Inspiration is the spark that ignites life-changing transformations. Luckily, the event industry is on fire with women and men who have made it their business to strike such sparks by bringing people and ideas together—and in so doing, improve the world.

In this landmark, third-annual Smart Women issue, we celebrate the women who work tirelessly, breaking barriers, overcoming obstacles and inventing new ways to set the stage for amazing transformations. The Visionary women who make up our hall of famebare examples of working and living at the highest levels. The same is true of this year’s Industry Leaders, who incite us to do more and better every day, and the Trail Blazers who make it all happen so artfully, it looks easy.

Where would we be without our Innovators, the women who say, “Why not?”—and then make it happen—and the Entrepreneurs, those risk-takers who put something into the world that wasn’t there before?

The good news is, the future looks even brighter. Our Rising Stars are proof that at this pivotal moment in time, the progress we have made to be more inclusive, more focused on making every meeting personally meaningful and goal-facing, will continue for years to come.

We asked these professional role models to name their inspiration and the secret skill that allow them to work their magic each day. Then we asked for their action items—the causes that motivate them and the work they feel yet needs to be done. We hope their stories presented here and online at will inspire you as they have stirred us. Now it is your turn. Share your superpower and action items with us at #SmartWomen and tag us @smartmeetings.

—JT Long, Smart Meetings Content Chief