Melissa has been in the meetings industry since high school and attended the top hotel school in
the country, Cornell University’s School of Hotel Administration for her college degree. Her
involvement in the hospitality industry has been consistent for over 30 years. Her career includes
hotel convention services, hotel sales (both on property and at national levels), convention bureau
representation, meeting planning, and association management.
Melissa’s meeting planning experience ranges from corporate product launches and sales
missions, corporate sponsored public trade shows to association annual conventions. Melissa has
managed multiple meetings ranging in size from 50 – 12,000 attendees held across the United
States, Canada, and Europe. Melissa’s success in performing as a seamless conduit between
clients, facility contacts and other vendors, not only resulted in a positive meeting experience for
all parties but repeat clients. Melissa is well known for her attention to detail, clear vision, forward
movement, and her unique ability to respect people’s opinions and passions while maintaining
processes and procedures.
Kristie Chang, CMP, MPS has over 25 years of experience in a wide range of hospitality and business event services including strategic planning, business analytics, contract negotiation, and logistical management. She supported association, corporate, and government clients and managed business events ranging from 50 to 30,000 global attendees. Kristie holds a master’s degree in Global Hospitality Leadership from Georgetown University and was awarded The Hoya Professional 30 which recognizes individuals who exemplify leadership and excellence within the university and their respective industries. Her professional training includes data analytics, strategy and design thinking, business models, consumer insights, revenue management, and digital strategies for business.
Suzanne Clegg, CMP is President of Suzanne Clegg Meetings & Events, LLC, a full-service meeting and event planning firm delivering thoughtfully executed, well-organized and financially accurate events. Active in the meetings and events industry for over 20 years, Suzanne is a seasoned and certified meeting professional (CMP) with extensive experience in meeting and destination promotion targeted to drive attendance and create success. Suzanne has worked with numerous nonprofit and corporate clients to turn their meeting goals and objectives into reality. Her long-term relationships with hospitality salespeople and vendors ensure clients receive the very best value and benefits at contract time. As a trusted partner, Suzanne utilizes her expertise and unique solutions-driven model to achieve success and build long term client relationships.
Michael Cubbage, CMP, CGMP has worked in the meetings industry since 2007 and has experienced both sides of our industry, having worked as both a supplier and a planner and has found his niche in the hybrid position of a professional independent planner.
Michael has been an active member of the Association of Meeting Professionals (AMPs) since 2008 and has served on a number of committees and on it’s Board of Directors, culminating with the role of the 2014-2015 Chair of the organization. He was a nominee for the 2011-2012 “AMPe Award” for Outstanding Meeting Professional of the Year & was selected as part of PCMA’s 2015 class of top 20 in their Twenties for the meetings industry. In 2020 he earned a certificate in Virtual Event & Meeting Management through the Event Leadership Institute.
Amy M. Doty, CMP, DES relies on nearly 20 years of event planning experience to ensure your meetings and events are exceptional experiences that also meet your sustainable event goals. Amy is the founder of Meetings and Such, a full-service meeting and event management company dedicated to creating unforgettable “meetings and such” for a wide range of clients, with a focus on the forest, conservation and sustainability sectors. Amy received her BSc in natural resource recreation from Virginia Tech, with a minor in forest resource management.
Lorie Grooms, CMP has a professional background heavily weighted in association management, where the focus is always on excellent customer service and support. She enjoys working with clients, sponsors, exhibitors, and vendors to create memorable experiences. Her favorite part of event planning is seeing the personal connections and business opportunities that are formed between attendees. Over her career, she’s created many unique events, including outdoor beer-tasting fundraisers, food sampling expos, homebuilder open-house experiences, as well as annual conferences, educational trainings, and board meetings. Having started her career in advertising, her skills in editing and proofing have also served clients well when creating event materials. Lorie truly loves planning all the details.
Mark Harvey has spent his nearly 25 year career in the Tourism Industry, starting in Travel Agency, CVB, Hotels, and Worldwide sales. After “jumping the fence” to the planner side in 2008, Mark served as Logistics Manager, Program Manager, and Director of Meetings for several non-profit organizations. In 2015, he formed Ethos Meetings and Events in an effort to find “meaningful work”, which has been incredibly rewarding. Mark now provides planning and management of conferences, tradeshows, education programs, multi-level budgets, workflow process, and cultural events both nationally and in the Washington area. Mark joined the IPGW group in its inception phase, and is proud to be a part of this exceptional group of industry professionals.
Leslie Howard, CMP is the owner and principal planner of Crisp Meetings & Events. Her strengths lie in the details, with extensive experience in all logistical requirements including site selection and contract negotiation, vendor coordination, event staffing, tradeshow logistics, food and beverage, audio visual, speaker management and post event evaluation and reporting. She has experience managing events, conferences and tradeshows for companies including United Fresh Produce Association, T3 Expo, Leftfield Media, PCORI, Association of Financial Professionals and VNU Expositions. Leslie can manage any event involving ten to tens of thousands of attendees and exhibitors.
Lauren Kramer is experienced in many facets of business event strategy, including virtual meeting and event management, branding and managing large-scale global conventions. Meeting Priorities was founded in 2007 and the team continues to evolve and learn new skills to adapt to the ever-changing meetings and events industry.
A committed volunteer, she served on the PCMA Board of Directors and is a member of the PCMA Foundation’s “Legacy Society”. Named as PCMA’s 2019 Lifetime Achievement Awardee as the visionary educator, she is a lifelong learner and greets each day with gratitude.
Ashley H. Pencak, CMP is the owner and principal planner for Amonos Global Productions, LLC. With a strong track record in executing upon effective strategy since 2006. she uses her strong organizational skills to flawlessly execute conferences and trade shows for diverse audiences. She works as a strategic partner in driving unique live and virtual attendee experiences in alignment with organizational goals and budget.
Her expertise includes site search; contract negotiation; budgeting; logistics; vendor management; volunteer management; and onsite execution. Her strongest skill is building relationships with clients by meeting their goals as a trusted member of their team.
MaryBeth A. Powers, CMP, has been the owner and president of Planning Powers, LLC for the past 22 years. Planning Powers is a full-service meeting planning company that specializes in site selection, contract negotiations and provides on-site meeting management.
MaryBeth is a member of the Advisory Board for the Alliance of Independent Meeting Professionals (AIMP) and is an active member of the Professional Convention and Management Association (PCMA), where she has served as a member of the Independent Meeting Planners Task Force. She was the Program Chair for the Association of Meeting Professionals (AMPs) for two years (’05 & ’06).
Britt Schwendinger, DES is Co-Owner of Precision Planners, serving as Principal/Senior Planner. Britt has over 25 years of experience in the meetings industry, including 17 years as the owner and manager of an independent meeting planning business. Britt has worked with a variety of corporate and association groups on both short and long term projects ranging from a 50 person VIP Board Meeting to an Annual City Wide Convention of 15,000 attendees. Attention to detail, superior communication skills and proactive problem solving have earned Britt a reputation for producing top-notch meetings.
Stellato Meeting Solutions, LLC
Tana Stellato –Tana launched her consultancy in 2011, after 30 years as a DC-based association executive, and is proud to oversee a dynamic team of certified business event strategists. We support our association clients by producing stellar conferences ranging from 450 to 2,200 in attendance. Our firm specializes in contract re-negotiation to improve terms of existing agreements, uncovering revenue sources, sourcing and booking new conferences (under a non-commission model), exhibit and sponsorship sales, high-quality general session production, and logistical execution. The team quickly pivoted in 2020, acquiring a DES certification to support our client’s changing needs. We boast a successful record for re-branding, increasing attendance/word-of-mouth ratings, and WOW factor for events we support.
Cara Stetter, CMP, has over 25 years’ experience in special events, meeting planning and hospitality. Based in Washington, D.C., she works locally, nationally, and virtually, planning and implementing association conferences, board meetings, experiential marketing events, logistics for made-for-TV productions, and small fundraising galas. Stetter specializes in the financial sector, and has extensive experience coordinating celebrity and government dignitary appearances. Whether the event is a simple reception or a deeply involved multi-day conference, Fox Lane & Cara Stetter will guide strategy to reach your organization’s goals.
Valerie Sumner completely enjoys her role with VRS, working with clients, colleagues, and partners to guide business event development, strategic planning, marketing and creative design within the face to face and digital event practice. From hotel sales and marketing positions, she continued her passion for the industry as part of the leadership team, taking the TCI Companies (DMC-Washington DC) global. In 2005 she launched VRS Meetings & Events with her sister, Roberta. Valerie brings leadership, vision, and a can-do attitude to the VRS team, each client and to every event. Problem solving and designing solutions are part of Valerie’s DNA. Contract negotiations, budget development and managing high-level budgets are an “opportunity”. Always eager to learn, Valerie is a frequent presenter, facilitator and attendee at industry conferences.
Annette M. Suriani, CMP, DES, has been in association management and a meeting professional for 30+ years working with professional societies, trade associations and Boards of Certification. She has a proven track record managing trade shows and annual meetings, exemplary customer service and leadership. Annette is well-respected in the meetings and events industry and has held various positions within volunteer organizations. She served on the Professional Convention Management Association Capital Chapter Board of Directors 2008-2010 and 2012-2015. In 2010 she was selected as the PCMA (National) Distinguished Member of the Year, their highest award. In 2017 she was selected as one of Smart Meetings Smartest Women in Meetings Award. She has dedicated her career to advancing the meetings and association industry through advocacy as well as content development for the associations she has worked for.
Rebecca Takemoto is the owner and principal planner of Syncopate Meetings & Events. Rebecca is a seasoned planner, who brings 20+ years’ experience and passion for strategic planning as well as technology and digital platforms. She is experienced in all areas of meeting planning including digital production, supplier contracting, registration management, website management, event logistics, app development, database management, marketing, and communications. She has worked with a large and varied client & project list from association meetings to private & corporate events.
Erin Williams is the founder, owner and principal planner of Association Allies, LLC. She is the primary provider of attentive and hands-on client service.
Erin applies 15+ years of progressively responsible experience in special events and conference management, in the United States and overseas. She is experienced in all logistical requirements including site selection and contract negotiation, vendor coordination, event staffing, food and beverage management, audio visual, speaker management and special event design/management. Additionally, Erin has worked with several member-driven committees and was commended in her abilities in supporting and facilitating their work.
Her superior level of attention to detail and communication skills have given her a strong reputation for producing exquisite meetings and events. Erin has demonstrated success in influencing partnerships, managing complex meetings, and creating memorable special events and experiences.
Worthington Association Management
Linda Worthington is an association management executive with over 30 years in the association and hospitality industry. Linda specializes in site selection and sourcing, contract negotiations, speaker agreements, educational programming, vendor management, marketing and communications, website design project management, and developing membership engagement strategic plans.
Linda has served in multiple leadership roles within the association industry including; PCMA, MPI, and VSAE. She was bestowed the PCMA Presidents Award in 2012, and the was selected as one of the Smart Meetings Smartest Women in Meetings Award in 2019.