July 23 - 25, 2023 (GMT-4)

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Sheraton Dallas Hotel

Olive Street 400
Dallas, Texas

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Chad Houser (Founder & CEO of Café Momentum, Momentum Advisory Collective)

Chad Houser

Founder & CEO of Café Momentum, Momentum Advisory Collective


Culinary Experience Speaker

Chad Houser has described Café Momentum as "taking kids out of jail and teaching them to play with knives and fire." Levity aside, it's his vision for systemic change and passion for our country’s future that’s led him to spend the last 10 years building a proven model that teaches life, social, and employment skills to justice-involved youth. After 17 years as a chef, Chad sold his partnership with Parigi Restaurant to devote his full attention to the role of Executive Director of Café Momentum in 2012. Café Momentum Dallas has consistently been ranked as one of the top restaurants in Dallas since its opening in 2015.

In 2020, Chad co-founded Momentum Advisory Collective, a non-profit organization built to scale Café Momentum and the Momentum model for juvenile justice across the country and currently has programs running in Nashville and Pittsburgh with exploration work being done in Atlanta, Denver, Houston, Boston, and Baltimore.

About Café Momentum

Café Momentum is an award-winning restaurant and culinary training facility. We aim to transform young lives by equipping our community’s justice-involved youth with life skills, education, and employment opportunities to help them achieve their full potential. In building Café Momentum, our primary goal is to build a sustainable model that provides justice-impacted youth (ages 15-19) with the holistic support they need to truly thrive.

About Momentum Advisory Co.

Momentum Advisory Collective™ (M.A.C.), the parent company of Café Momentum, is expanding the Momentum model for juvenile justice by building programs that expand opportunities for justice-involved youth to reach their full potential with the holistic support of their community. M.A.C. is funded and made possible by the support of the Stand Together Foundation. Visit www.momentumadvisory.co and follow us on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and YouTube to learn more.

Troy Adams (Owner at Carolina DJ Pros)

Troy Adams

Owner at Carolina DJ Pros


Educational Breakout Speaker

A sought-after speaker, coach, and DJ, Troy Adams was named one of the 500 Most Influential Event Pros by BizBash. He’s also an elite WeddingPro educator and owns Carolina DJ Professionals, a Top-10 US DJ company. Founder of the “Make Your Business Dance” development platform, Troy draws from 25 years of experience to travel the country and help fellow pros design a better business. A professional DJ since the age of 16, Troy also excelled as a sports broadcaster, golf pro, project manager, and GM after graduating from Elon University. The son of a teacher and coach, he is a believer in lifelong learning. He’s also a lover of acronyms, Maine lobster, and road trips. When he is not trying to pack dance floors and brains, or writing bios too long, you will find him building memories with his boys and forgetting he's 45.

Jamie Adams, CPCE (Director of Operations at Paisley & Jade)

Jamie Adams, CPCE

Director of Operations at Paisley & Jade


Educational Breakout Speaker

Jamie Adams, CPCE is the Director of Operations of Paisley & Jade, a specialty rental company based in Richmond, Virginia, and serving the Mid-Atlantic. With 10,000 square feet of inventory and servicing over 400 clients per year, Paisley & Jade is known for providing weddings, events, trade shows, and visual display clients with the aesthetic details they need to complete their vision. As the Director of Operations at Paisley & Jade, Jamie manages the day-to-day operational logistics of the company, interfacing with teammates, clients, venues, and vendors, while managing the human resources, procurement, and transportation logistics portion of the business. Jamie holds her Certified Professional in Catering and Events designation (CPCE) and currently serves as the Immediate Past President on the board of the Richmond, Virginia Chapter of the National Association for Catering and Events (NACE).

Glenn Anderson (Professional Speaker at Glenn Anderson Speaks)

Glenn Anderson

Professional Speaker at Glenn Anderson Speaks


Educational Breakout Speaker

Glenn Anderson helps team leaders and emerging leaders solve their team's communication and collaboration problems. Glenn's presentations and webinars combine decades of corporate experience and teaching with his passion for performing improvisational comedy. The result - your audience is energized and equipped to exceed their team goals. Glenn Anderson knows what it takes to capture attention in the business world. He enjoyed a long career with IBM in sales, management, training, and event speaking. He produced IT conferences and was a featured speaker for thousands of people. As a graduate of the Player’s Workshop of Second City and with his experience performing improvisational theater, Glenn excites with teaching experience and improv techniques that energize communications and create a collaborative team environment.

Ericka Barreto (Owner at Hartworks Floral)

Ericka Barreto

Owner at Hartworks Floral


Educational Breakout Speaker

Ericka Barreto is a young & spunky creative based out of San Diego, California, married to her college sweetheart & living the American dream in America's Finest City. Her passion for florals started in High School when she took a continued education course on floral design, taking her into her first floral shop. Since that day, flowers have always been a passion on the side while she pursued other dreams. She started her first event floral design business in 2018 and started building momentum. Her love for people & projects led her to acquire Hartworks Floral in 2021, a 36-year-old San Diego industry staple. Since that moment, Ericka has spent every day building dreams into reality for her brides and industry friends. She is passionate about connecting people and resourcing this generation of rising industry professionals with the lessons she’s learned the hard way. Ericka has a BA in Interior Design from PLNU and serves as NACE San Diego Chapter President.

Aurora Dawn Benton (Chief Change Agent at Astrapto)

Aurora Dawn Benton

Chief Change Agent at Astrapto


Educational Breakout Speaker

Dr. Aurora Dawn Benton is Founder and Chief Change Agent of Astrapto LLC, which exists to advance positive impact in hospitality, travel, and events. Her passion is to make sustainability practical and approachable. Aurora’s clients include World Wildlife Fund, Sodexo Live, Baltimore Convention Center, Direct Travel, Accor, and Hilton. She has been a thought leader in industry initiatives such as the Event Industry Council’s Sustainable Events Standards and she was the curriculum designer for the EIC Sustainable Event Professional Certificate course.

Nicole Benvenutti (Director, Sales & Marketing of COJ Events)

Nicole Benvenutti

Director, Sales & Marketing of COJ Events


Educational Breakout Speaker

Nicole Benvenutti earned her Master of Science Degree in Hospitality Management from the University of Houston and is currently the Director of Sales & Marketing at COJ Events in Southern California. Nicole began her hospitality career in sales at The Plaza Hotel in NYC and soon joined the Four Seasons Hotels & Resorts team where she worked in Las Vegas and Santa Fe as a Director of Catering & Conference Services. The Waldorf Astoria brand brought her to California where she then pivoted to private luxury event planning. Nicole’s unique background in the classical performing arts, luxury retail, and high-end hospitality industry brings together a skill set unique in the growing world of service and events and has led her to awards including 2021 NACE Wedding of the Year. Nicole strongly believes in communication, the ability to pivot with grace, and a shared creative spirit is what builds the foundation for exceptional and unparalleled experiences.

Andy Bomberger, CPCE (Director of Meeting Operations, Lake Tahoe at Caesars Entertainment, Inc)

Andy Bomberger, CPCE

Director of Meeting Operations, Lake Tahoe at Caesars Entertainment, Inc


Conference Advisory Committee Member

Bobbi Brinkman (Motivator-Coach-Connector at Bobbi Brinkman Consulting)

Bobbi Brinkman

Motivator-Coach-Connector at Bobbi Brinkman Consulting


Educational Breakout Speaker

Storytelling wedding photographer, motivational speaker, and diet Mountain Dew addict Bobbi Brinkman has spent the last 40 years capturing authentic moments for fabbo couples from coast to coast. As a business + personal growth coach for ambitious wedding pros, she's passionate about empowering creative entrepreneurs to shift their mindset, step into their purpose and build a thriving business and fulfilling life they love and deserve. Because if you're doing what you love, it should bring you joy, profit, and purpose! Her mantra in business and in life is to BE FABBO, using your purpose and gifts to serve others, always leading with kindness and your heart forward. Bobbi's Motivated To Be Fabbo coaching membership guides creatives to transform their biz + life to unlock their true potential and embrace what makes them fabbo by pursuing business + personal growth so they can thrive at both. She believes every wedding pro deserves a seat at the table for who they are and the fabbo they bring to it. Bobbi serves on the NACE National Advocacy National Committee on community building and industry advocacy. Bobbi also hosts the Be Fabbo Podcast and Be Fabbo 365 Private Podcast. Bobbi & her wife, Tina, share space in their Sassy Shorkiepoo Ellie Joy's world with a Dt Mt Dew nearby.

David Caruso (President & Creative Director of Dynamic Events by David Caruso)

David Caruso

President & Creative Director of Dynamic Events by David Caruso


Educational Breakout Speaker

In his impressive 20+ year career as an event planner, designer, speaker, media personality, curator, and consultant, David Caruso creates spaces and experiences that foster joy and connection. As a native Milwaukeean, he decided to bring his keen eye and talent to his hometown, and by doing so, he raised the bar for events and experiences in his city and beyond. He takes his event planning services to other spaces and places as well, including recent events in Chicago, Miami, San Antonio, Seattle, Scottsdale, San Diego, Hawaii, Los Angeles, Salt Lake City, Costa Rica, Puerto Rico, and the West Indies. Because of his definitive style and keen business sense, David makes appearances on news and talk shows in markets across the United States – including Milwaukee, Chicago, Phoenix, Washington, D.C., and Denver. In the Milwaukee area, he has a popular “Entertaining in Style with David Caruso” segment on NBC’s show, The Morning Blend. He is a contributor to a variety of radio outlets and his work has been featured in key national publications including Brides Magazine and Catering Magazine. A sought-after speaker on the national stage, David presents on the topics of weddings, style, business, branding, and design. He is continually invited for speaking appearances all over the country and has presented internationally in Riviera Maya, Mexico, and Santa Domingo, Dominican Republic. He has received awards, accolades, and opportunities both regionally and nationally for his work, most notably for making a positive impact in his community, his talent in event planning, and his smart style. A turning point in his career was when he won the ultimate industry accolade, Event Planner of the Year by the National Association for Catering and Events. In addition to his event planning services, David is the host and an executive producer of the new TV show Good Things Brewing in partnership with VISIT Milwaukee (debuting in February 2023); designer of two linen collections for BBJ LaTavola; a founding member of The Giving Circle, which directly supports survivors of sexual and domestic violence; and serves on the board of directors for the United Performing Arts Fund. Introduced in 2020, Signature Style by David Caruso (www.STYLEBYDC.com) is a collection of affordable items from creative partners around the globe, each handpicked by David. David's life and career embody the spirit of hospitality. His commitment to excellence and creating memorable experiences for others is truly his life’s work.

Heather Chambers (Event Sales Manager at Lucky Strike Entertainment)

Heather Chambers

Event Sales Manager at Lucky Strike Entertainment


Conference Advisory Committee Member

Tom Chelednik (Director, WeddingPro Success of The Knot Worldwide)

Tom Chelednik

Director, WeddingPro Success of The Knot Worldwide


Educational Breakout Speaker

Tom Chelednik has over 25 years of experience in sales and marketing, with 15 specifically in the wedding industry. From 2008 - 2020, Tom held several sales positions at The Knot, including Regional Director of Sales and Director of Training and Enablement. He led teams that were instrumental in growing and retaining new business across 20 states and Canada, ultimately helping wedding professionals book more weddings and grow their businesses. During his time at The Knot, Tom
traveled the country 70% of each year to speak with and learn from wedding professionals. Tom spoke for many of the associations over the years, including NACE, ABC, ILEA, WIPPA, and WeddingMBA. Tom is passionate about sharing the knowledge he has gained over the years and continues to coach
pros, specifically to help them increase their leads and bookings.
In addition to The Knot, Tom was the COO of The Treasury Venue Collection in St. Augustine, Florida, where he learned firsthand what it was like to operate a wedding venue. During that time, he also helped build an online learning platform called Venue Profit Pro, which was designed for wedding venues across the country to improve their marketing and sales results. Tom rejoined The Knot Worldwide in the summer of 2022 and is now managing a Sales Team while traveling as a Field Marketing Director. When he's not traveling around the country, you can find Tom spending time with his family, which now includes two grandchildren.

John Chen (CEO of Engaging Virtual Meetings)

John Chen

CEO of Engaging Virtual Meetings


Educational Breakout Speaker

John Chen is the author of the #1 Amazon Hot New Book Release, Engaging Virtual Meetings. He’s been meeting virtually for over 35 years. John has produced over 4,000 virtual meetings including an EIGHT language meeting and the only 100% LIVE virtual conference in the training industry.

Allison Cochran (Managing Attorney at Cochran Law Firm, P.L.)

Allison Cochran

Managing Attorney at Cochran Law Firm, P.L.


Educational Breakout Speaker

Allison Cochran is a managing Attorney who focuses on Business Advising, General Counsel Services, and Estate Planning. She helps clients structure their businesses to achieve their objectives, whether that is to maintain current levels or scale. When it comes to estate planning, whether single or married, in a blended family, or maybe just starting out, she helps to design a plan that achieves goals for loved ones today and for the future. A graduate of Florida A&M University College of Law in 2010, Allison has more than 20 years of real estate industry experience, from property management to home sales. In addition, she worked as a corporate compliance officer for Fintech before moving into the role of in-house counsel for one of Florida’s largest trade organizations. Allison loves educating her community about creating and sustaining generational wealth. For small business owners, she loves sharing how to preserve and grow businesses. Allison also serves as President of the Board for A Little Light, Inc., a nonprofit focused on aiding breast cancer patients and survivors.

Meredith Commender, CSEP (Event Coordinator at Significant Events of Texas)

Meredith Commender, CSEP

Event Coordinator at Significant Events of Texas


Educational Breakout Speaker

For the past 16 years, Meredith Commender, CSEP has been the Owner and Lead Event Coordinator & Designer at Significant Events of Texas, an event coordination firm based in Dallas producing an average of 60 events each year including weddings, social events, corporate events, and charitable events. One of her specialties is producing multicultural events, specifically South Asian events. She is a regular speaker for various event industry organizations in North America as well as at event industry conferences.

Kelly Dalisa, CPCE (National Account Executive at CORT Events)

Kelly Dalisa, CPCE

National Account Executive at CORT Events

Educational Breakout Speaker

Kelly Dalisa, CPCE began her career in events more than 20 years ago in Northern California as an owner/operator of an upscale wedding venue. Prior to moving to San Diego, she expanded her talents into non-profit, corporate, and social events through various roles including designer, sales, and operations. Within in the last several years, Kelly has made the jump to the supplier side of the industry. As a national sales executive for CORT Events, she has been able to use her years of experience in strategic designing to help her clients execute events for their high-profile clients. No matter the size of each event, Kelly’s goal is to always exceed the client’s expectations by supporting them with design ideas and more.

Kevin Dennis, CPCE, CWIP (Owner at Fantasy Sound Event Services)

Kevin Dennis, CPCE, CWIP

Owner at Fantasy Sound Event Services


Educational Breakout Panelist

With over 30 years in the game, Kevin Dennis is no stranger to the wedding biz. He entered the industry when he started Fantasy Sound Event Services right after high school — funny enough, his intentions were to become a legit DJ and meet girls. (No, really.) Whether he was successful is neither here nor there, but one thing that’s certain: Fantasy Sound was built to last. Today, his Livermore-based business has evolved into a renowned full-service lighting and entertainment company that serves the wedding & event market in California. Over the years, Kevin’s love for the industry would also evolve, inspiring him to become more involved in education, networking, and thought leadership to contribute to the future of the industry. He is a sought-after speaker in the national circuit and a regular contributor to B2B publications, including Catersource and Special Events, and has been featured in Brides, Martha Stewart Weddings, and Travel Channel. Having served in multiple board positions for Silicon Valley NACE, as a trustee on the Foundation of NACE board, and as Director of National Marketing and International President of WIPA for two terms, Kevin has dedicated his career to the growth and development of the wedding pro community. He also founded the Tri-Valley Wedding Professionals networking group, which has grown to a membership of 700+ pros. Taking over WeddingIQ was just another step in Kevin’s effort to develop a hub of information and opportunities for wedding professionals across the industry, and his visionary way of thinking has a lot in store to bring education to the forefront.

Kim DuBose (National Account Executive at CORT Events)

Kim DuBose

National Account Executive at CORT Events


Educational Breakout Speaker

Meghan Ely, CWIP (Owner at OFD Consulting LLC)

Meghan Ely, CWIP

Owner at OFD Consulting LLC


Educational Breakout Speaker

OFD Consulting owner, Meghan Ely, combines in-the-trenches event experience with a love of wedding PR to empower her clients to take their businesses to new heights. A long-time industry speaker and writer, she is a WeddingPro educator with The Knot + WeddingWire, as well as a regular contributor to Wedding Planner Magazine, Catersource, and SpecialEvents.com.
Meghan represents clients globally and has earned them coverage with the New York Times, Martha Stewart Weddings, The Knot, Refinery 29, Domino, Forbes, and Real Simple, among other outlets. Her team’s publicity efforts are regularly honored by the Public Relations Society of America. Special Events also has featured her as one of the top 25 young professionals in the event industry. Most recently, she was awarded 2021 NACE Speaker of the Year. A longtime supporter of industry associations, Meghan currently serves as the 2022 International President for WIPA.

Megan Estrada (CEO and Event Consultant of NSWE Events (formerly North Shore Weddings & Events))

Megan Estrada

CEO and Event Consultant of NSWE Events (formerly North Shore Weddings & Events)


Educational Breakout Speaker

Megan Estrada is a seasoned wedding and event industry professional who has been in the event planning and hospitality industry for over 20 years. In 2011, after spending years as a Director of Catering for luxury hotels, she decided to bring her experience and insider industry knowledge to the client and establish NSWE Events, a national wedding and event planning company based in Chicago’s North Shore. In 2020, Megan Estrada established the NACE Covid-19 Task Force, in Illinois, Florida, Virginia, Massachusetts, and New York, which worked with state and city governments to create the reopening guidelines for the events industry. She is an events industry leader holding the position of National Advocacy Committee Chair for the National Association for Catering and Events (NACE).

Bill Gamelli (Founder and CEO of Mocktail Beverages, Inc.)

Bill Gamelli

Founder and CEO of Mocktail Beverages, Inc.


Educational Breakout Speaker

Innovator in the No & Lo Alcohol Industry, Bill Gamelli, Founder and CEO of Mocktail Beverages, Inc., is proud to be exporting our premium drinks made in the U.K. to the world. Bill is a strong, solutions-based, business development professional skilled in entrepreneurship, R&D, supply chain, management, and partnering with customers to create memorable and premium experiences for consumers. He is one of three founders of ANBA - the Adult Non-Alcoholic Beverage Association. ANBA advocates and supports members in creating a world where everyone has access to adult non-alcoholic beverages to enjoy in every social situation. Their mission is to promote, protect, and grow the adult non-alcoholic beverage industry with a unifying voice that serves its members from production to marketplace.

Brian Green, CMP, CMM (Owner/CEO of By BrianGreen)

Brian Green, CMP, CMM

Owner/CEO of By BrianGreen


Educational Breakout Speaker

Brian Green, CMP, CMM, is an award-winning event planner, speaker, and educator with over 20 years of experience in the international events industry. He is the owner, Chief Event Architect, and Creative Visionary of By BrianGreen based in Atlanta, Georgia creating amazing social and corporate events worldwide. Brian is a former Diplomat for the country of Barbados. Brian is a dynamic and engaging speaker who infuses personal and professional experiences into his presentations, from working in a corporate environment to becoming an entrepreneur. He takes audiences on a journey that allows them to engage more personally with the topic and come away with gems to help them along their path to success. Brian has graced the stages of Engage, TSE, CaterSource, NACE Experience, Wedding MBA, Coterie Retreat, and Signature CEO. He was the featured guest expert on The Steve Harvey Show for their annual Wedding Hour where he presented great tips and advice on how to host the best wedding while avoiding the usual pitfalls. Brian has been featured and published in every major industry publication including Grace Ormonde, Bride's Magazine, Inside Weddings, Munaluchi Bride, Essence, The Knot, and B Collective, just to name a few. As part of his strong activism and belief in Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, he currently serves as Chairman of the Board for the National Society of Black Wedding & Event Professionals. He is a Mentor for the Fellowship for Change by WeddingPro for 2021 and returning for 2022 and one of a select few speakers chosen to be a part of WedidngPro's Educators for 2022.

Beth Harbison (Founder of Sobar, Inc)

Beth Harbison

Founder of Sobar, Inc


Educational Breakout Speaker

Beth Harbinson is the founder of Sobar® and has worked in non-profit management, fundraising, and development for 30 years. Beth is committed to local efforts focused on reducing the stigma associated with alcoholism, addiction, and mental illness and providing greater access to treatment resources. She currently serves on the Local Behavioral Health Advisory Board and the Opiate Crisis Community Council. Beth worked in catering and event planning for 5 years. Sobar’s mission is to provide and promote innovative beverage options to those who cannot or choose not to drink alcohol.

Aleya Harris, CPCE (Owner at Flourish Marketing)

Aleya Harris, CPCE

Owner at Flourish Marketing


Educational Breakout Speaker

Aleya Harris, CPCE is the founder and CEO of Flourish Marketing, an agency dedicated to helping empire-building entrepreneurs and executive teams differentiate themselves through radically authentic messaging strategy and copywriting. She believes that every leader has the potential to transform into a legend. She uses her proprietary Flourishing Empire Framework to help her clients and audience get real, get clear, and get connected so they can stand out from the crowd and stand in a league of their own. Aleya is a regular guest on the Marketing Made Simple podcast, a featured presenter in StoryBrand’s Business Made Simple course platform, and has been featured in Thrive Global, Authority Magazine, and Special Events. Aleya is the proud recipient of the NACE President's Award for Diversity and the Emerging Member of the Year Award. A recent NACE “Speaker of the Year” award winner, Aleya has been a guest on over 125 podcasts and rocked over 100 stages where she edutained her audience with her business acumen and energetic personality.

Jeff Harry (Positive Psychology Play Speaker at Rediscover Your Play)

Jeff Harry

Positive Psychology Play Speaker at Rediscover Your Play


Educational Breakout Speaker

Jeff Harry combines positive psychology and play to heal workplaces, help teams build psychological safety, and assist individuals in addressing their biggest challenges by embracing a play-oriented approach to work. Jeff was selected by BambooHR & Engagedly as one of the Top 100 HR Influencers and has been featured in the NY Times, Mashable, Upworthy, Huffpost, Shondaland, & Wired. Jeff has worked with Google, Microsoft, Southwest Airlines, Adobe, the NFL, Amazon, and Facebook, helping their staff to infuse more play into the day-to-day. Over the past 15 years of facilitation and speaking, Jeff’s main goal has been to help work suck less by assisting leaders in building a playground workplace atmosphere that motivates their staff to do their most vibrant work.

Courtney Hopper (Co-Founder of Hustle + Gather)

Courtney Hopper

Co-Founder of Hustle + Gather


Educational Breakout Speaker

Over the past 15 years, Courtney Hopper & Dana Kadwell, CPCE have built and operated three successful businesses in the Raleigh North Carolina area. Starting off from the ordinary, they paved their way with sheer grit and tenacity splashed with some therapy and coffee along the way. They are on a mission to inspire others to take big leaps, dream big dreams, and create amazing teams that grow profits and enjoyable (but productive) culture within your business.

Dana Kadwell, CPCE (Co-Founder of Hustle + Gather)

Dana Kadwell, CPCE

Co-Founder of Hustle + Gather


Educational Breakout Speaker

Over the past 15 years, Courtney Hopper & Dana Kadwell, CPCE have built and operated three successful businesses in the Raleigh North Carolina area. Starting off from the ordinary, they paved their way with sheer grit and tenacity splashed with some therapy and coffee along the way. They are on a mission to inspire others to take big leaps, dream big dreams, and create amazing teams that grow profits and enjoyable (but productive) culture within your business.

Steve Kemble (Principal at Steve Kemble Event Design)

Steve Kemble

Principal at Steve Kemble Event Design


Conference Advisory Committee Chair

Russ Kempton, CSS (Owner and Founder of Speaking of Grapes and Grains, LLC)

Russ Kempton, CSS

Owner and Founder of Speaking of Grapes and Grains, LLC


Educational Breakout Speaker

Russ Kempton, CSS (Certified Specialist of Spirits), has been in the alcoholic beverage industry for over 40 years in sales, marketing, and management. Today he is the owner of Speaking of Grapes and Grains LLC - a company that educates, entertains, and consults on all aspects of alcoholic beverages.  Having traveled all around the world, learned from the masters of the distillery business, and participated in over 2,250 distilled spirits, wine, and beer events, Russ offers to take you on an educational journey to share his knowledge and experiences. From Agave spirits tastings, Whisk(e)y tastings to wine pairing dinners, from seminars to hands-on training, Russ is considered to be the distilled spirits Ambassador at Large throughout the United States.

Jordan Kentris (Owner at A Good Day)

Jordan Kentris

Owner at A Good Day


Educational Breakout Speaker

A user experience designer by trade, Jordan Kentris’ background in art and design isn’t just professional—it’s been a deep-seated passion for as long as he can remember. After years in the advertising industry working in web design and user experience with major brands like Pepsi, Visa, Toyota, and Mercedes, Jordan knew it was time he took his creativity offline so he could get his hands dirty. Out of that realization, he launched a custom brooch business which, ultimately, evolved into wedding stationery, perfectly marrying his experience in digital design with his love for crafting. Thus, his boutique design firm, A Good Day, was born to serve planners and their couples with eclectic, one-of-a-kind stationery that establishes a unique brand for each event. From save-the-dates and invitations to day-of signage and menus, Jordan draws inspiration from his diverse array of interests spanning fashion, architecture, interior design, and film to curate an aesthetic that perfectly matches each client’s vision for their celebration. Utilizing his extensive UX experience, Jordan also regularly works with creatives on digital projects, to ensure they are capturing the very essence of their brand. Jordan was recently recognized by BizBash as one of the Most Innovative People in 2020 for his creative, holistic approach to virtual events.

Tanisha Lee (Owner at Collectively Wed LLC)

Tanisha Lee

Owner at Collectively Wed LLC


Educational Breakout Speaker

Tanisha Lee has been planning and designing weddings as the dope and sassy Owner of Soirées by Lee for 12 years. She's a sucker for a great love story and does her best to weave them throughout each of her events. When she's not drafting timelines or directing wedding parties, she can be found teaching other wedding vendors the ins and outs of this beautiful industry in a community called Collectively Wed. Affectionately known in the industry as "Auntie Nisha" or "The Fairy App Mother," Tanisha will always teach you the skills you need to implement effective strategies and processes within your business. Her love for all things wedding related is coupled with charity work, being mama bear to a very creative kid-prenuer, and binge-watching episodes of Grey's Anatomy.

Don Mamone (Owner at The Mamones LLC)

Don Mamone

Owner at The Mamones LLC


Educational Breakout Speaker

Don Mamone’s decade-long career in hospitality culminated with their role as the Director of Events at the prestigious Beverly Hilton. Determined to embrace their creativity and pursue the dream of entrepreneurship, Don and their wife Emily opened a photography studio and have exceeded the expectations of their loyal clients from Dallas to Destinations around the world for over fifteen years. As a speaker and coach, Don teaches audiences and clients how to reach their maximum potential and impact by discovering and embracing their true identities. Having recently come out as non-binary, Don is a committed advocate for the LGBTQIA+ community and consults with companies and organizations dedicated to diversity, inclusivity, and representation as well as creating safe spaces that support and encourage unapologetic authenticity. When they are not traveling the world for creative projects and speeches, Don lives happily outside the gender binary in Dallas with their talented spouse Emily and their creative child Frankie.

Jonathan Martin (Founder & Principal Designer of ShowTec)

Jonathan Martin

Founder & Principal Designer of ShowTec


Educational Breakout Speaker

Jonathan Martin, Founder and Principal Designer at ShowTec, has guided his talented team of designers, craftspeople, and technicians in the artful delivery of live, high-impact experiences since 1991, with his designs representing a unique fusion of storytelling and placemaking. ShowTec’s skilled execution of unconventional corporate projects and bold meetings reflect the team’s multi-disciplinary backgrounds in theater, opera, fashion, theme park development, special effects, and the live concert industry. To date, more than 5,000 successful shows have been experienced by over 650 million people. ShowTec works with agencies, planners, event marketers, and producers to create inventive and unique engagements that drive business objectives and strategies. Corporate events include AT&T, Qualcomm, Walt Disney Imagineering, Pixar, Lucasfilm, HBO, Sony, Paramount Pictures, Netflix, Marvel, ShowTime, Cirque Du Soleil, NFL, MLB, NBA, BMW, Mercedes Benz, Bentley, Honda, Lincoln, Deloitte, E+Y, Microsoft, Apple, Intuit, HP, Dell, American Express, SAP, ViaSat, Oakley, and Cessna Aircraft. Project highlights include seven Super Bowls, NBA All-Star Games, The Rose Bowl, The World Series, CES Keynotes, global product launches, film premiers, and numerous large conferences. Event designs featuring headliners include Paul McCartney, The Red-Hot Chili Peppers, Steven Tyler, Dave Matthews, Lenny Kravitz, Keith Urban, Toby Keith, Maroon 5, Christina Aguilera, and Sebastian Maniscalco among others.

Gabrielle Mourino, CPCE (Senior Account Manager at Imprint Event Group)

Gabrielle Mourino, CPCE

Senior Account Manager at Imprint Event Group


Conference Advisory Committee Member

Selina Mullenax, CPCE (Account Executive at CORT Events)

Selina Mullenax, CPCE

Account Executive at CORT Events


Conference Advisory Committee Member

Abigail Olaya (CEO of Olaya Events & Company)

Abigail Olaya

CEO of Olaya Events & Company


Educational Breakout Speaker

Abigail Olaya is a successful businesswoman having started a wedding venue in 2009 during the recession with a $15,000 loan and growing it into an award-winning, multi-million-dollar business. Abigail is a mother to triplet girls and was recognized as one of the top 40 under 40 leaders in Phoenix for her leadership. She is passionate about helping small businesses succeed and currently serves as a coach, trusted advisor, or consultant to entrepreneurs.

Christie Osborne (Owner at Mountainside Media)

Christie Osborne

Owner at Mountainside Media


Educational Breakout Speaker

Christie Osborne is a proud data nerd and owner of Mountainside Media. She and her team use market research, data, and analytics to develop marketing strategies that drive inquiries. As an educator, Christie offers audiences simple and intuitive ways to turn marketing data into dollars, to get them off the marketing hamster wheel and on the path to sustainable marketing success. Christie frequents the national conference circuit, speaking at NACE, Catersource, and Wedding MBA, as well as at boutique luxury conferences, including The Signature CEO, Coterie Retreat, and Be Sage. She is also a regular contributor to industry publications including Special Events, Catersource, Sage Wedding Pros, and Wedding Business Magazine.

Michele Polci, CPCE, CMP (Director of Citywide Catering Sales Las Vegas at Caesars Entertainment)

Michele Polci, CPCE, CMP

Director of Citywide Catering Sales Las Vegas at Caesars Entertainment


Educational Breakout Speaker

As a respected award-winning leader in the industry, Michele Polci, CPCE, CMP currently oversees the sales efforts for all catered events held across two million square feet of banquet and event space at nine Las Vegas properties. Michele has been an active leader in local associations and the catering community for many years. She is a founding member of the Las Vegas chapter of NACE and has served in numerous positions on the local board. Her contributions to the catering landscape of Las Vegas have earned Michele awards and innumerable accolades. Known for her humility, however, Michele will rarely make mention of her accomplishments. Instead, she unceasingly focuses on guiding her teams through future success. Appreciated as a dedicated mentor by many, Michele strives to equip young leaders with the tools for success in the industry. Michele further assists colleagues in professional development through regular speaking engagements at industry conferences and local university institutions. Michele's expertise in catering and sales is featured in numerous articles published in national industry publications. Michele currently serves on the Board of Directors with the SEARCH Foundation as an event director. SEARCH is a 501(c)3 which assists industry individuals in crisis.

Sarabeth Quattlebaum, CPCE (Director of Corporate Events at Sarabeth Events)

Sarabeth Quattlebaum, CPCE

Director of Corporate Events at Sarabeth Events


Conference Ambassador

Sarabeth Quattlebaum, CPCE started her company, Sarabeth Events, in 2009 after being in the events industry for five years. She wanted to create a company that truly has clients' best interests at heart. The core values of Sarabeth Events are being kind while working hard, respecting clients' time, and above all, honesty. Sarabeth learned these by being raised by entrepreneurial parents. From 2014 to 2019, she was honored to work alongside the team at the George W. Bush Presidential Center as the Catering & Private Events Manager. Years later, Sarabeth Events is thriving, planning every type of event, and it’s been one of Sarabeth's most joyous experiences of her life.

Alyssa Ruth, CPCE (Senior Event Consultant at Curated Events Raleigh)

Alyssa Ruth, CPCE

Senior Event Consultant at Curated Events Raleigh


Educational Breakout Speaker

Alyssa Ruth, CPCE is a Senior Event Consultant at Curated Events Raleigh. She’s a tenting and rental expert serving weddings as well as corporate, university, and social events throughout the Raleigh area. Her event industry background started sixteen years ago in concerts and live event production, then pivoted to weddings and special event design over a decade ago. She loves love and deeply enjoys helping couples celebrate their most joyful day. Alyssa was awarded the Event Professional of the Year Award by the Triangle Chapter of NACE in 2023 and has also won chapter awards including Best Use of Rentals, Best Use of Lighting, Best Team Effort at a Wedding, Event Innovation of the Year, and New Member of the Year. She’s an active member and served as the 2023 Gala Chair, leading a planning team for a formal awards dinner to celebrate our chapter members’ accomplishments. Alyssa is passionate about uplifting other event professionals through education and collaboration. In addition to her roles in the event industry, Alyssa serves on the Board of Directors for two organizations, on the Events Committee for the Leadership Raleigh Alumni Association, and on the Community Development Committee for Endeavor Charter School. She’s an avid runner, mom to a hilarious six-year-old, and a passionate volunteer who loves serving others in her community.

Elizabeth Sheils (Co-Founder of Rock Paper Coin)

Elizabeth Sheils

Co-Founder of Rock Paper Coin


Educational Breakout Speaker

Co-founder of Rock Paper Coin, Elizabeth Sheils never pictured a career in tech. Yet, while leading a team of wedding planners out of Seattle, her decade-plus of industry experience opened her eyes to the market gaps that presented challenges for herself and her planner colleagues. Ever the innovators, she and her sister-in-law set out to solve an enduring problem in the industry: a lack of vendor collaboration over client management. In 2018, Elizabeth and Nora launched Rock Paper Coin, the first-ever software to bring together event planners, couples, and vendors into one system for managing contracts, paying invoices, and sharing documents. Her shift from wedding planning to software development revealed the power of technology for businesses — and how underused it was in the event industry. Her desire to solve a problem transformed into a passion for enlightening others about technology's many possibilities. Since 2020, Elizabeth has shared her expertise on stage and inspired audiences to embrace technology as a catalyst for rapid business growth. She has spoken for groups of all sizes, including NACE, WIPA, The Special Event, and Wedding MBA. A passion for innovation and an urge to educate has ranked Elizabeth on Special Events’ Top 25 Event Pros to Watch, as well as The BizBash 500. In 2022, Rock Paper Coin was recognized by The Stevie Awards for Women in Business, earning Gold for Startup of the Year and Bronze for Women-Run Workplace of the Year.

Michele Shelton, CDP, CPC (CEO of Michele Shelton, LLC)

Michele Shelton, CDP, CPC

CEO of Michele Shelton, LLC


Educational Breakout Speaker

Michele Lawlis Shelton is an international speaker, author, executive coach, and consultant. She specializes in race and gender equity and has been disrupting the DEI space for more than 20 years. Michele equips and empowers courageous executives to make inclusivity and equity more than just a goal by confronting and conquering the “-ism’s” that threaten both our humanity and the bottom line at work and beyond.

Ric Simmons (President & Founder & Publisher of Inclusive Wedding Alliance, Ten Steps To Inclusive Practices)

Ric Simmons

President & Founder & Publisher of Inclusive Wedding Alliance, Ten Steps To Inclusive Practices


Educational Breakout Speaker

Born out of personal experience while planning his own wedding, Ric Simmons, the President and Founder of the Inclusive Wedding Alliance (IWA) began his journey in 2015 speaking out about the need for more inclusive education in the wedding industry and the need for inclusive resources for LGBTQIA+ couples navigating the wedding planning process. After the landmark victory of Obergfell v. Hodges in 2015, same-sex couples were guaranteed the constitutional right to marry in the United States. This decision was followed by a series of challenges from local governments and private business owners, making wedding planning difficult for queer couples who were denied services around the country. This continues today. Living in Texas at the time, Ric started “My Texas Gay Wedding” and eventually expanded to a national platform with “My Gay Wedding.” Soon realizing that despite the excitement from wedding vendors who wanted to implement inclusive business practices, there were very few resources available to make that possible within the wedding & event industry. The National Gay Wedding Association (NGWA), a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, answered the call to become the go-to source for wedding vendors and event professionals in search of LGBTQ+-specific resources and education on implementing inclusive business practices. The NGWA broke ground on the word "inclusive" in the wedding and event industry. The NGWA put inclusive awareness front and center with its Inclusive Awareness Conference in January 2022 which featured the first-ever all-LGBTQIA+ lineup of inclusive speakers, leaders, and influencers covering one main topic: inclusiveness. The NGWA's Online LGBTQIA+ Wedding Expo created a safe place for couples to meet and gather wedding information. NGWA members were able to engage virtually with couples while delivering meaningful and informative presentations featuring "My Five Tips for LGBTQIA+ Couples.” The National Gay Wedding Association 2019-2022 withdrew its nonprofit status effective 10-31-2022 to better serve its constituents. Seven years in the making, The Inclusive Wedding Alliance is here! Educating allies worldwide through its Ten Steps To Inclusive Practices - A Vendors Guide To Setting Standards, which takes wedding and event professionals on an educational journey about understanding inclusiveness. Once completed, vendors are asked to submit their "Alliance & Pledge" for a free listing in the 2023 IWA Inclusive Digital Directory. An invaluable resource for LGBTQIA+ couples. Like-minded, educated, and loving wedding professionals that are creating a safe resource for LGBTQIA+ couples.

Emily Speakes (Sr. Customer Sales Manager at Tito's Handmade Vodka)

Emily Speakes

Sr. Customer Sales Manager at Tito's Handmade Vodka


Educational Breakout Speaker

With a tenure of 8 years at Tito’s Handmade Vodka, Emily Speakes has left an indelible mark through her expertise in events, sales, field marketing, and customer sales. Renowned for her boundless energy and unwavering determination, Emily Speakes demonstrates her knowledge and commitment to driving exceptional results for her company. Her goal-driven mindset propels her to continuously achieve remarkable results, while her creative approach sets them apart in the industry. Her acute attention to detail ensures that every aspect of their work, especially revenue-driven sales programs, is meticulously crafted for optimal success. Join Emily Speakes as she guides us through the intricacies of driving revenue through unique meeting and event programs, providing invaluable insights that will empower attendees to thrive in this competitive industry and grow their profits!

Desiree Springer (Vice President National Accounts at Tito's Handmade Vodka)

Desiree Springer

Vice President National Accounts at Tito's Handmade Vodka


Educational Breakout Speaker

Desiree Springer is a seasoned and vibrant leader in the spirits business with an impressive track record spanning over 20 years. Her experience includes the trifecta of operator, distributor & supplier. This lens of perspective coupled with her expertise in ON & OFF Premise Sales, Customer Marketing and Field Marketing. Her current role as the Vice President of National Accounts for Tito’s Handmade Vodka, brings a wealth of experience and strategic insights to the table. Known for her relentless determination, ability to develop meaningful relationships with her customers, and driving revenue, Desiree is a firm believer in employing effective strategies to achieve success for her commercial organization. Her passion lies in nurturing and empowering young talent, particularly focusing on the growth & development of young female leaders within their company.

Throughout her career, Desiree has consistently demonstrated her ability to navigate the dynamic landscape of the spirits industry, adapting to the changing market trends and delivering exceptional results. Join us at the seminar to learn from her expertise and gain valuable insights into the world of creative programming while driving long-term revenue for your spirits program.

Michael Stavros (Partner | BizDev at M Culinary Concepts)

Michael Stavros

Partner | BizDev at M Culinary Concepts


Educational Breakout Speaker

After 25 years in the industry, Stavros still has unbounded passion for all things catering and live events. He and his partners at M Culinary Concepts have built one of the largest and most diversified privately held catering companies in the US. As leader of BizDev and long-term strategy, Stavros always looks forward with excitement for what's next, from business opportunities to industry developments to tantalizing trends. As a devoted member of NACE, Stavros is honored to be at Experience with longtime colleagues, new friends-in-the-making, and professional idols.

Monique Studak, CS, CSS, CSW, WSET Level 2 (Principal at Thirst for Knowledge)

Monique Studak, CS, CSS, CSW, WSET Level 2

Principal at Thirst for Knowledge


Educational Breakout Speaker

Monique Studak, Certified Sommelier, WSET II, has been in the wine business for over 25 years. Much of that time has been spent focusing on the On-Premise channel, specializing in hotel, catering, and national accounts. Her passion is education and training as it pertains to wine and the art of selling. She began her career in the Texas Wine Industry at Messina Hof, before spending 16 years with the E&J Gallo Family of Wines. Monique is a Certified Sommelier with the Court of Master Sommeliers, a Wine & Spirits Educational Trust Level II, a Certified Specialist of Wine, and a Certified Specialist of Spirits. She is a graduate of the University of Texas. However, after teaching as an adjunct professor for 5 ½ years at the Conrad Hilton College for Hotel & Restaurant Management, Monique has become an enthusiastic supporter of the University Houston Cougars. Happily married to Bill Studak for 19 years, they share a passion for travel and entertaining. Active in the community, Monique was the founding president of Houston’s Women of Wine Charities. She is a Vice Chairman on the Houston Livestock Show & Rodeo International Wine Committee for Judging and facilitates Financial Peace University classes through her church. Monique is an active member of NACE and has been recognized nationally with the George Zell Spirit of NACE Award for her philanthropic efforts as well as the Event Professional of the Year.

Leigh Tidwell, CSEP (National Sales Manager at AFR Furniture Rental)

Leigh Tidwell, CSEP

National Sales Manager at AFR Furniture Rental


Conference Ambassador

Meet Leigh Tidwell, National Sales Manager for AFR Furniture Rental. She is the mother of three children – two in college at Texas State, one grown and flown, and three fur babies. Leigh is the National Sales Manager for AFR Furniture Rental Company with over 20 years of experience in the special events industry. She is a former President of the Dallas Chapter of the International Live Events Association (ILEA) and former President of the National Association for Catering and Events (NACE) Dallas Fort Worth Chapter. Leigh also served as the Chair for the NACE National Awards Committee for two years. Her passion is to connect people and educate them about how our industry makes a difference. When she’s not working on events with her clients, you’ll find her practicing yoga, hanging out with her children, or playing disc golf with her husband.

Jennifer Trotter (Owner at Lip Service Makeup)

Jennifer Trotter

Owner at Lip Service Makeup


Educational Breakout Speaker

Known as the Queen of Bridal Beauty in Dallas/Fort Worth, Jen Trotter is the owner and principal artist behind Lip Service Makeup, the team that recently snagged a coveted AACWP Vendi Award for Favorite Hair and Makeup Team for the 5th year in a row, landing them in the Hall of Fame for 2023. In addition to beautifying 3500+ brides over the course of her 30-year career, Jen's work can be seen in national magazines, on commercials and ads for brands such as Tostitos and Omni Hotels, on shows on Oxygen and the Paramount Network, and on episodes of Dateline NBC. The LSM team even beautified contestants for the finale episodes of "Love is Blind" on Netflix. When it comes to weddings and beauty, she's seen it all and done it all! As a veteran wedding vendor, Jen is heavily involved in organizations such as the Professional Wedding Guild and The Society of Wedding Professionals. She'll be serving on the board of The Dallas chapter of WIPA this year....and of course, she's involved in NACE! In addition to her role as a veteran vendor, mentor, and local leader in the wedding industry, Jen is a communications expert with a background that includes conflict resolution training, PR, and nearly 10 years as Program Director for the Make A Wish Foundation. Melding her business knowledge with her vast experience as an "in the trenches" wedding vendor gives Jen a unique perspective! She not only knows how to deal with the occasional bridezilla, but she is also passionate about teaching other wedding pros how to manage the communication elements of their businesses to reduce conflict and stress. Jen has been a top-rated speaker and educator at conferences such as Wedding MBA, CaterSource, and Wedding Summit. She is a sought-after speaker and podcast guest who pulls no punches as she shares proven strategies, words, and phrases designed to keep conflict low, paving the way for long-term sustainability and success.

Lauren Twichell, CPCE (Director of Catering at Catering by Chef Kent Rathburn)

Lauren Twichell, CPCE

Director of Catering at Catering by Chef Kent Rathburn


Conference Ambassador

Lauren Twichell, CPCE is currently the Director of Catering with a local chef in Dallas/Ft. Worth, and has worked in the event industry for the last 15 years in catering sales and operations. She is the President of the Dallas/Ft. Worth Chapter of NACE and has planned many events, including their fundraiser, an annual AACWP Vendi Awards, and the SWP annual gala. She has managed venues while working in catering and has also worked on the planner side as well.

Stefana Welker (Admin & Events Coordinator for the Office of the President at University of Puget Sound)

Stefana Welker

Admin & Events Coordinator for the Office of the President at University of Puget Sound


Conference Advisory Committee Member

Thomas Whelan (Director of Operations at Seravezza Events / Levy Cultural Attractions)

Thomas Whelan

Director of Operations at Seravezza Events / Levy Cultural Attractions


Educational Breakout Speaker

Thomas Whelan has been included in the BizBash 500, MeetingsNet “Changemakers”, and “40 Under 40” by Connect Corporate Magazine, and in 2022 was chosen as an Industry Innovator by BizBash Magazine for his work in Food and Beverage. Currently, the Director of Operations for Seravezza Events at The Franklin Institute in Philadelphia. Thomas has successfully planned Food and Beverage operations for nearly 20 years, formerly the Assistant General Manager for Levy Convention Centers at the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center. During his career, he has helped launch Off-Premise and On-Premise Catering companies, and curated experiences for millions of people in both Corporate Events and Social Gatherings. Although he has assisted in meetings and events throughout the world, he now calls Philadelphia home. Thomas spends his days leading his team members to exceed client expectations. His nights are spent wrangling one very large orange cat named Alroy. Thomas is an operations expert with a passion for developing the next generation of hospitality legends. Not only a leader in the future of food and beverage in meetings, but he is also an outspoken advocate for inclusion and advocates on behalf of members of the meetings and events industry. Currently, Thomas sits on the Board of Directors for the SEARCH Foundation. He is a former Board Member of the LGBT Meeting Professionals Association and President of the Massachusetts Live Events Coalition.

Indya Willis, CPCE (Event Planner at FGF Catering Dallas and Say, Cheeze!)

Indya Willis, CPCE

Event Planner at FGF Catering Dallas and Say, Cheeze!


Conference Advisory Committee Member

Philip Wolf (Founder/CEO of Cultivating Spirits)

Philip Wolf

Founder/CEO of Cultivating Spirits


Educational Breakout Speaker

Philip Wolf is a recognized cannabis pioneer and CashoM (Professional Steward and Server of Cannabis) who elegantly guides people through the myriad, positive properties of cannabis and the art of pairing it with food. This new level of connoisseurship he has developed empowers individuals to identify aspects that allow them to safely and consciously consume cannabis, therefore enhancing everyday life experiences. He’s a 13-year legal cannabis industry veteran who started out opening medical dispensaries in 2009. Since then, he founded Cultivating Spirits (Colorado, Las Vegas, and California), co-founded the Cannabis Wedding Expo (Denver, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Las Vegas, Boston, and Toronto - New York), and is building CashoM. His focus is to bridge the gap between mainstream America and cannabis through experience and lifestyle. Since his dispensary days, the legal cannabis market expanded and so did he, founding a cultivation consulting company and working with a Wall Street banker/investor to open OBT Ventures, a holding company focused on the ancillary side of the plant. OBT Ventures inspired Philip to do the work he was born to do: open the minds of Americans to the benefits of cannabis and showcase them in the form of celebration, ritual, and elevated dining. Philip has been featured on CBS Nightly News, Rolling Stone, Time, Bloomberg, Vice, Entrepreneur, The Guardian London, Playboy, Men's Journal, and more. He’s appeared Facebook documentary style videos with over 12 million views, and starred in an episode of the popular television show Bong Appetit, which airs on Viceland.

NACE National Conference Advisory Committee

Thank you to the NACE National Conference Advisory Committee who provide feedback and support for the planning, themes, and trends for the conference!

Committee Chair: Steve Kemble

Committee Members:

Andy Bomberger, CPCE

Heather Chambers

Gabrielle Mourino, CPCE

Selina Mullenax, CPCE

Stefana Welker

Indya Willis, CPCE