PCMA Unveils 2022 Visionary Awards Honorees and Category Finalists

January 18, 2022

The Professional Convention Management Association (PCMA) Foundation will once again honor and celebrate the global business events industry’s exceptional stars during this year’s PCMA Visionary Awards ceremony. The foundation has announced the 2022 Lifetime Achievement honorees, Groundbreaker Award recipient and Professional Excellence finalists. 

The 2022 Visionary Awards celebration will be held March 24 at the Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center in National Harbor, Md., in conjunction with the inaugural Business Events Industry Week. Created by Destinations International, the International Association of Exhibitions and Events (IAEE) and PCMA, the week is dedicated to convening the global business events industry in the association capital of the U.S. and consolidating several important industry events under one umbrella, including the Visionary Awards ceremony.

“The 2022 Visionary Awards is poised to deliver a well-deserved celebration of our industry and amazing leaders coming together as part of the inaugural Business Events Industry Week,” said Meredith Rollins, executive director, PCMA Foundation and chief community officer, PCMA. “Our awards committee was integral throughout the review process of so many outstanding nominees, and we appreciate their continued support as we recognize standouts each year who are helping move our industry forward.”

Lifetime Achievement Honorees

The 2022 PCMA Visionary Awards will celebrate professionals in three categories who have made significant contributions to the industry. 

The Lifetime Achievement categories and honorees are:

  • 2022 Business Events Strategist Honoree
    • Mary Pat Heftman, vice chair, exhibitions, Winsight Media, is a strategic business leader and industry advocate who is regarded as a champion for others. She has developed, coached and created rich careers not only for those who work directly with her, but for those who have worked alongside her in volunteer roles.
  • 2022 Educator Honoree
    • Dr. Eric D. Olson, chair, Rita & Navin Dimond Department, School of Hospitality, Metropolitan State University of Denver, collaborates with faculty members, students, peers and society to further education. He has supported numerous undergraduate research projects, graduate theses and dissertations. In fact, one student secured a job because of networking with professionals at Convening Leaders on a trip led by Dr. Olson.
  • 2022 Supplier Honoree
    • Kitty Ratcliffe, president, Explore St. Louis, is a natural leader who was among the first advocates for sustainability throughout the business events industry. Her personal involvement in numerous committees and boards of various industry organizations has helped to shape the industry we know today.

Meanwhile, Ben Goedegebuure, vice president and global general manager, Maritz Global Events and 2021 Lifetime Achievement honoree, will officially be honored at the 2022 Visionary Awards, as he was unable to travel in 2021 due to COVID-19 travel restrictions and border closures.

2022 Groundbreaker Award Recipient

Melissa Cherry, chief diversity and inclusion officer and senior vice president, Miles Partnership, will receive the PCMA Groundbreaker Award. Now in its second year, the award honors industry trailblazers who represent diverse sectors of the business events community, recognizing those who have made a significant contribution to their organizations and programs that advance inclusion and equity.

Professional Excellence Finalists

The annual celebration will also recognize 20 Professional Excellence finalists across six categories for extraordinary contributions to their organizations and their impact on the professional development of others. The recipient in each category will be announced live at the March 24 celebration.

The Professional Excellence categories and finalists are:

  • Business Events Strategist of the Year
    • Anita Carlyle, managing partner, MCC Events
    • Kai Hattendorf, CEO, UFI, The Global Association of the Exhibition Industry
    • Annette Suriani, business event strategist, AMS Meetings Solutions 
  • Community Advocate of the Year
    • Amy Pettigrew, director of meetings, International Economic Development Council (IEDC)
    • Molly Witges, senior director, Customer Engagement, Questex
    • Kristin Nacovsky, manager of conventions and meetings, International Studies Association 
  • Digital Experience Strategist of the Year
    • Sina Bunte, online and hybrid events partner, DigitalMind.events
    • Mary Pat Cornett, chief strategy and operations officer, American Society for Nutrition
    • Sandra Vura Harwood, vice president, meetings and education and IDWeek meeting secretariat, Infectious Diseases Society of America
    • Mahoganey Jones, founder and CEO, Event Specialists 
  • Event Designer of the Year
    • Sara Haywood, assistant vice president, conferences, National Council for Mental Wellbeing
    • Darren Mendola, vice president, global conference and events, Alzheimer’s Association
    • Tony Scurry, chief events officer, 7 Pointe Planning 
  • Outstanding Service to a Chapter
    • Vicki Johnson, principal, Vicki Johnson & Associates, PCMA Capital Chapter
    • Megan Martin, account executive, JUNO, PCMA Rocky Mountain Chapter
    • Ken Sien, senior account executive, Notified, PCMA POWER Chapter
  • Supplier of the Year
    • Carson Edwards, Jr., global account executive, Marriott International
    • Danielle Foisy, director, business development and industry relations, Transportation Management Services
    • Rebecca Ramsey, business development executive, Event EQ
    • Elaine Williams, director of sales, Ernest N. Morial Convention Center

The annual Visionary Awards raises critical funding for the foundation to provide educational scholarships and implement impactful research and business event industry projects. The foundation funds more than 500 scholarships annually, benefiting emerging leaders, students, faculty and other professionals and empowering them to advance in their profession. 

Chris Wehking Scholarship Fund

Chris Wehking
Chris Wehking

After the recent passing of Chris Wehking, 2014 chairman of the board of directors, PCMA and a 2019 PCMA Foundation Lifetime Achievement honoree, a scholarship fund has been created in his name. Wehking contributed much during his time with PCMA and was especially instrumental in the efforts to transform PCMA into a more global association.

“While Chris has left a significant void, we have the opportunity to honor his legacy by turning our sadness into action by paying it forward for the next generation of leaders in our industry,” said Sherrif Karamat, president and CEO, PCMA. “Through founding support from the American Society of Anesthesiologists and PCMA, we will honor Chris’ many contributions by establishing a fund in his name—one that supports future leaders, research and grants to further the business events industry.”

Donations are currently being accepted here.

The 2022 Visionary Awards celebration is presented by Visit Austin and the Austin Convention Center. 

Main photo: (clockwise from top left) Mary Pat Heftman, Dr. Eric D. Olson, Melissa Cherry, Kitty Ratcliffe

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