People News: Oklahoma City CVB, Reed Exhibitions, NEXT Events and More Announce Big Promotions, Expand Teams

January 7, 2021

As the trade show industry rings in a new year, several event and event-related organizations have made big promotions and added new team members as they prepare for brighter and busier 2021. 

The Greater Oklahoma City Chamber has named Zac Craig president of the Oklahoma City Convention and Visitors Bureau. Craig comes to the position after more than 11 years with Omni Hotels & Resorts, where he most recently served as area director of sales and marketing and was based in Atlanta. 

Craig replaces Mike Carrier, who retired Sept. 30, 2020. He will begin his new position in February.

“Zac Craig brings the right combination of skills to this position,” said Roy Williams, president and CEO of the Greater Oklahoma City Chamber. “First, he is an Oklahoma native and takes great pride in our city’s growth and direction. Second, he has a track record for meeting sales and marketing goals, which is especially important as we launch a new convention center. He has an outstanding reputation among his peers and strong experience managing both people and budgets, along with facility management. Add to that his Omni credentials and he really is the perfect leader for this transition of growth in our visitor industry.”       

Anna Dycheva-Smirnova has taken the helm of Reed Exhibitions UK as its new CEO, in addition to her existing role as CEO of Reed Exhibitions Russia, Turkey and the Middle East, effective Jan. 1. 

In 2008, Dycheva-Smirnova joined Reed Exhibitions as deputy general manager of Reed Exhibitions Russia, later becoming its CEO in 2017. In 2019, she was named CEO of Reed Exhibitions Turkey and Reed Exhibitions Middle East. 

According to Dominic Feltham, president of Reed Exhibitions Europe, Middle East and Africa, Dycheva-Smirnova’s international expertise, deep events experience and an understanding of Reed’s high-performance culture will play a crucial role in the company rebuilding its UK business after the pandemic subsides.

“My first job will be to support our teams in the UK and rebuild our business— integrating our digital expertise into our future events—delivering compelling value for our customers and driving our company back to growth,” Dycheva-Smirnova said.

Interior design industry networking and matchmaking experiences company NEXT Events has expanded its team with the appointment of Megan Baughman as new events director. An industry veteran with more than 15 years of experience in meeting and event management, Baughman assumes a new role that will oversee all aspects of event planning for the company, utilizing her extensive experience in customer service, organization and time management. 

Baughman will also oversee operations of the upcoming All Aboard Design matchmaking experience, set for April 14-17 at The Sweetgrass Inn in Isle of Palms, South Carolina. 

“As a welcome addition to our team, Megan delivers exceptional expertise in planning events for the design industry and building countless relationships,” said NEXT Events President and CEO Michael Schneider, with whom Baughman previously worked during their prior tenure under the Boutique Design brand at ST Media Group. 

As of Jan. 1, Adrienne Appell was promoted to senior vice president of marketing communications at The Toy Association. As part of the organization’s senior management team, she will be responsible for the development, implementation and oversight of the organization’s communications strategies, active digital footprint, key messaging and value of play and brand integrity programs. 

Appell joined The Toy Association’s communications department in 2004 and brings nearly two decades in the toy and youth entertainment industry experience. Serving most recently as senior director of strategic communications, she led the organization’s safety education, advocacy and toy trends communication programs while maintaining close contact with toy companies to stay abreast of the newest developments in toys and games.

“Adrienne’s depth of experience and broad knowledge across the toy and play community will prove invaluable as The Toy Association responds to member needs and continues to demonstrate leadership in a dramatically shifting consumer and retail environment,” said Steve Pasierb, president and CEO of The Toy Association.

Sparks, a live and digital experiential marketing agency, has promoted Kristy Elisano to chief marketing officer. In her new position, Elisano will continue to oversee the strategic planning and development of the agency’s marketing and business development departments. She previously served as senior vice president of marketing and business development for Sparks, where she has worked for 18 years. 

“Kristy is the kind of person who brings out the best in everyone she works with,” said Jeffrey Harrow, chairman of Sparks. “She is a mentor and an inspiration to so many of us at Sparks, including myself. Having been around her for many years, I’m so proud to recognize her as the incredible leader—and friend—she is.”

Diane Casavant and Nicole DeQuattro have been tapped to head up the new general contracting division of the Corp-Events New England division of Corporate Communications. The new team will market the company as a full-service provider of trade show exhibits, sporting event décor, portable program management and indoor and outdoor décor while marketing to large and small events, show organizers and facilities. 

As the new general service contracting director of sales, DeQuattro brings more than a decade of experience working in the event service industry, with skills in budgeting, event planning, customer service, sales, operations, logistics and business process improvement. Assuming the role of senior conference and trade show coordinator, Casavant has 21 years of trade show and event experience, specializing in customer relations and show management support. 

Scott Kerr has been promoted to chief sales officer of global live brand storytelling agency, INVNT GROUP, after previously serving as its managing director of business development.  

Kerr will head up the company’s newly formed global business development team. He will be responsible for developing campaign solutions incorporating one or more of the brands within tha portfolio, including brand strategy firm, Folk Hero, creative-led culture consultancy, Meaning, branded content studio and content marketing agency, HEVĒ and INVNT. 

In his new role, Kerr will lead and mentor the multi-disciplinary international team, ensuring they are equipped with the knowledge and tools they require to deliver on the agency’s proposition. He brings more than 20 years of experience in experiential marketing, live corporate event communications, creative design and digital media to the position. 

INVNT also appointed Neil Mason to the role of executive creative director, EMEA. Mason brings more than 20 years of experience to the position, having led the creative output of experiential and integrated campaigns for brands including Nike, McLaren, Samsung, Google and Cisco. 

Based in London, Mason joins the agency from the Identity Group, where he served as executive creative director. In his new position, he will be tasked with devising unique concepts for virtual, hybrid and in-person experiences across all mediums. He will also collaborate with INVNT’s wider creative team on global campaigns that are localized in the region.

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