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2020 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 2020 IAEE Award recipients!

Pinnacle Award
Rick McConnell
Trifecta Events

Rick has been a leader in the trade show and events industry for more than 30 years and has mentored thousands of people throughout his career. Many of the industry’s current leaders, including several past chairs of IAEE, have benefitted from his friendship, leadership and guidance over the years. A member of the trade show industry for nearly 30 years, Rick has employed over 1,000 employees, worked on close to 300 events, and left an indelible mark on the exhibitions and events industry with forward-thinking innovations and solutions.

Distinguished Service Award
Rick Simon
CEO & President
United Service Companies

Rick’s contribution to the industry over the past four decades is substantial. His passion, dedication and pioneering vision has helped guide our industry – especially this year as we face the devastating impact on our industry from the COVID-19 pandemic. Most notably, through the creation and launch of the Trade Show & Events Recovery Act (TSRA), the significant contributions he has made in the development of the GBAC STAR™ accreditation program, and the supportive development of the Go LIVE Together coalition (GLT). Rick has been involved, helping and guiding – front and center. Rick has also been recognized by Tradeshow Week as one of the trade show industry’s most influential people.

Woman of Achievement Award
Nancy Walsh
President, North America
Informa Markets

With an impressive portfolio, Nancy has established herself as a powerhouse in the exhibitions and events industry yet remains approachable and friendly. Her career continues to be one of envy for many, but especially for those young women inspired to lead. She began in an extremely male dominated industry and ascended to executive level in three major organizations – named President in two of them. She has led award-winning teams, as well as launched new initiatives that are still formidable in their respective industries. She has grown with the changing landscape, including the challenging environment we are in today. In achieving the top-level titles, she has always been a strong and yet compassionate person. She is welcoming to anyone new to the industry. She is direct and honest in her feedback, is not afraid of challenges, and is able to find humor in situations where it is needed.

International Excellence Award
National Business Aviation Association (NBAA)

NBAA’s nomination lauded its successes with launching and growing two international business aviation events on two continents. EBACE, the European Business Aviation Convention & Exhibition, was launched in April 2001 by the NBAA in partnership with the European Business Aviation Association. The three-day business aviation event premiered with 3,620 attendees and 190 exhibitors occupying 470 3m x 3m spaces and 30 aircraft on the outdoor aircraft display on Geneva International Airport. 20 years later, EBACE has become the premier business aviation event in Europe and the second largest business aviation event in the world, second only to NBAA’s annual convention, held in the U.S. each October. ABACE, the Asian Business Aviation Conference & Exhibition, first took place in 2012, also as a three-day event.The first show featured 6,403 attendees, 156 exhibitors in 238 spaces, nine chalets and 31 aircraft on display. Nine years later, NBAA in partnership with the Shanghai Airport Authority, now produces the largest and most important business aviation event in Asia each April. The show now includes 160 exhibitors, 17 chalet units and 35 aircraft on display. And, attendance has grown from 6,403 to over 9,000.

Humanitarian Award
Mark Zimmerman
Zimmerman Consulting LLC

Mark has chaired and co-chaired several charitable committees within IAEE and beyond. His strong commitment to participating in, and promoting, activities emphasize year-around social responsibility in domestic and global issues while also participating in community activities addressing a need outside of the exhibitions and events industry, such as: leading PCMA, MPI and IAEE’s each organization’s Southeast chapters fundraising efforts to support, educate and stop human trafficking through the Atlanta Dream Center; serving on the Executive Committee of the Fulton County Schools Foundation, which focuses on disadvantaged students; chairing the Hospitality Business Network, whose primary focus supports The Shepard Center for Brain and Spinal Injury where he leads fundraising efforts with emphasis on wounded veterans; an annual commitment to the Navy Safe Harbor for fundraising; serving as a Board Member for Kennesaw State University’s program for young adult addiction and recovery; and as an outspoken advocate for safety and security, where he consults and leads by example in his daily contributions to assist the industry with education and awareness.

Chapter Merit Award
Deb Ferbrache, CEM

Deb is a Board and Executive Committee member of the IAEE Southeastern Chapter, and led the chapter as its chairperson in 2018-2019. Deb was also a member of the Chapter Leaders Council in 2017-2019. In addition to a very demanding work schedule, she has managed to find time to be an active volunteer on IAEE’s chapter and national levels for over a decade. In addition to serving as the chapter’s chairperson, she has served as Chapter Board Secretary, Vice Chair, and IAEE SE Classic Educational Conference Chair. Of special note, Deb accepted a second consecutive term as chair of the IAEE SE chapter after her original term expired. Her leadership and dedication have made a difference in the chapter and across the industry.

Chapter Merit Award
Chris Pendley
Director of Data & Digital Services
Messe Frankfurt North America

Chris entered the events and exhibitions industry 10 years ago and is steadily making a name for himself. After seeing the success in having a dedicated YP board position, the IAEE Southeaster Chapter Board decided to add a seat with Chris in mind. Chris humbly accepted the position and has been a vital member of the board ever since. He is immensely proud to serve on the Board of Directors and is a true champion of the SE Chapter. His accomplishments in this role have been many. As Chairman of the Young Professionals committee, the YPs have launched many new initiatives including an annual education panel organized by and comprised only of YPs, which was the first of its kind in this format and, is now being used nationwide. Over the past 5 years, the committee has increased the outreach to YPs with a growth of 50+ locals to come together quarterly. Chris successfully organized the first-ever, live broadcast (via Facebook Live), of a luncheon with a YP lead panel discussion. This event was by far, one of the most highly acclaimed luncheons in recent chapter history! Not only is he making a difference with those he works with daily, but he is also doing so in the chapter and among the industry.

Chapter Merit Award
Kareem Salvant
Event Logistics & Facilities Support Manager
The Javits Center

Kareem has raised the IAEE New York Area Chapter’s membership 10% in just a short time. He brought the chapter’s social media and marketing presence to new heights. His tireless efforts for the chapter, and its members, to continue education by consistently getting content out is something the local chapter has been missing for quite a while. He successfully launched NY Chapter Informs educational sessions with in-person and virtual programming, attracting more than 100 attendees for every session. For the first time, the NYIAEE raised sponsorship dollars for three CEM Scholarships for its local members to continue education in the exhibitions and events industry. All three recipients are going on to finish their certification within one year. Kareem has been a catalyst in the use of the Javits Center as a communication hub for chapter members and industry peers to meet (prior to COVID-19) and share ideas, industry news and increase members with IAEE name recognition. In just 8 short years starting as a young professional, he worked his way to Chapter Chairperson. His industry knowledge and how it pertains to the local NYIAEE chapter has been stalwart for the industry.

Chapter Merit Award
Landon Shores
Senior Business Development Manager

All the years Landon has served on IAEE Southwest Chapter committees and the SWIAEE Board, he has inspired the team with his passion and enthusiasm for IAEE, the industry and the chapter. He is the first to volunteer, not afraid to roll up his leaves and do the tough work and follows through on anything he undertakes. He is empathetic and loves to encourage team effort with a straightforward approach everyone admires. He actively participates in brainstorming and comes up with ingenious, although workable, ideas. He has been a cornerstone for chapter meet ups, motivating YP engagement, as well as the chapter’s annual golf tournament. Landon’s leadership qualities embody “the best of the industry.” His upbeat and can-do attitude makes him a valuable contributor to the chapter as he assists in programming social and educational meet-ups, developing creative assets for mailings and social media, and welcoming new members to events in addition to actively recruiting IAEE members to volunteer at both the chapter and national levels.

Bob Dallmeyer Educator of the Year Award
Troy Love, CTA, CMP, CASE, CEM
Senior Sales Manager
Visit San Antonio

Troy’s passion for learning is reflected in his impressive list of certifications earned. While earning his CEM, he realized that he too could assist CEM candidates achieve their career goals and soon became a CEM instructor. Troy has had the pleasure over the years of helping hundreds of students achieve their goal of securing the CEM. He has noted that teaching CEM has been particularly meaningful to him when he sees his students walk across the stage to be recognized and then later when they seek him out at Expo! Expo! to personally thank him for his effort and guidance to make their career goals a reality. For Troy, teaching online has challenged him as it brings with it many unique situations that often require sympathy, empathy and understanding when it come to the needs of the students. Each month-long class provides many opportunities to engage with the student via email or through the program platform. He initially began teaching two subjects per year and, over the years, has taught the majority of the courses offered, culminating in teaching nine classes this year! His dedication has earned him the respect of not only his students, but his teaching peers.

Volunteer of the Year Award
Shannon Binger, CEM
Senior Manager, Meetings and Services
American Thoracic Society

Shannon’s local and national presence for IAEE has brought tremendous good will to the industry that she awes her colleagues with her passion, work ethic and positive can-do attitude. She is very active in IAEE committees and task forces as well as volunteering to support the current NYIAEE Chapter Chair in managing communication to board members and completing monthly chapter tasks including: Gov. Filings, Accounting Practices, Annual Meeting planning, Board Slates, Financials, Board Meetings, Member Communication, Chapter website, and Chapter Education. She also leads the efforts to establish 2021 Strategic Plan for Chapter Operations and Offerings. Shannon has volunteered her time as the moderator for two installments of the NYIAEE Chapter education program bringing information in response to pandemic planning to the chapter members. As a leader for the YP Committee, she chairs bimonthly meetings to promote the value of YP participation and recognition within the association’s activities and programming. Shannon leads three sub-committees on bimonthly calls dedicated to addressing specific tasks and strategizing for reaching the goals of committee. The NYIAEE chapter credits Shannon with helping support the organization on both the local and national levels.

Innovative Business Solution Award
Chuck Elias and the 42Chat Team
CEO & Co-founder

Chuck has guided 42Chat from an idea, to a start-up, to the industry leader in AI Chat. Chuck and the 42Chat team have relentlessly invested in, and enhanced, their technology to the meet the changing needs of the industry. Perhaps there is no better example than how he is leading 42Chat through the dramatic impact Covid-19 is having on the industry. In the first days of the pandemic, Chuck and 42Chat created a new bot to answer questions for the attendees of all the shows that were being postponed or cancelled. That “Covid-bot” was deployed for more than 100 shows to help manage the tidal wave of questions from the constantly changing event status. For those who could not pay, the bot was offered at no cost. Quickly thereafter, Chuck and the team leveraged their award-winning platform to create an invaluable safety tool to help events remain open safely, the “HealthShield Bot.” HealthShield is a chatbot that pre-screens users for CDC identified Covid-19 symptoms. It can either stand alone or be integrated into a traditional EventBot. As the events industry begins to reopen, Chuck and 42Chat have completely redesigned their suite of MeetingBots, ConferenceBots, ExhibitorBots, and more to help get shows to provide even easier access to information, quicker deployment, and all at substantially less cost.

Young Professional of the Year Award
Molly Hamill, CMP, CEM
Manager, Exhibition Sales
International Association of Amusement Parks & Attractions (IAAPA)

Molly has been commended for her actions as a role model for other YPs and industry professionals alike. She honorably served on the IAEE Young Professionals Committee for three years, culminating in her leadership as Chair of the committee, in addition to volunteering on various other IAEE committees. She continuously seeks to incorporate and promote the events profession to other young individuals in and outside the industry through her efforts at IAAPA , as well as capitalize on leadership opportunities. Molly is a life-long learner who seeks to better herself with education, adoption of technology, usage of social media, and local and national involvement in moving the industry forward. Her personality, attitude and work ethic create excitement around the exhibitions and events industry, as she drives interest from potential YPs and motivates others to achieve more.