Maybe you’ve heard them speak at one of the big meetings industry shows, or read about them in the pages of this magazine. Maybe most of their work is behind the scenes. But for one reason or many, following are some of the interesting people who are shaping our profession—and special thanks to those who indulged us with the whimsical pics!







Jordan Schwartz
CEO, Pathable
Specialties: Meetings apps; technology

Jordan Schwartz and his tech-veteran team at Seattle-based Pathable have authored numerous award-winning, user-friendly mobile apps that supercharge the social networking aspect of the meetings and events industry.


Maura Gast
Executive Director, Irving CVB
Specialties: Destination promotion; industry advocacy

More than just the longtime leader of the Irving CVB, Maura somehow still finds time to fill key roles on many industry boards, including DMAI, the Texas Society of Association Executives, the American Society of Association Executives and the U.S. Travel Association.


Denise Suttle
Assistant Director of Convention Services, Albuquerque CVB
Specialties: Convention services; industry associations

A convention services pro, Denise is a past president of the Event Service Professionals Association and was part of the team that wrote the chapter on convention services management for PCMA’s Professional Meeting Management.


Jeff Chase
Vice President of Sustainability, Freeman Companies
Specialties: Exhibition sustainability

By its very nature, the exhibition industry presents a lot of opportunity when it comes to sustainability initiatives and practices. As a VP of the world’s largest event-marketing company, Jeff has worked tirelessly to green the exhibiting world.


John Chen
CEO & the “Big Kid," Geoteaming
Specialties: Geo teambuilding; gamification; technology; CSR

Games are serious business for John, an evangelist for gamification, CSR and strategic marketing for organizations via teambuilding programs that use technology to forge participant bonding, often for a good cause.


Michael Dominguez
Senior Vice President of Corporate Sales, MGM Resorts International
Specialties: Diversity; planner-supplier relationships; advocacy

If you haven’t seen Michael deliver his presentation on hotel revenue sources—not as dry as it sounds!—you’ve missed a candid, thorough talk on how the supplier side operates. Michael also gives back through his work as chair of MPI and involvement in other industry organizations.


Alex Cabanas
President & CEO, Benchmark Hospitality International
Specialties: Strategic development

Following in his father Burt’s footsteps, Alex was promoted to CEO last October, and was instrumental in doubling the size of the company in the eight years prior.


Issa Jouaneh
Vice President & General Manager, American Express Meetings & Events
Specialties: Data analysis; benchmarking; expense management

With a wealth of American Express business traveler data at his disposal, Issa is a frequent speaker and author on expense management techniques. Under his leadership, the Amex division has forged a number of new partnerships in the last year and expanded into key international markets.


Reggie Aggarwal
Founder, Chairman and CEO, Cvent
Specialties: Technology; RFPs; data; social media

As the leader of what has become a ubiquitous meetings technology and content company, Aggarwal led Cvent through a successful IPO last October and continues to expand its offerings through social media apps, live events and other avenues.


Lara McCulloch
Chief Shift Disturber,
Specialties: Social media; speaker; branding; business development

As founder of #eventprofs, Lara created what may be the most popular meetings and events industry Twitter feed. If you doubt its relevance, just take a look at how its hashtag is included in the tweets of so many other Twitter users.


Regina Richardson
National Sales Director, Long Beach CVB
Specialties: Government meetings

Government meeting planners have taken it on the chin recently, and Regina, based in Washington, D.C., has undertaken a proactive role by reaching out to procurement officers, planners and venue partners, and consulting, to make sure the show always goes on.


Christine “Shimo” ShimAsaki
Managing Director, empowerMINT
Specialties: Destination management organizations; RFPs; venue selection

Leader of Destination Marketing Association International’s empowerMINT RFP tool, “Shimo” is a meetings industry standby who has recently branched out into offering free webinars that educate planners about how to reveal the value of their meetings, and how CVBs can help with site selection and other services.


Elliott Ferguson II
President & CEO, Destination DC
Specialties: Destination marketing strategy

D.C. has been on quite a roll, welcoming a massive new hotel, The Marriott Marquis, that adds 1,175 guestrooms connected to the Walter E. Washington Convention Center. Elliott has been a driving force in upping the U.S. capital’s meetings and convention profile, and is leading the charge to target a corporate market that is outside of its traditional strength in the association and government segments.


Kristin McGrath
Vice President of Sales and Services, Providence Warwick CVB
Specialties: Advocacy; education

Currently chairperson of DMAI’s Education Committee and on the board of directors of its Destination Marketing Accreditation Program, McGrath has been proactive in proving the value of meetings, and even invited a congressional delegation to visit her destination.


Jacques Horovitz
President, Chateauform
Specialties: Conference centers; alternative learning environments

Specializing in conference center meetings in decidedly un-conference-center-like environments—think private chateaus and other relaxing venues—this Swiss company and its innovative leader may just transform the European meetings experience.