Celebrating Women’s History Month 2024 With Connectiv’s Courtney Muller and CTA’s Kinsey Fabrizio

March 15, 2024

Celebrated every March, Women’s History Month is an opportune time to celebrate the female achievers of the trade show and events industry. In this first in a series of exclusive interviews with several outstanding female industry professionals, we had the pleasure of speaking with Courtney Muller, president of Manifest and Connectiv chief corporate development officer, and Kinsey Fabrizio, the newly appointed president of the Consumer Electronics Association, to find out how their organizations are supporting women, what they advise for the next generation of female leaders and who are the up-and-coming women leaders to watch in our industry.

Courtney Muller, President, Manifest, and Chief Corporate Development Officer, Connectiv

Back story: Courtney Muller lived in eight states before she was 14 years old, which might be the reason she loves the travel and pace of the events industry. Courtney started her career in events in 1991. She is a graduate of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She enjoys gardening and cooking and adores the natural beauty of her island home in North Carolina. She and her husband and dog live on the Topsail Island Sound and only steps from the beach. They have three grown children and three grandsons.

Current role: She is the President of Manifest, a global event focusing on innovation and how technology is transforming the supply chain. Muller leads the Manifest team and drives all strategic partnerships for the event. Manifest is owned by Connectiv, where Muller also serves as Chief Corporate Development Officer. Connectiv is a live events studio that creates next generation, experiential, innovative events across a number of industries.   

Previous experience: Muller worked for Clarion Events North America, where she was Chief Corporate Development and Strategy Officer. During her four-year tenure, the North American Division of Clarion grew by four times. Prior to Clarion Events, she was Executive Vice President for Urban Expositions where she oversaw a portfolio of nearly 35 events. Clarion Events bought Urban in 2016, and Muller continued on to help build the North American division of Clarion. She spent 20 years at Reed Exhibitions (now RX).

Champion for Women: Muller was one of the leaders who created SISO Women. She was the first chair of SISO Women and a driving force for this group that is still active and growing today. Muller is currently an ambassador for CEOX, an organization that helps elevate women into CEO and board roles. She is recognized as a champion for women in the trade show and events industry and works to elevate, sponsor and mentor women at every level of the industry.

What advice would you give to the next generations of female leaders in the events industry? 

  • Go for the money! Money means freedom and choice and opportunity in your life. GO FOR THE MONEY.
  • Don't ever give up on salary equity for women! If you see issues in your organization, try to tackle them.
  • Find mentors who are both women and men.
  •  Mentor women!
  •  Remember the value is in diversity — all of one gender is not good. It's the mix of both men and women that can create magical teams.
  •  Don't ever under-estimate yourself, and go for that dream job even if you don't think you have all of the qualifications.  
  •  Be kind to yourself and others.

Who are some up-and-coming female event professionals to watch?

A few up-and-coming women in the events industry from Connectiv: Pam Simon, EVP Programming/Conference Chair of Manifest; Laila Hawe, VP of Marketing and Strategic Relationships, Connectiv; Katie Date, SVP of Industry Relations and Strategic Initiatives, Manifest; Nicolette Starr, Vice President, Event Operations and Experience; and Sonya Larsen, Director, Program Development, Medicarians. 

Kinsey Fabrizio, President, Consumer Technology Association

Backstory: Holding a BA from George Mason University and an MBA from the University of Maryland Global Campus, she is a Virginia native who grew up in Winchester and currently lives in Arlington with her husband, two children and dog Rocco. 

Current role: Last month, Fabrizio was tapped as president of the Consumer Technology Association (CTA), which represents more than 1,300 consumer technology companies and owns and produces CES, the world’s largest tech event. She sits on CTA’s Executive Board and drives strategy and growth for CES and CTA, leading the CES, membership, conferences and marketing and communications departments. 

Previous experience: Since joining CTA in 2008, Fabrizio has played a pivotal role in transforming the association and CES. Most recently as senior vice president, CES and membership, she managed all things CES, leading a dramatic expansion of CES sales and overseeing international media events, conferences and show operations. Previously, as vice president of membership, she led efforts to increase member and exhibitor recruitment as lead for strategic growth in emerging tech categories. Before joining CTA, Fabrizio was a senior coordinator with Smithbucklin and a program manager for Northern Virginia Mediation Service. 

A Digital Pioneer: Fabrizio created CTA’s Health Division, a healthcare provider program for physicians launched at CES 2015 and the first Continuing Medical Education (CME)-accredited conference at CES 2019. Recognizing opportunities in content and entertainment, she also led the Video Division Board’s 4K and 8K TV initiatives and started the Content and Entertainment Council. In 2016, she also established CTA’s Disruptive Innovation Council to engage companies with unique and cutting-edge technologies and services.

Woman to Watch: In 2023, she was awarded the Women in Consumer Technology Legacy Award, recognizing her longtime leadership and contributions to the consumer technology industry, and was also named to Dealerscope’s 40 Under 40 in 2015. 

What are you most proud of in terms of how your organization supports women?

I’m proud of our work at the CTA to elevate the women on our staff into leadership roles and support their professional development. We encourage staff participation in women-focused networking events and membership organizations, and often pair up women as part of the CTA mentor/mentee program. We also look for opportunities to highlight the phenomenal work of our senior staff members, and in 2023 alone, women in CTA leadership received accolades including Association Trends’ Young & Aspiring Professionals Award (Shari Sally, vice president, CES Sales); DCA Live’s Corporate Council Stars (Suzanna Kang, general council); National Landing Building Improvement District’s President’s Award (Glenda MacMullin, CFO/COO); The Society for Standardization Professionals (SES)’ Fellow Award (Veronica Lancaster, vice president, Technology & Standards); Washingtonian’s Tech Titans (Tiffany Moore, senior vice president, Political and Industry Affairs); and Women in Consumer Technology’s Legacy Award (Melissa Matalon, vice president, Membership).

We also have a commitment to gender diversity. That starts with events, and ensuring we are thoughtful in creating opportunities to highlight women leaders on our biggest stages at CES and the many other events CTA runs throughout the year. At CES, we also partner with the Female Quotient to create networking and community-building opportunities for women in technology. For non-CTA run events, we refuse invitations for our speakers to participate in ‘manels’ (all-male panels), and work with partner organizations to help identify and invite female speakers.  

We also recognize the need to make the tech industry friendlier to women. In 2019, we announced a $10 million financial commitment to venture funds that support underrepresented entrepreneurs, including women. To date, we’ve partnered with nearly a dozen funds to help level the playing field for tech investment. 

How is your organization celebrating Women’s History Month this year?

Later this month, we’re hosting an event at the CTA Innovation House – our home base on Capitol Hill. We’ll screen the trailer for Show Her the Money, a documentary on rock-star female investors who invest in diverse women entrepreneurs with innovations that will change the world, host a fireside chat with Associate Producer Marcia Dawood and hear from a stellar panel of women leading venture funds on opportunities and challenges in the current investment landscape. We’ll also be taking to social media to highlight perspectives from women at CTA on the importance of Women’s History Month and supporting women as leaders and disruptors across the technology industry.

Who are some up-and-coming female event professionals to watch?

One of the incredible things about CES is that this huge event – drawing more than 135,000 people from around the globe – is pulled off by a CTA team of just 150 full-time staff members. That’s a testament to the rockstar CES-focused VPs who lead the charge to conceptualize, build and execute the event. I want to give a special shout-out to the women leaders working on CES: Shari Sally, vice president of CES sales; Katie Remuzzi, newly promoted vice president of CES operations; Jackie Black, vice president of conferences; Melissa Harrison, vice president of marketing and communications; and Jennifer Drogus, vice president of global event communications. To steal an iconic line from Beyonce, “Who Run the [Events] World? [CTA] Girls.”


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