud of in terms of the ways your organization has been supporting the Black community?

AVIXA is intentional about building a culture of inclusion and focuses on diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging. We’ve made significant strides in supporting and ensuring there is representation for all, including the Black community. I am particularly proud of AVIXA’s commitment to DEI training, education and increasing diversity, equity and inclusion across our stages, with the selection of speakers and panelists, and with the “pass the mic” program encouraging speakers to invite professionals from the pro AV community that are of diverse backgrounds. 

AVIXA is an ambassador and is leading the way working together with the pro audiovisual industry to create a world in which we embrace individuals from all backgrounds, including Blacks, women, LGBTQ+, Latino, Asian, Indigenous, veterans and disabled persons for an equitable future. AVIXA also champions the AV Industry Pledge for an Equitable Future where anyone can make a personal pledge by signing up and committing to drive inclusive behavior within their company and the industry. While we recognize there is much work to be done, AVIXA and the pro audiovisual industry continues to expand its knowledge, experience workplace success, improve business performance and represent a better future for the audiovisual community.    

Additionally, we have established partnerships with Black-owned businesses and organizations actively seeking opportunities to amplify all voices and support economic empowerment within the community. AVIXA’s ongoing efforts to create a more inclusive and equitable workplace environment demonstrates our dedication to supporting all communities, including the Black community.   

What is your advice for the next generation of Black leaders in the events industry? 

I encourage the next generation of Black leaders in the events industry to embrace their unique perspectives, talents and experiences and leverage them to chart their own paths. It is essential to recognize the value that diversity brings to the industry and to leverage it as a strength.  

Additionally, I encourage aspiring Black leaders to seek mentorship, sponsorship and support from seasoned professionals who can provide guidance, wisdom and opportunities for growth. 

They should also remember to advocate for themselves and others, challenge the status quo and strive to create spaces that are inclusive and welcoming to all. Finally, never underestimate the power of your voice and the impact you can have in shaping the future of the events industry and remember to always pay it forward for the next generation.


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