On July 30, Association for Women in Events Awards Committee Chair Michael Fuller announced the 2019 Woman in Events Hall of Fame in a Facebook Live announcement. The winners were honored for supporting the group’s mission of promoting gender equity and diversity. Read on to learn more about this tireless group of events industry vanguards.
Woman of Influence: Marin Bright, founder and CEO of Smart Meetings
Our own Marin Bright directs Smart Meetings’ award-winning magazine, digital operations and events business. She has extensive experience in the publishing, meetings and hospitality industries, and many of her innovations have become industry standards, including the introduction of a consumer-friendly magazine for the trade.
She also established original high-end networking events that feature superior educational sessions and one-on-one meetings between premier suppliers and planners. In recognition of her long list of achievements and passion for the meetings industry, Bright has received numerous awards, including the PCMA Legend Award for significant contributions to the meetings industry, Western Publishing Association Distinction in Leadership Award for outstanding representation in the media industry and two Top Women in Media national awards from the prestigious Folio Awards.
The Trailblazer: Brad Weaber, principal at Brad Weaber Consulting Group
Weaber manages professional board and panel facilitation as well as management efficiencies and event strategy review. He was chief operating officer at Connections Housing, a leading provider of event and housing management to some of the largest events in North America. He previously served as executive vice president of the New Orleans Convention and Visitors Bureau (Visit New Orleans).
He was also executive vice president for association management company Smith Bucklin’s largest division, event services, as well as chief customer officer for Experient. Weaber is active with ASAE, IAEE and PCMA. He has served on advisory boards for cities and hotel properties including Marriott, Hilton, Omni and the cities of Las Vegas, Vancouver and Washington, D.C. He also has been a featured speaker at industry events and a frequent trade publication contributor, as well as an industry expert quoted in The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal.
The Coach: Sharon Bonner, founder and CEO of Bright Ideas Events
The author of The Bright Ideas Adventure, Bonner has managed more than 3,000 events and mentored hundreds in the next generation of event professionals. She is working on her second book, The Bright Ideas European Adventure, on best practices in global event production. Bonner also is a Smart Women in Meetings Hall of Fame winner and an ILEA board member. She was also named an event influencer for the Canadian GoWestLive Conference.
Emerging Leader: Stacey Thorp, executive director of conferences and events at Freeman
Thorp started in the entertainment, logistics and marketing communications management side of the business. She also has experience in executing advertising, public relations and marketing campaigns. Now, she specializes in producing experiential marketing initiatives at live events for clients. Her specialty is understanding the “why” behind the “what.”
Organizational Leadership: KiKi L’Italien, CEO of Amplified Growth and chief growth officer and host of Association Chat
L’Italien is a strategist and keynote speaker who consults with companies and nonprofits on how to build stronger communities that last. She specializes in the science of community and the role of trust, and teaches social media and influencer marketing for MediaBistro. She also speaks at association, nonprofit and corporate events.
All inductees will be honored at a ceremony at IMEX America 2019, set for Sept. 10–12. Congratulations to all these inspirational leaders. We will see you in Las Vegas.