People News: Smithbucklin, Philadelphia CVB, PRG and More Announce Leadership Changes, Promote Team Members

January 10, 2022

As 2022 begins, new hires and promotions continue to take place throughout the exhibitions industry. Check out who’s moving in and moving up at event-related organizations across the U.S.


Association management company Smithbucklin has made some recent changes to its executive leadership team, effective Jan. 1.

Don Neal, founder and CEO of 360 Live Media, an experience design, marketing and event-focused agency that was acquired by Smithbucklin in 2018, will assume the newly created role of chief strategy officer, Smithbucklin. In his new role, Neal will focus on growth strategies for the company, its association clients and enterprise thought leadership.

An experienced marketing advisor, author, speaker and entrepreneur, Neal has been building brands and leading organizations for more than three decades. A former Omnicom marketing and media executive who has led global brands such as Mercedes Benz, Exxon Mobil and Reuters, he previously served as consumer and commercial CMO at Marsh McLennan, where he led all media planning and marketing affinity programs for more than 1,000 industry associations.

Jack Macleod, current chief growth officer of 360 Live Media, a role he has held since 2019, will succeed Neal in assuming the role of president, 360 Live Media. With more than 20 years of experience in marketing, advertising and public relations, Macleod previously served as publisher and chief revenue officer at Inside Higher Ed and as senior vice president and general manager at MXM Social, a social media content marketing agency. 

Philadelphia Convention and Visitors Bureau 

Twenty-year hospitality industry veteran Nik Pereira has joined the Philadelphia Convention and Visitors Bureau (PHLCVB) as vice president of sales, responsible for leading the convention sales team in achieving meeting and convention booking goals and collaborating with the Pennsylvania Convention Center to ensure alignment of strategy and processes. Pereira most recently served as director of sales for The Ritz-Carlton, Philadelphia, where he oversaw group, transient and catering sales, and prior to that, worked as area director of sales and marketing for Hersha Hospitality Management.

As the CVB’s new partnership specialist, Brian Lafferty will engage closely with partners to ensure high levels of retention and guarantee they have a full understanding of their benefits, value and practical use to meet their business needs. Before joining the organization, Lafferty served as higher education program manager for HarQen and associate director of alumni programs at Saint Joseph’s University.

Michelle Davis has been appointed digital media specialist, a role in which she will maintain the organization’s main and related websites, supporting benchmark analytics and goals, in addition to managing email communication and production. Davis previously served as senior email marketing specialist for CleanChoice Energy and marketing project coordinator for NutraNext.


Entertainment and live events production solutions provider Production Resource Group (PRG) has appointed Stephan Paridaen as CEO, effective Jan. 3. Paridaen currently holds the role of president and COO at PRG, leading its operations in EMEA and APAC since 2010. Simultaneously, PRG Founder, Chairman and CEO Jeremiah J. (Jere) Harris will transition into executive chairman and chief creative officer roles.

As president and COO, Paridaen led PRG’s growth in the EMEA region, establishing the company as a major presence in the region’s entertainment and event production industries. Recent achievements include the development of new markets, such as esports; a network of digital and virtual production facilities across EMEA and APAC; and a significant expansion in the Middle East. Prior to PRG, he served as president of media and entertainment at visual technology and systems provider Barco.

As executive chairman and CCO, Harris will work with and support Paridaen and the leadership team on continued excellence in key areas including customer experience, technology and the mentoring and development of top industry talent. A legendary and award-winning figure in entertainment and event production, Harris founded PRG in 1995 and has overseen its growth into a global presence with 62 offices in 28 countries.  


Professional services company Maritz has recently made some recent executive leadership changes. Following nearly 25 years of leading the company as CEO and chairman, Steve Maritz is transitioning into an executive chairman role, responsible for overseeing high-level functions, including finance, legal and board-related issues. 

David Peckinpaugh, who for 11 years has served as president of Maritz Global Eventsone of Maritz Holdings’ core business unitswill take over day-to-day management of Maritz Holdings as president and CEO, effective Jan. 1. In his new role, Peckinpaugh will be responsible for guiding overall business and go-to-market strategy, evolving the company’s collective vision and fostering the company’s people-focused culture. He will additionally focus on ensuring performance and operational excellence across the Maritz enterprise.    


VisitDallas has appointed marketing and hospitality industry veteran Jennifer Walker as its new senior vice president and chief marketing officer. She officially joined the organization in November and is responsible for directing the planning, development and comprehensive execution of VisitDallas’ marketing, branding and communications strategies.

Bringing almost three decades of extensive marketing and hospitality industry experience to her new role, Walker joins VisitDallas from full-service digital marketing agency AVB Marketing in Sacramento, Calif. Prior to AVB, she served as director of brand advertising at Visit California for two years and vice president of marketing and strategy for Visit Santa Barbara for two years. Prior to her tenure in California, Walker served as the director of marketing communications for Visit Austin for almost eight years and previously worked for multiple advertising agencies.

Main Light

Entertainment technology equipment provider Main Light, LLC has hired Patrick Bellino as an inside sales representative, responsible for working with both rental and sales clients as well as interfacing with the shop to ensure smooth client order fulfillment. Bellino is working from Main Light East in Wilmington, Del., reporting directly to Main Light Rental Manager Rick McKinney. Bellino previously worked as a rental representative with stage lighting company Christie Lites in New York, where he focused on the Broadway theater market and as an account executive with 4Wall Entertainment. Prior to his time in sales and rentals, Bellino worked as a freelance technician.


Strategy-driven agency mdg, A Freeman Company, has expanded its executive leadership team with the promotion of Erin Lee and Shauna Peters to vice president of digital marketing strategy and vice president and marketing strategist, respectively. They will serve alongside Kimberly Hardcastle, Vincent Polito and Jacquelyn Wells in leading and setting the overall direction of the agency. 

In her enhanced role, Lee is responsible for helping clients maximize the value of digital, data and marketing technology. Before joining mdg, she led marketing teams and spearheaded omnichannel campaigns for organizations in the biotech, transportation, food, manufacturing and healthcare fields.  

Hired as a member of the account services team in 2014, Peters has been a key developer of mdg’s persona and buyer journey mapping process, responsible for growing event participation, association membership and member engagement in myriad industries, including education, health care, manufacturing and technology. 

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Partner Voices
Dallas already boasts 35,000 hotel rooms, award-winning global cuisine, and a walkable downtown. But we are just getting started. Visit Dallas is thrilled to announce that the city of Dallas is doubling down with a massive new convention center and entertainment district. Featuring 800,000 square feet of exhibit area, 260,000 square feet of meeting rooms, and 170,000 square feet of ballroom. The center will connect business travelers with dining and shopping options in the popular Cedars District means more places to get down to business, and even more ways to unwind. “Dallas is already a great meetings and conventions destination, with the accessibility of two major airports, affordable labor, and an outstanding hotel product,” said D. Bradley Kent, Visit Dallas senior vice president and chief sales officer. “The new center and Convention Center District will enhance Dallas’ competitive position and are exactly what our customers’ need and have been asking for." What’s New – AT&T Discovery District Located in the heart of Downtown Dallas, this new district on the AT&T corporate campus is tailor-made for groups of all sizes. It boasts a multi-sensory experience, including outdoor event space, the AT&T Theater, and multiple dining outlets including JAXON Beer Garden and The Exchange, a bustling food hall. Hotels Coming Soon Names like the JW Marriott (Downtown), lnterContinental Dallas (Uptown), and Hotel Swexan (Uptown) are adding luxury amenities and bountiful event spaces. The projects will debut in 2023 and beyond. JW Marriott This new, 15-story, 283-room hotel will open in the heart of the city’s downtown Arts District this year. The property features a 25,000-square-foot grand ballroom, as well as a spa, restaurant, lobby bar, fitness center, and a rooftop pool deck and bar. InterContinental Dallas  Located in Cityplace Tower in Uptown, InterContinental Dallas will feature sweeping panoramic views of the Dallas skyline. Guests will enjoy spacious, high-end rooms and amenities, including more than 21,000 square feet of event space.   Hotel Swexan Hotel Swexan, a new, 22-story luxury property, is rising in Uptown’s Harwood District and will make its mark on the Dallas skyline. Opening this year, it is a sculptural building with cantilevered upper floors, as well as a 75-foot rooftop infinity-edge swimming pool and a hidden underground lounge.