People News: VISIT Denver, IBTM World and More Elevate Seasoned Professionals, Grow Leadership Teams

December 14, 2023

An array of show organizers, CVBs, event agencies and industry associations have been steadily hiring and promoting staff while bolstering their executive teams as they look ahead to a busy New Year. 


Twenty-five-year hospitality industry veteran Lee Ann Benevidez has joined VISIT DENVER as its new senior vice president and chief sales and services officer. In her new role, she leads and directs convention and meeting sales efforts, including driving convention bookings for the newly expanded Colorado Convention Center and overseeing the organization’s destination strategy and services efforts.  

Benavidez most recently served as vice president of third-party commerce and luxury sales strategy for MGM Resorts International and previously held various roles over her 18 years with Hyatt Hotels Corp., most recently as vice president of sales for the Americas Region. Prior to joining the Americas Region, she was regional vice president of sales and revenue for the Western Region.

IBTM World

IBTM World appointed 14-year meetings and events industry veteran Claudia Hall as its new event director, responsible for the management and strategic planning of the organization’s flagship global trade show, which took place Nov. 28-30 at Fira de Barcelona.

Hall previously worked for Informa as exhibition director for both Intermobility Expo and Middle East Energy. Based in Dubai, she was responsible for managing, planning and staging the operational, logistical and financial aspects of both large-scale international trade shows. 


Full-service special event and trade show contractor Heritage recently added two seasoned industry professionals to its team: Brian McHugh as vice president of sales and Bobby Hacket as national senior vice president of operations.

Bringing an extensive background in new business development in the IT industry, McHugh will help develop and lead new business prospecting practices across the organization, working in close collaboration with the entire sales and account management team to secure new business. He most recently served as the director, strategic accounts at Tanium and previously held sales, strategic accounts and management roles at Google, VMware, Cisco and Hewlett-Packard. 

Based out of Heritage’s Nashville branch, Hacket will be responsible for overseeing national in-house operations and overall event operations. He joins the company from Freeman, where he worked for nearly 27 years, most recently as director of freight operations.

Atlanta Convention & Visitors Bureau   

The Atlanta Convention & Visitors Bureau (ACVB) recently hired Taylor Boser as social media manager, responsible for developing the CVB’s content strategy and executing initiatives across social media platforms, focusing on group markets and attendance building. She will also produce written and visual content to drive engagement for meeting planners, attendees and leisure travelers.

Prior to ACVB, Boser served as a strategic communications specialist for Tallahassee Community College, where she developed social media content that highlighted the institute’s programs, students and campus activities.  


Global event talent consultancy tfconnect has tapped U.K. events industry veteran Miranda Martin as its new managing director, effective Jan. 18. She is replacing Trevor Foley, who will become chairman and focus on business development. 

Bringing 16 years of events industry experience across food and music festivals, intellectual property (IP)-led fan fests, niche market events and trade shows, Martin most recently served as chief executive of Brand Events’ Pub in the Park festival series. Prior to that, she served as portfolio director and event director at Montgomery Experiences, and as an event director and event manager across a range of consumer and trade IP-led fan fests and niche market events, among other roles, at SME London. 

InVision Communications 

Event marketing agency InVision Communications appointed 25-year event marketing and leadership veteran Angie Smith as its new CEO, effective Jan. 1. She most recently served as head of experiential and field marketing at Atlassian, an InVision client, and previously spent more than three years at InVision as its group executive, strategy. Smith’s career also includes notable tenures at leading companies, including Cisco and INXPO. 

InVision’s CEO/Co-Founder Rod Mickels and Chief Culture Officer/Co-Founder Drew Hagen will remain on the company’s board of directors and transition to advisors of the new CEO and executive leadership team. 

Louisville Tourism 

Louisville Tourism recently welcomed a new team member and announced two staff promotions. 

Kathryn Peck has been promoted to finance and administration manager, tasked with administering the recently created Tourism Improvement District (TID) program’s payables, filing annual reports and overseeing Louisville Tourism’s corporate credit card expense reporting process. An employee of Louisville Tourism since 2016, she has held support positions in the convention sales department, destination services and most recently, within the strategic alliances department. 

Janel Clements was promoted to convention sales coordinator from her previous role as convention sales assistant. In her new role, she leads the sales department’s administrative team and will continue to serve in a supportive role with the sales department managers, directors and senior vice president. Clements has been with Louisville Tourism since 2021.

Shelby Basham has rejoined the organization as a convention sales assistant, continuing her previous tenure at Louisville Tourism within the sales support team, where she will work closely with sales managers and directors to help secure incoming meetings and conventions business for Louisville. She most recently worked as a group travel consultant at Hemisphere Educational Travel. 


Soundings — a woman-owned talent platform for the event, hospitality and nonprofit industries — welcomed event technology veteran Kerry Lambert as its new COO. Bringing a wealth of leadership experience to her new role, she has held notable positions at event organizations, including Cvent and Freeman. 

As part of this strategic reorganization at Soundings, Heather Black Cosgrave has been elevated to vice president of account management since joining the company as director of customer success and account management. 


PCMA has added a new leader to its executive team: Traci DePuy as chief marketing officer, responsible for leading the association’s enterprise-wide brand and marketing strategies.

A recognized corporate marketing and brand strategist, DePuy joins PCMA with more than 15 years in SaaS b-to-b brand strategy, event operations and marketing management, holding leadership positions at notable corporate technology companies, such as Ellucian and Salesforce. 

Exhibitor Group  

Exhibitor Group welcomed consultant, speaker, educator and author Jim Gilmore as chief experiential architect, a newly created role in which he’ll help EXHIBITOR drive new audience engagement strategies.

A management advisor to organizations throughout the world, Gilmore is the co-author of The Experience Economy, covering experience design, customer experience management and experiential marketing. A frequent keynote speaker, he is also a workshop facilitator and executive coach focused on helping organizations understand the experience economy and its implications on their operations. 

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Partner Voices
Overview: The award-winning Orange County Convention Center (OCCC) goes the extra mile to make every day extraordinary by offering customer service excellence and industry-leading partnerships. From their dedicated in-house Rigging team to their robust Exhibitor Services, The Center of Hospitality brings your imagination to life by helping you host unforgettable meetings and events. With more than 2 million square feet of exhibit space, world-class services and a dream destination, we are committed to making even the most ambitious conventions a reality. In October 2023, the Orange County Board of County Commissioners voted to approve allocating Tourist Development Tax funding for the $560 million Phase 5A completion of the OCCC. The Convention Way Grand Concourse project will include enhancements to the North-South Building, featuring an additional 60,000 square feet of meeting space, an 80,000- square-foot ballroom and new entry to the North-South Building along Convention Way. “We are thrilled to begin work on completing our North-South Building which will allow us to meet the growing needs of our clients,” said OCCC Executive Director Mark Tester. “As an economic driver for the community, this project will provide the Center with connectivity and meeting space to host more events and continue to infuse the local economy with new money and expanding business opportunities.” Amenities: The Center of Hospitality goes above and beyond by offering world-class customer service and industry-leading partnerships. From the largest convention center Wi-Fi network to custom LAN/WAN design, the Center takes pride in enhancing exhibitor and customer experience.  The OCCC is the exclusive provider of electricity (24-hour power at no additional cost), aerial rigging and lighting, water, natural gas and propane, compressed air, and cable TV services. Convenience The Center is at the epicenter of the destination, with an abundance of hotels, restaurants, and attractions within walking distance. Pedestrian bridges connect both buildings to more than 5,200 rooms and is within a 15-minute drive from the Orlando International Airport. The convenience of the location goes hand-in-hand with top notch service to help meet an event’s every need. Gold Key Members The OCCC’s Gold Key Members represent the best of the best when it comes to exceptional service and exclusive benefits for clients, exhibitors and guests. The Center’s Gold Key memberships with Universal Orlando Resort, SeaWorld Orlando and Walt Disney World greatly enhance meeting planner and attendee experiences offering world-renowned venues, immersive experiences and creative resources for their events. OCCC Events: This fiscal year, the OCCC is projected to host 168 events, 1.7 million attendees, and $2.9 billion in economic impact.  The Center’s top five events during their 2022-2023 fiscal year included:  AAU Jr. National Volleyball Championships 2023 200,000 Attendees $257 Million in Economic Impact MEGACON 2023 160,000 Attendees $205 Million in Economic Impact Open Championship Series 2023 69,500 Attendees $89 Million in Economic Impact Sunshine Classic 2023 42,000 Attendees $54 Million in Economic Impact Premiere Orlando 2023 42,000 Attendees $108 Million in Economic Impact