Julie Kagy Promoted to Lead ESCA as Larry Arnaudet Retires

October 27, 2023

With a network of over 185 members across the U.S. and Canada, the Exhibition Services & Contractors Association (ESCA) is preparing for a new era as Julie Kagy assumes the role of executive director, taking over from the retiring Larry Arnaudet, effective Jan. 1.

Arnaudet, a veteran with more than five decades of experience in the meetings and conventions industry, will be stepping down from his role as executive director. His retirement marks the end of an illustrious career, characterized by his invaluable contributions to ESCA and his unwavering dedication to its mission.

ESCA President Damon Ross, who serves as senior group vice president of CORT Events, praised Arnaudet's legacy. "Larry Arnaudet has been an invaluable asset to ESCA, and he leaves behind a legacy of audacious leadership and strategic acumen. Under his guidance, ESCA has become a cornerstone of our industry," he said

In her new role, Kagy is set to lead ESCA, established in 1970 to serve as a unified voice for service contractors and their partners in the exhibition industry, into the future. Kagy's career began after graduating from Purdue University Northwest, and she gained extensive experience at the Ritz-Carlton Four Seasons Chicago, where her leadership led to multiple prestigious awards. 

She also spent 12 years in various leadership positions at GES. Since 2015, Kagy has been serving as the director of operations at ESCA, where she has been instrumental in implementing key improvements, engaging with industry leaders and overseeing program enhancements.

"In this role, I am honored to lead this organization and to be trusted with ushering ESCA into its next chapter,” Kagy said. “I'm eager to work collaboratively with our board, staff and members to shape the future of the trade show industry."

Larry Arnaudet

Arnaudet, reflecting on his departure, said, "I hope I have positively impacted this industry. I look forward to seeing ESCA flourish under Julie's capable leadership."

Kagy's new initiatives will include a focus on member services, industry advocacy, enhancing industry security through the ESCA badge and improving ESCA's official educational program.

Ross expressed confidence in Kagy's leadership. "Julie Kagy's deep expertise and dedicated service make her the ideal leader for ESCA's next chapter,” he said. “As we bid a heartfelt farewell to Larry Arnaudet, we are confident that Julie's stewardship will keep ESCA at the forefront of innovation and excellence."

Arnaudet also had words of praise for his successor. "Handing the reins to Julie Kagy isn't just a changing of the guard; it's a passing of the torch to someone eminently capable and deeply committed to our association and industry,” he said. “I'm confident she will uphold and advance the values that have made ESCA what it is today."

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