by The M&C Staff | July 01, 2015

 > Shawna Suckow 
As a veteran independent planner Shawna Suckow spotted an industry void: an organization where planners like herself, with at least 10 years of experience, could gather to discuss their experiences, further their industry knowledge and share best practices. In 2008, she launched the Senior Planners Industry Network, which today counts 2,400 members and 12 branches in the U.S. and Canada.

Suckow extended her footprint last year, when she founded The Hive Network, a community where veteran suppliers connect with planners, followed by her 2015 launch of Empty Suitcase, a portal that gives planners ideas for simple goodwill projects by listing goods needed by charities all over the world. "We've brought baby supplies to Bloomington, Minn., toys to St. Louis and eyeglasses to Nepal," notes Suckow with deserved pride.

 > Megan Tanel
Promoting and raising awareness of the exhibition industry is the raison d'etre for Megan Tanel, vice president of exhibitions and events for the Association of Equipment Manufacturers and a 20-year veteran of the organization. In her role, Tanel oversees all of AEM's 12 trade shows and show partnerships in the U.S. and around the world, including AEM's flagship show and the largest show of its kind in the Western Hemisphere, CONEXPO-CON/AGG, which draws some 130,000 attendees.  

In 2014, Tanel served as co-chair for the inaugural Exhibitions Day event on Capitol Hill, where 100 trade-show organizers and exhibition-industry leaders convened to promote the economic and business value of face-to-face meetings and events.


> Melissa Van Dyke 
As president of the Incentive Research Foundation in St. Louis since 2009, Melissa Van Dyke helms an organization that produces some of the most prolific and influential studies and education for the incentive industry. She has been a strong advocate and ambassador -- speaking at industry events, authoring blogs, creating a robust LinkedIn community -- for this vital arm of the meetings community.

Van Dyke's background prepared her well for her present role: At Maritz Inc. she was a consultant for the employee engagement practice and also held positions in product development and business technology solution management. Under her watch at IRF, the foundation's research and education footprint has tripled.

 > Lisa VanRosendale
In her 25-plus years in the meetings and exhibitions industry, VanRosendale has produced trade shows, road shows and conferences around the globe. Today, as senior vice president, client development, for international brand experience agency FreemanXP, her mission is to get clients to embrace cutting-edge -- and measurable -- attendee experiences. VanRosendale says she thrives on exploring nontraditional events to ignite new ideas, and considers her gig as TEDActive presenter one of her proudest achievements. She also founded Women in Marketing, a group that offers networking events with senior-level women in the industry to encourage best practices and collaboration among top female leaders.

 > Nancy J. Zavada, CMP 
A love of the outdoors and its inhabitants as a child started Nancy Zavada on her road to becoming one of the meetings industry's top experts on green meetings. Twelve years ago, she and her then-business partner, Amy Spatrisano, CMP, co-founded the Green Meeting Industry Council. In 1994, Zavada launched the Portland, Ore.-based planning firm that is now MeetGreen, which offers planning services and tools to help organizations cut waste, lower carbon footprints and more. MeetGreen's toolbox includes the MeetGreen Calculator, which helps planners benchmark the sustainable elements of their gatherings.

Of her path, Zavada says, "Helping event professionals find easy solutions to some of the more difficult sustainability challenges has long been a passion of mine. I hope to keep the momentum going and help others so they don't have to reinvent the wheel." 

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M&C asked all Top 25 Women in the Meetings Industry about their proudest accomplishments and what they hope to achieve in the future. Read what they had to say at