Inaugural Business Events Industry Week Established the Power of Purpose

More than 2,000 Participants Convened for Networking and Education with Destinations International, Events Industry Council, International Association of Exhibitions and Events, LGBT MPA, and PCMA; Chris Wehking Honored with Education Scholarship Fund at Visionary Awards.

CHICAGO, ILLINOIS (March 31, 2022) – PCMA president and CEO Sherrif Karamat and Destinations International President and CEO Don Welsh today announced the collaborative journey to unite the global business events industry in the nation’s association capital successfully delivered on the “Power of Purpose” (POP). More than 2,000 business events industry professionals convened at the Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center for the multi-day initiative established to advance the role that gatherings of people with purpose play in the economic, social, and intellectual enrichment of people and communities everywhere.

“It’s time to restore what has been lost these last two years and build a pathway forward,” said Karamat. “Since 2019, PCMA and Destinations International have been on an exciting journey to bring business events strategists and destinations together. We created this opportunity because what happens during Business Events Industry Week matters everywhere. The power of purpose begins with all of us.”

Destinations International’s Convention Sales & Services Summit kicked off the week with 170 participants who engaged in panels and small group discussions highlighting how to plan and implement more inclusive events.

“The inaugural Business Events Week was highly successful with over 2,000 in-person attendees attending the week’s events,” said Welsh. “Thanks to everyone who took the time to join us at our Convention Sales and Services Summit for a great day of education and thought leadership. Thank you to our many presenters and to Rose Horcher from Choose Chicago and Richard Allchild with IMEX Group for moderating the session throughout the day.”

Events Industry Council (EIC) hosted its hybrid Equity Task Force workshop and the International Association of Exhibitions and Events (IAEE) convened its Women’s Leadership Forum with more than 180 participants.

“IAEE was pleased to collaborate in Business Events Industry Week and bring the Women’s Leadership Forum (WLF) experience to the Power of Purpose,” said IAEE President and CEO, David DuBois, CMP, CAE, FASAE, CTA. “During the WLF, 184 female industry professionals came together for a day of powerful insights filled with inspiration, knowledge, strategies, and tools to assist in succeeding through life, work, and times of change. The Business Events Industry Week was a true testament to the power of collaboration, and I applaud those who worked tirelessly to bring this event together.”

The PCMA Foundation on March 25 recognized 25 business events industry leaders at the 2022 Visionary Awards which honors the industry’s exceptional stars for their significant contributions to their organizations and the business events community. More than 900 guests celebrated with a red-carpet experience, awards show, and an after-party featuring Austin-based band Love & Happiness.

Proceeds from the Visionary Awards benefit the PCMA Foundation, which supports the industry and, through its scholarships and programs, empowers students and professionals to advance in their profession.

In honor of Chris Wehking, 2014 PCMA Chairman of the Board of Directors and 2019 PCMA Foundation Lifetime Achievement Honoree, the Foundation established an Education Scholarship Fund. More than $128,000 has been raised in support of this fund. Shirley Wehking and her daughters Madeline and Lindsey were presented with a plaque in recognition of Chris’ unwavering commitment to the business events industry.

The 2021 and 2022 Lifetime Achievement Honorees include: Ben Goedegebuure, Enterprise Vice President, Global & Industry Presence, Maritz Global Events (Business Events Strategist for 2021); Mary Pat Heftman, Vice-Chair, Exhibitions Winsight Media (Business Events Strategist); Kitty Ratcliffe, President, Explore St. Louis (Supplier); Dr. Eric D. Olson, Chair of the Rita & Navin Dimond Department, School of Hospitality, Metropolitan State University of Denver (Educator).

Melissa Cherry, Chief Diversity & Inclusion Officer and Senior Vice President, Miles Partnership received the Groundbreaker Award — honoring industry trailblazers who represent diverse sectors of the business events community, recognizing those who have made a significant contribution to their organizations and programs that advance inclusion and equity.
Six recipients were honored with Professional Excellence Awards.

Outstanding Service to a Chapter: Megan Martin, CMP, DES Account Executive, Juno – Rocky Mountain Chapter

Event Designer of the Year: Darren Mendola, CMP, DES Vice President, Global Conference & Events, Alzheimer’s Association

Digital Experience Strategist of the Year: Mary Pat Cornett, CAE, CMP Chief Strategy & Operations Officer, American Society for Nutrition

Business Events Strategist of the Year: Kai Hattendorf, CEO of UFI, The Global Association of the Exhibition Industry

Supplier of the Year: Carson Edwards Jr., MBA, CASE, CDMP Global Account Executive, Marriott International

Community Advocate of the Year: Molly Witges, CMP, DES Senior Director, Customer Engagement, Questex

Other Finalists for the Professional Excellence Awards include: Anita Carlyle CMP, CMM, DES, HMCC, Managing Partner, MCC; Annette Suriani, CMP, CFMP, DES, Business Events Strategist, AMS Meetings Solutions; Rebecca Ramsey, DES, Business Development Executive, Event EQ; Elaine Williams, CMP, CEM-AP, Director of Sales, Ernest N. Morial Convention Center; Danielle Foisy, FASAE, CASE, Director, Business Development & Industry Relations, Transportation Management Services; Amy Pettigrew, MPA, CMP, Director of Meetings, International Economic Development Council (IEDC); Kristin Nacovsky, CMP, DES, Manager of Conventions and Meetings, International Studies Association; Tony Scurry, MBA, CMP, Chief Events Officer, 7 Pointe Planning, Inc.; Sara Haywood, CMP, Assistant Vice President, Conferences, National Council for Mental Wellbeing; Mahoganey Jones, CMP, DES, HMCC – EWD, Founder and CEO, Event Specialists; Sandra Vura Harwood, CMP, Vice President, Meetings and Education/IDWeek Meeting Secretariat, Infectious Diseases Society of America; Sina Bünte, CMP, DES, TMPE, HVED, Founder and CEO,; Vicki Johnson, CMP, Principal, Vicki Johnson & Associates, LLC, Capital Chapter; Ken Sien, CMP, Senior Account Executive, Notified, POWER Chapter.

Relive the experience here.

The week concluded with the Destinations International and PCMA co-produced Destination Showcase which attracted 540 participants and ended with a keynote by Roy Spence, co-founder and CEO of The Purpose Institute.

“We were honored that LGBT MPA was included as part of critical learning at 2022 Destination Showcase during the Power of Purpose Business Events Industry Week along with other prestigious industry organizations,” said Gary Murakami, CMP, CMM, DES, VP of Sales & Industry Relations for Teneo Hospitality Group. Murakami, who currently serves as Vice Chair of the LGBT MPA Board of Directors, shared that “business events are an important catalyst and conduit for social change. Meaningful progress will only happen when we amplify thoughtful and purposeful LGBT+ activism and inclusion and turn vision into real action.”



Convention Sales and Services Summit  

Visionary Awards Red Carpet + Awards Program 

Destination Showcase 2022 

About Destinations International

Destinations International is the world’s largest resource for official destination organizations, convention and visitors bureaus (CVBs) and tourism boards. Destinations International is about serving destination marketing professionals first and foremost. Together with more than 6,500 members and partners from over 650 destinations in approximately 13 countries, Destinations International represents a powerful forward-thinking, collaborative association that exchanges bold ideas, connects innovative people and elevates tourism to its highest potential. For more information, visit

For Destinations International media inquiries:
Caitlyn Blizzard
[email protected]

For media queries from the Americas, APAC, EMEA, and requests for interviews with Sherrif Karamat, please contact: Meghan Risch, PCMA Chief of Staff, Vice President, Corporate Communications

About PCMA

PCMA, PCMA Foundation and CEMA educate, inspire, and listen, creating meaningful experiences where passion, purpose and commerce come together. We are the world’s largest community for Business Events Strategists, providing senior-level education, networking, and market intelligence for the global business events industry. Our mission is to drive social and economic progress through business events. Headquartered in Chicago, IL PCMA has 17 North American Chapters, regional communities in APAC, EMEA and LATAM, and members in 59 countries. The Corporate Event Marketing Association (CEMA), a PCMA subsidiary, advances strategic event marketing and marketing communications for senior-level event marketers and industry professionals. Visit us at

About PCMA Foundation

The role of the Foundation of PCMA is to support the mission of PCMA through fundraising and grant-giving focused on scholarships, education and research that will advance the business events industry. Annually the Foundation funds over $700K in impact, and since 1985 has funded over 2,500 scholarships, 100 research studies and education programs, and $2.7M in charitable giving.

About CEMA

The Corporate Event Marketing Association (CEMA) is the eminent community for senior event executives, association peers and industry partners and is an integral component of the Professional Convention Management Association’s (PCMA) brand collective. CEMA promotes professional networking opportunities, facilitates peer-to-peer knowledge sharing and drives industry standards. Through strong relationships with strategic partners, CEMA fosters both finding innovative solutions to business issues and continuous focus on members’ career growth. For more information, please visit

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