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IAEE Announces 2023 Award Winners

November 1, 2023

Larry Arnaudet Receives IAEE Pinnacle Award

The International Association of Exhibitions and Events® (IAEE) proudly announces this year’s winners of its IAEE Awards Program, which recognizes outstanding contributions by IAEE members and member companies. The 2023 IAEE Award Winners were selected after careful consideration and review by the IAEE Awards Committee and approval by the IAEE Board of Directors following an open call for nominations by IAEE members earlier in the year.

“Each year, the Awards Committee has the privilege of recognizing IAEE members who demonstrate outstanding talent and commitment to the organization and the industry,” said 2023 IAEE Awards Committee Chairperson Bob O’Connell. “We are pleased to recognize their efforts and appreciate all who submitted nominations to this year’s awards program.”

“The IAEE Awards are among the industry’s highest honors,” added IAEE Interim CEO Cathy Breden, CMP-F, CAE, CEM. “We are pleased to recognize the exceptional efforts of IAEE members who go above and beyond the call of duty to make a difference in our association and our industry.”

The Pinnacle Award recognizes an IAEE member who, over the years, has furthered IAEE’s objectives of advancing exhibitions and events management through the promotion of education, the dissemination of knowledge, and the introduction or development of innovative techniques, and who has been dedicated to the perpetuation of the highest ideals, trust and professionalism in this highly specialized field. The award was established in memory of the late Founder and Past President of IAEE (formerly NAEM) William Hunt Eisenman and is presented by IAEE in recognition of extraordinary achievement in the exhibitions and events management field.

This year’s recipient of the IAEE Pinnacle Award is Larry Arnaudet, Executive Director, Exhibition Services & Contractors Association (ESCA). Arnaudet entered the exhibitions and events industry in 1970 with Manncraft Exhibitors Services in New Orleans, and proceeded to become an instrumental force in advancing the industry. His visionary leadership and unwavering commitment to promoting education, disseminating knowledge and introducing innovative techniques have had a profound impact on the industry’s growth and professionalism.

A notable contribution among his many achievements is his inception, creation and implementation of the ESCA Badge program. This groundbreaking program, aimed at enhancing security measures for the entire industry, has played a vital role in safeguarding attendees, exhibitors and staff at events. Under his guidance, the ESCA Badge program has become a widely recognized industry standard, reflecting his dedication to perpetuating the highest ideals of trust and professionalism in the field.

Arnaudet is an IAEE charter associate member and has been active with various industry associations, leaving an indelible mark on the industry through his genuine passion and commitment to building lasting relationships.

The Bob Dallmeyer Educator of the Year Award is presented to IAEE members who possess outstanding creativity, a positive attitude, and the ability to transfer knowledge through good communication skills and innovative teaching to promote life-long learning to exhibitions and events industry professionals. This year’s award recipient is Donna Johnson, CEM-AP, CMP, Vice President, Operations, Strategic Events, Meetings and Incentives, MCI USA.

The Chapter Merit Award recognizes IAEE members whose ideas and/or work have benefited IAEE as an organization in some special way and is generally reserved for those who have stepped forward at the chapter/local level. This year’s recipients are Ray Baum, Director, Business Development, The Expo Group; Sarah Kokernot, CEM, CMP, Director of Meetings and Events, Veterinary Emergency & Critical Care Society; and Yalonde Tanner, Deputy Director Conferences and Management Services, Georgia Municipal Association.

The Distinguished Service Award is presented to an IAEE member in recognition of an individual who has rendered distinguished service to IAEE and to the exhibition industry. Qualifying criteria includes extraordinary service and contributions at both the local and national levels that have furthered the growth and development of this organization. When representing IAEE, the honoree will have served as a role model for the industry. This year’s recipient is Aaron Bludworth, Former CEO (Retired), Fern.

The Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Impact Award debuted this year as IAEE’s newest award category. This award recognizes an IAEE member company or member representative for outstanding contributions, actions and/or commitment to people of different backgrounds, races, gender, sexual orientation, ethnicity, age, ability and religion. This year’s award recipient is Rochelle Richardson, CEM, Senior Vice President, Exposition and Event Services, AVIXA.

The Innovative Business Solution Award recognizes achievement by an IAEE member or member organization in the creation of new and innovative business solutions. This year’s award recipient is Tony Rissley, Founder/CEO, Expo Auctions.

The International Excellence Award recognizes an IAEE member or member organization who produces exhibitions that have made exceptional strides as an international event and was presented earlier this year at IMEX Frankfurt. This year’s award recipient is the Macao Trade and Investment Promotion Institute (IPIM).

The Outstanding Marketing & Sales Award recognizes an IAEE member’s outstanding achievement in marketing and sales activities including outstanding performance in total event revenue/profit, advertising revenue, attendance, sponsorship revenue, exhibit space sales and customer service. This year’s award recipient is the American Academy of Neurology.

The Volunteer of the Year Award recognizes IAEE members who have dedicated their time to the progress and fulfillment of the charge of a committee or task force on which they serve. This year’s award recipient is Ryan Lovell, CEM-AP, Associate Environmental Producer, Freeman.

The Woman of Achievement Award recognizes a woman who has led the way in the advancement of women in the exhibitions and events industry, exhibited outstanding leadership, and made significant contributions to the industry and her community. This year’s award recipient is Kimberly Hardcastle-Geddes, CEM, President and Chief Marketing Strategist, mdg, A Freeman Company.

The Young Professional of the Year Award recognizes excellent professional performance by IAEE members 35 years of age or younger who have committed their time to advancing the standing of young professionals in our industry. This year’s award recipient is Lauren Miller, CMP, CEM, Event Manager, Smithbucklin.

Click here to learn more about the 2023 IAEE Award Winners.

About IAEE
Trusted since 1928, IAEE provides quality and value to its members through leadership, service, education and strong relationships. IAEE is the largest association of the exhibitions and events industry in the world, with a membership of show organizers, exhibitors and exhibition suppliers. Organizers of more than 20,000 exhibitions and buyer-seller events around the world are members of IAEE, and the organization advocates and promotes the awareness of face-to-face exhibitions and events as the primary medium for business development and growth. IAEE provides relevant, timely and innovative education to its members and the industry. IAEE recognizes its strategic partners: 4imprint, Convention News Television (CNTV), eShow, Freeman, GES | onPeak, Grit Productions and Expositions, IMEX, New Orleans & Company, New Orleans Ernest N. Morial Convention Center and Risk Strategies Company | Buttine Insurance. Visit for more information.

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