PCMA launches its Ascent Luminaries video series with the story of honoree Jenny Abreu, owner of Forever Etched Events, adjunct faculty/instructor, and mentor to an up-and-coming cast of event organizers. The Luminaries series is part of the PCMA Convene Ascent initiative, which seeks to promote inclusion and diversity across the business events industry. More inspirational and aspirational stories like Abreu’s will follow.
By David McMillin
“I’m not a business person,” Jenny Abreu, CMP, told me recently when I interviewed her for PCMA’s Ascent Luminaries series. “I’m a relationship person.”
That focus on building relationships has fueled Abreu’s growth in the events industry. As the founder of Washington, D.C.–based boutique meeting firm Forever Etched Events, Abreu offers bilingual experience-design services, and she focuses on working with nonprofits, charities, and faith-based organizations. That’s because, she said, “I need to have a connection to their causes or to the individuals.”
Abreu forges strong connections with her clients and does the same with the next generation of the events industry in her work as an adjunct faculty/instructor at Howard Community College in Maryland. It’s a role that feels especially powerful to Abreu because she started her education at a community college in Massachusetts before moving on to eventually earn her master’s degree in tourism administration at George Washington University. “I have been blessed to have some incredible mentors who have helped me find my place in the events industry,” Abreu said. “Now, it’s my turn to fulfill that role for someone else.”
Abreu’s mentorship involves more than teaching lessons from a manual or discussing the ins and outs of conference management. Forever Etched Events is a certified small, women-owned, and minority-owned (SWaM) business. While earning that accreditation alone is impressive, what may be even more notable is that Abreu didn’t start her career in events. She made the switch at the age of 29. “I woke up and realized I had to give my notice,” Abreu said. She was making great money at her previous job, she said, “but I was at a point where I needed to do something more. I wanted to pursue life with a passion and a purpose to do something greater.”
She said she hopes that the bold decision can serve as inspiration that her students will carry with them long after graduation. “The best piece of advice I can give my students from my journey is to never let age limit you. I want to let them know that when you dig deep and find something you really love, everything will fall into place.”
Abreu’s entrepreneurial can-do attitude and her make-a-difference mindset are two of the reasons she is part of the inaugural class of PCMA Ascent Luminaries — event professionals who are champions for diversity in business events. Watch the video below for more on how Abreu is making the business of meetings and events more inclusive.
The Ascent Luminaries video series is sponsored by VisitDallas. For more on Ascent, go to PCMA.org/ascent.