New Network Seeks Advancement for Women in North American Exhibitions Industry

March 19, 2021
New Network Seeks Advancement for Women in North American Exhibitions Industry

After two years in the making, the Women in Exhibitions Network North America Chapter recently launched. Fittingly, the inaugural event was virtual — on Zoom — and held on March 8, International Women’s Day.

The group is a safe place for women to discuss lessons learned over decades in the industry and see a path forward for more leadership positions. It’s widely known, and often bemoaned, that women are underrepresented in leading roles despite their prevalence in the events industry. 

Three legends in the field — Nancy Walsh, president of North America, Informa; Mary Larkin, president, Diversified and Carrie Freeman Parsons, chair, Freeman — spoke to more than 165 attendees, including Oana Cipca, the founder of the International WIEN.

“Therein lies the silver lining of COVID, we had the time to finally do what we had wanted to do and connect, even though we were on different continents,” said Martha Donato, co-founder of WIEN North America and president and co-founder of Mad Event Management.

Themes included in the opening session included:

  • Why not us?
  • You can have it all — a career and family
  • Never be afraid to ask
  • Use existing relationships to push yourself forward

Donato co-founded the chapter with an official start date of Jan. 1, 2021, along with Stephanie Selesnick, who serves as secretary and heads International Trade Information and Laura Purdy, who serves as treasurer and is general manager of Toronto’s Exhibition Place.

The launch event also served as a kickoff for a membership drive. WIEN is open to all women involved in the North American exhibitions industry whose business is related to the organization and facilitation of both B2B and B2C exhibitions. Members do not need to be currently employed by a company or association in the industry to join.

Membership will be opening soon for anyone who is interested. To stay up to date on the chapter and be updated when membership opens, click here.


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