People News: CloserStill Media, Spiro, Nashville Convention & Visitors Corp and More Tap New Leaders, Make Key Hires 

May 16, 2022

The second quarter of the year continues full steam ahead as organizations covering all facets of the trade show and events industries continue their strong hiring and promoting activities to fill key positions and reward hard-working staff with elevated titles. Check them out! 

CloserStill Media

London, U.K.-based CloserStill Media, a leading global exhibition business, has tapped exhibition industry veteran Yancy Weinrich as president of North America. In this newly created position, the award-winning trade show executive will spearhead the company’s major U.S. expansion and high-growth acquisitions across multiple industry portfolios as CloserStill Media sets its sights on doubling the size of its pre-pandemic business within the next 24 months. 

An almost 18-year veteran at RX (formerly Reed Exhibitions), Weinrich previously served as its chief growth officer since 2019, during which time she led the organization in growth strategy, marketing, content, digital and activations for more than 25 B2B events across a multitude of sectors. Prior to 2019, she served in an array of senior leadership roles at RX, and before her tenure there, held business development and finance roles at leading membership industry trade associations.  


Spiro, a brand experiences agency within the GES collective, has named Amber Braband its vice president, people and culture, effective immediately. Bringing a broad understanding of human behavior to her new role, she is responsible for designing and implementing practices that enhance company culture and encourage inclusivity, diversity and belongingness companywide. 

In addition to implementing programs and efforts that boost productivity, influence employee attitudes and encourage positive behavioral change, Braband will also play a pivotal role in recruiting, developing and modernizing the agency’s professional talent and identifying new opportunities for employee engagement and growth. She will also spearhead efforts related to implementing strategies and delivering a highly personalized employee experience.   

Nashville Convention & Visitors Corp

The Nashville Convention & Visitors Corp (NCVC) recently promoted five employees to senior vice president roles: Corey Hopwood, senior vice president, IT; Bonna Johnson, senior vice president, corporate communications; Debra Smith, senior vice president, visitor experience; David Spencer, senior vice president, events; and Scott Wright, senior vice president, sales. Twenty-five-year PR and marketing veteran, Heather Middleton, was previously elevated to the role of senior vice president, marketing in January. 

With more than 20 years of experience in information technology, including the past three years at the NCVC, Hopwood previously worked for the State of Tennessee and Wilson & Associates Engineering & Surveying, as well as running his own information technology company.

An employee of the NCVC since 2015, Johnson formerly served as vice president, corporate communications. Prior to her tenure at the CVB, she served in the Mayor’s Office under former Mayor Karl Dean, handling duties as press secretary and later as communications director, and before that, was a reporter at The Tennessean. 

A 32-year veteran of the hospitality industry, including nearly 20 years at the NCVC, Smith previously held the title of vice president, visitor experience and digital marketing. During her tenure with the organization, she has handled the strategic leadership of website development and other digital initiatives. She previously held roles at Drury Hotels and Dollar/Thrifty Automotive Group.

Spencer has spent 30 years in the events and hospitality industry, including nearly 18 years at the NCVC, previously serving as vice president, events, and leading the organization’s convention services team. Prior to joining the NCVC, he worked at the Nashville Arena (now Bridgestone Arena) as part of the venue’s grand opening team and before that, at the Miami Arena.

A 33-year industry veteran who has spent the last 22 years at the NCVC, Wright served most recently as vice president, sales. Before returning to Nashville, he served as associate director of sales at the San Jose Convention & Visitors Bureau in San Jose, Calif. and previously held positions with Fairmont Hotels, Loews Hotels and Hyatt Hotels.    


Virtual, live and hybrid event management technology leader, Hubilo Technologies Inc, recently appointed Sophie Ahmed as its senior vice president of market strategy. An accomplished events professional, she brings more than two decades of experience in the media and events industry to her new role, having led global events for leading brands such as Informa, Reed Exhibitions, Cannes Lions and Money 20/20.  

Prior to joining Hubilo, Ahmed was the CEO and co-founder of the Virtual Events Institute (VEI), a global platform that brings the virtual and hybrid events community together to share best practices and spur innovation. While at VEI, she upskilled more than 2,500 professionals, connecting and educating event professionals, planners and event tech companies in virtual, live and hybrid events.  


Trade show, exhibition and event services leader, Fern, has announced two additions to its management team: Kathy Cox as director of HR and payroll, and Joey Becker as general manager of the Columbus, Ohio branch.

Bringing more than 25 years in the human resources field to her new role, Cox boasts HR and payroll management experience in a variety of industries, including technology consulting and manufacturing, most recently with Standard Textile. She will take on a critical role in the recruiting and onboarding of new team members as Fern continues to expand its teams across the country.

Becker brings a diverse, more than 20-year background in the trade show, exhibit and event management space to Fern. Most recently, he was with EXHIBITPRO, where he managed a wide range of trade show and branded environment programs, and earlier in his career, he was president of Becker Communications, a marketing communications company focused on trade shows and corporate event marketing.  

Greater Miami Convention & Visitors Bureau  

The Greater Miami Convention & Visitors Bureau (GMCVB) has named Alex Batista vice president of convention sales. In his new role, Batista is responsible for managing the organization’s daily sales activities as well as assisting Senior Vice President of Convention Sales & Services Carol Motley in developing and implementing strategic plans to drive meetings and conventions to Miami and Miami Beach. 

Bringing nearly 26 years of hospitality experience in leadership roles for several globally recognized hotel brands in the Miami, Caribbean and Latin American markets to the GMCVB, Batista most recently served as the complex director of sales and marketing for the Eden Roc and Nobu Resorts in Miami Beach. He has also held sales and marketing key leadership roles in the Miami and Miami Beach area with Marriott, Hilton, Kimpton and The Ritz-Carlton. 


Leading global event organizer Comexposium has selected Jaime Salazar as the Compexposium Americas managing director for the Latin America region. He will be based in the company’s Mexico City office, which runs highly successful shows in the franchise sector. Bringing many years of global experience in the events industry to his new role, Salazar most recently served as general director, Mexico, for Informa Markets. He is also a prior president of the Mexican Tradeshow Association, AMPROFEC and prior president of the Mexican Meetings, Incentives, Conferences and Exhibitions (MICE) Industry Council. 


Parking industry veteran Joe Leung has joined full-service venue management and hospitality company OVG360 as vice president of its new Parking & Mobility division. Under his leadership, the division will engage clients in one of three ways: exclusively run parking operations for a venue without a dedicated manager or third-party operator in place; manage a venue’s contracted parking operator; or act as a third-party consultant who evaluates /audits existing operations and makes parking strategy recommendations. 

Leung joins OVG360 after two decades of working with some of the most well-known parking companies, with experience that spans ballparks, arenas, theaters and a variety of other live events facilities. His previous roles include senior director of customer success at FLASH; vice president of parking at Olympia Development of Michigan; and regional manager at SP+, where he oversaw parking and mobility.

VISIT Milwaukee 

VISIT Milwaukee recently made two staff promotions and one new hire. Michelle Haider has been hired as director of event experience, Meg McKenna has been promoted to senior director of strategic and community partnerships and Lesa Edwards has been promoted to finance manager.

Haider, who previously worked on the CVB’s event experience team for six years, left VISIT Milwaukee to serve as executive director at a number of business improvement districts throughout the region. Bringing extensive experience in event management and proven success in partner and client relations to her new role, Haider and her event experience team will work to ensure the success of meetings and events booked by the VISIT Milwaukee sales team. 

Having worked at VISIT Milwaukee since 2012, McKenna most recently served as partnership director. She is now responsible for planning, leading and executing VISIT Milwaukee’s private fund development activities, as well as growing revenue for the organization through corporate partnerships, sponsorships, marketing partnerships, memberships and advertising. 

In her new role as head of the CVB’s finance team, Edwards will help the CVB successfully steward its financial resources. A native of Jamaica, from which she emigrated seven years ago, she started with VISIT Milwaukee in 2020 as a staff accountant, originally drawn to working for the organization to learn more about the city.

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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