Home Sweet Home
Tim Freeman’s 25-year culinary career included stops in Moscow, the Philippines and Portugal, before Nairobi, Kenya. From there, the 39-year-old plotted a return to the United States, first at Northern Hotel in Billings, Montana, before moving south to Borealis for the Hyatt Regency Aurora-Denver Conference Center’s opening in early 2016.
“My son, he was born in Nairobi,” says Freeman. “I had been out of the U.S. for 10 years—I had not set foot on U.S. soil. It was time to come home.”
It was an ad that inked the deal for Kelley Thwaite, co-owner of KM Event Productions, a full-service boutique event management company in south Jersey. “I answered an ad in the newspaper for a job at a small association management company,” she says. The company was indeed small, as Thwaite worked for the husband-and-wife team out of their basement. She learned a lot about the industry, though, and it’s where she’s spent the last two decades building a name for herself.
Megan Buzzetta is no stranger to the meetings and events industry. She started her company Global Planners, Inc. in 2000 and now has grown to 30 employees. Global Planners specializes in full-service and ancillary corporate meeting and conference planning services, but when the economy collapsed in 2010 it was Buzz Registration, a slice of the business, that kept them afloat.
Karen Fogle has served as the association and corporate sales manager of Visit Plano for more than a decade.
On a side street in the buzzed-about RiNo Arts District northeast of downtown Denver is Nocturne, a jazz venue and supper club with one foot in the 1940s and the other squarely in the 21st century.
It’s a throwback, sure, but one with a decidedly modern sensibility from proprietors Scott and Nicole Mattson.
“I consider myself the state cheerleader,” laughs Cory Jobe, a Springfield alderman who, in February, became the state director for the Illinois Office of Tourism. The combination uniquely fits the natural born tour guide, who was raised in the small town of Robinson, “home of the Heath candy bar,” and has big plans for boosting the profile of Main Street Illinois while keeping four consecutive years of visitor growth on track for the near future.
Mary Ann Romano and Teresa Kelly, partners in Hamiltonbased Simple Creations, are the Laverne and Shirley of corporate team-building. These two finish each other’s sentences and have Tasmanian devil-like levels of energy. “We’ve been told we should have our own TV show,” says Romano. “But we’re never scripted. We just do what we do.”