Leading Meeting Professionals

Professional Convention Management Association

July 14 2014

The Meetings Industry Has Rock Solid Stars


From planning meetings to filling convention centers and hotel rooms, every job in the meetings industry comes with a long list of day-to-day responsibilities. However, for some of the most dedicated meeting professionals, the to-do list doesn’t end with their own internal teams. This industry has some of the most talented and most dedicated volunteers you’ll find any professional setting. At PCMA, we wanted to highlight some of our Board of Directors who are accomplishing much more than what’s listed in their job descriptions.

Gregory O’Dell, President & CEO, Events DC- When Gregory O’Dell isn’t working to bring business to the nation’s capital, he’s focusing on making a difference in a wide range of volunteer roles. From serving as Secretary-Treasurer on the Board of Directors of Washington, D.C. Children’s Hospital to overseeing the future of meetings on the Board of Directors of PCMA, O’Dell’s work extends well beyond the Walter E. Washington Convention Center. All that work is getting noticed outside the meetings industry, too. O’Dell earned the 2012 Minority Business Leader Award, and he was recently named one of Bizbash’s 2014 Event Innovators.

Roberta Kravitz, Executive Director, International Society for Magnetic Resonance in Medicine - While some meeting professionals think about going global, Roberta Kravitz has already gone. She has helped ISMRM navigate the international community, developing outreach programs in Romania, India, Mexico, Brazil, Argentina, China, Taiwan and Kazan. When she’s not focused on expanding the organization’s reach, she’s dedicated to advancing the industry through work with American Society of Association Executives, PCMA and the Client Advisory Boards of Hawai’i and Toronto.

Claire Smith, Vice President, Sales & Marketing, Vancouver Convention Centre - Chances are, you’ve heard Claire Smith speak at one of the recent face-to-face educational events you’ve attended. From discussing the realities of the new normal of convention center pricing to sharing her insights from her involvement in hosting the Winter Olympics in Vancouver, Smith is one of the most respected voices in the industry. She lends that voice to the Green Meeting Industry Council, the Canadian Women In Leadership Foundation and the Board of Directors of PCMA.

Mary Pat Heftman, Executive Vice President, National Restaurant Association - Overseeing an annual show with 60,000 attendees may seem like enough of a responsibility, but Mary Pat Heftman’s list of volunteer roles looks nearly as long as the list of exhibitors at the NRA Hotel-Motel Show. Chair of the Major American Trade Show Organizers, the Board of Directors of PCMA, the Board of the Center for Exhibition Industry Research, a committee member of the International Association of Exhibitions and Events — if it involves advancing the meetings industry, Heftman probably does it. Heftman also advised officials at McCormick Place on how to restructure the building’s labor laws to make Chicago a more convention-friendly city that welcomes exhibitors with a cost-effective approach to business.

George Aguel, President & CEO, Visit Orlando - After leading one of Florida’s biggest attractions as Senior Vice President at Disney Destinations, George Aguel’s leadership continues to play an integral role in Florida’s record-setting tourism numbers. His expertise extends beyond the state line to play a major part in the meetings industry’s continued success. Aguel is a past chairman of MPI, and he has held Board and executive committee roles with ASAE, PCMA, the United States Travel Association and the Convention Industry Council.

Chris Wehking, Chief Program Officer, American Society of Anesthesiologists- When Chris Wehking isn’t designing the blueprints for engaging more than 15,000 attendees at ASA’s Annual Meeting or refining the organization’s strategic membership plan, he’s doing his part to power the entire industry forward as Chairman of PCMA’s Board of Directors. Outside of collaborating with his veteran peers, Wehking is committed to helping shape the careers of the rising stars of the industry. He regularly mentors hospitality industry students and offers guidance to those pursuing a path in hospitality and meetings. You can also catch Wehking contributing his perspective as a member of ASAE and IAEE. 

Looking to get involved in a bigger role in the industry? Click here to learn about volunteering at PCMA.

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