Top Trade Show Industry Leaders Share What They’re Grateful for in 2020

November 25, 2020

Many of us will not be celebrating this year’s Thanksgiving in the same way we’re used to. But while life may not go “back to normal” for quite some time, it’s important to find things to be grateful for to keep our spirits up as we move into the season of giving. Here, event industry leaders share what they’re thankful for this year – professionally and personally – despite one of the most challenging years on record.

David DuBois, president and CEO, IAEE 

“As we begin to make our way into the extended holiday season, I would like to thank everyone in our industry for doing our best to stay positive and work our ways through these difficult times. On a personal note, my wife, Nancy, and I have been blessed to welcome our twin granddaughters into our world this year. We have also added a handsome new male golden retriever puppy into our home (we now have three goldens to enjoy). Stay safe and healthy, and keep the faith.”

Tricia Barglof, executive director, OFFPRICE Show

“During this season of gratitude, I am most thankful for the team I work with every day. Their ability to be flexible and adapt to an ever-changing situation, all while remaining positive and hopeful, has been amazing. With their support, we keep fighting for the events industry and community we so strongly believe in. And given the roller coaster of emotions that 2020 has brought, it sure is nice to have your family and friends to continue to bring joy and laughter to life daily.”

David Audrain, CEO, ExpoDevCo, and Executive Director, SISO

“I am grateful for the great many colleagues and friends in the industry and the wide collaboration from all working together to support the rebuilding for all who depend on it. It would be easier for many to just focus on their own needs; it is the harder path to work together for the wider needs of the industry as a whole. I miss the in-person interactions and look forward to seeing so many people outside of Zoom boxes! I am lucky that my own family has stayed healthy and is dealing with this crisis one day at a time. My partner and I count a lot on each other, and it would definitely have been so much harder if Stephanie and I were not business partners as well as spouses.”

Dahlia El Gazzar, founder, DAHLIA+Agency

“I am grateful for my tribe. My mom passed away a month and half ago, and it threw me in a whirlwind, to say the least. My team and my D+tribe were right at my side the whole time. In the midst of this ‘corona-coaster’ and of producing virtual events, presentations, sales pitches and also family and virtual schooling, they surrounded me and lifted me up. They told me to go take care of me and of family and never skipped a beat. I’m grateful for my family, team and partners who gave me the support I needed to take care of family, grief and with empathy and compassion. People are going through loss, grief and the sense of loss in one shape or form. Surround them with empathy and it’ll come back to you tenfold.”

RD Whitney, CEO, 365 Media, and Co-founder, Virtual Events Institute

“I am thankful for the incredible innovation, determination and transformation taking place in our industry because of the pandemic. While unforgiving to those that just want things to go back to how things were, not being able to run live events has been like a slingshot into the future for the events industry and for the entrepreneurial spirit of our profession. We have awoken to the need, opportunity and privilege to be managers of communities, rather than just event organizers. We can and will come back stronger with greater opportunity, and we can be in the center of exciting and lucrative buyer/seller opportunities through the strength of these emerging online and face-to-face communities. I am thankful for an amazing network of inspiring individuals clearing this new path forward. Oh, and beer…I am grateful for beer.”

Dana Freker Doody, vice president, Communications and Public Relations, The Expo Group 

“I am grateful to 2020 first for teaching me to be a better cook. I am also thankful for how the events of this year – from the pandemic to social unrest to the election – further proved the education, ideas, commerce and connections created at events and trade shows are vital to humankind.”

Rip Rippetoe, president and CEO, San Diego Convention Center

“I am grateful for the love my family and I have for each other, for the opportunity to serve in the event/venue industry as a mentor and a leader, and for the passion of my co-workers and their constant display of compassion for their fellow team members. I am grateful to have been the leader of an organization who opened their doors to our community’s most vulnerable and became the largest homeless shelter for a time in the U.S., and for the kind words our customers provide us as a result of our efforts to recover and to serve.” 

Amy Calvert, CEO, Events Industry Council

“I’m grateful for the support and leadership of our council, team and volunteer core – such an amazing group of thoughtful and dedicated professionals. Our committees are contributing to our mission and purpose at a critical time for our industry and to support our workforce. It’s been one of the most rewarding experiences of my career to see these leaders connect and share not only their expertise but also their own stories of personal and professional challenges with their peers. That vulnerability has allowed us as an industry to have some really open and honest conversation about what needs to change and what we can do to turn our vision into meaningful action. And personally, as my children become young adults, I am inspired by their warmth, humor and wisdom beyond their years. We have a lot of fun together. I am also thankful that I have two dogs, Ash and Scooby, who take my attention away from the reality that I will soon be an empty nester.”

Don’t miss any event-related news: Sign up for our weekly e-newsletter HERE and engage with us on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and Instagram!


Add new comment

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.