A Chicago hotel and destination marketing organizations in Milwaukee and Oklahoma City have new-hire information of interest to the meetings and events industry. Read on to find out more.

The Gwen, a Luxury Collection Hotel in Chicago, has appointed Katharine Degoma as general manager and Anna Jaszczyk as director of sales and marketing, rounding out an all-female led conference services and sales team. Named for the renowned 20th-century female sculptor Gwen Lux, whose bas relief sculptures adorn the building’s façade, The Gwen pays tribute to a female artisan making a mark in a predominantly 1930s male design city. 

Degoma is an experienced general manager, bringing 20-plus years of leadership expertise in hotel operations management and sales. Hotel openings, renovations and brand conversions have been at the forefront of her accomplishments, most recently creating and executing a plan to convert independent Ambassador Chicago hotel to a JdV by Hyatt brand within the Hyatt portfolio.

Prior to joining The Gwen, Jaszczyk was director of group sales at The Ritz-Carlton, Chicago. She started her career in hospitality with Marriott International at the Northern Mid-America Regional Sales Office representing various Marriott properties across 10 Midwestern states. She then became senior sales manager at The Hotel Chicago.

Chad Chappell, CMP has joined the VISIT Milwaukee sales team as a national account executive in the Washington, D.C., market. A hospitality veteran who has spent much of his career in the this market area, Chappell brings his experience in sales for hotels, destination marketing organizations, expositions and general service contracting to his latest assignment. Previously, he held sales leadership positions with organizations such as Dallas Convention & Visitors Bureau, Starwood Hotels & Resorts, Visit Baltimore and The Expo Group. Chappell is a past president of the Potomac Chapter of Meeting Professionals International. 

Oklahoma City Convention and Visitors Bureau (OKC CVB) recently added two new staff members to support convention demand for the destination. 

April Smith has joined the team as a convention sales manager, focusing on bringing meetings to Oklahoma City. Prior to her new job, Smith held various hotel leadership positions in operations and sales with Raymond Management Company over the past 16 years. 

Katie Brickman, OKC CVB’s new convention services manager, will assist meeting planners with logistics and service needs for incoming meetings and conventions. Previously, Brickman was an inside sales representative at Paycom, and she also spent two years as event rentals manager at Myriad Botanical Gardens.  



Everybody loves to talk about welcoming change. Then change happens, and whew, it’s tough. After the past few years, meetings and events professionals certainly appreciate that feeling, but they’re also feeling energized by so many new ways for attendees to gather. 


On a national level, Geoff Freeman, has been named president and CEO of the U.S. Travel Association effective Sept. 1. He rejoins U.S. Travel after nearly a decade of association leadership, first as president and CEO of the American Gaming Association and currently in the same role for the Consumer Brands Association. Freeman succeeds Roger Dow, who is stepping down following a 17-year tenure as leader of the organization. 


On May 4, Knowland, a provider of meetings and events intelligence data, released its monthly report for April 2022. The data showed a significant increase in meetings activity, with a 323% increase over April 2021, including a 3.7% recovery of events from March to April 2022.

Additional information included:

•     In April 2022, the average number of attendees per event was 118, compared to 63 in April 2021 and 74 in April 2019.