People News: IAEE’s Legend of the Industry Award, Fresh Hires at CVBs and More

August 21, 2020

New appointments, promotions and awards have kept leading industry names in the news this summer, despite the ongoing pandemic continuing to make deep impacts on events. Take a look at some positive news:

Susan Schwartz was named IAEE’s 2020 Legend of the Industry on Aug. 7. Each year, this award is selected from IAEE members who’ve made remarkable contributions in innovation and leadership. Schwartz is managing director and co-founder of ConvExx, an independent exhibition management company in Henderson, Nevada.

Global Business Travel Association (GBTA) named Dave Hilfman the organization’s interim executive director last month. Hilfman, who retired from United Airlines as senior vice president of worldwide sales in 2018, stepped into his new role mid-July.

John Bacon, senior group publisher with McLean, Virginia-based Naylor Association Solutions, was appointed to the board of directors for Texas Society of Association Executives in July. He will serve a three-year term.

Los Angeles Tourism & Convention Board has named Adam Burke its new president and CEO. A seasoned tourism executive with more than 25 years of industry experience, Burke joined the organization as COO in 2016. He had previously served as interim president and CEO since April after Ernest Wooden Jr. announced his retirement, which became effective June 30.

Chicago’s Kimpton Gray Hotel promoted Joel Contor to director of sales and marketing. He’s worked with the Kimpton brand since 2016, starting as sales manager with Kimpton Journeyman Hotel in Milwaukee.

Venue management company Spectra named Jeffrey Goldenberg general manager at Carteret Performing Arts and Events Center in New Jersey, effective July 27. He brings more than 20 years of industry experience to his new role, most recently serving as GM of the House of Blues in Boston.

Michael Guerriero, previously of Experient, a Maritz Global Events Company, joined Digitell as president this month. In this role, he works closely with CEO Jim Parker to support the growth of the Jamestown, N.Y.-based live streaming and virtual conference company.

Long Beach CVB in California has hired Debbie Glenn as a national sales director, working remotely from Maryland. A seasoned tourism professional, Glenn served as sales director for the Los Angeles Tourism & Convention Board for the past 14 years. 

Sean Verney was named area general manager for Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Resort in Lake Buena Vista, Florida, last week. He brings experience from a career spanning more than 35 years to his new role, which includes overseeing all aspects of the 2,270-room resort with 333,000 square feet of meeting space — plus the expansion of a new 14-story tower expected to open next year.

Philadelphia Convention and Visitors Bureau has two new senior national account directors: Kelly Blecke, most recently of JW Marriott Indianapolis, is focused on the Washington, D.C. area; and Rosa Luke, previously with Wyndham Grand Rio Mar Puerto Rico Golf and Beach Resort, will concentrate on the Chicago market.

Mindy Abel has been named new deputy director of Anaheim Convention Center in California. She brings more than 35 years of experience to her new role, where she’ll oversee sales and services as well as lead all front-of-house, client-facing departments and partners at the convention center.

Phil Hobson, president of Phoenix International Business Logistics, was recently appointed to a three-year term as a member of the board of governors with the NY/NJ Foreign Freight Forwarders and Brokers Association, one of the oldest transportation-related organizations in the United States.

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HERE, hosting responsible meetings and caring for our communities are top priorities. Through its 'Focused on What Matters: Embracing Humanity and Protecting the Planet' philosophy, MGM Resorts commits to creating a more sustainable future, while striving to make an impact in the lives of employees, guests, and the communities in which it operates. Water Stewardship Efforts MGM Resorts understands the importance of using water efficiently, especially in the desert destination of Las Vegas. Conserving water has always been part of the mission, but MGM Resorts has expanded its ambition into water stewardship. In 2022, MGM Resorts President and CEO Bill Hornbuckle signed the CEO Water Mandate—a UN Global Compact initiative mobilizing business leaders to advance water stewardship. MGM Resorts International was the first gaming company to take this important step. MGM Resorts replaced 200,000 square feet of real grass with drought-tolerant landscaping in Las Vegas. MGM Resorts pledges to reduce water withdrawal intensity by 33% by 2025 and by 35% by 2030. From 2007-2021, use of more than 5.6 billion gallons of water was avoided because of conservation efforts. Caring for One Another MGM Resorts’ Food Donations Program collects and preserves unserved food from conventions held at MGM Resorts properties, then safely donates to food insecure people in the community. Since the program’s launch in 2016, more than 3.7 million meals toward a 2025 goal of 5 million meals have been donated into the community. Donations include: Unserved perishable prepared foods from events Perishable unprepared food from MGM Resorts’ kitchens Nonperishable food items from minibars and warehouses The collaboration with Southern Nevada’s primary food bank, Three Square, has developed the infrastructure needed to safely collect, transport, and store food from MGM Resorts properties in Las Vegas, reducing food waste while serving the community. Fostering Diversity and Inclusion To MGM Resorts, a diverse and talented workforce is essential to success. By cultivating innovative strategies that consider multiple perspectives and viewpoints, the company creates an inclusive workplace culture that benefits its employees and community. MGM Resorts takes pride in being a welcoming home for veterans, individuals with disabilities, people from diverse backgrounds, LGBTQ+ community members, and more. This commitment to inclusion is reflected in the company's recruitment and hiring practices and its social responsibility initiatives. From the workplace to the community, MGM Resorts' commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion remains unwavering, and its efforts continue to create a more equitable and sustainable world for all. MGM Resorts understands its responsibility to contribute to the social and economic progress of the communities in which it operates. HERE, we embrace humanity.