Meet the leaders moving the hospitality industry forward

Ancient mythology teaches that for every crisis, a hero is born. It is no surprise that the meetings industry boasts an abundance of brave leaders of all types. From Athenian goddesses of wisdom finding new ways to deliver engaging content to Bodhisattvas teaching the next generation of hospitality legends with all the caring and multitasking you would expect from a many-armed Eastern deity, women are rising to the occasion. We envision a Hawaiian Pele, a goddess of volcanoes spreading flowers and ideas far and wide with the aid of butterflies, advancing the cause of transformative, enlightening business events.

We believe in celebrating these epic leaders so others can learn from their bold journeys. Now, more than ever, we need to share the stories of the fulfilling lives of women in the industry so others can visualize the possibility and join us on the path. That is why, for the eighth year, we are featuring the women who inspire us during Women’s History Month and all year long.

Thanks to the dynamic Smart Meetings community and the engaged audience of Smart Woman VIP Club alumni, we were showered with more nominations this year than we thought possible. We read the heartfelt descriptions about how they added value and asked the women nominated to share the three words that described their approach to life, their “Aha Moment” when they knew they had found a home in the hospitality industry and what one thing they did that made all the difference in their careers.

From prioritizing wellness and volunteering to kicking imposter syndrome in the backside and taking chances even when it was hella scary, these strategies could fill a bestselling career guide. We then asked these super-achievers what advice they would give to their younger selves. Many displayed the empathy and compassion we all too often forget when looking in the mirror. “Sometimes the best experience is learning from things that don’t go as planned,” advised Danielle Campbell, senior development specialist with Geisinger Health Foundation. Stephanie Glanzer, who appears on our cover, echoed the sentiments in the top of this story: “Challenges only make you stronger,” she said. All of the winners’ responses, along with responses from our Rising Stars winners who will be featured in the April magazine, are on

“We believe in celebrating these epic leaders so others can learn from their bold journeys.”

Each of the influencers featured here—Visionaries, Innovators, Industry Leaders, Stellar Performers, Entrepreneurs and Rising Stars—found ways to contribute based on their individual skills and unique abilities. The Hall of Fame recipients join a stellar list of role models who continue to elevate what is possible in the industry. In the pages that follow, we share the next goals these superheroes are embarking on as a way to inspire others looking for ways to step into their leading role.

Winners will be celebrated at a gala dinner at Smart Woman Summit at New York Marriott Marquis, Times Square, Manhattan in August. This educational day of skill-building and networking will be a reunion of all Smart Women in Meetings Award winners and their supporters over the last eight years. We look forward to toasting all of you there!

A graphic reading "Visionary" A graphic reading "innovator"
A graphic reading "industry leader" A graphic reading "entrepreneur"
A graphic reading "stellar performer" A graphic reading "rising star"

2023 Inductees to Smart Women in Meetings Hall of Fame

Austin Bagwell, Vice President of Industry Relations and Business Development, Fontainebleau Development

Tammy Canavan, President and CEO, Visit Seattle

Yvette Campbell, Meeting Broker, Meetings Made Easy

Janice Cardinale, Founder, Event Minds Matter

Jennifer Dela-Cruz, Director, Meetings & Events, RBC

Pepper Dombroski, Director of Sales, The Broadmoor

Michelle Gilman Jasen, Vice President, Hotel Sales and Marketing, North and Central America, Accor

Jenn Glynn, Managing Partner, Meeting Encore

Karen Hartline, Event Director, VentureBeat

Mahoganey Jones, Founder and CEO, Event Specialists

Mariles Krok, Vice President, Meeting & Partnership Sales, Visit Anaheim

Devin Lewis, Vice President of Sales & Business Development, Bermuda Tourism Authority

Heather Mason, Founder, Caspian Agency

Lisa Messina, Chief Sales Officer, LVCVA

Sonali Nair, CEO, Segment Agency

Rhanee Palma, CEO, Rhanee Palma & Co.

Cheryl Payne, Strategic Partner, INNOV8 Meetings + Events

Rachael Riggs, General Manager, Environmental Strategy, Maritz Global Events

Julie Stovroff, Vice President of Sales, Insurance & Financial Services, Teneo Hospitality Group

Julie Stow, Director of Meetings and Conventions, Cedar Raids Tourism Office

Tracy Stuckrath, founder, Thrive!

Amanda Young, Executive Producer, Media.Monks

Janet Zaldua, CEO, Marina del Rey Tourism

All-time Hall of Fame

Carrie Abernathy, Altria; Jorah Anderson, Miraval; Jenn Artura, Jenn Artura Consulting LLC; Cara Banasch, Omni Hotels & Resorts; Carina Bauer, IMEX Group; Valerie Bihet, VIBE Agency; Cathy Breden, IAEE; Cindy Brewer; LEO Events; Catherine Chaulet, Global DMC Partners; Janine Chicourrat, Portola Hotel & Spa; Julie Coker; San Diego Tourism Authority; Jil Dasher, Corsica Partners; Dahlia El Gazzar, Dahlia+Agency; Zoe Fernandez, Merkle; Megan Finnell, MGMA; Carrie Freeman Parsons, Freeman Company; Polly Grieger-Rossi, Meeting Achievements; Reina Herschdorfer, Caesars Entertainment; Tracy Judge, Soundings; Andrea Kasnic, Hyatt Regency Chicago; Rachel Klar, Intuit Canada; Christy Lamagna, Strategic Meetings & Events; Stefanie Maragna, RingCentral; Michelle Mason, ASAE; Anna MacDiarmid, W Fort Lauderdale; Fatih Morris, National Civil Rights Museum; Kate Patay, Terramar US; Jennifer Patino, Hosts Global; Cheryl Rogers, All About The Experiences; Claire Smith, Vancouver Convention Centre; Jennifer Squeglia, RLC Events; Gabrielle Spanton, GAB & Co.; Valerie Sumner, VRS Meetings & Events; Christina Taylor, TaylorMade Experience; Susie Townsend, Visit Indy; Valerie Ulrich, First Republic; Shelli Vasser Gilliam, Vasser Gilliam LLC; Desi Whitney, HPN Global; Toni Zoblotsky, Hilton Hotels

Join us in celebrating these outstanding leaders at Smart Woman Summit and Smart Women in Meetings Awards Gala August 3 at New York Marriott Marquis, Times Square, Manhattan. Cheers!