LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT
John Lamb

Vice President, Sales and Theme Engineer; Display Group; Detroit

A Learning Moment: “Being in the business for 28 years, I am still amazed that I am still learning all the time. We are always pushing the envelope, planning and executing events that require more and lead us into new design and engineering territory. I never say no. Instead I am motivated to see what can happen.”

Most Memorable Moment: “Meeting with Roger Penske to consult and provide rental elements for the Food and Beverage Fan Experience for Super Bowl XL in Detroit. His impressive leadership and attention to detail, focusing on all parts of the fan experience and the impact that this major event had on Detroit’s image and reputation taught me volumes about the precision of planning and the demands of excellence.”

Personal Philosophy: “To do the very best I can to represent each client—to honor their ideas, to utilize all the skill and talent at my disposal and to act as the catalyst to make each event a reality according to the client’s vision, no matter what the challenge may be. I work hard to be prepared, listen more than I speak and deliver on promises.”

On His Role: “My energy is focused on sales, from researching clients, refining themes and designs, to engineering unique and on-trend parties and professional events.”

Career Path: “I was motivated by parents who worked hard and taught me to recognize opportunity. The early days of delivering papers and teaching tennis lessons eventually led to the serendipity of landing on the sales team at Display Group in its inception. My role here has grown to include serving as president of the Michigan chapter of International Special Events Society (now ILEA) and collaborating closely with Detroit Metro CVB. I have been honored to participate in and enjoy the growth of this small company that began with a modest dream to encourage a community to see possibilities in creative ideas and has grown to impact a city and its movement toward a real vision.”

Valuable Skills: “Being in a live events business, staying calm and collected throughout the entire process is critical. You only get one chance to make it memorable. You have to be focused, flexible, ready with solutions to exceed the client’s expectations.

UP-AND-COMING MEETING PROFESSIONAL
Tina Genitti

General Sales & Corporate Relationships Manager; Michigan Lottery Amphitheatre at Freedom Hill; Sterling Heights

On Stage: “I have always loved people and making sure they have a fulfilling time during their nights out. From a young age, I watched both of my parents run a seamless dinner theater operation [Genitti’s Hole in the Wall in Northville] where every single person would leave with a smile on their face and couldn’t wait to come back. I was addicted to hospitality and service from a young age and am so happy to be able to stay in this field and pass along the service that I was taught.”

On Her Role: “My role is general sales and operating manager at the amphitheater. I work daily with our valued partners at the venue making sure that from start to finish, their entertainment experience expectations for the partners and their guests is exceeded. I plan and execute many events for our organization from charity to concerts to VIP events and more.”

Memorable Moment: “Opening my first solo show on board the Disney Fantasy cruise ship during my time at Disney Cruise Line. The script was memorized, the dance moves were rehearsed, and my smile was on point. The rush I got when stepping onto the stage in front of 4,000 people on my own, solely to entertain the crowd was riveting and out of body.”

Life Philosophy: “This old adage still rings true—treat others like you want to be treated. I am a stickler for good service and expect it for my friends, family and myself when I am out. I always try to deliver to my clients the same service that I would expect for myself.”

Standing Apart: “My improvisation, acting and show-ready skills are put to work every day. I’ve been told that I make my clients and guests feel like ‘a part of the family,’ and to me that is the most flattering compliment to receive. Once you build a trust and a meaningful relationship with those you work with and work for, the rest is easy. ”

BEST MEETING PROFESSIONAL
Kim Corcoran, CMP

President; Destination Michigan/Meetings Michigan; Dexter

On Her Role: “It combines my marketing background with my love of meetings and events. The programs I create, plan and execute bring together professionals with the hotels, resorts, CVBs and other suppliers that make the meetings and events happen.”

Valuable Skills: “Creativity is my most valuable skill. I have to constantly ‘think different’ to keep ahead of the curve and create events that will be valuable to the audiences I serve. I want people to look at my events and say, ‘Hey, did you see what Destination Michigan did this time?’ I want to be the one setting trends in the meeting industry, not following them.”

Most Memorable Moment: “I think that the day I signed the papers to own my own company, managing Destination Michigan and Meetings Michigan, was a significant milestone. I have always wanted to own my own business. It’s a dream come true.”

Work Philosophy: “Work hard, play hard is my No. 1. But a close second is surround yourself with people that are good at what they do and make you better at what you do. I think those that are at the top of their field know how to surround themselves with the right people.”

Business Differential: “I would say passion, but there are so many passionate people in this business. I think the one thing that sets me apart is initiative. Seeing an opportunity and taking the initiative to make something new happen is a quality I think that is rare and that I like to think that I have in my tool belt.”

Career Path: “I didn’t know the meetings/ events industry existed when I was in high school and college. I wanted to be in sports marketing, and it was while working for Hershey Entertainment and Resorts Co. on the sports side that I learned about the hospitality industry. I also worked as a national sales manager at Grand Traverse Resort and Spa for five years before being hired by Viktor Incentives and Meetings to lead a meetings division of the company and developed Meetings Up North, which we later rebranded as Destination Michigan. I also started Meetings Michigan, a partnership with the Michigan Economic Development Corp. to bring more out-of-state meetings to Michigan. I helped to build both organizations for 10 years and then purchased the rights to the brands and became a business owner of Destination Michigan and Meetings Michigan in 2014.”

UP-AND-COMING SPECIAL EVENTS PLANNER
Sara Carolin

Development Manager; Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF), Metro Detroit/ Southeast Michigan Chapter; Southfield

Job Changes: Sara was selected for this honor while performing event coordinator duties for Quicken Loans in Detroit, where she worked for more than three years. Earlier this year, she joined the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation in Southfield.

On Her Role: “I’ve always known I wanted to be in a people-centric position. In my new position, I advocate and support our organization’s mission through our walk events (Ann Arbor and East Lansing locations). It’s a change from the logistics side of event planning that I’m used to in past positions, but I love learning and executing events in different capacities.”

A Learning Moment: “In our industry, people say no to a lot of ideas. I’ve learned that it isn’t because the ideas are bad, it’s because they aren’t right—and there’s a huge difference. I think I share the very common fear of nobody showing up to your event. It’s the one thing you can never control.”

Memorable Event: “Vikram Bhaskaran, global head of vertical strategy and marketing at Pinterest, was one of my keynote speakers and he told me the event was really impressive. I can’t tell you what that meant to me on so many levels.”

Work Philosophy: “Bill Murray said, ‘The more relaxed you are, the better you are at everything: the better you are with your loved ones, the better you are with your enemies, the better you are at your job, the better you are with yourself.’ I say a version of this in my head nearly every day. I’m very creative. I can see something and imagine what shape it could take or what transformations could be made. It could be a costume for a model or a set for a stage. It could be a song or lights or linen choices. I am able to imagine the outcome and make it a reality.”

Career Path: “I received my undergrad degree in theater and my graduate degree in business. Those have both been priceless in the positions I’ve held. I’ve worked in HR for the government and a hospital, and I’ve worked in events in corporate and multiple nonprofit sectors. I look forward to continuing to put my planning powers to use for the greater good in nonprofit work for a long, long time. In my new role, I want to use my skills and experience to support my organization’s mission to accelerate life-changing breakthroughs to cure, prevent and treat Type 1 diabetes and its complications.”

BEST SPECIAL EVENTS PLANNER
Dorothy DeBlasio

Catering and Conference Services Manager; Black Star Farms; Sutton’s Bay

First Steps: “I’ve been working in the food and beverage industry since I was 13. I always knew I wanted to be a part of food and beverage and the hospitality industry. The event industry was a good fit for me because of how detail oriented I am. I really like a plan in my work and personal life!”

On Her Role: “I sell, detail and execute events for Black Star Farms. I’m with my clients from the beginning to the end. I also manage the department, which includes overseeing all day-to-day operations for three distinct venues, manage and develop strategy, handling business operations for the events department and leading a team of 15 employees when fully staffed.”

A Learning Moment: “That it is okay if your personality does not always align with your clients. Learning how to read what is impor - tant to your client will help you exceed the expectations of the most discerning guests.”

Work Philosophy: “I believe in building a great team and leading by example. When preparing for a big event, I go through all the details with my team and make a plan for the event. I rely on my team to help execute all events. Details, details, details!”

On Personality: “My goal is to provide excel - lent service to all my clients. I have a bubbly personality and am very detail oriented. I feel that these characteristics are what help to put my clients at ease to know everything is taken care of. My most valuable skills are details and patience.”

Career Path: “After graduating from Appalachian State University, I started my career as a conference services assistant at the Biltmore Estate. While there, I was a part of both the catering sales and confer - ence service departments. I also helped it start the off-site catering division of the catering sales department. I moved with my husband to northern Michigan in 2014 and shortly after started my job at Black Star Farms. My goal now is growing our event business and continuing to be the premier destination for social and corporate events in northern Michigan.”

UP-AND-COMING SUPPLIER
Arielle Johnson

Founder and CEO; Fierce Staffing & Consulting; Detroit

In the Beginning: “Going into college, I had plans to be a computer engineer. I still consider myself some sort of engineer based on the complex problems I have to solve and find innovative ways to make work on the fly in this industry.”

On Her Role: “It’s my job to understand the needs of the client and anticipate the needs of their guests. I have to determine the experience and personality needs of the team I am building. During execution, I’m managing both vendors and teams to ensure they are all operating in excellence. The name of the game is sales, sales, sales.”

A Learning Moment: “It was during an event where I had excitedly allowed mostly beginner staff to work. I was proud that we had employed so many individuals who were learning and looking for more opportunity. I quickly learned the importance of ensuring diversity in experience on an events team. The event was a success but would have been a lot less stressful had there been a more experienced team.” 

Most Memorable Moment: “It was walking through the Mercedes Benz Stadium in Atlanta during the Major League Soccer AllStar Game, watching Fierce Staffing brand ambassadors interact with VIPs, executives and fans. Our 40 brand ambassadors and event staff worked throughout the all-star week managing F&B, décor, and logistics for partner and executive events.”

What Makes You Different: “We invest in quality trainings that will contribute to client satisfaction and the future success of our workers. We commit to paying a livable wage for every shift, which ensures that staff continue to show up ready and excited to work. We understand that it is impossible to be confident on any job if you are struggling at home. We connect our staff in need to wrap around support services.”

Career Path: “After receiving my hospitality business degree from Michigan State University, I was recruited into the Marriott Management Development program, where I trained at the Downtown Detroit Courtyard. I soon joined the Detroit Marriott at the Renaissance Center events management team. My journey as an entrepreneur began immediately after leaving the Marriott, working as a production assistant on major events, such as the SEC Football Championship, Final Four Fan Fest, BET Awards Experience and more.” 

BEST SUPPLIER
Liz Andre-Stotz

Owner; Parsonage Events; Clarkston

On Her Role: “It’s one part manager, one part designer and one part ‘Aunt Liz.’ I run my studio with as much structure as I can in a business that is known for being chaotic and ever-evolving. The designing aspect of my business is what consumes my mind much of the time. I’m constantly looking for inspiration in art, pop culture and nature. I enjoy the process of getting to know my client’s design needs, but also getting to know them. This is when I become Aunt Liz.”

Valuable Skills: “I find my ability to work in stress - ful situations to be my most valuable skill. You can be an amazing designer and business person, but if you can’t execute the plan during most-high pres - sure situations, you’ll fail. I like to unwind after a big event with a large Diet Coke from McDonald’s and the company of my coworkers. We like to discuss the event like a game day wrap-up.”

Most Memorable Moment: “My work was published in Martha Stewart Weddings magazine, and one of my bouquets was in Martha Stewart Wedding Top 22 Most Liked on Instagram. If Martha says it’s good, I believe her.”

What Sets Her Apart: “I started my business with my family in mind. My business allows my staff and me to have the flexibility to make it to base - ball games and dance recitals. I move forward in an event with the intention of ‘wowing’ my client. I always put the designs and client experience ahead of profit. I’m not a millionaire, but I’m always proud of my business at the end of the day.”

Career Path: “I’ve enjoyed the event atmosphere for as long as I can remember. One of my first jobs in college was at Palace Sports and Entertainment where I really caught the bug. I loved the crowds, the excitement of the performances and sporting events. I knew then that I wanted to work in the events industry. I spent several years coordinat - ing the guest experience at the Detroit Institute of Arts during exhibitions, including the Splendors of Ancient Egypt and Angels of the Vatican. These experiences led me to begin my own business in event design. I am able to couple my love for action and art in one amazing career.”

Future Plans: “I want to offer custom-event struc - tures (chuppahs, arbors, stands, hanging implemen - tations, custom pieces) to my fellow designers for purchase and/or rental in the near future. I’m fortu - nate to have a husband who can build anything.”

GENERAL NORTHEAST AREA

Best Convention/Expo Center

AND THE WINNER IS: Jacob K. Javits Convention Center

Runners-up:
» Atlantic City Convention Center
» Meadowlands Exposition Center

Best CVB/DMO (1 million+ in Population)

 

The winners of the Northeast M+E Best of 2019 readers’ choice awards are revealed.