People News: Clarion Events, San Diego Convention Center and More Announce New Leaders, Management Roles

November 7, 2023

Throughout the U.S. and across the pond, trade show-related organizations are welcoming fresh leadership, placing industry veterans at the helm of venues, event production and technology companies and destination management organizations. Take a look! 

Clarion Events North America 

Clarion Events North America recently added to its leadership team with the appointment of Nicole Peck as executive vice president of the Digital Innovation Portfolio, which includes Clarion’s flagship technology innovation brand, InsureTech Connect (ITC Vegas) and the premier mobile app marketing event, Mobile Apps Unlocked (MAU Vegas). She will spearhead this group of events from both a strategic lens for growth and development while focusing on building strong brands, teams and a positive workplace culture. 

Bringing a wealth of experience in brand development and driving digital innovation, Peck formerly worked as executive vice president of BizBash, where she was instrumental in positioning the company for acquisition by Tarsus, an Informa company, and more recently, served as vice president and general manager of Foundry Events for North America.

San Diego Convention Center  

The San Diego Convention Center Corporation recently welcomed 30-year venue management veteran and Certified Venue Executive Paul Turner as general manager, responsible for overseeing event management, venue operations, public safety and guest services for the 2.6-million-square-foot waterfront facility.  

Turner previously served as vice president of venue management and entertainment operations for Caesars Entertainment in Las Vegas, and prior to Caesars, held leadership positions with the Dallas Cowboys at AT&T Stadium, Philadelphia Eagles, Portland Trail Blazers and Cerritos Center for the Performing Arts.  


Freeman has appointed John Herrold as its CFO, tasked with leading the company’s finance organization focused on accounting, financial planning, tax, treasury and business analysis. He brings decades of finance experience to his new role.  

Prior to joining Freeman, Herrold was a managing director in the mergers and acquisitions group at J.P. Morgan, where he worked closely with Freeman over the past five years, including on the sale of Encore and the Sparks acquisition. During his 15 years with the firm, he worked with clients on evaluating and executing value-enhancing strategic transactions. 

His professional experience also includes roles at Accenture and GlaxoSmithKline, where he focused on strategic sourcing and procurement. 


Encore has hired Poonam Mohan as its new CIO, a role that will leverage technology to support the company strategy to elevate the customer experience by strengthening the culture, resources and employee career opportunities. Based in Dallas, she will lead the company’s internal technology innovation to streamline processes and solutions.  

Mohan joins Encore after 21 years at American Airlines, where she most recently served as vice president, corporate and enterprise technology. There she was responsible for the development lifecycle and operations for technologies supporting commercial and corporate, regional airlines, cargo and IT infrastructure. Her prior roles at American Airlines include managing director, flight operations and crew technology and managing director, revenue and planning technology. Before joining American Airlines, she worked as a consultant at PwC. 

Charlotte Regional Visitors Authority 

The Charlotte Regional Visitors Authority (CRVA) has appointed Steve Bagwell its new CEO. He will take the helm from outgoing CEO Tom Murray, who retires in November. 

Now in his 28th year with the CRVA, Bagwell currently serves as vice president of venues, responsible for overseeing the management of the Charlotte Convention Center, Bojangles Coliseum and Ovens Auditorium as well as back-of-house support services at the Spectrum Center and the NASCAR Hall of Fame. A CPA, Bagwell has held crucial roles in operations, technology and finance within the organization. 


Event production company Shepard has named 18-year industry veteran Sarah Aivaz as its senior vice president of business solutions, responsible for spearheading the company’s technological advancements. As the latest addition to Shepard’s executive team, she brings a proven track record of fostering innovation and driving transformation through technology.  

In her new role, Aivaz will focus on optimizing the customer user experience, working closely with Shepard’s newly appointed vice president of engineering, Chris Boozer 


U.K.-based exhibition and event website and client services specialists ASP has appointed Jon Benjamin as its new CEO, charged with leading the business as it expands into new markets and global territories, including the U.S., Middle East and Asia. Previously a director at both LinkedIn and News UK, Benjamin joined ASP in 2014 and was appointed to the position of managing director in 2020. 

Discover The Palm Beaches 

Discover The Palm Beaches appointed Milton Segarra as its new president and CEO. A Certified Destination Management Executive (CDME), he takes the reins from Jorge Pesquera, who recently retired after leading the organization for the past 16 years. 

Segarra first joined Discover The Palm Beaches as chief marketing officer in the fall of 2022, and prior to that, led the Coastal Mississippi Tourism Board and also served as president and CEO of Meet Puerto Rico. He also boasts an extensive history in the hotel industry, holding senior sales, revenue and marketing positions with Hilton Hotels and Resorts, Hyatt Hotels and Resorts and Sands Hotels and Casinos.

Atlanta Convention & Visitors Bureau   

Atlanta Convention & Visitors Bureau (ACVB) recently welcomed Andrew Clark as digital marketing manager, responsible for evaluating ACVB’s content strategy and executing initiatives across digital platforms. He will also create written and visual content to drive engagement with the goal of keeping Atlanta top-of-mind with business and leisure travelers.

Prior to ACVB, Clark served as the general manager at Hite Digital Atlanta, where he was charged with overseeing marketing campaigns for clients.  


Destination and event management company CSI DMC has promoted Melis Feingold from vice president, creative services to vice president, creative partnerships, responsible for leading the organization’s charge in elevating creative content and event design, nurturing stronger partnerships and consistently delivering exceptional client experiences. 

Bringing more than 19 years of event and marketing experience, Feingold has been an integral part of the CSI DMC team since 2016, holding a range of director, manager and senior sales and creative services roles. Before coming to CSI DMC, she worked as an event manager at A2 Events. 

Philadelphia Convention and Visitors Bureau 

The Philadelphia Convention and Visitors Bureau has welcomed David Nash as CRM and research analyst. In his new role, Nash will serve as project manager for all research-related projects, be the primary user of the organization’s CRM platform and play a key part in collecting, analyzing, interpreting and visualizing data for the PHLCVB team.

Before joining the PHLCVB, Nash served as director of information technology and database management for the Fayetteville Area Convention and Visitors Bureau, and prior to that, worked for Abbott Labs and ACS, Inc. A military veteran, Nash served in the U.S. Navy for seven years.  


Atlanta-based experiential marketing agency Exhibitus has appointed experiential marketing veteran Rodrigo Espinosa as its chief strategist, responsible for developing and executing strategies to expand the company’s experiential focus and create brand initiatives to support client growth nationally and internationally. 

Bringing more than 25 years of experience in experiential marketing, brand positioning, business development and net-new revenue generation, sponsorship, communications strategy, integrated marketing communications, global leadership and digital activations to his new role, Rodrigo has worked extensively in the technology, automotive and consumer goods sectors, building innovative brand experiences for industry-leading companies.  

Visit California 

Visit California has expanded its external affairs team with the promotion of Angie Pappas to associate vice president of external affairs and media relations, responsible for continuing to oversee the PR team while also taking on the responsibility of supervising the organization’s in-house events team. 

A dedicated leader in the hospitality industry, Pappas will leverage her expertise to spearhead the organization’s revamped structure, focusing on an all-encompassing external affairs strategy that includes ongoing planning, disaster preparedness, messaging and relationship cultivation with elected officials, media outlets, industry leaders and consumers. 

Before joining Visit California, Pappas served as the director of communications at the California Restaurant Association for six years, after which she transitioned to Visit California’s corporate communications team, where she has played a pivotal role in key campaigns for nine years.  

As part of this organizational expansion, Sustainability and Public Affairs Manager Dan Smith has been promoted to director of external affairs and will oversee the new role of sustainability manager.

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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