The Events Industry Council held its 2020 Hall of Leaders event virtually yesterday, honoring Northstar's longtime legal contributor, Jonathan T. Howe, as one of three industry greats who were inducted. John H. Graham IV, CAE, and Anita Pires also were feted during the digital celebration that welcomed about 200 attendees. The ceremony also recognized winners of this year's Social Impact Awards, which were introduced in 2020.
The event normally would have taken place during IMEX America in Las Vegas, held annually in the fall but a victim of the pandemic in 2020. In playing catch-up with this ceremony, EIC CEO Amy Calvert said, "I really wrestled with having the winners feel like it was personal and meant something to them. I wanted to strike the right tone." The EIC plans to return to form in November to celebrate a new slate of 2021 honorees in person at this year's IMEX America.
The organization's current board chair also noted that it was so important not to skip a year. "As in everything we do, our industry carries on," said Mark Cooper, CEO of IACC, formerly the International Association of Conference Centers.
Howe, president and senior partner of the Howe & Hutton law firm in Chicago, has been contributing contract advice for readers of Meetings & Conventions for more than 30 years. He noted in his acceptance speech that in the history of the Hall of Leaders, he was the first lawyer to make the cut. He is more than qualified for the award, as he has been incredibly generous with his time and expertise during the pandemic (click to read his advice on force majeure and cancellation clauses), and was featured during Northstar's March 24 webcast, "Ask the Attorney: New Legal Issues for Event Planners and Suppliers" (find it on demand here).
The recognition was posthumous for Graham, who was president and CEO of the American Society of Association Executives when he died in January 2020. His children, John H. Graham V and Kelly Campbell, accepted on his behalf.
Anita Pires, president of Pires Destinations & Events Intelligence, accepted her award from Brazil, speaking in Portuguese. She was celebrated for promoting the meetings industry in Latin America, and having once served as director of the Congress Organizers and Allied Organizations of Latin America (COCAL). She was inducted by COCAL's current president, Elisabeth Tovar, PCO, CMM.
The EIC, an umbrella association that counts more than 30 meetings industry organizations as members, uses the Hall of Leaders award to recognize those who have had a legacy impact on global business events. These inductees join 137 previous honorees.
Recipients of the Social Impact Awards, which were introduced in 2020, spoke passionately about the issues close to their hearts, most prominently the Black Lives Matter movement and how the hospitality industry is addressing inequalities (read more here and listen to the Eventful podcast on the topic here). This year's winners are:
EIC Social Impact Awards
Individual: Latoya Lewis, founder and executive director, EnventU
Organization: The Above and Beyond Foundation
Leading in Times of Crisis: Black Tourism and DMO Leaders
- Cleo Battle, CDME, CTA, COO, Louisville Tourism
- Timothy Bush, CDME, TMP, chief tourism development officer, OneSpartanburg
- Julie Coker, president and CEO, San Diego Tourism Authority
- Gregory DeShields, CHE, CDE, executive director, PHL Diversity
- Jason Dunn Sr., CTA, group vice president, Diversity, Equity & Inclusion, Cincinnati Convention & Visitors Bureau, and immediate past chair, National Coalition of Black Meeting Professionals
- Lorne Edwards, senior vice president of sales and services, Visit Phoenix
- Elliott Ferguson, president and CEO, Destination DC
- Darren Green, senior vice president of sales, Los Angeles Tourism & Convention Board
- Michael Gunn, CMP, CFMP, senior vice president of convention sales, Greater Birmingham Convention & Visitors Bureau
- Al Hutchinson, president and CEO, Visit Baltimore
- Charles Jeffers, COO, Visit Baltimore
- James Jessie, CSO, Travel Portland
- Connie Kinnard, vice president of multicultural tourism and development, Greater Miami Convention & Visitors Bureau
- Robin McClain, senior vice president of marketing and communications, Destination DC
- Angela Nelson, CTA, vice president of multicultural Business Development, Experience Grand Rapids
- Marie Sueing, senior vice president of diversity and inclusion, Nashville Convention and Visitors Bureau
- Melvin Tennant, CAE, president and CEO, Meet Minneapolis
- Rickey Thigpen, MSL, president and CEO, Visit Jackson
- Dan Williams, CTA, vice president of convention sales, Experience Columbus
- Ernest Wooden Jr., former president and CEO, Los Angeles Tourism & Convention Board