Event Service Professionals Association Names 2017 Award Recipients

Doris Sims received ESPA's 2017 Executive Excellence Award

Fans of the Golden Globes and the Oscars know that it's peak awards season in Hollywood. The entertainment industry isn't the only sector that recognizes its superstars at this time of year, however. The meetings and events industry also applauds top talent in January, according to the Event Service Professionals Association (ESPA), which yesterday announced its 2017 award recipients, each of which was recognized earlier this month at ESPA's annual conference in Nashville.

ESPA's top honor, the Executive Excellence Award, is given annually to a leader who's nominated by his or her staff for their "commitment and dedication to the profession of event services and for providing leadership to members of their service team." Chosen for demonstrating "quality assurance, as well as support staff development, growth, and continuing education," this year's recipient is Doris Sims (pictured), vice president of destination services at the Louisville Convention & Visitors Bureau in Louisville, KY.

 "We're thrilled to name Doris Sims as our Executive Excellence winner for 2017," said ESPA President Amy Cabe. "She exemplifies the outstanding service, teamwork, and leadership that we all strive to attain. She sets an example for the next generation of service professionals."

Also honored in Nashville were winners of the following awards:

• The Meeting Professional of the Year Award recognizes "the hard-working meeting professional who exhibits personal and professional characteristics that create an environment that focuses on teamwork, and shows support for the event services profession." This year's winner is Linda Finnerty, director of meetings and events at the Council on Social Work Education.

• The Successful Meetings' Convention Service Manager of the Year Award, presented by ESPA and Successful Meetings magazine to "those who have demonstrated to the most demanding critics in the business -- meeting planners -- their ability to provide the highest level of service." This year's winners, who represent three different facets of the industry, are: Lachelle J. Harrison, events manager at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center, who won in the "Convention Center" category; Lisa Bethea, tourism sales and convention services manager at the Frisco Convention and Visitors Bureau, who won in the "CVB" category; and Jennifer Thomsen, convention service manager at the Hyatt Regency Huntington Beach, who won in the "Hotel" category.

• Awarded to an ESPA member who has earned his or her CMP designation within the last five years and remains in good standing with the association, the William H. Just, CAE, CMP Memorial Award recognizes recipients for "incorporating creativity, professionalism, and leadership into their endeavors." This year's recipient is Courtney Hunt, destination service manager at Visit Baton Rouge.

• The Donald S. Freeman Jr. ESPA Conference Scholarship pays for a student to attend the ESPA Conference. This year's recipient was Sydney Bedford, a senior at Texas A&M University, where she's majoring in Recreation, Park and Tourism Sciences with a concentration in Event and Tourism Management.

"Event services is more than a job for our award winners," Cabe concluded. "It's a passion that drives them to be the best. We are truly proud to recognize them with ESPA's highest honors."