Breaking the Mold: The 2014 Expo Elite

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The trade show and events industry is a far-flung enterprise. That is evident from the names and faces you can see in the fourth annual Expo Elite. There are managers of small for-profit shows and operations directors of large association trade events, CEOs of corporations and conference managers for professional societies. There are venue operators and show managers and salespeople and operations directors.

All have this in common: Something substantial they achieved, an innovation that they took a leadership role in, over the last year.

Expo acknowledges and honors those who are the best of the best in the events industry with this list. Each individual on the list will be recognized for their innovations and achievements at a special awards ceremony in conjunction with ExpoNext 2014 June 25-27 in Baltimore.


Screen Shot 2014-06-23 at 12.31.26 PMTOM BAUGH

CEO, Marketplace Events

Under his leadership, Marketplace Events has—at last count—acquired six consumer shows and launched three in less than a year.


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Vice president, meetings & events, Toy Industry Association

The TIA Toy Fair broke records this year with 414,060 net square feet and 26,493 total attendees.

Screen Shot 2014-06-23 at 12.31.52 PMDAVID CAUSTON

General manager, McCormick Place

Named an SMG regional vice president in the convention center division, in addition to his day job at McCormick Place. Also steered the convention center through a transition to private-sector management.


Screen Shot 2014-06-23 at 12.32.00 PMKAREN CHUPKA

Senior vice president of events and conferences, Consumer Electronics Association

International CES broke records with an audited report of 2.06 million net square feet this year.

Screen Shot 2014-06-23 at 12.25.04 PMJUDY ANDERSON

Senior manager, meetings and travel, GameStop

At the most recent GameStop event, Anderson grew square footage by 70 percent, attendance by 44 percent and ticket sales by 54 percent.


Screen Shot 2014-06-23 at 12.25.14 PMDAVID AUDRAIN

President & CEO, Exposition Development Co.

Organized the Atlanta Foodservice Expo in conjunction with the Georgia World Congress Center in Atlanta.


Screen Shot 2014-06-23 at 12.25.26 PMCHET BURCHETT

Regional president, The Americas, Reed Exhibitions

Late last year, Reed Exhibitions acquired Travelweek Sao Paolo, only the latest of multiple acquisitions and launches for the company in Brazil.


Screen Shot 2014-06-23 at 12.25.35 PMJAY BURRESS

President & CEO, Anaheim Orange County Visitor & Convention Bureau

Put the final touches on a long-needed expansion of the Anaheim Convention Center that will add about 200,000 square feet by the fall of 2016.


Screen Shot 2014-06-23 at 12.25.44 PMTOM CINDRIC

Vice president, Hanley Wood

A mobile game app, Rig Racin’, designed to promote World of Concrete, hit 100,000 downloads in the month before the February show.


Screen Shot 2014-06-23 at 12.25.55 PMJOEL DAVIS

President & CEO, JD Events

Sold two collocated New York-based show to the National Association of Broadcasters late last year.



Screen Shot 2014-06-23 at 12.26.05 PMDEBBIE DESROCHES

Trade show director, SnowSports Industries America

At the end of the second day of the SIA SnowShow in downtown Denver, the show routinely hauls 3,600 attendees and about a quarter of its 425 exhibitors to the mountains around Denver for real-time demonstrations.


Screen Shot 2014-06-23 at 12.26.14 PMELLEN DRUDY

Director of operations & conferences, National Trade Productions

Managed the growth of the American Public Transportation Association’s Expo this year to 280,000 net square feet.


Screen Shot 2014-06-23 at 12.26.27 PMDAVID DUBOIS

President & CEO, International Association of Exhibitions & Events

Launched the first-ever Exhibitions Day in which the events industry collectively lobbied the U.S. Congress, explaining the value of face-to-face marketing on Capitol Hill.


Screen Shot 2014-06-23 at 12.26.39 PMCHRISTIAN FALKENBERG

Senior vice president & show director, GLM Shows

After several decades as the New York International Gift Fair, rebranded the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center mainstay as NY NOW.


Screen Shot 2014-06-24 at 10.40.49 AMLANCE FENSTERMAN

Global vice president, ReedPOP

ReedPOP, the Reed Exhibitions division Fensterman leads, announced the launch of four new events this year and six since the beginning of 2013.


Screen Shot 2014-06-24 at 10.41.03 AMLYDIA JANOW

Managing director, events, Penton’s Aviation Week

Has led MRO Americas from a 75-booth show 20 years ago to one of the largest aviation-related events in the Western Hemisphere.


Screen Shot 2014-06-24 at 10.41.15 AMBRYAN KELLEY

Senior sales & development manager, National FFA

Last year, because the event maxed out attendance at 63,000, started webcasting portions of it to FFA members in remote locations.


Screen Shot 2014-06-24 at 10.41.30 AMNED KRAUSE

President & CEO, E.J. Krause & Associates

Acquisition of the Metropolitan Cooking & Entertaining Show capped a busy M&A period for the company.


Screen Shot 2014-06-24 at 10.41.44 AMIVAN LAZAREV

President & CEO, ITN International

In its first year providing registration for International CES, ITN International distributed 150,000 badges with an average wait time of less than 10 minutes.


Screen Shot 2014-06-24 at 10.41.53 AMDAVID LOECHNER

President & CEO, Emerald Expositions

Navigated purchase process as the former Nielsen Exhibitions was bought by Onex Corp. for $950 million and renamed Emerald Expositions. Six months later, acquired GLM Shows for $335 million.


Screen Shot 2014-06-24 at 10.42.02 AMCHARLES MCCURDY

President & CEO, Apprise Media

A mere four years ago, sold Canon Communications to UBM for $287 million. Next, in conjunction with Providence Equity Partners, he acquired George Little Management for $173 million. And two years later he sold what had become GLM Shows to Emerald Expositions for $335 million.


Screen Shot 2014-06-24 at 10.42.18 AMCALAE MCDERMOTT

Conference manager, NACE International

The NACE International show manager grew revenue on the CORROSION trade show by nearly 30 percent in one year.


Screen Shot 2014-06-24 at 10.42.25 AMIAIN MACKENZIE

Director, trade shows & events, International Sign Association

ISA’s largest show, the ISA International Sign Expo, has had two back-to-back record-breaking years in terms of square footage and attendance.


Screen Shot 2014-06-24 at 10.42.36 AMCHRIS MEYER

Vice president of global business sales, Las Vegas Convention & Visitors Association

Guided the Las Vegas trade show and convention business through the economic recession and back to recovery. The number of people attending business-related events in the city grew 3.3 percent to reach nearly 5 million, the largest number since 2008.


Screen Shot 2014-06-24 at 10.44.00 AMCHRIS DEMOULIN

President of licensing & executive vice president, Advanstar Communications

Took Advanstar into the pop culture world by signing a management agreement with Stan Lee’s Comikaze Expo in Los Angeles. Then created a link between Comikaze Expo and Advanstar’s Licensing Expo.


NANCY DRAPEAUScreen Shot 2014-06-24 at 10.44.13 AM

Director of research, CEIR

The workhorse—and brains— behind the Center for Exhibition Industry Research’s reports on the trade show industry. Responsible for a benchmark report for trade show organizers.


Screen Shot 2014-06-24 at 10.44.22 AMJIM GOODMAN

Vice president, conferences & continuing education, American Dental Association

Introduced at last year’s show in New Orleans for the first time an oral health clinic in which more than 1,000 dental professionals contributed a day. Pioneered the use of hands-on cadavers in educational demonstrations at the show.


Screen Shot 2014-06-24 at 10.44.34 AMCONNIE MIKELS

Director of expositions, National Auto Dealers Association

Grew sponsorship sales 83 percent for the 2014 NADA Show.
 Reorganized a maxed-out showfloor and created a multi-tiered variable-pricing strategy for all the exhibitors.


Screen Shot 2014-06-24 at 10.44.45 AMPAUL MILLER


Initiated UBM Tech’s Data Warehouse Project, launched in February to analyze content consumption and target products.


Screen Shot 2014-06-24 at 10.45.09 AMHEIDI MITCHELL

Senior trade show marketing manager, National Safety Council

Has worked to attract college-aged and a mid-20s demographic to events, to the point where nearly 50 percent of attendees at the NSC Texas Safety Conference & Expo are under 30.


Screen Shot 2014-06-24 at 10.45.17 AMTOM MITCHELL

President, Messe Dusseldorf North America

Organized the launch of MedicalWorld Americas at the George R. Brown Convention Center in conjunction with the Greater Houston Convention & Visitors Bureau, a rare collaboration between convention venue and show organizer.


Screen Shot 2014-06-24 at 10.45.30 AMSTEVE MOSTER

President, GES

Oversaw negotiations in Chicago last summer that led to a new five-year agreement with the carpenters union after a prolonged standoff over wage increases.


Screen Shot 2014-06-24 at 10.45.38 AMBRIAN PAGEL

Group vice president, Emerald Expositions

As lead Emerald executive on the Kitchen & Bath Industry Show, participated in the successful collocation with the International Builders Show to create a new Design & Construction Week.


Screen Shot 2014-06-24 at 10.45.44 AMJIM PITTAS

Vice President, trade shows, PMMI

Managing the launch of PACK EXPO East next year in Philadelphia. Early exhibitor demand turns out to be so strong that dates had to be changed to accommodate a larger than expected showfloor.


Screen Shot 2014-06-24 at 10.45.52 AMBOB PRIEST-HECK

Freeman, COO

Set to become president and COO of Freeman in June, after taking over the COO title last year, replacing the retiring John O’Connell.


Screen Shot 2014-06-24 at 10.46.01 AMELLI RILEY

Director of exhibits and meeting services, HIMSS

Taking advantage of new technology, grew onsite space selection from 368,000 net square feet in 2013 to 535,000 net sq. ft. this year.


Screen Shot 2014-06-24 at 10.47.44 AMDENISE MEDVED

President, Metropolitan Cooking & Entertaining Show

Sold a majority interest in the popular nine-year-old Washington, D.C., food show after launching it as the event-related spin-off of a cookbook she wrote.


Screen Shot 2014-06-24 at 10.47.57 AMSUSAN NEWMAN

Senior vice president, conferences National Retail Federation

Oversaw an increase in the net square footage of Retail’s BIG Show of nearly 11 percent.


Screen Shot 2014-06-24 at 10.48.09 AMJEFF PRESSMAN

President, ConvExx

With only a matter of months to work with, took over operations for the SHOT Show at the Sands Convention Center.


Screen Shot 2014-06-24 at 10.48.18 AMMARK PURSELL

Senior vice president, National Association of Home Builders

Pulled off one of the largest collocations in trade show history with less than 18 months lead time.


Screen Shot 2014-06-24 at 10.48.37 AMLARRY SCHUR

President, All Baby & Child Corp.

Created pavilions at juvenile products shows in China and the United Kingdom with exhibitors from the U.S.-based ABC Kids Expo.


Screen Shot 2014-06-24 at 10.48.45 AMWILLIAM SELL

Director, event development, Massachusetts Convention Center Authority

Developed one of the first business units at a convention center to launch conferences and trade shows.


Screen Shot 2014-06-24 at 10.48.58 AMSHERIDA SESSA

Event director, ISC Events, Reed Exhibitions

Even with the tight quarters at the Sands Expo Convention Center in Las Vegas, reconfigured the floorplan for ISC West and found a way to create a 307,000 net square foot showfloor.


Screen Shot 2014-06-24 at 10.49.10 AMTOM SHIMALA

Director, technical exhibits, Radiological Society of North America

Has pioneered the use of video in researching attendee habits and traffic patterns at the RSNA Scientific Assembly & Annual Meeting.


Screen Shot 2014-06-24 at 10.49.26 AMALAN STEEL

President & CEO, Jacob K. Javits Convention Center

Oversaw the final phase of an overhaul of Javits Center that has allowed several large long-standing shows to reconfigure their showfloors.


Screen Shot 2014-06-24 at 10.49.37 AMMEGAN TANEL

Vice president, exhibitions & events, Association of Equipment Manufacturers

Tanel’s main event, CONEXPO/CON-AGG, topped out in early March at 2.35 million net square feet, making it the largest trade show ever held in North America.


Screen Shot 2014-06-24 at 10.49.48 AMSANDRA TOMS LAPEDIS

Vice president, RSA Conference

In less than 10 years, has moved the RSA Conference from a user event to a major cyber-security trade show.


Screen Shot 2014-06-24 at 10.49.55 AMKAREN WILLIAMS

President & CEO, Louisville Convention & Visitors Bureau

Named president and CEO of the Louisville convention bureau in April after the resignation of Jim Wood, CEO for the previous 11 years.


Screen Shot 2014-06-24 at 10.50.04 AMCB WISMAR

Vice president, events, AARP

Responsible for the creation of the TEK Pavilion at last year’s Life@50+ event, which took up 22,000 square feet of a 71,000 sq. ft. showfloor.


Screen Shot 2014-06-24 at 10.50.13 AMTOBY YOUNG

President, Mid-America Trucking Show

Led the premiere trucking industry through the economic recession relatively intact and back to levels well above 2008 levels.

Posted by Michael Hart

Michael Hart is the executive editor of Expo. Reach him at View all articles by Michael Hart →