People News: CampfireSocial, PCMA, Cadmium, jwc and More Tap New Leaders, Build Teams

May 13, 2021

The hiring craze continues across the trade show and events industry, as organizations appoint new leadership, make promotions and grow their workforces. Could this be a sign of boom times ahead? 


Social network and ecommerce SaaS platform CampfireSocial has appointed 25-year industry veteran Steve Gebhart as Chief Information Officer. Gebhart will spearhead the company’s product strategy, technology development and innovation pipeline, and work closely with customers, end users and other members of the leadership team.

Gebhart comes to CampfireSocial after consulting on the launch of TalkTemperament, a telehealth counseling service, as well as other analytics and event-based companies. Prior to that, he spent three years at Western Veterinary Conference (now Viticus Group), managing technology, marketing and sales as CTO and CIO, and as its interim CEO. He also served as vice president of digital product development for worldwide operations at GES in Las Vegas. 


PCMA has appointed tourism and business events industry leader Meghan Risch as vice president of strategic and corporate communications, effective May 20. Bringing more than 25 years of experience in the hospitality, economic development and travel and tourism industries to her new role, she will be responsible for developing, leading and implementing an integrated strategic communications plan that promotes PCMA’s mission and goals, strengthens its brand and deepens the impact of its work. 

Most recently, Risch was founder and principal of R4 Communications Strategies, Inc., a strategic communications firm focused on media relations, crisis management and advocacy. In early 2021, Risch orchestrated the launch of Tourism Diversity Matters, the collaborative leader of diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives and concepts, an initiative she will continue to support on behalf of PCMA. 

Prior to R4, Risch spent 12 years developing communications strategy for Choose Chicago.


Symphony Technology Group has added two software industry veterans to an executive leadership team created to combine the recent acquisitions of CadmiumCD, EthosCE, Warpwire, and CommPartners into a new unified software company called Cadmium. 

As CEO and CFO, respectively, Jim Obsitnik and Mike Dunn will lead the unification of the individual divisions to create a single organization with a broad, strategic vision designed to help customers to evolve with the digital transformation taking place in the events and education worlds.   

Obsitnik brings more than 25 years of experience creating and building organizations focused on providing B2B SaaS solutions that deliver strong customer ROI while tapping into platform-based ecosystems and capitalizing on emerging technology trends. 

With more than 15 years of experience managing finance, HR and legal functions and integrated multiple strategic acquisitions for growing software, technology and professional services companies, Dunn will oversee Cadmium’s strategic growth and resources as it continues expanding into the events and professional education markets. 


Sonia Thomas has joined global exhibition and conference industry consulting firm jwc GmbH as a senior consultant. She previously served as COO of UFI, the Global Association of the Exhibition Industry, which she joined in 2006.

A certified executive coach, Thomas has an honor’s degree in hospitality management. She is also a part-time teacher at the Dauphine University in Paris, and a team coach for the Master’s in Innovation and Entrepreneurship at the HEC Business School in Paris. 

National Safety Council 

The National Safety Council recently appointed seasoned strategist and event planner Pam Nutting as conference program manager. She joins an award-winning team that organizes and executes the largest annual safety conference in the world, the NSC Congress & Expo.

With more than 16 years of experience in education, project management/process improvement and hospitality industries, Nutting previously worked with Maritz Global Events, Cygnus Business Media, OnPeak and the Illinois Podiatric Medical Association.


Virtual and hybrid event platform Glisser has appointed two new board members and a new senior hire in the U.S.: Steve Pedrick as chief revenue officer, David Hose as board director and Bill Portelli as chair. 

As a CEO advisor, board director, and private equity/venture CEO, Portelli has helped create billions of dollars of incremental enterprise value and tech company revenues through the creation of breakout strategies and business models, the building of award-winning products and the coaching of high-impact CEOs and their teams. 

Hose is a seasoned technology executive and serial entrepreneur, with more than 35 years as founder, CEO, investor, board member and advisor for more than 40 companies over the course of his career. He was the founder and CEO of Signalsoft, served as CEO Of Napster/Rhapsody from 2014 and CEO of AirMap from 2018-2020. 

Prior to Glisser, Pedrick was an operating partner at Downing Ventures. He has spent his career building and scaling B2B technology companies and has worked across a range of stages and categories, focusing on building successful sales organizations, growing strategic partnerships and developing revenue-driving commercial initiatives. 

LeftField Media 

Contemporary culture events company LeftField Media has hired MK Goodwin as its new portfolio director. Goodwin brings more than 10 years of industry experience working with ReedPop to grow events like New York Comic Con, Emerald City Comic Con, C2E2 and Star Wars Celebration. In her new role, she will be responsible for LeftField’s comic portfolio of events, which includes Awesome Con and Rose City Comic Con, as well as new business development. 


Furniture rental and transition services provider CORT has tapped Mike Davis as its new president and COO. In this dual role, Davis will be responsible for overseeing all operations and sales for CORT Furniture Rental; CORT Trade Show & Events; CORT Party Rental; 4SITE by CORT and Roomservice by CORT in the U.K.

Davis began his career with CORT in 1997 at CORT Furniture Rental in San Francisco. Over the years he has held executive leadership roles in both sales and operations, including executive vice president for CORT Furniture Rental and the Trade Show and Events Divisions. In 2016, he was promoted to COO.


Swiss-based contactless global event technology company Konduko appointed marketing, PR and brand development expert Mathew James as its new vice president of marketing and communications. In his new role, James will further the company’s global marketing strategy that includes communicating the safety and commercial benefits of the company’s contactless technology for in-person and hybrid events.

Up until the end of 2020, James served as the head of brand at UK-based Southawater Event Group, where he was an operational and strategic lead for brand marketing and communications across the Group’s five businesses, including the Telford International Centre. 

World Pet Association 

The World Pet Association, producers of the SuperZoo pet industry trade show, has added event marketing and pet retail industry veterans Mike Karsting and Pete Risano to its executive leadership team as senior vice president of events and vice president of membership and partnerships, respectively. 

Karsting’s 25 years of experience includes event marketing and management of numerous trade and ticketed events, including 18 years with TEN: The Enthusiast Network. Most recently, he served as marketing director at MotoAmerica. He also served on the WPA leadership team in 2018.

With three decades of pet retail experience, Risano served as a consultant to WPA during the past year and from 2010-2018 was a board member, where he most recently served as second executive vice chair. He founded his own consulting practice in 2018 and in 2020 was hired by WPA to design and establish a new member services division.


Display industry steel truss systems provider Trussworks appointed 12-year industry veteran Joe Guerrero as national sales manager. He is responsible for coordinating regional sales teams and customer service, working closely with the marketing team and advancing product development. 

In 2017, Guerrero joined Aluvision as a regional sales manager for the Midwest region and prior to that, served as an account executive for Nimlok Chicago. In 2011, he started his trade show career at Orbus Exhibit and Display Group, where he was a part of the inside sales and business development teams. 

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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.