People News: Freeman, Maritz Global Events and More Make High-Level Promotions, Welcome New Team Members
The trade show industry appears to be demonstrating a positive outlook for the year ahead as event-related organizations across the U.S. announce a slew of new hires and an array of promotions at the executive level. Check them out!
Global events leader Freeman recently promoted 25-year team member Chris Schimek to COO, event and exhibit operations, responsible for all event and exhibit operations across North America.
In his new role, Schimek will provide leadership and strategic direction for regional warehouse operations and local event logistics at venues, graphics production, fabrication and custom exhibits. He most recently served as Freeman’s executive vice president, delivery and brand experience, and prior to that, as executive vice president and COO, West division.
Maritz Global Events
Maritz Global Events has appointed event sustainability expert Rachael Riggs as general manager, environmental strategy. In her new role, Riggs will lead global sustainability initiatives to manage and implement emissions reduction strategies across the organization, and will continue to work with clients to develop sustainability strategies, measure impact and develop wellbeing programs for their events.
A 25-year events industry veteran, Riggs joined Maritz Global Events Design Studio in 2018. She serves on the Net Zero Carbon Events Measurement Working Group, the Events Industry Council APEX Commission and the Global Wellness Institute’s Workplace Wellbeing Working Group.
Visit Orlando recently named 25-year hospitality industry veteran Mario J. Bass as its new COO, responsible for overseeing internal operations and leading and implementing the organization’s strategic initiatives, strategic plans and annual business plans.
Bass most recently served as the chief sales officer for Visit San Antonio. During his five-year tenure, he contributed to the overall success of the entire organization, leading the strategic business efforts of their destination sales and experience departments by focusing on building long-term, value-based, customer relationships to positively position the city and exceed its goals.
Prior to Visit San Antonio, Bass served in various roles at Marriott for 21 years, including as director of sales and marketing for several hotel properties, director of corporate sales and director of sales. He has worked at an array of Marriott’s largest, flagship hotels, including the New York Marriott Marquis in Times Square, New York City, and the Gaylord Texan Resort & Convention Center in Grapevine, Texas.
Exhibit and event design and management company Access TCA has welcomed trade show industry veteran Mike Moyer as senior director of client services. During his more than 25-year career, Moyer has worked in almost every facet of the exhibit industry, including in registration and show management, leading to a specialization in the healthcare convention industry. His healthcare-specific focus became even more concentrated during the next nine years when he worked primarily on executing exhibit programs for pharma and medical equipment companies.
A member of the Healthcare Convention & Exhibitors Association (HCEA) for approximately a decade, Moyers also works with other association members to create healthcare-specific educational content.
Destination DC (DDC) made several executive team promotions recently.
As CMO, Robin A. McClain leads the marketing and communications team and is responsible for advertising, communications, content, creative, research and events. She joined DDC in May 2011 as director of communications, began leading the department in Nov. 2012 and was promoted to senior vice president in 2017. Prior to DDC, McClain worked for the Los Angeles Tourism & Convention Board for several years, and started her career as a broadcast journalist in several markets including D.C.’s local FOX 5.
As senior vice president, tourism, sports, visitor services, Theresa Belpulsi is tasked with leading a team responsible for attracting more international visitors, group leisure and student travelers, and professional, amateur and collegiate sporting events. Her team also provides robust visitor services. A 20-year veteran of DDC, Belpulsi joined the organization in 2002 and soon after began leading its tourism sales. Prior to DDC, Belpulsi worked for the Greater Fort Lauderdale Convention and Visitors Bureau, among other roles.
As senior vice president, convention sales and services, Melissa A. Riley leads a team of 25 convention sales and services professionals, responsible for generating positive economic impact for the district through room night generation and visitor spending. A 25-year veteran of the industry, Riley’s tenure at DDC spans more than 20 years. She became department head in 2014 after several promotions that took her from national sales manager to senior national sales manager and director of convention sales in Jan. 2003.
Six-year hospitality industry veteran Rico Ashab has been appointed chief of staff to DDC President and CEO Elliott Ferguson. Ashab’s tenure began in 2017 as part of a temporary staffing group with convention services, and he became the convention services coordinator and has served as executive assistant to the president and CEO since 2019. In his new role, he will work closely with DDC’s board of directors and city partners to advance the organization’s mission.
Independent trade show company SWX Global Design & Production has tapped Eric Lewis as its new COO. He brings more than 38 years of experience in the exhibit industry to his new role, including production, project management, estimating, operations, sales and management. Before joining SWX Global, Lewis spent almost 24 years with Derse, serving as the divisional vice president in its Dallas office and managing the entire day-to-day operation.
Additionally, SWX Global welcomed 37-year trade show industry veteran Tony Andrews as senior project manager. Bringing skills and expertise in operations, production and I&D to his new role, he boasts 15 years specializing in themed environments and five years of international show experience.
Greater New York Dental Meeting
The U.S.’s largest dental convention, the Greater New York Dental Meeting (GNYDM), recently appointed Tom Loughran as general manager. A 23-year veteran of the trade show industry, he brings extensive experience leading multidisciplinary, cross-functional teams across various industries, and is well-versed in building customer relationships, strategic planning, P&L management, sales, marketing and education.
Loughran began his career at Reed Exhibitions in 1999 as a sales executive, and after working on various Reed events, was promoted to sales manager in 2004 and sales director in 2006. Since 2007, he has been managing events and has held positions including vice president of International Vision Expo East and West, Global Gaming Expo and G2E Macau. In 2017, he was appointed vice president of the Food and Beverage Group at Clarion Events.
Before joining the events industry, Loughran served as a United States Marine Corps Captain and graduated from Army Ranger School. He is a veteran of Desert Shield, Desert Storm and Operation Sea Angel, a humanitarian relief effort in Bangladesh.
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