IAEE Taps Cathy Breden to Serve as Interim CEO, Announces Her Retirement in June

September 25, 2023

The International Association of Exhibitions and Events (IAEE) has appointed Cathy Breden, current IAEE executive vice president and COO, as the interim CEO for the organization, effective Oct. 1. She assumes the helm following the departure of IAEE President and CEO David DuBois, for whom the organization is currently searching for a permanent successor. 

“With 28 years of service to IAEE, there was no question in the minds of the Board of Directors who the best person would be to lead the association as we continue the search for a new president and CEO,” said 2023 IAEE Chairperson Dennis Smith, vice president of business development for the Asian American Hotel Owners Association (AAHOA). “Cathy not only possesses vast knowledge about the organization, but is a highly regarded authority of our industry.”

Once IAEE appoints a new president and CEO, Breden will resume her current position with the organization until her planned retirement in June 2024, according to IAEE officials.

“In this role, I will be the bridge to continue the good work of IAEE and to help the new CEO during this transition,” Breden said. “The association has made great strides in advancing its mission and strategic vision and I look forward to the future.” 

Breden, who also serves as the CEO of the Center for Exhibition Industry Research (CEIR), embarked upon her association management career in 1984 and has served in a variety of positions, including board member, key staff contact, chief staff executive, volunteer leader and consultant. Additionally, she serves as the immediate past chairperson of the Events Industry Council board of directors and is a frequent presenter on industry topics including exhibition industry trends and the impact of face-to-face marketing through exhibitions. 

Breden earned the Certified Meeting Professional (CMP) designation in 1990, became a CMP Fellow in 2019, acquired the Certified Association Executive (CAE) designation in 1995 and was granted the Certified in Exhibition Management (CEM) designation in 2019. She holds a Business Administration degree from Florida State University with an emphasis in Association Management.

“Cathy’s career has been an example to all of us in the exhibitions and events industry,” said Julie Smith, senior vice president, business development at GES. “Her unwavering leadership, commitment, diplomacy and experience make her the perfect choice to help shepherd IAEE into the next chapter.”

To find the organization’s next president and CEO, the IAEE Board of Directors has retained SearchWide Global, a full-service executive search firm that specializes in C-level positions in the event, convention, travel, tourism, hospitality, trade association, venue management and experiential marketing industries.

Established in 1928, IAEE represents supplier and trade show organizers of more than 20,000 exhibitions and buyer-seller events worldwide, advocating for and promoting face-to-face exhibitions and events as the primary platform for business development and growth.  


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