by Sarah J.F. Braley, Michael J. Shapiro and Cheryl-Anne Sturken | February 01, 2017

Meagan Prescott

Senior associate, conferences and events / Securities Industry & Financial Markets Association / New York City
After graduating from Temple University in 2012 with a degree in strategic communications, Meagan Prescott assumed marketing would be her career focus. Instead, her knack for putting on talent shows led to a job with a financial services company team. First, she ran their LinkedIn group and wrote marketing materials.

"Then I started picking up all this logistical stuff, and as my responsibilities in that area kept growing, I knew by the end of my first year on the job that I really wanted to focus on logistics," says Prescott. Now at SIFMA, she plans close to 40 conferences and events per year.

"What I really enjoy is being able to come up with a concept and then watch it grow, develop and expand and turn into something you may not have originally considered," she notes. "How many people can say they get to take something from beginning to end?"

A freshly minted CMP, Prescott has become active in the New York Area Chapter of PCMA, where she sits on the awards and recognitions committee. In 2015, she earned the chapter's PCMA Convening Leaders Scholarship and attended the Convening Leaders 2016 conference in Vancouver, B.C. "Being involved with the chapter has given me a much broader perspective of the meetings industry," she says.

An avid boater from childhood summers spent on the coast of Maine, Prescott still finds time to get out on the water. Yet her must-have skill for this year is knitting: "My sister is having a baby boy this year, and I want to knit a baby blanket for him."

Jillian Roksvaag
embraces life's
"change and adventure."

Business development associate, strategic meetings / American Express Meetings & Events / Forked River, N.J.

Jillian Roksvaag knew what she wanted to do early on, venturing out of her family home on the Jersey Shore to attend the Rosen College of Hospitality Management at the University of Central Florida, where she earned a degree in event management.

Internships with a hotel and at Walt Disney World prepared Roksvaag for a job with Philadelphia-based MaxVantage, the meetings-management venture from American Express Meetings & Events and Maritz Travel. When that partnership dissolved, she stayed on as a meetings manager with Amex, transitioned to sales last April and moved back to New Jersey.

"It's amazing how consultative the role is," she says. "That's what I love about it. It's more about relationships than it is about the product."

Having co-chaired the communications committee and run a CMP study group for the Philadelphia area chapter of MPI, Roksvaag is now gearing up to put her talents to work for the organization's New Jersey chapter.

A lover of wine and craft beers and traveling with her boyfriend, a professional poker player, Roksvaag embraces the "change and adventure" in her life. "My focus now is on fully harnessing this new role, and then maybe moving up within the sales team."


Melissa Swakow

Manager, meetings and events / NHS Global Events / Skokie, Ill.

Affectionately called Number Cruncher at her office, Melissa Swakow handles the advance planning for some eight to 10 meetings and incentives at NHS Global Events, where she began as an intern while still studying at DePaul University. She is responsible for all things logistical, from helping craft hotel contracts to post-event reporting.

In 2010, when she graduated summa cum laude from DePaul with a B.A. in communications and a minor in mathematics, a full-time position became available at NHS, and she was quickly hired. "I am a super-organized person, and I am good at budgeting," says Swakow, who admits to micromanaging her family's vacations for years. "It was a natural fit for me, and I fell in love with my job right away."

Currently finishing her third year on the board of MPI's Chicago Area Chapter, Swakow says one of her goals outside of the office is to get at least one new stamp in her passport every year, with Jamaica and Colombia highest on her active wish list.

Sarah Trippel is
an adviser to the
IACC board.

Catering manager / Aramark /Phoenix

At all of 23, Sarah Trippel is part of a team handling the Phoenix Convention Center's $20 million account for catering. "It's kind of insane," she says.

Trippel had studied hotel and restaurant management at the University of Houston's Conrad N. Hilton College of Hotel & Restaurant Management and learned the ropes through internships at Disney, a winery and a hotel in Spain.

Her first job for Aramark, at the Mission Bay Conference Center in San Francisco, exposed her to the International Association of Conference Centers. Trippel was tapped to fill a board associate position for the organization, acting as a Millennial adviser to IACC's board of directors. She also serves on the group's annual meeting committee, charged with welcoming new attendees.

Currently, "I've been doing operations, and I might want to go into sales or planning," she notes. As part of her job, she has begun working with the Stars charity in Phoenix, giving temp jobs to people with developmental disabilities.

"Arizona is a hard market because of all of the resorts," Trippel notes. "All 70 people working last night's gala, except the service captain, were temps."