People News: Clarion Events, Visit Spokane and More Tap New Leaders, Grow Teams

April 24, 2023

Across the U.S., trade show-related organizations are appointing new leadership and expanding their teams. Take a look!

Clarion Events 

Leading event organizer Clarion Events has promoted Sophia Fasano to group marketing director of its Energy Portfolio, which covers all markets related to transmission and distribution, interconnection, renewable energy and power generation.  

In her new role, Fasano is responsible for marketing strategy, customer and data insights and marketing team leadership and development for event brands, including DISTRIBUTECH International, POWERGEN International, HYDROVISION International and GridTECH Connect Forum. She also supports media brands, including Power Engineering, Hydro Review, POWERGRID International and Renewable Energy World.

A 10-year event industry veteran who has worked for Clarion for five years, Fasano most recently served as marketing director and before that as marketing manager. Prior to her career at Clarion, she worked at Access Intelligence for more than four years, working her way up in various marketing roles. 

Visit Spokane 

Visit Spokane has tapped Rose Noble as its new president and CEO, effective May 15. She is currently finishing out a five-year tenure as president and CEO of Galena Country Tourism in Galena, Ill., where she has worked for more than seven years, previously as interim director and prior to that as director of marketing.  

Bringing a wealth of marketing strategy and event planning experience to her new role with Visit Spokane, Noble was an active Illinois Council of Convention and Visitors Bureau member and is a current board member with Destinations International. She is working on her accreditation as a Certified Destination Management Executive (CDME). 

Pennsylvania Convention Center

Venue management and event strategy leader ASM Global has appointed hospitality industry and labor operations veteran Tony Hodgins as general manager of the Pennsylvania Convention Center (PCC), part of the ASM Global portfolio of premier convention and trade show venues. 

As general manager of the Philadelphia facility, Hodgins will be responsible for the successful operations of the PCC, including programs such as the recently launched Hospitality Industry Advancement Trust (HIAT) Fund, an industry-leading partnership between the venue’s management and trade show labor partners.

Hodgins was previously a 30-year executive of Freeman, where he worked in the industry’s largest network of experts in the field and led its Northeast Region team to winning the Freeman Customer Service Award for the first time in its history. 

Atlanta Convention & Visitors Bureau

Charlene Lopez, veteran hospitality sales leader and Atlanta Convention & Visitors Bureau (ACVB) vice president of sales, will be promoted to executive vice president and chief sales officer beginning Jan. 1, 2024. She will succeed Mark Vaughan, who announced his plans to retire at the end of this year. Lopez will be the highest-ranking woman in the ACVB’s history, serving as the first female C-level executive since the organization was established 110 years ago. 

In her new elevated role, Lopez will be responsible for efforts to increase visitation to Atlanta through the development and implementation of all ACVB sales programs. She will oversee trade show sales, in-house sales, international tourism sales and convention services, establishing strategy for each and ensuring their objectives align with the corporate strategy. She will also maintain partnerships with hotels and convention facilities and serve as the sales liaison to ACVB’s executive committee and board of directors.

Lopez joined ACVB in June 2012 as sales manager, national accounts, focusing on association and corporate business, was promoted to director of citywide sales in Sept. 2019 and became vice president of sales in July 2021.

Her career also includes roles with Omni Hotel at CNN Center as director of sales, associate director of sales at Hyatt Regency Atlanta and associate director of sales, sales manager and business travel manager at Hyatt Regency Hill Country Resort and Spa.

Pinnacle Live 

Pinnacle Live, an event experience and technology company launched in 2021 for the hospitality and event industry, has hired two industry veterans to launch its new Event Production division: Dan Sherman as executive vice president of business development and Dave Arendes as senior vice president of sales operations.

An employee of Freeman for six years, Sherman most recently served as the company’s vice president, strategic business development. Bringing 21 years of industry experience to his new role, he has supported hundreds of North America’s leading event organizers, including Major League Baseball, U.S. Department of State, The White House, Society for Human Resource Management, NACS, Specialty Food Association, American Chemical Society and U.S. Green Building Council. 

In 2008, Sherman founded HIP NETWORK, a B2B digital media company for the hospitality industry, launched the Market in a Minute newsletter in 2017 and the Traveling podcast in 2020. 

Arendes worked for Freeman for 25 years and most recently served as senior vice president, client solutions, for the Northeast region. He began his career at Freeman in 1997 and worked in sales and operations roles at the company. In 2014, he was selected to participate in iLEAD, a year-long developmental leadership program designed to build future, value-based leaders within Freeman.  

Visit KC  

Visit KC recently welcomed three new members to its sales team: Kristine Becker as national account manager, Carlissa Riddle as sales manager and Mackenzie Nelson as convention sales coordinator.

A native Oregonian who has served in the travel industry for more than 25 years, Becker previously worked for Travel Portland from 2004-2020, the last 13 years remotely. Prior to working at Travel Portland, she held various hotel sales roles in the Portland area. 

Bringing a wealth of experience in the hospitality industry, Riddle most recently worked as a director of national accounts for Kansas City-based Global Cynergies, where she handled a portfolio of corporate and association-based customers in site selection and meeting support. Prior to that role, she opened the Home2 Suites by Hilton near the Kansas City International Airport as its director of sales. She also worked at the Ritz Carlton, Philips House Hotel and was part of the opening team for the Argosy Hotel in Kansas City. 

A graduate of the University of Missouri in 2020 with a degree in Hospitality Management, Nelson recently worked as a benefits coordinator with Lathrop GPM LLP and executed several internships with the Mizzou Alumni Association, the Kauffman Foundation and Starlight Theatre, among others.  

Visit Indy

Visit Indy, Indianapolis’ official CVB, recently welcomed two new additions and promoted three members of its sales team.

As the new national account director, Kevin Harmon will manage accounts in the western half of the U.S. from 76 to 1,000 peak rooms, alongside the select Midwest market (Alabama, Indiana, Louisiana, Mississippi, Tennessee) for 601-plus peak room groups. He brings nearly two decades of hotel sales experience to the Visit Indy team, most recently serving as associate director of sales for the Hyatt Regency Indianapolis. 

As a new account manager, Max Spradlin joins the Visit Indy team after graduating with a bachelor’s degree in marketing from the University of Southern Indiana. His new role entails managing the meetings express (i.e., groups under 75 peak rooms) market from 10 to 75 peak rooms nationwide, as well as supporting the national account director in the CVB’s Chicago office from 76 to 350 peak rooms and its senior national account director in the East Coast market from 76 to 500 peak rooms.

Visit Indy also recently promoted Brooke Faris from account manager to national account manager, Chris Cecil, Jr. from meetings express sales manager to account manager and Minerva Garcia from national account director to senior national account director.

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Partner Voices
Dallas already boasts 35,000 hotel rooms, award-winning global cuisine, and a walkable downtown. But we are just getting started. Visit Dallas is thrilled to announce that the city of Dallas is doubling down with a massive new convention center and entertainment district. Featuring 800,000 square feet of exhibit area, 260,000 square feet of meeting rooms, and 170,000 square feet of ballroom. The center will connect business travelers with dining and shopping options in the popular Cedars District means more places to get down to business, and even more ways to unwind. “Dallas is already a great meetings and conventions destination, with the accessibility of two major airports, affordable labor, and an outstanding hotel product,” said D. Bradley Kent, Visit Dallas senior vice president and chief sales officer. “The new center and Convention Center District will enhance Dallas’ competitive position and are exactly what our customers’ need and have been asking for." What’s New – AT&T Discovery District Located in the heart of Downtown Dallas, this new district on the AT&T corporate campus is tailor-made for groups of all sizes. It boasts a multi-sensory experience, including outdoor event space, the AT&T Theater, and multiple dining outlets including JAXON Beer Garden and The Exchange, a bustling food hall. Hotels Coming Soon Names like the JW Marriott (Downtown), lnterContinental Dallas (Uptown), and Hotel Swexan (Uptown) are adding luxury amenities and bountiful event spaces. The projects will debut in 2023 and beyond. JW Marriott This new, 15-story, 283-room hotel will open in the heart of the city’s downtown Arts District this year. The property features a 25,000-square-foot grand ballroom, as well as a spa, restaurant, lobby bar, fitness center, and a rooftop pool deck and bar. InterContinental Dallas  Located in Cityplace Tower in Uptown, InterContinental Dallas will feature sweeping panoramic views of the Dallas skyline. Guests will enjoy spacious, high-end rooms and amenities, including more than 21,000 square feet of event space.   Hotel Swexan Hotel Swexan, a new, 22-story luxury property, is rising in Uptown’s Harwood District and will make its mark on the Dallas skyline. Opening this year, it is a sculptural building with cantilevered upper floors, as well as a 75-foot rooftop infinity-edge swimming pool and a hidden underground lounge.