Meetings Canada


Four Canadians Make PCMA 20-in-20s Class

Four Canadian event professionals have been selected for the Professional Convention Management Association’s 2016  “20 in their twenties” program.

Edward Byers, CHRP, CMP, manager of Professional Development & Events, REALpac; Shannon DeSouza, MBET, manager, Event Strategy, EventMobi; Jenny Stanfield, director, Operations, Engagement Unlimited; and Havovie Suraliwalla, conference coordinator for SeaCourses Cruises, were chosen for their demonstrated industry leadership.

The 20 in their twenties program, supported by the Austin Convention and Visitors Bureau and the Austin Convention Center, is designed to engage the best and brightest young professionals in the meetings industry by recognizing emerging leaders – and their talents – which help accelerate the industry and carry it into the future.

“We are privileged to strategically partner with the Professional Convention Management Association (PCMA), the PCMA Education Foundation and their 20 in their Twenties initiative,” said Bob Lander, president & CEO of the Austin CVB. “We are thrilled to support the development of new initiatives that involve and engage emerging leaders within the industry. This focus in Austin and throughout the industry is critical to its proactive growth and continuing success.”

Other members of the 20 in the Twenties Class of 2016 are:

  • Kalee Barnhardt, CTA, Sales Manager, Experience Columbus
  • Jamie Bruce, CMP, Meeting Planner, Right Hand Events
  • Michael Doane, Marketing Manager, CadmiumCD
  • Bianca Ferrer, Creative Director & Producer, CoterieSpark
  • Jessica Fitting, Assistant Event Manager, Stanford Alumni Association
  • Sarah Gould-Stotts, CMP, Corporate Marketing Events Manager, Greystar Real Estate Partners
  • Juraj Holub, Marketing and Content Manager,
  • Irena Jelenova, Membership Development Executive, International Congress and Convention Association (ICCA)
  • Noreen Leahy, Conference Planner, National Association of Attorneys General
  • Victoria Lee, Global Travel & Meeting Services, Senior Associate, Estee Lauder, Inc.
  • Alexander Plaxen, MTA, President, Alex Plaxen Media
  • Claire Repass, CMP, Manager, Communications. Social Tables
  • Lauren Santarone, CMP, Senior Meeting Manager, American Association for Cancer Research
  • Peter Simonelli, Event Services Coordinator, Massachusetts Convention Center Authority
  • Erin Sweeney, National Sales Associate, Global Experience Specialists (GES)
  • Julia Yong, Senior Sales Executive – Association, Malaysia Convention & Exhibition Bureau

“Our 20 in their twenties program continues to engage the brightest rising stars in our industry,” said Deborah Sexton, PCMA president and CEO. “This class group views our industry through their own unique lens; our goal is to tap into their vision and insights and bring those to life in both PCMA’s face-to-face and digital channels.”

Criteria for applicants was to be employed full time in the meetings industry, be 29 years old or younger at the time of recognition and to demonstrate ways they consider themselves to be industry leaders. Applicants were not required to be PCMA members. A committee made up of 20 in their twenties alumni and veteran meeting professionals reviewed nearly 70 of applications in detail before deciding on the inaugural class.

The individuals selected will receive complimentary 2016 Convening Leaders and Education Conference registration, funds to cover travel expenses to attend Convening Leaders, as well as discounted registration to attend Convening Leaders and Education Conference until they reach the age of 30. Recipients will also receive complimentary membership for 2016 and discounted membership until they reach age 30. They will have the opportunity to be paired with an industry leader for three face to face or virtual mentoring sessions to assist in further development of their innovation and career.

Recipients will be recognized at Convening Leaders in January, as well as in Convene Magazine and other PCMA communications.

The program is supported by the PCMA Education Foundation, the Austin Convention and Visitors Bureau, and the Austin Convention Center.



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