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IAEE Award Winner Spotlight on Kimberly Zonca, CEM: 2019 Young Professional of the Year Award Winner

2019 Young Professional of the Year award winner Kim Zonca, CEM of AGS Exposition Services has proven great dedication to the industry over the last 9 years and became a driving force behind local IAEE YP meet ups. Read Kim’s thoughts on continuing education, volunteering and making the most of her IAEE membership.

By Mary Tucker, Sr. PR/Communications Manager

2020.03.25 Young Professional Kimberly Zonca_200x200Kimberly Zonca, CEM has demonstrated great dedication to the industry and to IAEE in the nine 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 was once again featured at Expo! Expo! in Las Vegas.

Kimberly also assisted in the creation of the “Sponsor a YP” chapter program in 2018, was a 20 Under 30 honoree and Expo! Expo! First-timer mentor. She demonstrated leadership as the 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.

Kimberly’s eagerness to serve and enhance the industry earned her the IAEE Young Professional of the Year Award last year, for which she was recognized this past December during the Annual Networking Luncheon and Awards Presentation at Expo! Expo! IAEE’s Annual Meeting & Exhibition 2019 in Las Vegas, Nevada (pictured below with IAEE Awards Committee Member Charlotte Pearson, CEM and IAEE President and CEO David DuBois, CMP, CAE, FASAE, CTA).

2020.03.25 Young Professional Kimberly Zonca

Here, Kimberly shares with IAEE her thoughts on continuing educaton, volunteership and how she makes the most of her IAEE membership.

IAEE: You have demonstrated great passion for this industry. What is it about exhibitions and events that inspires you to pursue the continuing development of your career in this field?

Kimberly: I grew up in the industry because of my parents’ professions, so I think a part of me always knew I’d be in events, but having experienced multiple facets of the industry, I know it’s where I’m meant to be. I still find it so exciting to watch a show take days to set up and within hours of close, it’s like nothing was ever there.

IAEE: You have taken advantage of the various programs IAEE offers young professionals to delve into leadership and hone their skills. What has been the greatest advantage you have experienced from these opportunities and, do you have a favorite program?

Kimberly: My favorite experience so far has been Krakoff Leadership Institute. Not only did I learn skills to lead from any work role, I had the chance to meet some amazing people in the industry and am still in touch with them to this day (I actually participated with Charlotte Pearson, who was onstage to present my Young Professional of the Year award in Las Vegas!). The advantages have been immeasurable, as my trajectory in the industry has changed so much from when I first participated in KLI, but I credit much of my success to the skills I learned there.

IAEE: You have served as a very strong advocate for IAEE’s YP community. What do you consider the most prevalent issue and/or goal that is on the mind of today’s YPs?

Kimberly: I think for all of us, there is a struggle to be heard and seen as a respected member of the team without letting our eagerness to please lead to burn out. Having a healthy work-life balance is different for all of us, but we all need time to disconnect.

IAEE: You have worked on various initiatives within your chapter and with IAEE headquarters. What differences stood out to you the most about working on the local level and the national level, and what do you consider the advantages of each?

Kimberly: I think the biggest difference between working on the local level and the national level is that it’s easier to contribute remotely on the national level than it is on the local level. My participation on the local level is somewhat restricted since our chapter is so large, and the majority of events and meetings take place in another state, so that’s definitely an advantage of working on the national level – you can work from anywhere!

Since I am not “local” to our local chapter, I instead decided to bring the networking to us with local meet ups, and that’s the advantage of working on the local level – you meet people local to you. There are also more opportunities to participate on the local level, so if you’re wanting to get involved and  need a place to start, contact your local chapter!

IAEE: You have served as a mentor to Expo! Expo! First Timers. What is the most important advice you would give someone just entering the exhibitions and events industry?

Kimberly: Participate in everything you can. My journey with IAEE is a series of decisions to participate in things, even if they were out of my comfort zone. I was first encouraged to apply for 20 Under 30, which allowed me to attend Expo! Expo! in Orlando, and that experience became part of my application for the Krakoff Leadership Institute the following year where I met IAEE staff and was encouraged to join the Young Professionals committee the following year, etc. All of my collective experiences since then have stemmed from that first decision, and I couldn’t be more grateful.

IAEE: You’re approaching your first decade mark as an IAEE member! Where would you like to see yourself in another 10 years?

Kimberly: Oh man, that means I’m getting old! I don’t know in what capacity, but I still see myself in the industry – it’s too fun to leave! Maybe I’ll continue to help other people create great events and experiences, or maybe I’ll start an event of my own. Who knows? Either way, I’m excited to see what the future holds.


The deadline to submit nominations for the 2020 IAEE Young Professional of the Year Award is 31 August! You can also check out the other IAEE award categories and nominate deserving IAEE members for these awards as well!


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