PCMA Education Foundation Announces the 2018 Lifetime Achievement Honorees

December 16, 2017

Ray Kopcinski, CMP, Carrie Freeman Parsons and Dr. Godwin Charles Ogbeide, PhD, MBA will be honored at the 2018 Visionary Awards on May 2 at the Marriott Marquis, Washington DC.

More than 1,000 business events industry professionals will gather this spring at the Visionary Awards to honor these luminaries’ extraordinary contributions.

Attendees will experience an Oscars-like evening with red carpet arrival, awards show, and after party, hosted by the PCMA Education Foundation and presented in partnership with Visit Austin and Austin Convention Center.

“We are thrilled to celebrate these three remarkable individuals who have given so much to the business events industry”, said Chair of the Board of Trustees, Phillip J. Jones.

2018 Meeting Professional Honoree: Ray Kopcinski, CMP

Kopcinski has always been a passionate advocate for the globalization of our industry and was an international trailblazer during his 32-year tenure with Million Dollar Round Table(MDRT), and continues to be with his current consultancy, Peak Global Consulting.

His approach is unique in that he embraces differences rather than impose his own beliefs or customs on others. He often speaks at industry events to generously share his experiences and expertise in planning meetings in different countries. He is always willing to support others who are facing similar challenges.

Kopcinski has served PCMA and the business events industry through decades of volunteering, and most recently served as PCMA’s 2015 Chair and 2016 Immediate Past Chair. During his chairmanship, Kopcinski launched PCMA’s future visioning methodology and discovery and helped guide PCMA towards their expanded global strategy. Throughout his inspiring leadership of PCMA, he taught both the board and staff the importance of celebrating the gifts of each individual and the importance of making each member feel valued and special.

Kopcinski is a respected and seasoned meeting professional, but more importantly he is an extraordinary human being. His kindness and thoughtful manner transcends all that he does. His joy of life, climbing, travel and embracing new experiences and cultures is an inspiration to all.

“I am extremely humbled and honored to receive this distinguished award”, Kopcinski said. “I have been extremely fortunate in my life to have had the opportunity to work in and contribute to such a remarkable industry and to meet and get to know such exceptional people that have impacted and changed my life in countless ways. I have truly been blessed.”

2018 Supplier Honoree: Carrie Freeman Parsons

Carrie Freeman Parsons began her career with Freeman immediately after college, working in a branch office and learning the business from the bottom up. Today she is the company’s vice chair, a position she has held since 2008. Freeman Parsons is fondly referred to by employees as the “heart” of Freeman, tireless in her efforts to see the business through the employees’ eyes and works hard to make sure that their views, expectations, challenges and dreams are well represented. She is often thought of as Freeman’s moral compass, and is credited with living the very values that form the foundation of Freeman’s culture.

From 2009 to 2012, Freeman Parsons served on the Center for Exhibition Industry Research (CEIR) board, chairing the board from 2010-2011. As chair, she collaborated with the President of CEIR, to create PREDICT, the first event to provide a forward-looking view of the industry, based on Index data. Not only this research is essential for effecting industry growth, but the event itself generates positive media coverage that positions our industry among other proactive, data-driven marketing channels. She has also served our industry in volunteer leadership positions for PCMA, IAEM, MPI, Visit Dallas and Winit. Locally in Dallas she serves on the boards of the Dallas Women’s Foundation, Women for Girls and The Senior Source.

Freeman Parsons consistently contributes to the industry through her extraordinary personal commitment, supporting individual efforts of other industry leaders, and also throwing her considerable energy and influence behind the initiatives to further their growth and priorities.

She imparts her leadership by defining issues, inspiring proactive leadership trends and ensuring high standards of quality in the service our industry provides. She is generous with her time and energy. Even her twitter posts [@CarrieFParsons] promote the priorities of the industry and encourage professionalism. Freeman Parsons is living proof that culture eats strategy for breakfast, and she has been incredibly influential in converting industry sceptics, including those within her own company.

“I have the privilege of working in one of the most impactful industries in the world,” said Freeman Parsons. “Throughout my career, I have welcomed the opportunity to amplify the impact that meetings and conventions can and should have. Although this award recognizes Lifetime Achievement, I can only hope that my life's work is far from over.”

2018 Educator Honoree: Dr. Godwin Charles Ogbeide, PhD, MBA

Dr. Godwin Charles Ogbeide is a renowned tourism, convention and event management professor, colleague, researcher, and mentor. He currently serves as a faculty member at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis, where he doesn't just teach, but creates experiences for his students. Additionally, he is always quick to assist and share his knowledge with colleagues.

Ogbeide is a prolific researcher and has provided much-needed empirical research for the business events industry as well as other aspects of the hospitality industry. His research topics span from Economic Impact of Events & Tourism to Destination Marketing Management and Consumer Loyalty, Complaint Management & Satisfaction, just to name a few.

An active member of the PCMA Faculty Task Force, Ogbeide has served in a volunteer leadership capacity since 2012; including chairing this Task Force in 2014 and contributing to PCMA’sProfessional Meeting Management, [6th Ed]. Furthermore, since 2006 he has invested his volunteer time with both International and Regional Council on Hotel, Restaurant, and Institutional Education.

As a professor and researcher, Ogbeide shapes the industry professionals of tomorrow. He doesn't just teach from the classroom, but actually has his students plan events and interact with the real world and the industry—exemplifying everything an educator in this field should be.

“I am very proud to be a member and an advocate of PCMA and am grateful to be selected for this award," Ogbeide said. “As someone with over 30 years’ experience in the hospitality and tourism field, I have made it my mission to incorporate real life experience, critical thinking skills, decision-making skills, and research findings into my teaching processes to assist in developing my students’ abilities so that they may become society-ready Hospitality and Tourism professionals.”

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.