Convention service managers are crucial members of an event venue’s team. They help reserve conference rooms, organize banquet services, set up an event space to a client’s satisfaction and offer myriad other services. Simply put, they’re a planner’s best on-site friend, and every year, Successful Meetings joins with ESPA, the Event Service Professionals Association, to recognize these largely unsung heroes.
CSM of the Year Award Winners
CVB CSM of the Year
Planning a meeting in a city as busy as Chicago can seem like a daunting task, but it's not when you have the help of a partner like Roz Stuttley, who has been with Choose Chicago, the Windy City’s destination marketing organization, since 2012, starting as a client services manager and being promoted four years later to director.
A Chicago native, she couldn't be prouder to promote her hometown. “I think one reason why Roz is so special is that she truly loves Chicago and loves to present the city in its best light,” says Anastasia Courtney, senior convention manager at the Modern Language Association, which promotes the study and teaching of language, literature, writing and cultural studies. Mandy Davis-Aitken, vice president of meetings for the American Society of Clinical Oncology, agrees. She describes Stuttley as part of the team who ensures her events are a success, “from helping a sick staff member make a doctor’s appointment while on-site to locating a contact with the city when construction or a Taylor Swift concert causes shuttle issues.”
Convention Center CSM of the Year
Michelle Marx joined this landmark Frank Lloyd Wright–designed facility on the shores of Lake Monona in Madison, Wis., in 1999, becoming a part-time event coordinator in 2000 and graduating to full time the following year. Devoted as she is to her job, Marx says that receiving this designation is her proudest accomplishment.
Beth Blum, director of events for UW Health, an academic medical center and health system for the University of Wisconsin, has worked with Marx on so many events that she considers Monona’s event coordinator a trusted colleague. Marx proved herself in 2018 when the mobilephone auction-bidding service that UW Health was using crashed during the organization’s biggest fundraiser of the year.
“Michelle and the team raced to make copies, cut paper bid sheets and distribute them, so we’d have a way for our 1,000 guests to make donations,” says Blum. “It truly was an event planner’s worst nightmare, but with Michelle’s help we made it work.” It’s the kind of service Marx provides for all of her clients.
Hotel CSM of the Year
A lunch laid the groundwork for the career of Bill Fassbender. His dad, who planned small meetings for Exxon, took Bill along to a Sheraton hotel in New Jersey he frequently used for events.
“We had lunch with the general manager, who had a huge impact on me,” Fassbender recalls. “As a result, I majored in hospitality in college, and 32 years later, I have never looked back.” With the Ritz-Carlton Hotel Co. for 19 years, Fassbender has been at the 446-room Amelia Island property since 2007. Not only is he a “roll his sleeves up” CSM, he’s also a matchmaker of sorts.
“If he has another medical group holding a conference on a topic that might interest us, he connects us with their planners,” says Mendee Rock, vice president of membership services for the Georgia Health Care Association and Georgia Center for Assisted Living. Fassbender is so supportive of clients that he offered to step in for Rock when a family emergency arose in the days before a big meeting. “Bill told me he would run the convention for me so I could stay behind without worry,” she says. While the crisis passed and Rock was able to handle the event, she notes that “nevertheless, Bill was ready.