Coffee With...Allyson Kapin of Women Who Tech

Ricci joins SmithBucklin as NSSTA exec

Joseph Ricci has joined association management company SmithBucklin as executive director of the National Structured Settlements Trade Association. Ricci’s responsibilities include leading the Washington, D.C.-based SmithBucklin team, managing all association operations and working with association leadership to meet strategic goals. Ricci previously has served as executive director of the National Association of Security Companies as well as run Ricci Communications, a Washington, D.C.-based marketing communications firm.


Pembroke Park, Fla.-based ME Productions has appointed David Berkoski as director of sales and Sarah Gabel as executive sales and event manager.

Javier Cano has been named general manager of the 878-room JW Marriott Hotel Los Angeles at L.A. LIVE, which is scheduled to open in March 2010 with more than 75,000 square feet of meeting space.

Kristen Dierickx, CMP, has joined Chicago-based BCD Meetings & Incentives as national director of strategic meetings management solutions, programs and technology.

The Greater Houston Convention and Visitors Bureau has hired Regina Drake as membership services director and Karen Villagomez as sales manager for the greater Austin area.

When the AT&T Executive Education and Conference Center at The University of Texas at Austin opens on Aug. 3, Ted Hibler will serve as general manager and Doug Copeland will act as director of sales and marketing.

Meeting and event management company Experient has hired Blue Janis, Wendy Scott, Jim Talcott and Kay Till as national account mangers, who will work from home as independent sales representatives.

The Hawaii Visitors and Convention Bureau has appointed Josette Murai as convention services manager for its corporate meetings and incentives division.

Amy Shahayda and Sabrina Yakovich have been hired as sales managers for the Palm Springs (Calif.) Convention Center.

Allyson Kapin"It was rewarding hearing these amazing women discuss thought-provoking topics."

Allyson Kapin is founder of Women Who Tech, a Washington, D.C.-based organization and support network for women in the field of technology. The first annual Women Who Tech TeleSummit, a live virtual conference held in March, drew more than 650 attendees from around the world. Kapin has organized events ranging from benefit concerts to film festivals, and she is a founder of Rad Campaign, an online communications firm serving nonprofit organizations.

What was most rewarding for you about the Tele-Summit? Hearing these amazing women discuss thought-provoking topics like fighting sexism in the tech sector and how to toot our own horns. It also was very inspiring to hear women like Arianna Huffington of Huffington Post and Joan Blades of relate their own experiences. I still get thank-you e-mails from women who are tired of feeling underrepresented at tech conferences and in the media.

What was the most challenging part of conducting an event online? Webinar technology is still evolving, so during our TeleSummit some participants had browser-compatibility issues with the software or were scrambling at the last minute to download it in time for the sessions. But the few tech issues that we had were resolved quickly.

What advice do you have for first-time planners? Increase your budget, since there will always be unanticipated expenses; make sure you aren’t competing with other events in your industry near the same dates; and create an advisory committee with big names in the field, since they’ll establish credibility with sponsors and the media.