October People News: New Hires and Promotions at GES, Freeman, Spectra and More 

October 23, 2019

This fall has been a busy one for companies in the meetings and trade show business. Take a look.

GES announced two major leadership changes this week. Jay Alitzer, who joined the company in May 2018, has been named global president, and Ian Dunhill, formerly CFO of Gold’s Gym International, joins the company in the newly created position of executive vice president of finance. 

Freeman has promoted Michelle Johnson, previously senior vice president and chief information officer, to executive vice president of the company. She has been with Freeman since 2009.

Joyce Leveston
Joyce Leveston

Philadelphia-based Spectra, a company specializing in venue management, food and hospitality, and partnerships, has named two new leaders to its executive team. Joyce Leveston, previously with Boston’s Hynes Convention Center and Boston Convention & Exhibitions Center, is now senior vice president of convention centers. William Hughston, most recently of Thompson Hospitality Corporation, is senior vice president of human resources. 

Mike Burns has joined the Oklahoma City CVB as vice president of sales, overseeing the sales and convention services team. He previously served in a similar role at Destination Cleveland.

The Meetings Mean Business Coalition selected Fred Dixon, president and CEO of NYC & Company, as its next co-chair (alongside Trina Camacho-London of Hyatt Hotels Corporation). He will begin his new role in January 2020.

INTERSCHUTZ USA, managed by Hannover Fairs USA, has a new show manager. Rachel Lesczynski, a trade show veteran, was previously with Access Intelligence. 

Michael Mandl, previously group vice president of Reed Exhibitions US, has been appointed CEO of Reed Exhibitions Mexico. Previously, he’s overseen various large-scale shows at the company, and will continue his work to grow the Mexico market. Taking over his former position will be Randy Field, who will oversee National Hardware Show, INTERPHEX, BUILDINGSNY, ALUMINUM USA, BAR CONVENT BROOKLYN, Fastener Fair USA, FIBO USA and ICE USA. 

Naji El Haddad was named new regional manager for UFI’s Middle East-Africa region last month. He brings more than a decade of experience in the region to his new role, including his most recent position as group event director for Reed Exhibitions. Géraud de Dieuleveult has also joined the company as business development manager, based in Paris. 

Michelle Johnson
Michelle Johnson

Two new directors have been elected to International Houseware Association’s board of directors: Paul Cosaro is CEO of Picnic Time Family of Brands, and Kavita Shukla is founder and CEO of The Freshglow Co. Their three-year terms began Oct. 1.

Sean Thorndike is now director of business development for CSI DMC in Chicago, and Nicole Rolstad joined the company’s Denver office as senior account executive.

Atlanta CVB announced two new managerial promotions in September. Megan Wilkinson, manager of convention services, will manage bookings for groups from 250 nights on peak to citywides. She previously served as a sales manager with the CVB. Joseph Henry has also been promoted to technology manager, after previously working as a technology specialist. Also at the CVB, Brad Minton has been hired as a sales manager for national accounts, and Treasure Williams has joined the team as a sales manager.

Surf Expo appointed two new staff members last month: Nikki Houston Duroe is the new show director, and John “JR” Rosenberg is senior category manager.

Kaela Simeonoff is now sales manager for The Expo at World Market Center Las Vegas, set to open in July 2020. She previously spent seven years with MGM Resorts International.

Joseph Henry
Joseph Henry

ON Services, a GES company and full-service audiovisual provider, has two new hires. Craig Pemberton is national sales manager for corporate business, and Matt McGraw is account manager for corporate trade show accounts.

IAAPA, the global association for the attractions industry, elected Jim Pattison, Jr., who’s president of Ripley Entertainment, as second vice chair during its Sept. 16 meeting in Paris. He will serve as first vice chair in 2021 and lead the association as chairman of the board in 2022.

Miami Beach Convention Center named Patricia M. Rios as new human resources business partner. She has 18 years of HR management experience, including roles with Centerplate, Starwood Hotels and KSL Resorts.

April Halm, a veteran information security professional, has joined Seattle-based event registration and technology company Eventcore as compliance and data privacy manager.


Hargrove, a full-service event, exposition and experience marketing production organization, hired Tara Higgins to lead the company earlier this month. In her new role as president, she will lead the company in its next chapter of growth. Rachel Paisley has also joined the company as director of sales for events. Previously with Red Velvet Events, Inc. in Austin, Texas, she brings 17 years of director-level experience to her new position.

Orange County Convention Center in Orlando has hired Katrina Dos Santos as assistant manager of marketing and communications.

Have a people announcement to share? Email it to kogletree@tsnn.com for a chance to be featured in our next People roundup.

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Partner Voices
Dallas already boasts 35,000 hotel rooms, award-winning global cuisine, and a walkable downtown. But we are just getting started. Visit Dallas is thrilled to announce that the city of Dallas is doubling down with a massive new convention center and entertainment district. Featuring 800,000 square feet of exhibit area, 260,000 square feet of meeting rooms, and 170,000 square feet of ballroom. The center will connect business travelers with dining and shopping options in the popular Cedars District means more places to get down to business, and even more ways to unwind. “Dallas is already a great meetings and conventions destination, with the accessibility of two major airports, affordable labor, and an outstanding hotel product,” said D. Bradley Kent, Visit Dallas senior vice president and chief sales officer. “The new center and Convention Center District will enhance Dallas’ competitive position and are exactly what our customers’ need and have been asking for." What’s New – AT&T Discovery District Located in the heart of Downtown Dallas, this new district on the AT&T corporate campus is tailor-made for groups of all sizes. It boasts a multi-sensory experience, including outdoor event space, the AT&T Theater, and multiple dining outlets including JAXON Beer Garden and The Exchange, a bustling food hall. Hotels Coming Soon Names like the JW Marriott (Downtown), lnterContinental Dallas (Uptown), and Hotel Swexan (Uptown) are adding luxury amenities and bountiful event spaces. The projects will debut in 2023 and beyond. JW Marriott This new, 15-story, 283-room hotel will open in the heart of the city’s downtown Arts District this year. The property features a 25,000-square-foot grand ballroom, as well as a spa, restaurant, lobby bar, fitness center, and a rooftop pool deck and bar. InterContinental Dallas  Located in Cityplace Tower in Uptown, InterContinental Dallas will feature sweeping panoramic views of the Dallas skyline. Guests will enjoy spacious, high-end rooms and amenities, including more than 21,000 square feet of event space.   Hotel Swexan Hotel Swexan, a new, 22-story luxury property, is rising in Uptown’s Harwood District and will make its mark on the Dallas skyline. Opening this year, it is a sculptural building with cantilevered upper floors, as well as a 75-foot rooftop infinity-edge swimming pool and a hidden underground lounge.