Former SISO Chair and Industry Icon James Bracken Passes Away

January 20, 2022

Former SISO Chair and retired exhibition industry icon James Bracken passed away on Jan. 18. He was 87.

Bracken served as SISO’s chair in 2004, and SISO officials expressed gratitude for his service to the association and the industry over the course of his career, as well as condolences to his family and many friends and colleagues in the industry.

“I was lucky enough to get to know Jim when I first became involved in SISO, and he really epitomized the entrepreneurial spirit of SISO,” said SISO CEO David Audrain. “Jim was a highly-respected industry leader and a pleasure to talk with, his contributions to SISO and the exhibitions industry were significant, and he will be missed by the large number of people who had the opportunity to get to know him.” 

Bracken served in the Marine Corps for 26 years before joining the trade show industry in 1983. The retired colonel rose from director of the Modern Day Marine Military Exposition to leading VNU Expositions into the global arena, eventually becoming chairman of the company in 2002.

VNU acquired Miller Freeman USA in 2000 when Bracken was president, and today many of those shows, including Action Sports Retailer and Hospitality Design Show, are part of Emerald. At one point in 2004, he led a team of 235 that produced 50 shows in six countries, including the U.S., Brazil, Argentina, Thailand, France and Netherlands.

A trailblazer on the international stage, Bracken was also active in IAEE, Major American Trade Show Organizers (MATSO) and the Center for Exhibition Industry Research (CEIR). After graduating in 1956 with a bachelor’s degree in history from St. Michael’s College in Burlington, VT, he joined the Marine Corps officer candidate school. After tours in Asia, he earned an MBA from Pepperdine University in 1972 and completed the Advanced Management Program at Harvard Business School in 1982.

He is survived by his wife, Judy, three sons and 10 grandchildren and two great grandchildren. Due to COVID, funeral services have not yet been arranged. SISO will provide further information as it comes available.

This announcement was originally posted on the SISO website.


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