Orange County Convention Center

2019 IAEE Award Recipients

The IAEE Awards Program is designed to recognize IAEE members who have made outstanding contributions to the exhibitions and events industry. Congratulations to the 2019 IAEE Award recipients!

Pinnacle Award
David Adler
CEO
BizBash Media

David is a veteran media, marketing, and event industry entrepreneur. He believes that event organizers of all types need to be “high performance collaboration artists,” and he founded BizBash in 2000 to further that cause. The company’s magazines, newsletters, web sites, trade shows, and bespoke events are all designed to allow event planners and producers to share new approaches and best practices as well as great venues and suppliers to inspire smarter gatherings of all types. He is a sought-after industry speaker and has graced the stages of industry events throughout North America.

“It is such an honor to receive the Pinnacle Award especially because of how proud I am of the industry and that the world has recognized the importance of human connections, especially in this digital age. Trade and consumer shows are the literally the world’s new town squares, and organizers understand that they are really collaboration artists connecting people in new and profound ways.”

Humanitarian Award
Aaron Bludworth
President & CEO
Fern

No matter where Aaron’s Fern travels take him, he is certain to make time to find people in need of a helping hand. He never passes an opportunity to make a new friend, help the helpless, find ways to enhance the lives of those whose path may cross his. He has assisted the homeless to find shelter and aid in the middle of a cold and rainy night. He has ensured a homeless family is provided with a safe place to live and rebuild their shattered lives. One way or another, Aaron never misses an opportunity to provide a helping hand to the desperate.

“I am grateful for the committee’s acknowledgement of our industry’s generous members’ humanitarian efforts and honored and humbled by their recognizing my efforts to assist those struggling, help those who have become invisible be seen, and provide relief wherever possible.”

Distinguished Service Award
Ryan Strowger, CEM
Chief Events and Industry Officer
The Optical Society

Ryan’s extensive service to IAEE is well-documented, as he has served on dozens of committees and task forces over the past 26 years that he has been a member, culminating in his appointment as Chairperson in 2017. Ryan is also known throughout the industry as a generous mentor whose encouragement and guidance has produced many of our industry and IAEE leaders.

“I’m humbled and honored to receive this award from IAEE. IAEE has been such a foundational element of my career, and from it I have formed many, many long-term professional relationships and personal friendships, and truly enhanced my career trajectory. Over the past few years I’ve been delighted to contribute to the success of an organization from which I’ve benefitted so much.”

International Excellence Award
CES Asia

CES Asia has seen significant growth over the past three years, as reflected in the event audit conducted by BPA Worldwide which was submitted with its nomination. The 2018 show broke attendance records, more than doubling from its inaugural show in 2015. The show drew international attendees from South Korea, Japan, the U.S., Taiwan, Hong Kong SAR, Thailand, France, Singapore and Germany. Members of the media represented 31 countries, regions and territories.

“CES Asia is the premier event showcasing the best consumer technology in the Asian market. It is the only event in Asia that brings together the entire tech ecosystem to build brands and forge partnerships. We are honored by the recognition of IAEE’s 2019 International Excellence Award, as the show is designed not just for the Greater China region but Asia Pacific and beyond, to propel the region’s transformative technologies into new industries and markets around the world.”

Woman of Achievement Award
Julie Pazina, CEM-AP
National Director of Sales
Edlen Electrical Exhibition Services

Julie has made a name for herself in the industry as a passionate and enthusiastic advocate, not only of IAEE’s causes, but on behalf of the exhibitions and events industry. A member since 2006, she has been very active with her local chapter, and is also well-known among young professionals as a welcoming force who is generous with her knowledge and experience. Last year, Julie broke new ground by running for a seat in the Nevada State Legislature. Although new to politics, she gave the incumbent quite the challenge and lost only by a small margin! All this in addition to working full time, staying on top of her commitments to IAEE and volunteering within her community.

“I am passionate about the events industry and IAEE has given me the opportunity to learn, grow and build lifelong friendships. Being named the recipient of the Woman of Achievement award is an honor and I couldn’t be prouder to be among so many smart, accomplished, engaged women in this industry.”

Chapter Merit Award
Michael Cox
Executive Vice President
Fern

Michael was instrumental in launching the newest IAEE Chapter, the Mid-South Chapter, and in leading the chapter as President. The chapter applauded his passion for the industry and lauded him as a thought leader. He serves as a wonderful mentor to anyone entering the industry and constantly looks for solutions to improve processes. Mike is seen as a tremendous asset to the chapter and its success.

“It is an honor to receive this award and a true pleasure to work with the IAEE Staff and the Mid-South Chapter Board.  These individuals really do the heavy lifting and contribute countless hours of their time to ensure the success of our Chapter. I am proud to know and work with such a great group of people.”

Chapter Merit Award
John Tisdale
President
nvytes, a division of Marcord, Inc.

John is a valuable asset to the IAEE Southwest Chapter having served as a Chapter Officer, including Chair, and continues to serve this day as an Ex-Officio board member. Four years ago, John took the helm of the annual Children’s Charity Golf Tournament benefiting the California Family Life Center (CFLC). He has steered the event which includes a golf tournament and banquet with his committee, achieving incredible success. He has found sponsors and donations, recruited golfers, and runs the raffle portion of the banquet. The 2019 edition had 98 golfers and brought in over $15,000 to the charity. In total, the SWIAEE chapter has donated an excess of $250,000 in goods and cash donations to help kids in need, and John has been integral part in raising the funds.

“I am humbled to receive this award and be recognized by my industry peers. Thank you to the Southwest Chapter of IAEE for the opportunity to give back to our industry while raising money and awareness for our charity. I am also honored to be part of this group of Award Winners that includes friends, colleagues and clients. I love how our industry feels like an extended family!”

Chapter Merit Award
Erika Welling, CEM
General Manager
PRA

Erika has taken the lead for the IAEE Southwest Chapter in the area of meet-ups. Thanks to her direct contributions, attendance to the chapter meet-ups has more than doubled and the chapter now has events happening simultaneously in three locations. Due to the vast area that the chapter covers, these results have helped make the whole Southwest feel included. For example, two years ago events in Phoenix would attract only 2 or 3 people. Now attendance is in the 20s. Erika has been credited by the chapter as having spearheaded this expansion and leading a team of members that have become so active in the chapter, they look promising as future leaders of IAEE.

“It is truly an honor and I’m so grateful to be recognized by fellow esteemed IAEE colleagues. It’s extremely rewarding to give back to an industry that has meant so much to me and to know that I’ve made a difference in some way.”

Bob Dallmeyer Educator of the Year Award
KV Nagendra Prasad, CEM
COO, Hyderabad International Trade Exhibition Centre (HITEX Exhibition Centre)
President, Indian Exhibition Industry Association (IEIA)

KV is a driving force in India promoting education, IAEE, CEM and the Women’s Leadership Forum throughout the country. Instrumental in bringing the CEM program to India, KV not only agreed to coordinate the CEM program in India, he volunteered to market and host the program at HITEX, and enrolled himself to the first class of CEM India to set an example and to highlight the importance of the CEM program. KV also championed the formation of the IAEE India Chapter, which held its first chapter board meeting in February 2018. Since then, the IAEE India Chapter has been strengthening the CEM Learning Program and growing the Women’s Leadership Program in India.

“I take this award as a recognition of aspirations of all my fellow professionals in the Indian exhibition industry, who want to learn, practice and excel in trade show management and in offering world-class services.”

Volunteer of the Year Award
James “Jim” Letchworth, CEM
Senior Sales Manager
GES

Jim is the consummate IAEE team player and cheerleader. Since he joined IAEE in 1996, he has been a long-term volunteer for the Southwest chapter, working his way up through the Board to serve as Chair in 2007. He cares so much about the chapter’s success that he re-joined the Board in the past few years and is currently serving as Secretary/Treasurer. He currently chairs the Bob Dallmeyer Education Committee, and is an enthusiastic promoter and fundraiser for the committee. He also assists the IAEE team by coordinating content and speakers for IAEE’s participation at IMEX Frankfurt and IMEX America. Jim pushed himself out of his comfort zone to become a member of the CEM Faculty, and since has taught several courses every year both domestically and internationally. In support of the diversity and inclusion initiatives in IAEE’s strategic plan, Jim single-handedly started the LGBTQ reception at Expo! Expo!.

“Career achievements have a different meaning for everyone. For me it is a balance between character, helping others and community involvement that makes my work a valued part of my life.”

Innovative Business Solution Award
The Deondo Company
Nook Event Pods

The Deondo Company hails its Nook Event Pods as the next disruption in the exhibitions and events industry. Every event organizer is looking for new ways to promote and achieve peer-to-peer engagement at their events, and attendees are desperately looking for places to recharge/meet/make a call when they are on show site. The Nook Event Pods fulfill both of those needs by providing an intimate and cozy space that allows people a place to recharge their devices – and themselves – during any event. The Nook Event Pods come already built and simply roll into any venue. They serve as charging stations, podcast booths, enhancements to sponsor packages, options to add to exhibit space, hosted buyer spaces, networking/eating places, noise dampening, semi-private and fully brandable to create new sponsor revenue opportunities and increase attendee satisfaction.

“The Deondo Company and Nook Event Pods are honored to be recognized as the recipient of IAEE’s Innovative Business Solution Award. This achievement validates our belief in – and the benefits of – Nook Event Pods as an expert, innovative solution for show management, exhibitor, attendee and corporate sponsorship needs.”

Outstanding Marketing & Sales Award
Association of Equipment Manufacturers (AEM)
Customer Service/Exhibitor Engagement Department

The sole purpose of AEM’s Customer Service/Exhibitor Engagement Department is to drive connection, care and value to exhibitors of all AEM shows by providing best in class service, training, and technology to its exhibitors and members. The department set forth its objective to drive the organization to deliver experiences for its members, exhibitors and prospects that are best in class while creating an internal environment that is customer-centric in its focus, and to drive ideation that enhances members’ and exhibitors’ overall journey and life cycle touchpoints with AEM.

“It’s truly an honor for AEM and our Exhibitor Engagement Department to have won the IAEE Outstanding Marketing & Sales Award. Our team is committed to ensuring exhibitors get the greatest possible return on their investments in trade shows, and this award is a testament to the department’s efforts to help our exhibitors throughout the show cycle.”

Young Professional of the Year Award
Kimberly Zonca, CEM
Client Manager
AGS Exposition Services

Kimberly has demonstrated great dedication to the industry and to IAEE in the eight years she has been a member. The driving force behind local IAEE YP meet ups in the Orlando area since 2016, she collaborates with both the Southeastern Chapter and the Young Professionals committee. She helped create the YP Buzz session for Expo! Expo! in New Orleans, which is now on its second year at Expo! Expo! in Las Vegas. She assisted in the creation of the “Sponsor a YP” chapter program, beginning in 2018 and continuing in 2019. She is also a 20 Under 30 honoree and Expo! Expo! First-timer mentor. She has demonstrated leadership as 2019 YP Committee Chairperson and 2019 YP Liaison to the Education Committee. In addition, she has served on IAEE’s Membership Engagement Committee, is a graduate of the Krakoff Leadership Institute and earned her CEM designation in 2015.

“I am deeply honored to receive the Young Professional of the Year Award. I love participating in IAEE committees, and hope my contributions reflect my passion and respect for this industry.”