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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Partner Voices
  MGM Resorts is renowned for its exceptional service and diverse venue options across Las Vegas, Detroit, Springfield, National Harbor, Biloxi, and Atlantic City, providing flexible spaces for meetings of any size. Beyond these offerings, MGM Resorts distinguishes itself through a strong commitment to social responsibility and sustainability, making it an ideal choice for your next meeting.  At the core of MGM Resorts' company values is its platform, "Focused on What Matters," dedicated to meeting customer needs while advancing socially responsible practices. This commitment is evident in several key areas:  Protecting Natural Resources  MGM Resorts is home to industry-leading recycling, renewable electricity and water conservation programs. Some highlights include a cogeneration power plant at ARIA, producing ultra-efficient electricity; one of America’s largest contiguous rooftop solar arrays atop the convention center at Mandalay Bay; and onsite wells that provide water for the celebrated Fountains of Bellagio, avoiding reliance on precious Colorado River water. These efforts and many more save on natural resources while boosting attendee satisfaction.  Committed to Community  Always striving to be good neighbors, MGM Resorts works to avoid food waste and combat food insecurity with the Feeding Forward program. In partnership with local food banks, they safely divert unserved food to food insecure members of the community. Since 2016, over 5 million meals have been provided, highlighting MGM Resorts' commitment to minimizing food waste and addressing community needs.  MGM Resorts supports clients in their responsible-meetings efforts, not only with efficient venues but also waste-reducing décor and signage; sustainable food and beverage options; and outreach to help planners communicate sustainability efforts to attendees. What’s more, they offer a Mindful Meetings series that puts attendee wellness first—through fitness and mindfulness activities, and in give-back events with local charity organizations.   Fostering Diversity & 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 offers unparalleled service and venue options while standing out for its proactive approach to sustainability and community engagement. Choosing MGM Resorts for your next meeting means aligning with a company that values social responsibility, efficiency, and attendee satisfaction, ensuring a meaningful and impactful event experience.