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
  MGM Resorts is renowned for its exceptional service and diverse venue options across Las Vegas, Detroit, Springfield, National Harbor, Biloxi, and Atlantic City, providing flexible spaces for meetings of any size. Beyond these offerings, MGM Resorts distinguishes itself through a strong commitment to social responsibility and sustainability, making it an ideal choice for your next meeting.  At the core of MGM Resorts' company values is its platform, "Focused on What Matters," dedicated to meeting customer needs while advancing socially responsible practices. This commitment is evident in several key areas:  Protecting Natural Resources  MGM Resorts is home to industry-leading recycling, renewable electricity and water conservation programs. Some highlights include a cogeneration power plant at ARIA, producing ultra-efficient electricity; one of America’s largest contiguous rooftop solar arrays atop the convention center at Mandalay Bay; and onsite wells that provide water for the celebrated Fountains of Bellagio, avoiding reliance on precious Colorado River water. These efforts and many more save on natural resources while boosting attendee satisfaction.  Committed to Community  Always striving to be good neighbors, MGM Resorts works to avoid food waste and combat food insecurity with the Feeding Forward program. In partnership with local food banks, they safely divert unserved food to food insecure members of the community. Since 2016, over 5 million meals have been provided, highlighting MGM Resorts' commitment to minimizing food waste and addressing community needs.  MGM Resorts supports clients in their responsible-meetings efforts, not only with efficient venues but also waste-reducing décor and signage; sustainable food and beverage options; and outreach to help planners communicate sustainability efforts to attendees. What’s more, they offer a Mindful Meetings series that puts attendee wellness first—through fitness and mindfulness activities, and in give-back events with local charity organizations.   Fostering Diversity & Inclusion  To MGM Resorts, a diverse and talented workforce is essential to success. By cultivating innovative strategies that consider multiple perspectives and viewpoints, the company creates an inclusive workplace culture that benefits its employees and community. MGM Resorts takes pride in being a welcoming home for veterans, individuals with disabilities, people from diverse backgrounds, LGBTQ+ community members, and more. This commitment to inclusion is reflected in the company's recruitment and hiring practices and its social responsibility initiatives. From the workplace to the community, MGM Resorts' commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion remains unwavering, and its efforts continue to create a more equitable and sustainable world for all.  MGM Resorts offers unparalleled service and venue options while standing out for its proactive approach to sustainability and community engagement. Choosing MGM Resorts for your next meeting means aligning with a company that values social responsibility, efficiency, and attendee satisfaction, ensuring a meaningful and impactful event experience.