Mary German knows a lot about personality. As a certified StrengthsFinder facilitator and coach, she helps people identify their strengths and “find their paths based on who they are to their core,” she says.

As senior vice president of operations at the Arlington Convention & Visitors Bureau, German has served in various roles at the ACVB since 1991 and was recently named an honoree for the Women in Tourism category by the Dallas Business Journal. 

German has earned several certifications including Certified Tourism Ambassador, Certified Destination Management Executive and Certified Meeting Professional. She is a member of Destination Marketing Association International and Texas Association of Convention & Visitor Bureaus, a professional member of the National Speakers Association and National Speakers Association North Texas Chapter, and a lifetime member of the Texas Alliance of Convention, Meeting and Event Operations Managers. She serves on the Destination Marketing Association International Advocacy Committee.

During her tenure at the ACVB, German was instrumental in bringing the city’s trolley program to life. The transportation system, which began in 1996, has been one of the keys to Arlington’s success in attracting meetings and events. “We had one hotel next door to the convention center, and other hotels close, but not within walking distance,” German says. “We required some sort of transportation.” 

That transportation turned out to be a thriving trolley program that services 23 hotels in Arlington. The ACVB works with planners to arrange trolley service—sometimes free trolley service—based on room night consumption. German says, “It was a unique and creative way to bring another amenity to our community,” something German continues to strive for as she oversees the ACVB’s other strategic initiatives.

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.