Since 1985, when the Washington, D.C.-based Convention
Industry Council created its Hall of Leaders, 86 people
have achieved the highest accolade of the meetings industry as
inductees. The selection process starts with nominations from
either CIC member organizations or the general industry community;
the inductees are then chosen by a selection committee. M&C sat
down with the 2004 crop of six including the eighth woman to make
the list to learn what makes them great.
Senior Vice President, Walt Disney Parks and Resorts, Lake
Buena Vista, Fla.; 30 years in the meetings industry
I guess it’s about how much you’ve given back to the industry.
Volunteering at the industry level is something I learned and was
given great advice about many years ago. And I’ve had the good
fortune to be with two organizations [Disney for 14 years and
Opryland for 12] that have supported me and allowed me to follow
What have you brought to the industry?
Hopefully I’ve been able to leverage what I’ve learned from these
organizations to function as a leader and apply the development
that I’ve gained over the years to the benefit of the organizations
for which I’ve served as a volunteer leader.
What is the biggest change you’ve seen in the
There has never been an experience like what we went through after
9/11. That really tested us. It was something we never trained for
or were prepared for. It tested our leadership and our resolve, but
we were able to respond to it and come back.
If you could change one thing in the industry, what would it
I would make sure both the planner and supplier sides were working
on much more of a strategic level and not just a tactical level, so
they can act in more than just a simple rates-and-dates approach.
The two sides should look at how they can help each other advance,
not just at “what can you do for me?”
What was your first job in the industry?
I worked in my dad’s steak restaurant, followed by such glamorous
jobs as houseman and front desk clerk.
What advice would you give someone entering the
Seek out some mentors whom you can learn from and maybe even
emulate. Be sure to get involved, get very involved. The benefits
that will come back to you will far outweigh the investment of
How has the industry changed you?
I was a shy, quiet guy in my early years. I could never in my
life envision being a very social type of person or standing up in
front of large audiences.