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Often behind the scenes, predicting issues before they ever see the light of day, meeting and event professionals are doing the dirty work. There is no such thing as weekends, attendees are always going to be too cold and too hot, and it’s wise to have cab money handy just in case a CEO enjoys that Napa Valley wine a little too much.

According to a 2011 U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics report, women make up 76 percent of meeting and event professionals. Designed to support the large number of women in the industry, Association for Women in Events (AWE) launched in 2015 to serve as a resource, provide mentorship and enhance careers.

“I’ve witnessed more driven, ambitious, dedicated and tenacious women than ever before coming out of the woodwork to form a community and support system for other women, especially in building the Association for Women in Events,” says Carrie Abernathy, CMP, CEM, CSEP, co-founder and president of AWE. “Now is truly the time for women’s professional advancement in the industry, for women to have a seat at the boardroom table.”

Smart Meetings wanted to learn more about these women, who they are and what makes them tick. Selecting from more than 200 nominations, we have identified 25 executive leaders, doers, innovators, entrepreneurs and rising stars who are making an impact in the meetings and events industry.

“Join me in congratulating these pioneers, who are paving the way for the next generation of empowered women,” Abernathy says. “I’m truly honored to know and work beside these amazing women in the industry.”