It was the ski bum lifestyle that called to Lindsay Arell. Her only dream as a 20-something was a free lift ticket and enough tips to cover monthly rent; she was in Vail following college waiting to be accepted into the Peace Corps. Nonetheless, her passion for nature, the mountains and Colorado’s pristine attributes set in motion an avalanche of change for Arell and her beloved state. 

A Denver native, she graduated from the University of Colorado Boulder, receiving a degree in political science. However, Arell was inspired on the mountain and became more involved in the Vail community and resort as a lift operator, soon becoming the race and special events coordinator. 

“When I started at Vail, I could never have predicted this career path. But I always knew I wanted to work with the environment,” Arell notes. “I think the key to success in this area is working within an industry I was very familiar with the opportunities for improvement.” 

Arell returned to Denver after a few years out West to further her budding career of event production, but with a twist: She wanted to bring sustainability to the forefront of the industry. “The GM of the Colorado Convention Center proposed an idea. What if I were to become the sustainability coordinator? It was a new position, never been filled or even mapped out; I jumped at it,” says Arell, who became the first sustainable programs manager for CCC. 

The timing was perfect. Governor John Hickenlooper, then mayor of Denver, wanted the 2008 Democratic National Convention to be the most sustainable convention ever, and Arell was tasked as the team leader: “The common goal of a sustainable DNC was to lead incredible collaborations amongst various agencies and organizations in Denver.”

Fast forward eight years and Arell is now an industry leader. She is the president of Honeycomb Strategies , a company based in Denver that has an emphasis on helping events and conferences prepare and execute greener practices. In addition to her roll as sustainable program manager for CCC and City of Denver Arts and Venues facilities, other clients are as varied as the Philadelphia Eagles, Natural Products East and West Expos, Sustainable Brands, VISIT DENVER, Vancouver Convention Centre, Hong Kong Exhibition and Convention Centre, and Incheon Convention & Visitors Bureau in South Korea. 

Whether Arell is working with local organizations to find new uses for leftover conference materials or tracking metrics such as energy and water consumption, this hometown girl proves that moving mountains and creating new solutions is possible. honeycombstrategies.net; 303.681.1768 

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. 

 

Tony Michaels is no stranger to navigating choppy waters. The CEO and executive director of The Parade Company, which puts on traditions like America’s Thanksgiving Day Parade and the Ford Fireworks, took the helm of the Detroit nonprofit during tough times, at the height of the financial crisis. “2008, 2009, are you kidding me?” says Michaels.

 

Originally from Ontario, Heather Odendaal got her start in event planning early, serving as her high school’s head of social events. She ended up on the West Coast, courtesy of her studies at the University of British Columbia, and launched her career in Whistler, working for the resort in marketing and events. Today, she’s CEO of Bluebird Strategy, a boutique event planning firm, and CEO and founder of WNORTH, a global community of women who have their sights set on the C-suite.