Job Changes in the Events Industry

Visit Cincy's Jason Dunn is now executive director of the National Coalition of Black Meeting Professionals.

Updated Nov. 8, 2022

Stay up to date on new positions, promotions and other career changes for your partners and peers in the meetings and events industry. Have a job change announcement for consideration? Get in touch with Lizzie Wilcox.

Spotlight: Jason Dunn

The National Coalition of Black Meeting Professionals has named Jason Dunn (above) as the organization's new executive director. He most recently served as group vice president of diversity, equity and inclusion at Visit Cincinnati. Dunn was previously chairman of NCBMP's board of directors in 2020. In this new position, he will further NCBMP's mission to educate and empower Black hospitality professionals. 

"I believe this position is a high honor. It's humbling to think that our founders 39 years ago had the foresight to advocate for DEIB before it became popular," said Dunn, who has already moved to his new position. "I have personally experienced and benefited from the power of NCBMP while working for Visit Cincy. It is near and dear to my heart and aligns with my personal passions."

Dunn has a long list of accomplishments, including leading the development of the Dan Lincoln Institute for Hospitality Leadership, which works with public schools, colleges and local hospitality businesses in Cincinnati to create a diverse pool of students aspiring to work in the industry. He has also partnered with organizations like the Events Industry Council and MMGY Global to conduct research on the economic impact of Black travelers and the state of diversity in the meetings industry.

"Knowing the authenticity of Jason's leadership, the passion with which he builds his relationships and his ability to move the moral consciousness around him aligns with our founders' vision and truly makes him the best person for the job," said Kevin Richardson, founding executive of Convention Resources and NCBMP's board chairman.

Mario Thompson

Mario Thompson was hired as area director of sales and marketing for the Hiltons of Chicago Sales and Marketing Complex, representing the 1,641-room Palmer House, the 1,544-room Hilton Chicago and the 535-room Drake Hotel. Thompson has been with Hilton since 2009 at properties in San Diego, New York City, Atlanta, Baltimore and Washington, D.C. He joins the brand in Chicago from the Hiltons of San Diego Sales and Marketing Complex, where he served as commercial director.

Mary Gupta and Ashley dos Santos

Visit Tampa Bay appointed Mary Gupta as convention sales national account director and Ashley dos Santos as sales coordinator. Prior to joining the CVB, Gupta worked at the Grand Hyatt Tampa Bay as group sales and events manager and dos Santos worked at GOAT Logistics, Inc., as an operations specialist. Dos Santos graduated from the University of Central Florida in 2021 with a bachelor’s in human communication.

Brigette Bienvenu

Brigette Bienvenu was named market director of sales and marketing for the Ritz-Carlton, South Beach and Ritz-Carlton, Bal Harbour in Miami. She joins the brand from the W Fort Lauderdale Hotel and Residences, where she served as director of sales and marketing. 

Anna Stone and John Schilling

Spire Hospitality has welcomed Anna Stone as director of marketing and development for the 870-room Grove Resort & Water Park Orlando, and John Schilling as regional managing director of the 343-room DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Nashville Downtown and the Grove Resort & Water Park Orlando. Stone and Schilling had both previously worked at the DoubleTree by Hilton Nashville Downtown: Stone as director of sales and marketing and Schilling as general manager.

Ivan Alvarez

Ivan Alvarez joined the 119-room Waldorf Astoria Maldives Ithaafushi as director of culinary. Originally from the Canary Islands in Spain, he has worked at restaurants and hotels in Spain, Thailand, Singapore, Indonesia, the United Kingdom, Chile and China. At the Waldorf Astoria, he will oversee food and beverage operations across the resort’s 11 dining outlets.

Chris Heywood

Chris Heywood has returned to the Los Angeles Tourism and Convention Board as senior vice president of global communications. He began his career at Los Angeles Tourism in 1998 as manager of corporate communications. Between his two stints in L.A., Heywood spent 15 years at NYC & Company, most recently as executive vice president of global communications. 

Arabella El Barkouki

Arabella El Barkouki was announced as the new global director of sales for the Dorchester Collection. She has more than 20 years of experience in the luxury hospitality industry, including the Mandarin Oriental Hotel Group, where she previously served as vice president of global sales partners. This role marks El Barkouki’s return to the Dorchester Collection. She first joined the brand in 2008 as regional director of sales for the United Kingdom, Europe and Russia before being promoted to director of sales and marketing for Le Richemond, Geneva.

Deirdre Clemmons

The American Society of Association Executives has hired Deirdre Clemmons as vice president of enterprise sales. She joins the membership organization after 14 years at Airports Council International – North America, where she was most recently senior vice president of events and strategic partnerships. She will assume her new role effective Nov. 7.

Manfred Steuerwald

Manfred Steuerwald was appointed general manager of the 405-room Resort at Squaw Creek in California. He was previously general manager of the Hyatt Regency Calgary in Canada. Throughout his nearly 40-year career, Steuerwald has been a member of several organizations including director of the board for the Calgary Hotel Association, president of the Cayman Culinary Association and director of the Caribbean Culinary Council.

Juan González Izquierdo

Juan González Izquierdo joined the 127-room Waldorf Astoria Atlanta Buckhead as general manager. Izquierdo has nearly two decades of experience with luxury hotel brands, including Conrad Hotels and Resorts; the Carlyle, a Rosewood Hotel; the Ritz-Carlton and the Peninsula. Most recently, he held the position of hotel manager for Conrad New York Downtown.

Angie Gates

Events DC announced Angie Gates as its new president and CEO. Prior to joining the official convention and sports authority representing Washington, D.C., Gates served as director of D.C.’s Office of Cable, Television, Film, Music and Entertainment. She succeeds Samuel Thomas, Events DC’s chief operating officer who acted as interim president and CEO after Gregory O’Dell resigned in March.

Yvonne Drayton

Tourism Diversity Matters expanded its executive leadership team, welcoming Yvonne Drayton as director of operations. In her new role, Drayton will support the development of their DEI organizational culture assessments, educational training and workforce development, which includes the national apprenticeship program. Prior to joining TDM, she served as president of Drayton Cross Consulting.

Christopher Amato

Christopher Amato was named director of culture for the Indigo Road Hospitality Group. In this newly created position, he will work alongside the company’s leaders to ensure they’re upholding IRHG’s standards of internal hospitality, while introducing these values to new employees. Amato joined the organization in 2015, and most recently was general manager of O-Ku Atlanta, one of IRHG’s restaurants.

Kelly Gleeson Smith

Caesars Entertainment, Inc., has promoted Kelly Gleeson Smith to vice president of sales, meetings and events. Gleeson Smith has been with the company since 2017, previously serving as executive director of sales for the East Coast. She is actively involved with the American Society of Association Executives and was recently named to the Industry Partner Alliance board. 

Eugene Mardell, Melanie Bruce and Natalie Fournier

The Thompson San Antonio – Riverwalk announced three new hospitality professionals to key leadership roles at the hotel: Eugene Mardell as general manager, Melanie Bruce as director of sales and marketing, and Natalie Fournier as director of revenue. Prior to joining the 162-room property, Mardell was hotel manager at the Thompson Austin, Bruce was area director of sales at the Grand Hyatt San Antonio Riverwalk and Hyatt Regency San Antonio Riverwalk, and Fournier was director of revenue at Wild Dunes Resort, a Destination by Hyatt property, in Isle of Palms, S.C.

Maureen Beddis

Maureen Beddis has been hired as senior vice president of membership and events for the American Gaming Association. Beddis will lead member relations, business development and events, including the Global Gaming Expo. She began her new role on Oct. 31 after 16 years at The Vision Council, where she most recently held the position of executive vice president of membership and strategic initiatives.

Carlos Sebastiani

Elegant Hotels, part of the All-Inclusive by Marriott Bonvoy portfolio, appointed Carlos Sebastiani as multiproperty executive chef across its seven resorts in Barbados. He will lead the food and beverage programs for restaurants like Waves Hotel and Spa’s Shiso, the Colony Club’s Rum Vault and Treasure Beach’s Tapestry. Sebastiani joins Elegant Hotels from the JW Marriott Hotel Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, where he served as executive chef and director of food and beverage.

Rhonda Walker, Kelly DeSorte, Dan Casarella and Kareem Abdullah

The Philadelphia Convention and Visitors Bureau has named Rhonda Walker as national accounts manager, Kelly DeSorte as executive meetings manager, Dan Casarella as creative copywriter and Kareem Abdullah as staff accountant. Previously, Walker served as director of sales and marketing for Experience Prince George’s County, Maryland; DeSorte served as Marriott International’s senior account executive of U.S. account sales; Casarella held positions at Lightning Media Partners and Jimmy Kimmel Live!, and Adbullah served as financial administrator for the University of Pennsylvania.

Chloe Gray-Le Coz, Lara Mayer, Rachel Hofer and Ricardo Cera

The 388-room Fairmont El San Juan Hotel in Puerto Rico added four new members to its team: Chloe Gray-Le Coz as director of sales, Lara Mayer as director of luxury leisure sales, Rachel Hofer as director of revenue management and Ricardo Cera as executive chef. Most recently, Gary-Le Coz was director of brand marketing for Loews Hotels & Co.; Mayer was director of travel industry sales at the Dominick, Soho; Hofer was director of front office at the Faena Hotel Miami Beach and Cera was executive chef at the Fairmont Hamilton Princess and Beach Club in Bermuda.