People News: EventsPass, VISIT Milwaukee and More Welcome Female Leaders and Veteran Event Professionals
For those keeping a close eye on gender equity within the U.S. trade show industry, this latest People News may serve as a beacon of hope. Check out all these female event professionals who are moving up and assuming senior and leadership roles at event-related organizations across the country.
Event ticket sales and marketing software and service partner EventsPass has promoted 20-year global event technology veteran Melissa Ooi to COO, responsible for leading the company’s next stage of growth.
Prior to joining EventsPass in 2022 as executive vice president – U.S. operations, Ooi was executive vice president at London, UK-based ASP Inc., where she led the formation and growth of global operations with strategic oversight of software development and managed services.
VISIT Milwaukee recently announced four new hires: Shannon Richmond as senior event experience manager, Raymond Valles as national account executive and Maaike Rheinfrank and Shaylynn Libby as convention sales coordinators. Additionally, the organization made four promotions: Claire Koenig to senior director of communications and public affairs, Megan Husband to national account and tourism sales executive, Christina Fox to senior convention sales coordinator and Katie Pfankuch to account executive.
In her new role, Richmond consults with convention and meeting clients from their initial booking through the completion of an event. She previously served as senior event manager at F Street Hospitality and has prior experience at Kimpton Hotels & Restaurants and Dynamic Events by David Caruso.
Based in Austin, Texas, Valles is responsible for lead generation and selling Greater Milwaukee as an events destination. Prior to joining VISIT Milwaukee, Valles was senior convention sales manager for Destination El Paso and has previous experience at Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts, Arbor Inn and Suites and the Walt Disney Company.
As convention sales coordinators, Rheinfrank and Libby support the convention sales department and national account executives. Rheinfrank is a recent graduate of Cardinal Stritch University, and Libby previously worked as a wedding planner at Graceful Events.
Starting with VISIT Milwaukee as a communications manager in 2017, Koenig now oversees a team of communications and social media professionals who work to elevate the city’s reputation and increase visitation to Milwaukee.
Husband has been with VISIT Milwaukee since 2008, starting as a convention sales manager. In her new role, she focuses on lead generation and room night goals for national association, religious and corporate citywide conventions and works with partners to promote Milwaukee.
Fox joined VISIT Milwaukee in 2015, originally as a convention sales assistant and was promoted to convention sales coordinator in 2020. In her new role, she provides administrative assistance and support to the convention sales department and Sports Milwaukee division and is also responsible for training new staff members and new VISIT Milwaukee partners on the CRM/Partner Portal.
Pfankuch joined VISIT Milwaukee in 2022 as a sales support specialist. As account executive, she continues to manage the rapidly expanding small group segment and assists the sales team with group tours as needed.
Clarion Events North America
Clarion Events North America has welcomed Narisa Wild to its leadership team as senior vice president of digital strategy and products. Bringing more than 24 years of digital technology and product development experience, Wild assumes direct responsibility for overseeing the event company’s digital evolution for media, events, technology and data within North America.
Wild boasts a robust portfolio of experience in the events, media and technology sectors, including several years serving in senior vice president and director roles at Informa and Informa Markets.
San Diego Tourism Authority
Theresa Cunningham has joined the San Diego Tourism Authority (SDTA) as director of diversity, equity and inclusion and community engagement. In this newly created role, Cunningham will work closely with SDTA departments to create key performance indicators aligned with organizational goals, represent SDTA on community boards and manage the organization’s award-winning Tourism Accelerator program, which helps San Diego-area businesses owned by women, veterans, people of color and LGBTQIA+ community members expand their operations and tap into the local tourism industry.
Previously, Cunningham served as vice president of strategic initiatives at San Diego nonprofit Reality Changers and worked for Teach for All, a global network that works to expand educational opportunities. She also held positions with UNESCO and Columbia University’s Office of International Affairs at Teachers College, as well as the Institute for Urban and Minority Education.
Exhibitor Group has appointed events industry veteran Kimberley Gishler as its new chief content strategist and associate publisher, responsible for shaping and executing the company’s content strategy and enhancing its digital presence across all platforms. She starts on Oct. 1.
Gishler previously served as president CEO of the Corporate Event Marketing Association (CEMA) for more than 13 years. Prior to that, she worked as marketing communications manager at Hewlett Packard.
Philadelphia Convention and Visitors Bureau
The Philadelphia Convention and Visitors Bureau (PHLCVB) recently appointed Jennifer Nagle to the new position of vice president of special projects. Bringing more than 20 years of executive experience in marketing, tourism and hospitality, she will play a pivotal role in leading strategic initiatives related to the CVB’s focus on citywide conventions, sporting events and international tourism in the lead-up to and throughout the U.S.’s Semiquincentennial in 2026. She will begin her new role on Sept. 11.
In her new role, Nagle will collaborate with PHLCVB leadership to ensure alignment, engagement and facilitation of key projects on behalf of the PHLCVB and its closest partners, serving as an internal and external liaison throughout the planning and execution of projects and events and as the PHLCVB’s primary representative.
She most recently served as interim president and CEO and executive vice president of the Philadelphia Visitor Center Corp.
The Labelexpo Global Series, which is now part of Informa PLC, has promoted Jade Grace to managing director of the labels and packaging division, responsible for overseeing direct management of the event and publishing business, as well as spearheading growth into new regions and sectors.
Since joining the Labelexpo Global Series team in 2004, Grace has held a number of positions, including event director and most recently, portfolio director. She has been instrumental in the growth of Labelexpo Europe and the portfolio in Asia, opening the India office and relaunching the Group’s presence in Southeast Asia.
Communications and public affairs veteran Emily Hatfield has joined VisitPITTSBURGH as director, communications and public affairs, responsible for working with senior leadership to align marketing and communication efforts with the organization’s overall business goals. In her new role, she will also partner with key stakeholders throughout the organization to shape and execute business strategy and key initiatives, as well as continue to enhance and endorse VisitPITTSBURGH’s brand, voice and messaging.
Hatfield most recently served as director of marketing and communications at ChemDAQ, Inc., and prior to that, as deputy cabinet secretary of the West Virginia Department of Tourism, where she also served as director of brand marketing and director of public relations. Earlier in her career, Hatfield held public affairs and communications roles at the West Virginia Department of Commerce and was deputy press secretary for the Office of the Governor of West Virginia.
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