People News: Clarion Events, Music City Center, Diversified Communications and More Tap New Leadership, Appoint New Team Members

July 26, 2021

Mirroring the red-hot U.S. job market, the trade show and events industry is continuing to experience an influx of new hires and promotions as it works to get back to normal. Check out who’s moving up the ladder at a host of organizations across the events spectrum:

Clarion Events 

Clarion Events has appointed 20-year trade show industry veteran Rita Ugianskis-Fishman as vice president of its Food & Beverage Group show portfolio, which includes the Western Foodservice & Hospitality Expo; Florida Restaurant & Lodging Show; International Restaurant & Foodservice Show of New York; three iterations of Healthy Food Expo; four Coffee Fest events and The NGA Show.  

She most recently served as senior vice president and general manager for the ASI Show, has held leadership positions at Reed Exhibitions and Informa, is a founding member of the North American chapter of Women in Exhibitions and has served on the Board of SISO. 

Music City Center

Nashville’s Music City Center has appointed two new executive staff members: Robert Rice as director of human resources and Heather Jensen as director of communications. Rice previously served as a human resources leader and advisor for Ghertner & Company. Jensen previously served as community relations officer, web content coordinator and multimedia product manager for the Tennessee Department of Transportation. 

Diversified Communications 

International media company Diversified Communications has promoted Whit Mitchell to CFO. Mitchell joined Diversified in 2013 and has served as corporate vice president of finance since 2018. 

Louisville Tourism 

Thirty-five-year hospitality industry veteran Cleo Battle has officially taken the helm of Louisville Tourism as its president and CEO after previously serving as the CVB’s COO for two years and before that, as executive vice president. Additionally, Doug Bennett has assumed his new position of executive vice president, bringing more than 30 years of industry experience to the role, including serving as the CVB’s senior vice president of convention development since 2015.


Virtual and hybrid events platform provider Hubilo Technologies Inc recently appointed six new leadership team members. These highly experienced professionals include Cathy Song Novelli, senior vice president, marketing and communications; Greg Volm, senior vice president, sales and success; Anita Menon, senior vice president, talent and culture; Abhishek Jain, vice president, finance; Sudip Mitra, senior vice president, engineering; and Shailesh Hegde, head of product. 

Toy Foundation 

Pamela Mastrota has joined The Toy Foundation as executive director. Most recently, Mastrota served as COO for Make-A-Wish Metro New York Western New York, and prior to that, as president and CEO for the National Multiple Sclerosis Society Long Island Chapter.


Leading venue hospitality partner, Centerplate, a Sodexo company, has tapped Sufi Karaien as the new executive chef for the San Diego Convention Center (SDCC). He previously served as SDCC’s senior executive sous chef. 


Experiential marketing company ProGlobalEvents recently welcomed Rob Dunn as its new senior business development manager. An experienced sales and business development professional, he previously worked as an account executive at SpotOn and streamlineevents., inc.

International Market Centers 

International Market Centers (IMC) has announced a series of promotions in its event sales and operations division.  

Bob Schuler was promoted to senior vice president, event sales and operations, a role that adds trade show operations in High Point and Las Vegas to his existing responsibilities of overseeing and accelerating business for the Atlanta Convention Center at AmericasMart. 

Jennifer Muna was promoted to vice president, event sales and operations. In addition to sales and operation of The Expo at World Market Center Las Vegas, she is responsible for trade show, food and beverage and amenity operations management during the High Point and Las Vegas Markets. 

Joel Weston was promoted to manager, trade show operations, assuming responsibility for executing trade show operations and assisting with amenities and food and beverage operations at IMC’s 17 High Point properties.

Additionally, Amanda Merritt was appointed IMC public relations manager, responsible for PR efforts at AmericasMart, Las Vegas Design Center, Atlanta Apparel and LightFair.


Global engagement and marketing agency MCI has promoted Oscar Cerezales to the position of chief strategy officer. He has worked for the company for almost 15 years across Europe and the Asia-Pacific and Latin American regions.   

Mobile Growth Association 

Mobile Growth Association (MGA) is undergoing changes within its leadership team. After 14 years, MGA Founder and President Dave Westin will transition to chair of the advisory board and strategic speaker outreach, while MGA Co-Founder Jen Laloup has taken the helm as CEO and chairwoman. 

Dallas Market Center 

Home décor and lighting industry veteran Patty Price has joined Dallas Market Center as vice president of leasing for the lighting industry. She will be responsible for the leasing strategy and merchandising of the venue’s 1 million-square-foot lighting marketplace, including showrooms in the Trade Mart and the bi-annual Lightovation trade show. Previously, Price served as executive vice president with Arteriors Home, where she was responsible for sales teams, agency relations, showrooms and trade shows.

AMR International 

Global strategy consultancy AMR International has appointed Michael Mandl as principal for its events ecosystem and technology practice. Based in New York, he will lead the company’s U.S. operations. For more than 15 years, Mandl has held numerous senior executive positions with both Reed Exhibitions and Informa, most recently serving as COO for Reed’s Brazil and Mexico divisions.

Atlanta Convention & Visitors Bureau 

The Atlanta Convention & Visitors Bureau (ACVB) has promoted 18-year hospitality veteran Charlene Lopez to vice president, sales. Lopez joined ACVB in June 2012 as a sales manager of national accounts and was promoted to director, citywide sales in October 2019. She has also held sales roles with Omni Hotel at CNN Center, Hyatt Regency Atlanta and Hyatt Regency Hill Country Resort and Spa. 

Convention Data Services    

Event registration, business intelligence and lead capture provider Convention Data Services, a Freeman company, recently appointed two new Washington D.C. area-based team members. 

Thirty-year event tech industry veteran Ian Twentey was named vice president, business development. He most recently served as vice president of sales at CompuSystems and has worked at event technology companies including Experient, Turnout Now and Core-apps.

Twenty-year event industry expert Alex Young has been tapped to lead the company’s event services team. He was most recently director of registration at Informa Markets and worked at Experient in both project and account management roles.  


Spectra, provider of venue management to the Owensboro Convention Center, recently welcomed two new sales managers to its Owensboro team: Jacob Whitfill, who previously worked with Spectra in its food and beverage department, and Megan Howard, who cut her teeth in the events industry working for country clubs and wedding and event planning companies.

Events Industry Council 

The Events Industry Council has appointed Augustine (Gus) Chijioke as director of certification and education. Chijioke most recently served as director of membership and certification at Capital Association Management.

IMS Technology Services 

Event staging and systems integration solutions company IMS Technology Services has hired live events video veteran and engineer Dave Wilbur as its new director of video. Over the course of more than two decades, he has worked on a countless array of events including large product launches, conferences, permanent video installations and other high-profile events in the high tech, financial and pharmaceutical industries.   


AVIXA, the Audiovisual and Integrated Experience Association, producer of InfoComm, has appointed AV/IT Engineer Frank Padikkala, Kairos Solution Architect at Panasonic, to serve as chairperson of the AVIXA Diversity Council. In this role, he will work to advance diversity and inclusion within the global AV community via national and international outreach efforts. 

CenterPoint Marketing  

Full-service brand experience agency CenterPoint Marketing has hired Bruce Powell as senior account manager. Powell brings more than 25 years of experience in the trade show and event industry as well as expertise in the exhibit rental space to his new role.  

Licensing International  

Licensing International recently appointed seven manufacturing, retail, licensor and agency executives to its board of directors. Elected by the Licensing International membership to serve a three-year term, they include Dean Allen, chief merchandising officer, Mad Engine Apparel; Veronica Hart, executive vice president, global franchise planning, ViacomCBS Consumer Products; Steven Heller, founder, The Brand Liaison; Holly Rawlinson, general manager, business development, Spirit Halloween & Spencer Gifts; Milin Shah, senior vice president and general counsel, Isaac Morris & CultureFly; Malaika Underwood, senior vice president, licensing, OneTeam Partners, and Maarten Weck, executive vice president and managing director, WildBrain CPLG.   

Main Light

Industry-leading entertainment technology equipment provider Main Light has appointed Dave Pretz as asset manager. He will be responsible for inventory oversight and new equipment purchasing at Main Light, East in Wilmington, Del., and the soon-to-open Main Light, West in Las Vegas.

With 25 years of experience in the entertainment technology industry, Pretz has worked across the various market segments of concert touring, corporate trade shows, special events and broadcast. Prior to joining Main Light, he served as the cross rental manager at 4Wall Entertainment.

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Partner Voices
Overview: The award-winning Orange County Convention Center (OCCC) goes the extra mile to make every day extraordinary by offering customer service excellence and industry-leading partnerships. From their dedicated in-house Rigging team to their robust Exhibitor Services, The Center of Hospitality brings your imagination to life by helping you host unforgettable meetings and events. With more than 2 million square feet of exhibit space, world-class services and a dream destination, we are committed to making even the most ambitious conventions a reality. In October 2023, the Orange County Board of County Commissioners voted to approve allocating Tourist Development Tax funding for the $560 million Phase 5A completion of the OCCC. The Convention Way Grand Concourse project will include enhancements to the North-South Building, featuring an additional 60,000 square feet of meeting space, an 80,000- square-foot ballroom and new entry to the North-South Building along Convention Way. “We are thrilled to begin work on completing our North-South Building which will allow us to meet the growing needs of our clients,” said OCCC Executive Director Mark Tester. “As an economic driver for the community, this project will provide the Center with connectivity and meeting space to host more events and continue to infuse the local economy with new money and expanding business opportunities.” Amenities: The Center of Hospitality goes above and beyond by offering world-class customer service and industry-leading partnerships. From the largest convention center Wi-Fi network to custom LAN/WAN design, the Center takes pride in enhancing exhibitor and customer experience.  The OCCC is the exclusive provider of electricity (24-hour power at no additional cost), aerial rigging and lighting, water, natural gas and propane, compressed air, and cable TV services. Convenience The Center is at the epicenter of the destination, with an abundance of hotels, restaurants, and attractions within walking distance. Pedestrian bridges connect both buildings to more than 5,200 rooms and is within a 15-minute drive from the Orlando International Airport. The convenience of the location goes hand-in-hand with top notch service to help meet an event’s every need. Gold Key Members The OCCC’s Gold Key Members represent the best of the best when it comes to exceptional service and exclusive benefits for clients, exhibitors and guests. The Center’s Gold Key memberships with Universal Orlando Resort, SeaWorld Orlando and Walt Disney World greatly enhance meeting planner and attendee experiences offering world-renowned venues, immersive experiences and creative resources for their events. OCCC Events: This fiscal year, the OCCC is projected to host 168 events, 1.7 million attendees, and $2.9 billion in economic impact.  The Center’s top five events during their 2022-2023 fiscal year included:  AAU Jr. National Volleyball Championships 2023 200,000 Attendees $257 Million in Economic Impact MEGACON 2023 160,000 Attendees $205 Million in Economic Impact Open Championship Series 2023 69,500 Attendees $89 Million in Economic Impact Sunshine Classic 2023 42,000 Attendees $54 Million in Economic Impact Premiere Orlando 2023 42,000 Attendees $108 Million in Economic Impact