People News: MHI, Displayit and More Tap New Executives, Elevate Team Members

June 25, 2024

A deluge of trade show-related organizations have been focused on growing their leadership teams and welcoming staff as they forge new business opportunities and position themselves for growth this year and beyond.


MHI, an international trade association representing the material handling, logistics and supply chain industry, promoted 32-year trade show industry veteran Daniel McKinnon from executive vice president of exhibitions to chief exhibitions officer. He is responsible for developing and implementing strategic plans for MODEX and ProMat, as well as managing relationships with exhibitors, overseeing exhibition sales, show operations and ensuring that MHI exhibitions are positioned for future growth. Before joining MHI in 2019, McKinnon served as vice president of Freeman, and prior to that, as vice president, energy and engineering for Access Intelligence.

The Toy Association                         

The Toy Association welcomed toy industry veteran Greg Ahearn as its new president and CEO. Based at the association’s headquarters in New York City, he will have oversight of key objectives, including industry trade shows and events, such as Toy Fair New York; regulatory affairs and representation; toy safety and ethics initiatives; member education; and consumer outreach. His role also extends to partnership with The Toy Foundation, the philanthropic arm of the organization.

Ahearn’s career includes experience in a variety of executive roles inside the toy industry at small and large manufacturers, including Mattel, OddzOn, Hasbro, LeapFrog and Toys “R” Us on the retail side. He also previously served in leadership roles outside the toy space at Uber Technologies and as co-president of Davis Elen Advertising.


Atlanta-based trade show booths and displays provider Displayit and sister company PG Exhibits, a custom trade show booth company based in Denver and Dallas announced several executive appointments.

Marty Gareau has been promoted to general manager, responsible for people, customers, operations and financial performance. After joining Displayit in 2022 as vice president of sales for the High Impact Services division, Gareau’s role expanded the following year to include the company’s portables business as senior vice president of sales, leading to him taking ownership of production as executive vice president of sales and operations in January 2024.

Twenty-year exhibition industry veteran Aaron Kozar has joined PG Exhibits as general manager. His previous roles include managing director of Astound Group, where he was responsible for financial performance, fostering culture and managing operations; vice president of Royal Printing Solutions; and vice president/general manager of Orbus Exhibit & Display Group.

Heather Lamb has been tapped to serve as CFO/CIO of Displayit and PG Exhibits, responsible for leading the financial activities and IT services at the entity level for both companies. An experienced finance executive with more than 30 years of experience in building and managing finance, accounting, IT, payroll, HR and administrative teams, she has been a leader for a variety of companies across various industries including manufacturing, after-market service and parts distribution, SaaS/DaaS and online higher education.

Senior human resources professional Chrissy Hoff assumed the role of vice president of human resources of Displayit and PG Exhibits, tasked with leading all aspects of human resources practices and processes at the entity level for both companies. Throughout her more than 25 years in human resources, she has successfully served as a strategic partner to business and executive leaders, working to align talent strategy in support of organizational objectives. 

Savannah Convention Center

The Savannah Convention Center (SCC) in Savannah, Ga. announced two key leadership appointments: Al Rojas as assistant general manager and Jacqueline “Jackie” Mitchell as assistant director of event services,

Bringing more than 25 years of industry experience in finance, events and facilities management to his new role, Rojas will oversee the finance, administration, human resources and information technology departments, while also focusing on municipal policy, process optimization and project management to enhance the venue’s overall operations. He previously served as general manager at the Jackson Convention Complex in Jackson, Miss., and the Oklahoma City Convention Center and was also assistant general manager at Reunion Arena and assistant director at Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center, both in Dallas, Texas. 

Bringing more than two decades of event management, sales and business development experience to her role, Mitchell will play a pivotal role in optimizing the efficiency and effectiveness of the event services department. Her extensive hospitality and events industry background includes serving as director of events at Palm Beach County Convention Center in West Palm Beach, Fla., and a variety of positions at the Jackson Convention Complex, the Orlando Magic, Walt Disney World’s ESPN Wide World of Sports and the Richmond Sports Backers. 

The Expo Group

The Expo Group welcomed two event industry leaders to support its business growth: Darren Temple as chief growth officer and Rachel Mazzanti as executive vice president, show sales.

Bringing extensive experience in the trade show and event industry, Temple previously served as CEO and president of Switch, a service agency for live events; COO for Meeting Professionals International (MPI); and executive vice president of global sales for Freeman for nearly 20 years. 

An experienced business development leader, Mazzanti most recently served as vice president of business development for Freeman and held numerous leadership roles at the company for more than 11 years. 

Massachusetts Convention Center Authority

The Massachusetts Convention Center Authority (MCCA) hired Yuisa Pérez as chief people officer. Bringing more than 20 years of experience as a human resources leader, K-12 educator and DEI champion, she will lead the MCCA in fostering a welcoming and inclusive culture for its employees, contract partners and guests. Pérez most recently served as the chief people officer at the Museum of Science, Boston, and prior to that, as senior director of human resources at Family Health Center of Worcester Inc.

Sphere Entertainment 

Live entertainment and media company Sphere Entertainment Co. announced a key promotion and a new executive hire.

Jennifer Koester has been elevated from president of business operations to president and COO of Sphere, a next-generation entertainment medium in Las Vegas. In her expanded role, she will continue working with executive leadership and across the broader Sphere team to grow the business and optimize its operations, as well as provide strategic oversight for Sphere Studios. She will also continue to focus on maximizing venue use across a range of categories, including original programming, attractions, concerts, residencies and corporate and marquee events; driving strategic partnerships; delivering premium customer experience; and growing Sphere as a premium global brand.

A seasoned executive with 30 years of diverse experience in technology, media and entertainment, Koester joined Sphere Entertainment in February 2024 from Google, where she most recently served as managing director, Americas Strategic Alliances, Global Partnerships. 

Chandra Allison, a sales and marketing leader with 30 years of experience in the hospitality and events industries, joined Sphere as executive vice president, sales and service. She is responsible for driving Sphere’s sales strategies and ensuring exceptional customer experiences, developing and implementing sales and service strategies, overseeing the sales and service teams, developing and executing comprehensive sales plans, optimizing service delivery and building strong relationships with key clients and stakeholders in the Las Vegas market and beyond.

Allison most recently served as senior vice president of strategy and growth at Oak View Group (OVG), where she was responsible for overseeing strategy and growth across the OVG360 portfolio, including the design and development of meetings spaces, business strategy and programming for OVG’s planned Las Vegas hotel and casino project.

Atlanta Convention & Visitors Bureau

The Atlanta Convention & Visitors Bureau (ACVB) welcomed Emma Elder as national sales manager, responsible for selling and marketing Atlanta as a premier destination for group meetings with 251-1,200 rooms on peak night. She will represent ACVB at trade shows while coordinating the participation of the organization’s partners. Prior to joining ACVB, Elder owned Blue Heron Events, a New England-based wedding planning company, and prior to that, served as sales and event manager at a boutique Vermont inn, where she oversaw sales for all events, room blocks and ground bookings. 


Seasoned experiential marketer and thought leader Joseph Rivers joined global agency Spiro as director of sales enablement, responsible for developing and executing comprehensive content and event activation strategies to drive new business sales growth and providing horizontal sales opportunities with existing clientele. He will also create and curate a suite of content mediums including thought leadership, trend reports, written recaps, video interviews and related growth content and innovative platforms.

Impact XM

Global, full-service event and experiential marketing agency Impact XM has promoted Frank Verrilli from vice president of new business development to senior vice president of new business development. In his elevated role, Verrilli will continue to oversee the entire new business pipeline, leading the creation and execution of strategic sales action plans, exploring opportunities and securing new client partnerships. 

ASM Global

Leading venue management and services company ASM Global has appointed 25-year hospitality veteran Kathy Taylor as general manager of Ithaca Downtown Conference Center, a fully electric meetings and events venue set to open in July. In her new role, Taylor will oversee every aspect of the venue management and customer experience as well as work closely with the Downtown Ithaca Local Development Corporation that owns the venue to drive new economic activity in the destination. Most recently, she served as general manager for Genetti Hospitality, regional director of sales for Genetti Hospitality and director of sales at Holiday Inn Express & Suites Ithaca.   

Visit Anaheim 

Visit Anaheim promoted James Robinson to senior director of meeting sales. Most recently serving as convention sales director, southern region, he joined Visit Anaheim in late 2022. Prior to joining the destination marketing organization, Robinson spent more than six years on Visit Long Beach’s sales team, handling various markets and group sizes. He also boasts an extensive hotel background, serving in sales roles including director of group sales for the Westin Long Beach and as a senior sales manager for Sheraton Park Anaheim.

Metro Toronto Convention Centre 

The Metro Toronto Convention Centre (MTCC) has named hospitality industry veteran Susan Richardson as vice president of sales. She joins the MTCC after serving as vice president of group and convention sales and director of sales at Visit Detroit, where she led innovative sales initiatives that successfully helped reintroduce Detroit to the meetings and conventions market. Prior to Visit Detroit, Richardson served as director of sales and marketing solutions at the Javits Center in New York City, where she played a pivotal role in formulating the sales and marketing strategy for the building’s expansion in 2021.

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