Roy Evans, a True Leader, Visionary in the Events Industry

Author: Sherrif Karamat       

Sherrif Karamat

“My favorite aspect of the industry is the people, the personal relationships you develop, and the intellectual stimulation of being around your peers.” — Roy B. Evans, past PCMA president and CEO (PCMA Archive)

Our industry lost a giant with the passing in July of former PCMA President and CEO Roy B. Evans, Jr., CAE. Roy, a respected visionary, built PCMA into the global leader in the business events industry it is today. We owe him an enormous debt of gratitude.

Sherrif Karamat

Sherrif Karamat, CAE

I met Roy in 1989 and was immediately impressed by his vision of what meetings could do to address issues facing humanity — especially in the medical arena at the time. Roy’s laser focus on education and his passion for bringing the next generation into the industry struck me then and have stayed with me.

Roy joined PCMA as a member in 1961. In 1975, after he’d spent 20 years working for the Southern Medical Association, he became president of PCMA, which then was based in Birmingham and had only 500 members. Seven years later, he was named president and CEO, a job he held until his retirement in 2000. Today, we gather in the Roy Evans Conference Room at PCMA headquarters in Chicago, and his name can be tied to most aspects of the organization that have become an important part of who we are.

Roy referred to his time at PCMA as the “Camelot days” — it was under his leadership that PCMA grew and expanded its reach. For decades, membership in PCMA had been a closed circle, limited to medical-meeting professionals. The circle got considerably bigger in 1987, with a vote to open up membership to professionals in the fields of science, education, and engineering, and bigger still in 1990, when all nonprofit association meeting professionals and CEOs were invited to join. Roy established the PCMA Education Foundation (now the PCMA Foundation). In 1986, he launched Convene magazine, and pcma.org 11 years later.

He also was chair of the Convention Industry Council (now the Events Industry Council), and was inducted into its Hall of Leaders in 1993. Discussing his career in a YouTube video tribute produced in 2011, he said: “I think being involved in this industry gave me an opportunity to help other people. My favorite aspect of the industry is the people, the personal relationships you develop, and the intellectual stimulation of being around your peers.”

Roy was a friend to so many people in our industry — as evidenced by the many tributes that followed his death.

“There are many people that have made contributions to the improvement in the quality of meetings and events,” Bruce Harris, founder and chairman emeritus of Conferon, told Convene. “But few that can be credited with transforming the quality of an industry through education and innovation. Education and innovation were Roy’s hallmarks and PCMA was the delivery vehicle.”

As we mourn Roy’s passing, I’m reminded of his dedication to our industry and profession, and feel even more keenly my responsibility to continue his legacy. I know that I stand on his shoulders.

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