People News: Visit Salt Lake, Bluefin and More Build Leadership Teams, Welcome Seasoned Industry Professionals

October 12, 2023

The U.S. trade show industry appears to be continuing its robust hiring momentum as summer turns to fall. Check out all the industry professionals getting hired and moving up at event-related organizations, companies and venues throughout the country. 

Visit Salt Lake 

Visit Salt Lake (VSL) recently welcomed two experienced industry professionals to its growing team: Stuart Webber as director of convention sales and Celina Sinclair as director of strategic alliances. 

In his new role, Webber will pursue citywide conventions with 1,700+ attendees from the health, medical, public administration, legal and governmental markets. Bringing more than 15 years of tourism industry and destination marketing organization experience to VSL, he served as Sioux Falls Convention Center’s director of sales since 2007 and worked with Global Spectrum in Sioux Falls as manager of corporate sales.  

In her new role, Sinclair is tasked with overseeing and executing strategy and implementation associated with the long-term stewardship of VSL’s strategic partners. Playing a leading role in managing the newly created Convention and Tourism Assessment Area (CTAA), she serves as the primary liaison with regional hotels and stakeholders and will work to enhance collaboration to drive tourism growth and development. She previously served as partner relations lead at the Utah Office of Tourism (UOT). 


Custom digital signage solutions company Bluefin International strengthened its commercial sales team with the addition of Susan Wilhite as senior director of business development. She will focus on cultivating key relationships with channel partners as well as establishing the company as the go-to digital signage resource in the commercial audio-visual space. 

Wilhite previously held business development and sales directorship roles at companies including Snap One, VIP Cinema Seating and Stewart Filmscreen, to name a few. She is also the founder and director of Women in AV/IT (WAVIT), a nonprofit created by and for women in the AV/IT industries. 

Meet Chicago Northwest 

Meet Chicago Northwest, the official DMO for the northwest suburbs of Chicago, recently hired Mario Farfan as its newest group sales account executive. A U.S. Army veteran, he brings more than 22 years of experience in community and business development across the Midwest, including Milwaukee, Chicago and surrounding suburbs. In 2015, Farfan founded the Northwest Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, which focuses on business development in the Latino community across Chicago’s northwest suburbs. 

International Association of Venue Managers

The International Association of Venue Managers (IAVM) announced the retirement of President and CEO Brad Mayne, effective next year. He will officially step down at the conclusion of IAVM’s VenueConnect conference and trade show, set for July 28-31, 2024, in Portland, Ore.

Mayne took the helm of IAVM in 2016 and under his leadership has led its membership to a historic high. He also led IAVM and the venue management industry successfully through the COVID-19 pandemic, tirelessly advocating for state and federal assistance to keep venues open.

Prior to being appointed president and CEO, Mayne was a member of IAVM for more than 30 years. He previously served as the president and CEO of MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, NJ, and American Airlines Center in Dallas, Texas. 

Following a detailed plan of succession for leadership, a Board CEO Selection Committee will soon be established to begin the process of identifying IAVM’s new president and CEO. 

Impact XM  

Global full-service event and experiential marketing agency Impact XM recently welcomed Robynne Weaver as vice president of strategic accounts. She joins Impact XM’s client service team and some of the agency’s largest client accounts, continuing to expand its B2B and B2C client portfolios.

Weaver brings two decades of industry experience in large-scale events and strategic experiences to her new role, including citywide corporate events, user conferences, product launches, trade shows and brand activations, and has worked with clients in the finance, technology, consumer and nonprofit industries. 

Reno-Sparks Convention & Visitors Authority

The Reno-Sparks Convention & Visitors Authority (RSCVA) recently added two regional directors of convention sales: Christina Henshall and Misty Sparks representing Reno Tahoe’s group events business in the Northwest U.S. and the Midwest, respectively, responsible for soliciting and selling the Reno, Sparks and North Lake Tahoe area as a convention destination.

Henshall has worked in the hospitality industry for more than 25 years with some of the largest global and national brands, including Marriott, Hilton and Caesars Entertainment. Based in Northern California, she oversees the territory that includes Northern California, Northern Nevada, Oregon, Washington State and Western Canada. 

Bringing more than 20 years of experience working with Caesars Entertainment and Hyatt brands, Sparks operates the Midwest regional office from Ohio and is responsible for booking business throughout Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Michigan, Minnesota, Montana, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota, Wisconsin and Wyoming. 

Skyline Exhibits

Liza Farm joined trade show exhibit company Skyline Exhibits as its new vice president of human resources, responsible for developing and executing a human resource strategy supporting the company’s business plan and strategic direction, as well as enhancing the Skyline team experience.  

An experienced and certified leader in human resource strategy, Farm joins Skyline from Master Builders Solutions, where she served as senior human resources manager for more than four years. Her professional experience spans a variety of industries, including glass and food manufacturing, franchising, SaaS and most recently, commercial construction. 

Visit Spokane 

Visit Spokane recently appointed 20-year marketing professional Jeff Hawley as its new vice president of marketing, responsible for leading the destination marketing organization’s team of marketing professionals. A Spokane native, he most recently served as global marketing manager, small business empowerment at Amazon, where he focused on helping small businesses gain recognition in their communities and nationally through the retail giant.  

Hawley previously worked as senior director and manager at global marketing agency Seattle Wunderman Network, and prior to that, began his career as a senior marketing analyst at Coldwater Creek.

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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