Who are the planners, suppliers and educators who are helping move the meetings industry into the future? We tapped the 2014 Meetings Trendsetters, polled our readers and reached out to some key contacts to develop our 2015 list of people who are among the leading lights of our industry.



Ray Bloom
Chairman & Founder, IMEX Group
Specialties: Leader of the leading meetings industry exhibitions in the U.S. and Europe

Since 2011, IMEX America has become the “it” show for the meetings and conventions industry, basically consolidating many of the various North American tradeshows, partnering with associations such as MPI, PCMA and SITE, and pioneering the large hosted buyer appointment concept in the U.S. The original, and still larger, version, IMEX Frankfurt, has been packing Messe Frankfurt for 13 years now.


Greg DeShields
Executive Director, Multicultural Affairs Congress (PHLDiversity), a division of the Philadelphia CVB
Specialties: Diversity in meeting planning; creating a career pipeline for minorities in hospitality fields

Across industries, the idea of “diversity and inclusion” is defined in many ways. Under DeShields’ leadership, PHLDiversity positions Philadelphia as a leader amongst U.S. cities in ensuring that its meetings and hospitality industry accurately reflects the shifting, diverse economic and cultural climate of our country.


Aoife Delaney
Director of Global Sales, Ovation Global DMC
Specialties: International DMC sales; industry association leader

Leading Ovation’s global sales activity, Delaney is also an emerging leader on the international meetings scene,as evidenced by her work on the SITE Global Board of Directors and as vice president of finance for the incentive travel executives society, in addition to chairing the SITE International Conference in Las Vegas and leading the SITE Young Leaders committee in 2011.


Michael Owen
Managing Partner, EventGenuity
Specialties: Industry advocate; events producer; educator

A tireless meetings industry “activist” who says even though he has no issue with saying “no,” it’s always saying “yes” that’s his problem, Owen, a frequent industry speaker, has served on myriad industry boards, task forces and the like, and is currently chair of the CIC’s APEX Standards Committee.


Cleo Battle
Executive Vice President, Louisville CVB
Specialties: Destination marketing; industry mentoring

A nearly 30-year meetings industry veteran, Battle is the consummate advocate for destination promotion through his varied committee work at DMAI, as well as a committed mentor to those just getting their feet wet as they begin, and continue, their careers as a meeting professional.


Karen Kotowski
CEO, Convention Industry Council
Specialties: Industry association leader; industry advocate

As head of the CIC, Kotowski is one of the most visible industry advocates, playing an instrumental role in efforts such as the Meetings Mean Business Coalition and supporting industry accreditation programs and initiatives. But her most recent role was helping to lead the charge for the first annual North American Meetings Industry Day, held April 16.


Steven N. Rudner
Managing Partner, Rudner Law Offices
Specialties: Industry educator; civil rights advocate

Mainly known as a top attorney representing the hotel side on contract issues, Rudner has recently taken a leading role advocating for LGBT rights as president of the Equality Texas Foundation. Through the Texas Competes effort he helped pull together the business community—including Marriott, Hilton, Starwood, La Quinta, the Texas Hotel and Lodging Association, the Dallas CVB and the Houston Super Bowl Host Committee—to prevent a major negative impact to the state’s convention business by lobbying against what many considered anti-LGBT legislation.