IAEE Hosts Successful Women’s Leadership Forum, Celebrates 2022 Woman of Achievement Award Winner
As an annual education and networking event for female exhibitions and events industry professionals at all stages of their careers, IAEE’s signature Women’s Leadership Forum convened 184 attendees for two days of knowledge, inspiration, resources and strategies for career success. Held March 23-24 at the Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center in National Harbor, Md., the 10th annual conference also celebrated the 2022 Woman of Achievement Award winner, Lenay Gore, former senior director of meetings and trade shows with the American Public Transportation Association (APTA).
“The energy, enthusiasm and engagement among the attendees at this year’s program was exciting to experience,” said IAEE Executive Vice President and COO Cathy Breden. “This program provides attendees with a broad range of impactful information that can be applied immediately to their career, regardless of where they may be in their career path.”
Sessions presented, along with “Afterthought” roundtable discussions on each subject, included the following:
- From Frustrated to Focused: Mindset Strategies for Career and Business Growth, presented by Debbie Peterson, president and keynote speaker, Getting to Clarity
- Navigating Behaviors & Emotions in Uncertain Times: Tips and Tools for Improving Interactions and Emotional Wellbeing, presented by Claudia St. John, founder and president, Affinity HR Group
- Come Alive: The Power of Purpose and Reinvention, presented by Yvette R. Simpson, Esq., founder and CEO, Yvette Simpson, executive strategist, consultant and media contributor
- Ignite Your Shift: Overcoming the Discomfort of Change, presented by Anne Bonney, speaker, author and podcaster, Different Shoe Enterprises
“What a great lineup [of speakers], and the way you complimented each other and wove other pieces of earlier presentations into your own was fantastic,” said Mary Becton, an attendee and founder and principal consultant with Dogwood Event Strategies. “My cup is filled today after listening to the four [speakers] yesterday!”
At the luncheon on the second day of the lively event, IAEE announced Gore as the recipient of the 2022 Woman of Achievement Award, which recognizes a woman who has led the way in the advancement of women in the exhibitions and events industry, exhibited outstanding leadership and made significant contributions to the industry and her community.
“I am honored and humbled to receive the IAEE Woman of Achievement Award,” Gore said. “I have been fortunate to have an extraordinary career, and I am grateful for the involvement with this wonderful industry. To my friends and colleagues in the trade show industry, I thank you all and IAEE for the support over the years. What a great way to start my retirement!”
After serving on the supplier side of the events industry for more than 25 years, the 30-year industry veteran started at APTA in 2008 as the director of meetings and conventions, where she led a team responsible for six major meetings with exhibits and more than 35 smaller meetings annually (APTA’s triennial EXPO and annual meeting attracts more than 15,000 attendees spanning more than 285,000 net square feet of exhibit space). Prior to APTA, she worked for the San Diego Convention Center, IEP (now PRG), GES, the Washington D.C. Convention and Tourism Corporation and both Renaissance and Hilton Hotels.
A dedicated IAEE member for 25 years, Gore has served on almost every committee the association has to offer on both the national and chapter levels, and also served on the IAEE Services Board of Directors for many years, including a term as chairperson, according to IAEE officials. She is also in the HSMAI DC Hall of Fame and won IAEE’s Distinguished Service Award in 2009.
“I’ve worked with Lenay in her volunteer leadership roles over the past 20 years and have always been impressed with how she can hone in on what’s being discussed and provide her perspective,” Breden said. “When she agrees to do something, she is all-in. She is deserving of this award and I wish her all the best as she transitions into retirement.”
Besides empowering educational sessions and plentiful peer-to-peer networking opportunities, each year, the event also features a social giving activity to help the local community. This year, the women of IAEE came together to raise $2,600 for The SOFEI Group (Starting Over for Economic Independence), a nonprofit organization committed to helping women throughout the Washington, D.C., region emerge from economic instability through education, training and development.
“This year’s [Women’s Leadership Forum focused] on clarity of purpose and taking ownership of the role we play in our own success and delivered a palpable energy among participants and an amazing synergy from our speakers,” said IAEE Women’s Leadership Committee Chairperson Shauna Peters, vice president and marketing strategist for mdg, A Freeman Company. “I am grateful to IAEE and the Women’s Leadership Committee for their time and thoughtful intention in developing this program.”