• Meet Gail Davis, founder and president of GDA Speakers

     
    POSTED November 14, 2019
     

Gail Davis, founder and president of Dallas-based GDA Speakers, was working in corporate training for EDS when the phone rang. “One of my mentors called me and said, ‘There’s a position in the events department, and I think you should do it. It would be so easy for a working mom,’” says Davis, before adding wryly, “It was clearly someone who had never planned events.” 

Regardless, she made the move and began producing large-scale corporate events. “It was so much fun. That is where I learned all about events … and I loved the speaker part; I would just fixate on that,” she says. “I always loved finding the right speaker.”
In 1994, EDS’ chairman gave her a particularly daunting challenge. “He said, ‘I want a speaker who is global in their appeal; someone everyone wants to hear, but no one’s heard of yet.’”

A week later, Davis rented the movie “Alive,” a true story about a Uruguayan rugby team who, following an airplane crash in the Andes Mountains, was forced to survive in the wilderness for two months. Watching it later that evening, she realized that she had found her speaker: the team’s leader, Nando Parrado. So she went about tracking him down. First he turned her down. But she persisted, even sending him the book “On the Wings of Eagles,” about EDS CEO and founder Ross Perot. That was the hook. “I finally talked him into it,” she says. 

When Parrado spoke at the EDS event, Davis says you could hear a pin drop in the audience of 700 or so people. “The chairman says, ‘You know what, kid? You should retire … you’ll never outdo this.’” Another challenge. Another challenge accepted, and two years later she started her speaker’s bureau. Her first speaker? Nando Parrado. “I think I’ve booked him 285 times … for a guy who didn’t want to speak at first, that’s pretty good,” says Davis.

This year marks GDA Speakers’ 20th anniversary. Parrado is still a client, as are many other inspirational presenters. “I really do think the right speaker can change lives,” says Davis. 

Get Connected
GDA Speakers

gdaspeakers.com | 214.420.1999

In the wake of COVID-19, the Philadelphia Convention and Visitors Bureau (PHLCVB) set out to provide planners with up-to-date intel and sound advice, appointing Dr. David Nash, founding dean emeritus of the Jefferson College of Population Health, in the process as its chief health advisor. Dr. Nash and Kavin Schieferdecker, senior vice president of the CVB’s convention division, share how the partnership came to be and its potential lasting impact.

 

If you'd have told a young Larry Alexander, president and CEO of the Detroit Metro Convention & Visitors Bureau (DMCVB), that he’d spend his career making memories, he wouldn’t have believed you. 

 

For Andrea Mokros, Minneapolis-based public relations executive and independent event consultant, the last decade has been a whirlwind. From serving as special assistant to President Obama and director of strategic planning for then-first lady Michelle Obama, to welcoming newcomers to the Bold North as the vice president of communications and events for the Minnesota Super Bowl Host Committee, Mokros shares the key takeaways that inspire her work today.