July 01, 2000
> Meetings & Conventions: People July 2000

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July 2000 people


  Coffee With... Sheila Lowrey

Sheila Lowrey

Sheila Lowrey is the convention manager for COMMON A Users Group, a Chicago-based association for organizations and individuals with an interest in IBM-related technology. She has 16 years of experience as a planner.

How many conventions do you plan annually?
I plan two events spring and fall. Each conference lasts five days, with approximately 3,200 attendees and 800 educational sessions, including labs, lectures and interactive classes for every level of the computing environment, plus an exposition featuring demonstrations of the latest mid-range software, hardware and services.

How did you get into the meetings industry?
My first position was membership coordinator for a large medical association. When I attended my first major medical conference, I was amazed at all the details and teamwork it took to produce a successful conference. And at that moment, I knew my professional career was going to be in the meetings industry.

If you could hand off one planning responsibility, what would it be?
Packing up after the closing event. Your adrenaline has come to a complete stop. And you are so exhausted, the last thing you want to do is pack boxes.

Which celebrity would you pick as a meeting planning partner?
I would choose Tina Turner. I like to consider myself a strong African-American woman, like her. I am motivated by her determination and success, despite all her life’s obstacles.

How do you reward yourself when the meeting is over?
I take off from work for three or four days to reconnect with my family; they are my life support. We have a night of good home cooking and laughter. I also set aside one or two days for total peace and relaxation no phones, e-mail or faxes.

What is the most rewarding aspect of your job?
When members attending the conference give me recognition. Hearing things like, “This is a really great conference” or “Thank you for all your hard work” at the end of an event makes it all worth it.


Grey Separator LineON THE MOVE


Judy Benaroche Johnson, CMP, has been promoted to president of E. Harden & Associates Inc., a meeting and incentive travel planning firm based in Carrollton, Texas. She previously served as the company’s vice president of meetings and marketing and has 16 years of industry experience.

Todd Wurschmidt, Ph.D., has been named vice president, professional development for the Washington, D.C.-based American Society of Association Executives. He will be responsible for ASAE’s certification programs and for professional development, including conferences, symposia, seminars and distance learning. Prior to joining ASAE, Wurschmidt spent 15 years as executive director of the Ohio Association of Chiefs of Police.

  • Leslie Aldrich and Heather Hersley have joined the Dallas Convention & Visitors Bureau as convention sales managers.
  • Pamela Armstrong has been named sales manager, national accounts, and Bob Schuler has been appointed director of sales for the Atlanta Convention & Visitors Bureau.
  • Noel Day has been named executive meeting manager at the Sawgrass Marriott Resort in Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla.
  • Jim LaBadie was named vice president of sales for the Grand Rapids/Kent County (Mich.) Convention & Visitors Bureau.
  • Jennifer Landers has been named national sales manager for Merv Griffin Resort’s luxury properties. She is based in Scottsdale, Ariz.
  • Cherai Lewis has been appointed senior convention sales manager at the New Orleans Metropolitan Convention & Visitors Bureau.
  • Robert Van Ness has been named vice president of sales for Preferred Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, based in Chicago.
  • Jerry Pagliari has been named general manager, and Richard Bravo has been appointed vice president and creative director of the New York City office of PGI, the event management and communications firm based in Arlington, Va.

  • If you would like notice of a career move considered for inclusion in this column, contact Lisa Grimaldi, People Page, M&C, 500 Plaza Dr., Secaucus, N.J. 07094; fax: (201) 319-1796; e-mail:
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