July 01, 2013
Once again we present our annual list of luminaries, chosen because they have either contributed to the business of meetings, made it easier for meetings professionals to do their jobs, helped raise awareness of the industry, or, through their actions, have had a significant impact on the industry. 

Industry Associations

John Castellani, president 
and CEO of PhRMA 
As President and CEO of Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA), John Castellani is responsible for providing support, advocacy, and direction for the more than 600,000 employees of America’s leading pharmaceutical research and biotechnology companies. With the full effect of the Sunshine Act taking effect this year, Castellani has his hands full helping companies successfully implement and improve upon the healthcare reform law. Beyond that, he’s still orchestrating PhRMA’s day-to-day mission to promote public policies that advance the field of medical research; ensure broad access to medicines; increase value for patients; and fight for strong intellectual property incentives. 

Pat Schaumann, CMP, CSEP, DMCP, founder of International Medical Meeting Professionals Association, and CEO of Meeting I.Q.

Pat Schaumann saw that the big meeting associations weren’t paying enough attention to the issues facing medical meeting planners — so she started the International Medical Meeting Professionals Association (IMMPA) to support these planners. In a world where few people get a significant second act, Schaumann is working on her third. In addition to heading up the IMMPA, she’s also the president of Meeting I.Q., and managing director of China Connect within the U.S. If that weren’t enough, she recently authored The Guide to Successful Destination Management, and is a contributing editor to The Convention Industry Council Manual. 

Deborah Sexton, president and CEO of Professional Convention Management Association (PCMA)
Over her more than 30-year career in the meetings industry, Deborah Sexton has done much to evolve the way that the industry works. Under her leadership, PCMA has been a consistent risk taker, adopting cutting-edge ideas and strategies, all in an effort to further the industry. A case in point is PCMA’s annual Convening Leaders conference, which took place in Orlando this January. The 2013 installment drew 843 hybrid (live and rebroadcast) attendees — a record number — from more than 21 countries. It’s just one example of how Sexton and PCMA lead the industry by example, all while providing invaluable educational opportunities for its membership base, which has increased by 30 percent under her leadership. This year also included many firsts for PCMA, including the debut of the PCMA Business School for senior-level planners, and the inaugural launch of the PCMA Global Medical Meetings Summit in London this month. 


Steve Enselein, vice president of catering and convention services for Hyatt; and Rodahl Leong-Lyons, vice president of sales operations for Hyatt 
Enselein and Leong-Lyons share a place on this year’s list because Hyatt’s much-lauded group billing tool is their brainchild. Since its debut last October, Hyatt’s Group Bill has greatly improve how planners are charged for meetings. The system is more efficient and transparent than its predecessor, and far faster. The tool features an interactive PDF file complete with a table of contents, general summaries, hyperlinks, and multiple levels of billing detail, not to mention distinguishing colors and extra white space to ease eyestrain. Leong-Lyons sees time as her customers’ most valuable currency, and so Group Bill was designed with optimal efficiency in mind. In the process, it is setting the standard for ease of use, clarity, accuracy, and timeliness for billing in the meetings and events industry.

Mike Mason, 
ZEO of Zentila
Mike Mason is on a mission to reinvent the electronic request for proposal (eRFP), and eliminate the plague of eRFP spamming that inundates thousands of hotels, resorts, and other meeting venues worldwide. To do that, the 25-year hospitality veteran (Marriott International, El Conquistador Resort, and Gaylord Hotels) launched his groundbreaking web platform, Zentila, in July 2011, and hasn’t looked back. Zentila enables full- and part-time corporate meeting planners to source and book their meetings using its unique booking path in just a few days, as opposed to a few weeks. This saves time and, most importantly, creates fewer headaches for both planners and suppliers. And so far the model is working — for some hotel brands Zentila is closing bookings at a rate of 20 percent.

Data Collectors 

Reggie Aggarwal, founder and 
CEO of Cvent
Cvent’s software platform manages several hundred thousand meetings and events. That makes it one of the most valuable archives for rich meetings data in the industry. The depth of the data that Cvent enables its clients to leverage at their events increased in 2013 with the release of an app-creation tool through CrowdCompass, a company it acquired in 2012. The app allows attendees to build relationships by interacting through real-time messaging, plan their schedules, and easily find exhibitors and sponsors. It also enables exhibitors and sponsors to capture leads that can help demonstrate ROI. By automating many of the event management processes, Aggarwal continues to play a pivotal role in transforming the meetings and events industry.

Issa Jouaneh, vice president and general manager of American Express (AmEx) Meetings & Events
Jouaneh oversees more than 1,000 AmEx employees who manage all of their clients’ global meetings and events needs. What makes Jouaneh worth watching this year is that in the wake of the AmEx breakup with Maritz Travel, the company embarked on bringing the corporate business travel expertise of its American Express Business Travel sister company, as well as the expense reconciliation provided by American Express’ corporate card travel and expense (T&E) management, to the meetings table. A big part of Jouaneh’s job in 2013 has been to integrate all of that data into a solution that manages meetings logistics and reconciles the total spend of each attendee to get a better picture of costs for clients that include some of the largest companies in the world. 

Mary Beth McEuen, division vice president and executive director of the Maritz Institute
Through her work at the Maritz Institute, McEuen has been reaching out to the neuroscience community to find practical meetings industry applications for brain-mapping research. She’s taken raw data from this research and distilled it into the three “People Principles” that Maritz has been using to inform and guide their meeting and event designs. McEuen’s job is to take what we’re learning from the sciences and translate it into a total meeting experience that maps out the entire experience an attendee will have before, during, and after the meeting. 

Floyd Widener, global senior vice president of CWT Meetings & Events
Under Widener’s leadership, Carlson Wagonlit Travel (CWT) Meetings & Events has developed a dashboard that joins data from external meetings technology tools to that of parent company Carlson Wagonlit Travel to offer clients a detailed review of their meetings spending. Currently used in Europe, the tool is scheduled to be launched in the U.S. and Asia in September. The dashboard pulls spending data from a wide range of clients’ meetings technology tools.

Meeting Planners

Jean-Francois Bouchard, founder and curator of C2-MTL 
Bouchard is changing the face of conferences ... and getting noticed. Even PCMA president and CEO Deborah Sexton attended his last conference to see what all the fuss was about. Bouchard is the co-founder, president, and senior partner of Montreal-based advertising agency Sid Lee, whose clients include Adidas, Red Bull, and MGM Grand. The idea for the three-day C2-MTL: Commerce + Creativity sprung from a simple question voiced by Sid Lee client Daniel Lamarre, CEO of Cirque du Soleil. Lamarre asked, “Isn’t there an opportunity to create an event that can be both corporate and creative?” Bouchard’s answer was yes, and the most exciting and cutting-edge event since the TED conference was the result.

Liz King, owner of Liz King Events
King is a Twitter all-star and one of the organizers of a series of PlannerTech events, which showcase new technology for planners in New York, Washington DC, and Los Angeles. Her popular blog also concentrates on the intersection between events and new technologies. On Liz King Events Blog — which received a 2010 award from the #eventsprof Twitter community — she regularly interviews app producers and offers tips on using social media to enhance meetings. In 2010 King was a panelist at IAEE, and she is one of the organization’s chapter speakers for this year. King covers trends in social media at trade shows and offers tips on how to partner with exhibitors and build a Facebook and Twitter social media strategy for events.

Kevin Iwamoto, GLP, GTP, vice president of industry strategy for ACTIVE Network Business Solutions
Through his position at ACTIVE Network Business Solutions, Iwamoto helps shape the development of the meetings industry marketplace. As one of the pioneer thought leaders around the creation of strategic meetings management (SMM), Iwamoto also works with key influencers across industries to raise awareness of the benefits of SMM. Iwamoto is a former president and CEO of the board of directors for the Global Business Travel Association, the leading source for education, advocacy, networking, news, and information for more than 2,700 corporate and government travel professionals and suppliers.

Paul Salinger, vice president of 
marketing for Oracle, and president of Green Meetings Industry Council
For the past seven years, Salinger has worked diligently to help green the meetings industry. In 2007, Salinger took on the role of champion, strategist, and evangelizer for Oracle’s global green meetings initiatives, and has been leading the effort to bring sustainability into the event marketing practice as a core value and standard business practice. In 2009, Oracle OpenWorld was awarded an IMEX Silver Award for green meetings. With experience on both the event agency side and the client side, he understands the trends and realities of how to engage brand issues from both inside and outside a company. 

Debi Scholar, director of managed meeting strategies for American Express Meetings and Events
After 13 years at PricewaterhouseCoopers, Scholar became founder and president of the Scholar Consulting Group before joining American Express Meetings & Events as the director of managed meeting strategies this May. Scholar has been involved in groundbreaking efforts in shaping the strategic meetings management movement and integrating travel and meetings teams with procurement. 
She is a pioneer in the virtual meetings sector, first using virtual technologies beginning in 1998. She was the first meeting director to have included virtual meetings under her direction back in 2002, and since has become a leading expert in how to effectively drive virtual meeting adoption to reduce travel costs and complement  in-person meetings. She has also authored four books on meetings.

Kelly Stoetzel, content director of TED
Ever wonder who finds all those fascinating speakers for the TED conference? That person would be Stoetzel. Since 2003, she has traveled the world to find the most alarming, intriguing, and thought-provoking speakers and activists on the planet, from well-known figures like U2’s Bono to more obscure ones like BLACK, a two-time world yo-yo champion, both of whom spoke at February’s TED conference in Long Beach, CA. To find that group of speakers alone, she traveled to 14 different countries. Stoetzel’s instincts for spotting talent — for finding passionate, knowledgeable, and articulate speakers — has had an immeasurable ripple effect on the industry. In 2006, for example, Stoetzel invited Sir Ken Robinson to speak about how schools kill creativity; it’s now the most-watched TED talk ever given. 

Shawna Suckow, founder and president of Senior Planners Industry Network (SPIN)
When Suckow first created SPIN as a social networking site, jotting down the acronym on a cocktail napkin at an event back in 2008, she had no idea it would evolve into what it is today: the largest network of senior-level meeting, event, and exhibition planners (more than 2,500 strong), all of whom possess a minimum of 10 years of full-time meeting planning experience. Today, SPIN hosts more than 40 live events per year, including the annual SPINCon, which took place in Atlantic City, NJ, this June. The winning combination of face-to-face meetings and social media presence lets SPIN cultivate groundbreaking ideas that advance both the industry and the planners who are a part of it. Currently, Suckow also tours the country as a speaker for meetings events and is working on her third meeting-planning book, compiling other planners’ predictions about the future of meetings in 2020.

Johnnie White, executive director of the Center for Education, at the Cardiovascular Research Foundation 
As the most high-profile planner in PCMA (chair, board of directors), Johnnie White is helping the organization shape the way that other planners like himself are introduced to new formats for meetings and industry education, especially when it comes to understanding mobile apps. As the executive director of the Center for Education, at the Cardiovascular Research Foundation, he’s had plenty of hands-on experience in developing mobile apps, working closely with AppBurst to create an app for exactly what they need during one of his events. He has also done his part to help educate fellow medical industry planners about the impact of the Sunshine Act. With his expertise in mobile apps and medical meetings, it will be interesting to see what he and his board come up with for next year’s PCMA Convening Leaders conference in Boston.

Industry Trade Shows

Carina Bauer, CEO of IMEX Group
When IMEX America first crossed the pond in 2011, it was credited with revitalizing the meetings industry in the U.S., and Bauer played a major part in translating the unique hosted-buyer MICE show concept of IMEX in Frankfurt for the U.S. market. CEO since 2009, she is responsible for controls, strategic partnerships, public relations, and marketing for the entire IMEX Group. Under her leadership, the sophomore installation of IMEX America last fall proved to be even more successful than its inaugural one in 2011, with an estimated $3.3 billion in business placed or expected to place, a 17.5-percent increase from the estimated $2.8 billion generated in 2011. 

Craig Moyes, portfolio director of meetings and events for IBTM
As meetings and events portfolio director for the Incentive, Business Travel & Meetings (IBTM) group, run by Reed Travel Exhibitions, Moyes has the formidable task of overseeing eight major international gatherings: AIBTM, AIME, GIBTM, CIBTM, IBTM India, EIBTM, Business Travel Market, and the just-announced IBTM Africa. This puts him in the unique position of bringing together buyers and sellers of meetings products and services on a global level. According to IBTM statistics, the hosted-buyer programs on average result in more than 100,000 scheduled appointments between 17,000 meeting planners and 5,000 suppliers from across the globe, and each event also includes a full suite of networking events as well as high-level education components. 


Michael Dominguez, senior vice 
president of corporate hotel sales for MGM Resorts International
One of the sharpest minds in the meetings industry, Dominguez began his term as 
chairman of Meeting Professionals International (MPI) this July. His imprint on the leading industry organization goes beyond that, however. As chair of the MPI CEO Search Committee in 2012 and 2013, Dominguez played a crucial role in setting the leadership of the organization for the foreseeable future. He has also served on the executive committee of the U.S. Travel Association’s (USTA) board of directors as well as on the steering committee of its Meetings Mean Business council, which oversaw the defense of the industry in the last few years. Dominguez headed up global sales at Loews Hotels & Resorts for seven years before joining MGM to oversee sales at the Las Vegas Strip’s biggest player last summer. 

George Aguel, president and CEO of Visit Orlando
In January, George Aguel took over as president and CEO of Visit Orlando, one of the most important meetings destinations in the world and the largest tourism destination in the U.S., which attracted 57 million visitors in 2012. This position comes after decades of experience at Walt Disney, including 22 years in charge of all of its meetings and events business as senior vice president of worldwide sales and services for Walt Disney Parks and Resorts, including the Disney Institute. Prior to joining Disney, Aguel spent 12 years as the senior sales and marketing officer at Gaylord Entertainment. Aguel has also been a longtime leader in the meetings industry. A past chairman of Meeting Professionals International, he has previously held board and executive committee positions with the American Society of Association Executives, PCMA, USTA, and the Convention Industry Council.

Kathleen Bertrand, senior vice president of community and governmental affairs for Atlanta Convention & Visitors Bureau (ACVB)
Bertrand has been with the ACVB since 1983. Under her leadership, the membership of the convention and visitor’s bureau has increased more than 70 percent. She has been instrumental in the development of the ACVB’s diversity marketing programs. In 2007, she founded Hospitality Industry Professionals (HIP), an organization dedicated to the growth of diverse leadership through educational development, professional development, mentoring, and networking. She has garnered numerous awards for her leadership, including being named to Atlanta’s Top Hospitality Leaders, by the Atlanta Business Chronicle, and by the Atlanta Business League as one of Atlanta’s Top 100 Black Women of Influence. In addition, Bertrand serves on the board of several institutions, including the Metro Atlanta Chamber of Commerce Education Committee, the Tourism and Hospitality Advisory Committee of Atlanta Technical College, and Keep Atlanta Beautiful. 

Christie Hicks, senior vice president of Starwood Sales Organization for Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, Inc.
From helping to establish public TelePresence suites around the world to debuting brand-new meeting-chair designs, Hicks has played a major part in shaping the many ways that global hospitality giant Starwood delivers meeting experiences. Since 1999, she has served as the head of Starwood’s Meeting Innovation project. In her 14 years with Starwood as the leader of the 5,000-strong Starwood Sales Organization, she’s grown its business-to-business sales dramatically, and has also helped to shape the company’s aggressive global growth around the world as a member of its senior leadership team. In addition, Hicks has been incredibly influential in pushing Starwood to adopt more sustainable practices for meetings, events, and food and beverage across the board, garnering awards from the PCMA and others.


Elizabeth Henderson, sustainability strategist at Meeting Change
Elizabeth Henderson is an experienced hospitality and meetings industry practitioner with a specialization in sustainability. As the director of corporate social responsibility for the meetings industry’s largest professional association, she developed groundbreaking sustainability education and achieved a global first for the events industry with third-party certification under sustainable event standards, and also authored tools and sustainability reports. She is currently involved with the creation of sustainability reporting guidelines through the internationally recognized Global Reporting Initiative, and the creation of sustainability management standards for the meetings industry through the development of ISO 20121.

Industry Advocacy

Roger Dow, president and CEO of U.S. Travel Association
Dow brought the meetings and events industry together for its first truly effective lobbying effort in the fight against the AIG Effect and negative perceptions of meetings. And he didn’t stop there. From demonstrating the value of the business and its impact on the U.S. economy, to advocating visa reform to bring more international meetings to the U.S., Dow has been tireless — he is still the most effective advocate the industry has.