People News: Choose Chicago, PCMA, OVG360 and More Select New Leaders, Scoop Up Talent

March 28, 2022

The trade show industry’s hiring and promoting trend continues its forward trajectory as event-related organizations throughout the U.S. appoint new executives, elevate top-performing staff and welcome new team members. Take a look! 

Choose Chicago 

Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot and Choose Chicago have tapped Lynn Osmond as the CVB’s new CEO, effective May 9. As the first woman to helm the city’s tourism agency, Osmond brings deep knowledge of Chicago’s tourism and hospitality community to her new leadership role, most recently serving as president and CEO of the Chicago Architecture Center (CAC).  

Under Osmond’s 25-year leadership, the CAC grew from a $2.4 million operation in 1996 to a $25 million organization in 2019, making it one of the city’s top cultural attractions and the largest architecture center of its kind in the world. A former Choose Chicago board member, she has also held key leadership positions with theater, symphony orchestra and architecture nonprofits. 

Osmond was appointed after a global search overseen by a 13-member committee of Choose Chicago Board members representing a cross-section of the tourism hospitality community. She succeeds David Whitaker, who resigned last summer after five years at the helm and was appointed president and CEO of the Greater Miami Convention and Visitors Bureau. Since then, Choose Chicago has been under the leadership of Interim CEO and CFO James Meyer.


The Professional Convention Management Association (PCMA) recently made two senior leadership promotions. Kimberley Gishler, who has served as CEMA president and CEO since 2010, has been appointed PCMA senior vice president global events and experiences and executive director, CEMA (which was acquired by PCMA in December 2020). She will continue to helm CEMA while providing leadership and direction to PCMA global events. 

Meghan Risch has been appointed chief of staff and vice president, corporate communications. In this new role, she will continue to lead the communications team while supporting the president and CEO and the executive leadership team in carrying out PCMA’s 2022 goals, streamlining strategic initiatives, ensuring communications and collaboration between departments, and overseeing board relations and communication. 


Full-service venue management and event programming company OVG360, a third-party, service-oriented division of global venue development, advisory and investment company Oak View Group, has appointed Gregory A. O’Dell as president, venue management. He will begin his new role in April as he departs his current position as president and CEO of Events DC, the official convention and sports authority for the District of Columbia. 

Bringing more than 25 years of experience in sports, entertainment, hospitality, management and development to his new role, O’Dell will lead OVG360’s venue management line of business, overseeing venue operations for more than 230 global properties, including stadiums, arenas, convention centers, performing arts centers, cultural institutions and state fairgrounds. His responsibilities will include setting strategy to bolster sustainable operations, booking and content development, premium and sponsorship sales, public safety, public health and sanitization, parking and transportation, and many other venue operations. 

In his prior leadership role with Events DC, O’Dell oversaw three lines of business: conventions and meetings, sports and entertainment, and special events. His primary responsibilities included oversight of the creation and promotion of hospitality, athletic, entertainment and cultural activities, as well as managing Events DC’s development portfolio.

Previously, O’Dell served as CEO and general manager of the Washington Convention Center Authority, president and CEO of the D.C. Sports and Entertainment Commission and chief development officer for the Government of the District of Columbia.  

Philadelphia Convention and Visitors Bureau

The Philadelphia Convention and Visitors Bureau (PHLCVB) recently expanded its sales team with several promotions and a new staff member.  

Bringing more than 20 years of experience working in the Philadelphia tourism and hospitality industry, Shane Jackson has joined the PHLCVB as national accounts manager for the Northeast market. He previously served as senior sales executive for the Philadelphia Marriott Downtown, and before joining Marriott in 2007, worked as marketing manager for Talley Management Group and national sales manager for the Pennsylvania Convention Center. 

Caryn Mousley has been promoted from destination services coordinator to destination services manager, devoted to servicing the PHLCVB’s large convention groups and citywides, liaising between clients, vendors, city services and hotel partners.

Anthony Nelson has been promoted from national accounts manager to national accounts director, responsible for booking citywide conventions for the western half of the U.S., focusing primarily on association and corporate markets. He is also handling the Southeast market and a vertical in the sports market. 

PHLCVB has promoted Nicholas Rigas from manager, convention sales to director of events and experiences, a role in which he will lead a dedicated events team to coordinate and execute events for partners, clients and external stakeholders. 

Sodexo Live! 

Venue hospitality and management partner Sodexo Live! has promoted Paul Pettas from PR and communications director to vice president, brand and communications. 

In his new role, Pettas will be tasked with developing a clear and effective internal and external communications strategy; continuing to promote thought leadership, SMEs and key executives from the Sodexo team; working with media; and rolling out the next phase of Sodexo’s brand identity to the market. 

Atlanta Convention & Visitors Bureau

The Atlanta Convention & Visitors Bureau (ACVB) has hired 20-year hospitality veteran Anthony Molino as director, Chicago area sales, responsible for attracting citywide conventions of 1,200 room nights or greater on peak from the Midwest market.

Molino was most recently with Choose Chicago as director of hotel sales and national sales manager after joining the destination marketing organization in 2017. Prior to that role, he held positions as director of national accounts with Hilton properties in Washington, D.C., and Chicago, and began his career in event services at Chicago Marriott Downtown in 2004.

Molino currently serves as chair of Meeting Professionals International (MPI) Global’s diversity, equity and inclusion committee, and sits on MPI Global’s customer advisory board, as well as multiple committees with Destinations International.


Leading registration, data management, data analytics and lead retrieval services provider CompuSystems has welcomed events industry veteran Julie Ichiba to its sales team as director of business development. Bringing more than 20 years of sales and leadership experience to her new position, she is responsible for encompassing sales team leadership, business development, client management and contributing to the company’s marketing and business strategies.

Prior to joining CompuSystems, Ichiba gained expertise selling, managing clients and leading high-performance sales teams at RX, Advanstar Communications, VNU Exhibitions, Tarsus, Association Management Center and others. 

Clarion Events North America  

Clarion Events North America has promoted senior vice president Mike Carlucci from senior vice president of revenue to executive vice president of revenue and customer delivery, focused on driving revenue growth by aligning the sales, customer delivery and operations teams to enable greater success for exhibitors and sponsors. He will serve as the primary contact in all central operations relationships, including working with venues, decorators and exhibitor service partners on behalf of Clarion’s North American business.  

Since coming to Clarion in 2014, Carlucci has worked across a variety of portfolios leading the sales and sponsorship delivery for North America, building relationships with venues and service providers, leading the exhibitor services team and focused on all aspects of customer delivery. He previously worked at RX for almost five years. 

Visit Jacksonville

Visit Jacksonville recently welcomed four new team members to support its meeting and convention efforts. 

As the new national account manager, Laura Gonzalez is focusing on the sports tourism market to promote Jacksonville as a premier destination for youth, amateur, collegiate and professional sports as well as sports conventions. Prior to this role, she served as director of sales and marketing at Tru by Hilton in Jacksonville.  

Lauren Hickox has been appointed assistant destination experience manager, responsible for assisting visitors through Visit Jacksonville’s numerous Visitor Centers, as well as those visiting as a part of a conference or group, with requests for information, maps and brochures, referrals and trip planning services. Most recently, Hickox was an events and marketing intern at the American Heart Association in Jacksonville.  

As destination experience manager, Paloma Martin works as a liaison between local businesses and provides referrals and amenities to individuals, groups and meeting planners coming to Jacksonville. Previously, she worked as an event manager at Hyatt Regency Jacksonville-Riverfront. 

Certified Meeting Professional Kelly Sanderson has assumed the role of convention sales marketing manager, responsible for marketing initiatives and strategies associated with helping the sales team bring conventions and groups to the city. Most recently, Sanderson was the destination service director for PRI Productions.

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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.