• The Sky's the Limit for Keisha Makonese

     
    POSTED April 9, 2020
     

Denver native Keisha Makonese’s passion for planning events dates way back. Her latest gig as director of sales and corporate events at Wings Over the Rockies Air & Space Museum began nine years ago. In this role, Makonese helps oversee an average of 150 private events at Wings Over the Rockies each year, from making meetings for 20 people to annual dinners for 2,000 fun and interactive experiences.

“I love seeing all of these events transform,” she says. “My role is to network, bring in new groups and destination management companies (DMCs), develop and bring in unique clients and manage the whole event scheme.”

Wings Over the Rockies is housed in an old airplane hangar built in 1938, located on what used to be Lowry Air Force Base in east Denver. With 55 different aircraft on-site and roughly 40,000 square feet of event space, the sky is truly the limit in terms of making a clients’ vision come to life. “Wings is unique as one of the largest venues in Denver and definitely the coolest,” Makonese says.

Clients vary from military and corporate to most notably the American Idol Denver auditions with Katy Perry, Luke Bryan and Lionel Richie. However, Wings Over the Rockies is more than just a venue, it is a nonprofit that relies on education, youth, community outreach and volunteers, too.

“I’m meeting all kinds of people from around the world. I like coming to work, and not many people can say that,” she notes. Before Wings Over the Rockies, Makonese held a similar position at The Wildlife Experience, an art gallery and natural history museum that hosted galas and other various functions, and coordinated weddings and corporate events for Denver Botanic Gardens. She says, “I went from flowers to animals to aerospace.”

Event planning and experience design go hand in hand. Just ask Maria Moyano, experience designer for the Museum of Ice Cream (MOIC), based in NYC. “I think that everything is an event. You can go have coffee, and that’s an event. Everything is also an experience. You feel happy, and that’s an experience. It’s about what you are trying to get out of the event—and then how does an experience elevate it,” says Moyano.

 

In the midst of the pandemic last year, Loris Menfi joined San Antonio Marriott Rivercenter and Riverwalk as general manager. At the time of her hire, Rivercenter had recently unveiled a renovation to its 70,000-plus square feet of meeting space.

 

Dorothy Hecht was just 16 years old in 1937 when she waited on her first table at what was then Fischer’s Restaurant in downtown Frankenmuth, and ecstatically earned her first 25-cent tip. When she met and eventually married William “Tiny” Zehnder, whose family owned Zehnder’s Restaurant across the street, her happiness continued, and a legacy began.