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Helen Brett Scholarship

Each year, scholarships are awarded to individuals who are exploring the study of exhibitions and events management with the end goal of advancing their careers in this field.

Application Process Now Closed – Applicants will be notified by July 15, 2022.

2021 Scholarship Recipients

Undergraduate Students

Makayla Layne

Makayla is a junior majoring in Hospitality Management with a concentration in Conventions and Special Events Management at East Carolina University. She has chosen to pursue the events industry because of its power to bring people together and create special, one-of-a-kind events for clients. After graduation in Spring 2023, she hopes to work for a corporate company planning its events. Makayla eventually wants to create her own event planning business. She has also gained professional experience with a wedding planner and enjoys volunteering at a dog rescue. She says, “Helen Brett showed all women that if you work hard and do what you love, you can pursue your dream job in the events industry,” Makayla says,“I will forever be grateful to IAEE for investing in me and other students with dreams and educational value as big as mine. Thank you!”

Jenna Lund

Jenna is a senior pursuing a degree in Hospitality Management with a minor in Event Planning at Utah Valley University, who plans to graduate with her Bachelor’s degree in December. She graduated in May 2020 with her high school diploma and Associate’s degree. She has enjoyed her time in Utah Valley University’s Woodbury School of Business and is excited to use her formal education to help her gain more experience in the events industry, specifically with conventions and exhibitions. Jenna has loved gaining experience with the different internship and volunteer opportunities she has taken to further her experience. “At the young age of 19, I have not gotten a lot of experience with the industry though I know that I want to take all the experiences that I can have to help direct me to where I am supposed to fit in this industry,” Jenna says, “Helen Brett made her interactions with other people important to her growth, and I want to take that with me. I know that I still have a lot to learn in this industry… as Helen Brett grew from a traveling saleswoman to a well-known business owner, I know that, with the help of the Helen Brett™ Scholarship, I will be able to grow from an aspiring event professional to an experienced leader in the events industry.”

Grace Schuler

Grace is a junior in Drexel University’s Hospitality Management Program. Since she was seven years old, she has been working toward her goal of opening her own event planning company after graduating from college. Grace has held positions in the hospitality industry since she was 14 – moving up from an ice cream scooper to a paid intern at a regional event planning company. She enjoys creating, planning and executing events of all sizes and features. She says, “I am so grateful for the IAEE Helen Brett™ Scholarship, as it allows me to continue learning and pursuing my passion of event planning,” Grace says. “Thank you so much!”

Lydia Turino

Lydia is pursuing an Associate’s Degree in Event Management at Madison College after spending a year studying Creative Industries Management at the School of Popular Arts in Berlin, Germany. She has more than four years of experience in event planning and management, ranging from fundraisers to concerts to weddings. Lydia’s long-term dream is to own her own music venue or special event space, as she enjoys the colorful crossover between business and art that working in event management provides. She says,“I am extremely grateful and honored to be a recipient of the Helen Brett™ Scholarship,” Lydia says. “This will allow me to continue to pursue my studies in a financially stress-free way. Event management is not only fun, but important work. In a world so committed to driving us apart, meaningful and well-executed events bring us together.”

Graduate Students

Lisa Billock

Lisa is a senior event coordinator at SmithBucklin. She has more than five years of experience in managing meetings with both domestic- and internationally-based organizations. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in Hospitality Management with a focus in event management from the University of South Carolina. Lisa earned her Certified Meeting Professional (CMP) designation from the Events Industry Council in 2017 and is actively working toward her master’s degree in global hospitality leadership from Georgetown University. When not working or studying, she loves exploring her northern Virginia home, traveling and scrapbooking her adventures.

Amanda Fletcher

Amanda is entering her second year of graduate school at Johnson & Wales University in Providence, R.I. She is obtaining an MBA in Event Leadership. As a veteran of the events industry, she is excited to expand her trade show skills through education and networking. Amanda is also a certified Festivals and Events Associate through IFEA. Amanda says, “I am grateful to have been chosen as a recipient of the Helen Brett™ Scholarship and the opportunity to attend Expo! Expo!.”

Lydia Granahan

Lydia is a Master’s candidate at Iowa State University with a major in Event Management. She received her Bachelor’s degree in Event Management from Iowa State University as well, where she was a member of the Event Management Club, Student Alumni Leadership Council and Chi Omega Sorority. She found her love of events in high school as the special events coordinator for her high school DECA program and has not looked back. Lydia’s background includes internships with Thomson Reuters, The Academy of Country Music and Platteview Golf Club. After graduation, she hopes to continue working in events in the entertainment industry or large-scale corporate partnership events.

Sarah Gurney

Sarah is a graduate student at Johnson & Wales University (JWU) in Providence, R.I. She is pursuing a Master’s degree in Business Administration with a concentration in Event Leadership. She received her Bachelor’s degree from JWU in Sports, Entertainment, Event Management with a specialization in Event Management. Outside of the classroom, Sarah has been an active member in campus clubs and organizations including serving as president of the student chapters of the Live Events Association, International Association of Venue Mangers and IAEE. Through these organizations, and by networking, she has done a great deal of volunteering at events. She says, “I am grateful to have been chosen as a recipient of the Helen Brett™ Scholarship, and I appreciate everything IAEE does to help students.”

Autumn McGill

Autumn is finishing her last semester in the Event Management Master’s program at Iowa State University. She also works full time as the Events and Sponsorship Manager for the Iowa Medical Society (IMS) where she has worked since 2018 planning conferences and working with strategic alliances. She is also the Executive Director of the three IMS-managed specialty societies: the American College of Cardiology Iowa Chapter, the Iowa Association of Pathologists and the Iowa Academy of Otolaryngology. Autumn plans to complete her creative component on the topic of “Sustainability in the Event Industry Post COVID-19 Pandemic” and hopes to pursue a future in event management academic advising. Autumn says, “I am honored to receive the Helen Brett™ Scholarship and extremely grateful that the committee found me to be a recipient of this great award.”

Carolyn Patterson-Kemper, CMP, DES

Carolyn is in her final semester as a graduate student at San Diego State University pursuing her Master’s degree in Meeting and Event Management with an expected January 2022 graduation date. She has been a leader in the business events industry for more than 15 years where she has planned and delivered meetings, conferences and conventions ranging from 10 to 350,000 attendees. Carolyn also owns CPK Writers which provides professional copywriting services for businesses in the industry to enhance their online presence that aligns with brand goals. She says, “I am truly honored to be selected as an award recipient of the 2021 IAEE Helen Brett™ Scholarship. This is huge support for established professionals like me who are pursuing higher education in the meeting and event management industry!” Carolyn says. “I’m so very grateful for this opportunity as this scholarship gives me a great sense of pride and accomplishment. Like Helen Brett, I am inspired to utilize my vast experience to help the next generation, and I look forward to my inaugural attendance to Expo! Expo! 2021 in Philadelphia this December!”

Anna Carolina Villar, CMP

Ana has 16 years of experience in the industry, covering roles in both the planner and supplier sides. She is currently pursuing her Master´s degree in Meetings and Events Management at San Diego State University and expects to graduate in January 2022. She earned her Bachelor´s degree in Hospitality Management in 2010 at Universidad Catolica Santo Domingo in the Dominican Republic. Ana´s expertise includes managing incentive programs, meetings and events, and pharmaceutical and medical association multi-day conferences. A life-long learner, she enjoys staying up-to-date with the current industry trends and best practices. She earned her CMP in August 2020 and her VEMM this past July. She recently launched Conative TIME – a travel, incentive, meetings and events agency that aims to create memorable programs and experiences for clients, focusing on special interests and a sense of place and community.

Helen Brett Scholarship

The Helen Brett scholarship was established by Mr. Robert Kolinek, CEM, CMP and named for his grandmother, Helen Brett, who was a pioneer in the exhibition industry. The purpose of the scholarship is to assist individuals who are exploring the study of exhibition management with the end goal of advancing their career in this field. The scholarship serves to promote the exhibitions and events industry by attracting college level students into the field of study and encouraging their pursuit with financial support.

Scholarships are awarded on a competitive basis based upon pursuit of a degreed major focusing on exhibition and/or event management. If within a hospitality program, focus of study should be the exhibitions and events industry or those programs which are viewed by IAEE as particularly relevant to this field. Up to four scholarships may be awarded.

“My grandmother, Helen Brett, was one of the first female trade show organizers in the industry.  As a third generation family business owner I am very proud to continue her legacy through awarding scholarships to those who share my grandmother’s passion for trade shows.”

– Robert Kolinek, President & CEO, Helen Brett Enterprises

Robert Kolinek

Helen Brett Scholarship Criteria


  • Must be a full time undergraduate or graduate student enrolled at an accredited college, university, junior or technical college
  • Must be enrolled in a degree program focusing on exhibition/event management
  • Minimum 3.0 grade point average on 4.0 scale
  • Completed Helen Brett Scholarship Application
  • Resume
  • Two letters of recommendation by faculty and/or from exhibition industry leader
  • Official transcript
  • One page essay submission (500-1,000 words) on an explanation of your goals and desired roles in the exhibitions and events industry
  • Consideration to attend Expo! Expo! IAEE’s Annual Meeting & Exhibition

The Scholarship includes:

  • Up to $5,000 in tuition assistance
  • Consideration for potential candidates to have an internship experience at the Expo! Expo! IAEE’s Annual Meeting & Exhibition

Closed for the 2021 Year.

More information and form requests for the scholarship program can be obtained at the CEIR Foundation headquarters or by contacting Marsha Flanagan, M.Ed. at (972) 687-9218.