Rick Andrews

Rick Andrews

Rick went to work as an outside sales representative for a Fortune-500 company for 10 years. As conglomerates began taking over companies, Rick went looking for something completely different, which led him to the event rental business. This field is not for people who do not handle stress well—and Rick has spent 19 years in it. Currently the Southeast regional representative for Airstar, Rick has enjoyed 31 years in the special events industry.

Peter Berliner

Peter Berliner

Peter is a long time year veteran of the entertainment and events industry having worked on all sides of the industry, as a concert promoter, manager, and agent, and for over 40 years acting as a major provider of entertainment to the corporate, convention, and special event industry worldwide. As the founder and president of Innovative Entertainment he has taken the company from a local talent agency to a major force in the special events industry on a worldwide basis. His motto is to treat the artists, our clients, and our vendors with respect that leads to long-lasting positive relationships.

Nick Borelli

Nick Borelli

Nick has been in the event industry since he was 14 years old. He specializes in digital marketing strategies through consulting, coaching, and brand communication management for events and event companies.

Joanne Brooks

Joanne Brooks

As the founder and director of The Creative Impact Group, Inc., Joanne Brooks is responsible for the management and development of creative meetings and events for corporations, associations and trade groups. The Creative Impact Group has long standing relationships with many of its clients including Discover Financial, Kraft Foods, Matsui America, Accutrac Software, and the National Paper Trade Association, among others. Ms. Brooks currently travels the nation managing events and production for corporations holding meetings, events and product launches.


David Casteel

David is a 26-year member of ILEA and is a past chair of the ILEA International MARCOM Committee. A founding president of the original Carolinas Chapter of ILEA, he has also served as the president of the Greater Triangle Chapter NC of ILEA. He is also an active member of NACE, ICA, and past member of The Special Events Magazine Advisory Board. He has been a featured speaker/presenter at the ICA CaterArts Conference for several years and also has presented for CaterSource Conference and CaterSource/ICA Conference ‘The Art of Catered Food”. He and Mitchell’s Catering have been featured regularly over the past several years in Special Events Magazine and Event Solutions Magazine. Recognition to David and Mitchell’s Catering and Events include The Special Event Gala Award, ISES ESPRIT Award, Carolina EVIE Awards, Triangle NACE Awards, and ICA CATIE Award nominations.

David Freeman, CMP, DMCP

David joined the event planning industry in 1986 purchasing Accent on Cincinnati, Inc., a Cincinnati DMC. In 1988, he founded Accent on Indianapolis, Inc. which was later sold and renamed Accent Indy. Both companies are leaders in event planning in their respective markets with their professionalism, quality and creativity. During his 31 years in the industry David served on committees of numerous industry associations including Treasurer and President of the DMC Network, the MPI Ethics Committee, the Certification and Accreditation Board of ADMEI, and was twice honored as supplier of the year by the Ohio chapter of MPI.

Sara Grauf, CSEP

As the Vice President of Event Strategy and Services for the San Francisco Giants, Sara is responsible for business development and operational management of all non-baseball ventures for the organization. Her focus is to identify business opportunities beyond the Major League Baseball franchise that increase the visibility and use of AT&T Park, Pier 48, The Yard at Mission Rock and other projects which leverage the organization’s resources and capabilities. Sara has produced a variety of events, including the Giants’ three recent World Series Galas and Parades, numerous concerts international sporting events, and marquee corporate events for Super Bowl 50. Sara is currently the Treasurer on the International Board of Governors for the International Live Events Association, and is the Development Chair for the Leadership San Francisco Board of Directors. She sits on the advisory committee for California Polytechnic University’s Experience Industry Management Department, and is a participating member of the Stadium Manager’s Association, the University of California at Berkeley's Big C Society, and Women in Sports and Events.

Pat Pfohl

Pat began her career in the special events industry in 1975 working in hotel catering. She moved quickly through the ranks of several large hotel corporations from Catering Assistant to Director of Catering. By her tenth year in that field she was the Director of Catering and Convention Services Director. She then turned to a different arena within the events’ industry and worked in the party rental industry for the next eighteen years. She received the Presidents’ Award for top sales person from Classic Party Rentals several times.

Dr. Linda M. Robson, PhD, MTA, SEC

Dr. Linda Robson is an Associate Professor at Endicott College in the School of Hospitality Management. She worked as an event planner for over 20 years, planning events in New Zealand, Europe, the United States, and Canada. In 2003 Linda returned to school and has a Master of Tourism Administration and a PhD. Linda’s combination of experience and education has given her a unique perspective on the events industry. She brings a practical, applied knowledge to her classroom, her speaking sessions, and to the events she plans.

Mary Ann Rose

Tamar has received national recognition for themed events by Special Event Magazine and has consistently been listed as one of the “Top 50” special event companies worldwide. Rose served on the executive board of directors for the Chicago Convention and Tourism Bureau. She is currently the Executive Director for the Chicago Police Foundation, which raises funds for equipment and training programs for the Chicago Police Department. She is Past Chairman of the Magnificent Mile Association and serves on the board of Face the Future Foundation, an organization dedicated to children with cranial facial anomalies and is a member of Northwestern University’s Career Counseling Program, her Alma Mater.

Milena Santoro, CMM, CMP, PIDP

Award winning certified meeting and special events professional, author, international professional speaker, educator and mentor. For the past 30 years she has earned many accolades managing events for corporations, international associations, social clients and not-for-profit agencies. She is the Founder of MS Productions Inc. est 1995, an international full service event, wedding and destination management company with offices in Canada & Italy.

Lenny Talarico, CSEP

Lenny‘s involvement in the live event industry includes entertainment, production and event management. As the Executive Director of Events for MGM Resorts Event Productions he oversees a team that services internal as well as revenue generating events at MGM Resorts International properties. He and the MGM team have been recognized with multiple Gala Awards thru Special Events Magazine a division of Penton Media. Lenny has also been named Event Planner of the Year by Event Solutions Magazine and is part of the team to be honored on two occasions by their publication as Event Company of the Year.

Mark Ufland

Mark, from Boston, MA is a 25 year photo industry executive. A sales professional at heart, he has worked nationally with clients such as Benefit Cosmetics, Salesforce, Disney Worldwide and Macy’s while also sending green screens and photo booths to hundreds of social events. His energy and fun loving spirit has helped fuel his company’s 300% growth in the last 4 years.

Dustin Westling, CSEP

Dustin Westling, CSEP, is the owner of Calgary-based OneWest Event Design & Logistics. A self-described ‘Senior Millennial,’ Dustin brings his tongue-in-cheek humor and engaged energy to his role as commander-in-chief of OneWest, where he leads a team of talented event profs to collaborate with clients and partners on over 300 innovative and award-winning projects each year. Dustin’s breadth of experience in roles at hotels, convention centers, and public attractions gave him an inside knowledge of special events that ultimately laid the foundation for building a one-of-a-kind events company. He successfully achieved a Certified Special Events Professional (CSEP) designation, and is consistently recognized as an industry leader. A curator of talent and creativity, Dustin is passionate about driving the events industry forward, and currently serves as Affiliate Chair for ILEA Canada (formerly President of the ILEA Calgary chapter).

Kevin White, CSEP

Kevin White has been a storyteller his entire life. That love of capturing attention and engaging people is what brought him to a decades-long career in experiential design. In 2011 he founded XPL, a boundary-pushing agency that delivers bold, powerful live events that transform audiences around the world.