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39th Annual Conference Presenters
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The following is a list of presenters at the ACCED-I 39th Annual Conference. New bios will be added as we receive them.


Peter Himmelman
With timeless albums like This Father's Day and From Strength to Strength, Peter Himmelman won a permanent place in the hearts of countless rock fans. Now, the Grammy and Emmy-nominated musician channels his decades of experience in the creative arts to help companies build trust and resilience across their organization, fostering teams that are stronger, more innovative, and more engaged.

Himmelman is the founder of Big Muse, a creative consultancy whose clients include the Gap, Adobe, McDonald's, and other Fortune 500s. He's delivered his interactive programs to senior executives and students at Northwestern University's Kellogg School of Management, the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania, and the University of Michigan's Ross School of Business. His critically acclaimed book, Let Me Out, systemizes and simplifies the often arduous challenge of turning an idea into a reality.

Himmelman first came into the public eye as the front man for the Minneapolis rock 'n' roll band, Sussman Lawrence. In the 1980s, he launched a successful solo career, earning a reputation as "rock's most imaginative performer." A committed family man and father of four, Himmelman limited his time touring in order to be with his family and eventually took a 9-to-5 job composing television scores so that he could spend more time at home. He wrote the soundtrack for the highly popular drama Bones for four seasons and received numerous accolades for his work on the series Judging Amy, including an Emmy nod for his song, "The Best Kind of Answer."

In addition to helping corporate teams across the U.S. access and unleash their own creativity, Himmelman continues to write and perform new music. His insights on innovation have been published in ForbesTime, and the Huffington Post.


Valorie Burton
A bestselling author and founder of the Coaching and Positive Psychology Institute (CaPP), Valorie has served clients in over 40 states and ten countries and written twelve books on personal development, including; Successful Women Think Differently, What’s Really Holding You Back and her latest Successful Women Speak Differently.

She is a frequent guest expert for the TODAY Show, CNN, Dr. Oz, Oprah Magazine, NPR, Essence and many others. She has spoken for hundreds of organizations, including GE, McDonald’s Corporation, Verizon, Coca Cola, and the United States military.

Ms. Burton has a master’s degree in applied positive psychology from the University of Pennsylvania, a master’s degree in journalism from Florida A&M University and a BA from Florida State University.  Join over 50,000 subscribers to her inspiring weekly e-newsletter at



Michael J. Lyons, Speaker and Author
Michael J. Lyons is a Professional Speaker, Author, Actor and Hospitality Industry Consultant

>Click here to view a message from Michael Lyons.

Before going out on his own in 2014, he served as Exhibition Director for British company Reed Exhibitions - the world’s largest trade show organizer – with responsibility for the management of IBTM America, a major meetings industry exhibition.

Mike is a highly respected, well-known veteran of the meetings/travel industry. His diverse background, spanning more than four decades, includes senior level posts with some of the industry’s best known names. Besides Reed, he has held executive positions with Carlson Wagonlit Travel, EGR International, and Apple Vacations, among others. He also co-founded and was CEO of Global Events Partners, Philadelphia.

Over the years Lyons has been an active participant in the following hospitality industry organizations: MPI, PCMA, GBTA, ILEA, HSMAI, SITE, ASAE and ADMEI. He served two terms on the Philadelphia MPI chapter board as VP Finance, was named their Supplier of the Year, and received the chapter’s Partner Award twice. He served on the Board of Directors of Discover PHL for eight years, and also sat on their Marketing and International committees. During that same period he was a member of the Advisory Board of Visit Philadelphia.

Mike is the author of numerous articles in industry trade journals and consumer magazines and is frequently sought out by the media as an expert in the meetings/travel business. He co-wrote the chapter on Marketing Strategies in the book “Best Practices in Destination Management” and the chapter titled “Making ROI-Based Decisions in Today’s Business Environment” in the business book “Improving the Profitability of Your Company”.

On the academic front, he has been an adjunct professor at Temple University, teaching in their Event Leadership Executive Certificate Program.

In 2017, he released his book "Set Yourself Free: Daydream it... Believe it... Achieve it!" to widespread acclaim. The tome is a call to action to people who are not fulfilling their potential, feel stuck and aren't sure what to do about it. Drawing from his own life experiences and stories of well-known people who have struggled on their road to success, SYF outlines tangible and achievable steps that position the reader to pursue goals they might feel are outside their grasp. Seven time Emmy Award winner/ABC-TV correspondent John Quiñones wrote the Foreword.

As a professional actor, Mike has numerous credits in major feature films, TV shows, commercials and more than 350 live appearances on home shopping network QVC as a product host. His credits include speaking parts in “The Sixth Sense”, “All My Children, “Veep” (HBO), “What Would You Do”,  “Arrest & Trial”,  “House of Cards” (playing the Speaker of the House), and “Outsiders” among others.

A motivational speaker since 2009, Mike has given talks to more than 100 groups across the U.S. and abroad on how to achieve goals, pursue your passion and craft a strong Personal Brand.

Jeffrey Sun,  J.D., Ph.D., Professor of Higher Education & Department Chair, Affiliate Professor of Law, Department of Educational Leadership, Evaluation, & Organizational Development (ELEOD), University of Louisville
Jeffrey C. Sun is Professor of Higher Education, Department Chair, Affiliate Professor of Law at the University of Louisville. In addition, he is the Project Director & Principal Investigator for three large grant projects, including sponsored research by the U.S. Department of Education’s Perkins Grant (in cooperation with the Kentucky Department of Education) on Career & Technical Education and the U.S. Department of the Army’s master educator/cadre development program. In total, Dr. Sun has received more than $9 million in external funding since 2015.

Dr. Sun has taught previously at the University of North Dakota, Teachers College of Columbia University, and New York University.  Also, while at Teachers College, he served as the Director of Academic Administration.  

Dr. Sun teaches and researches primarily in the areas of higher education law and policy.  His research examines the extent to which policy instruments or other legal actions (e.g., government mandates, judicial decisions, and legally binding, negotiated agreements) advance or inhibit the academic operations through college teaching, learning, and knowledge creation.  This stream rests heavily on concepts of civil rights and civil liberties and has been published in venues such as Education Law Reporter (Westlaw), Journal of College & University Law, Review of Higher Education, Teachers College Record, and the University of Pennsylvania’s Journal of Constitutional Law.  In addition, Dr. Sun has four books.

Dr. Sun received a BBA and an MBA from Loyola Marymount University, a law degree (J.D.) from the Moritz College of Law at The Ohio State University, and an M.Phil. and a Ph.D. from Columbia University.

Steven S. Vrooman, Ph.D., Chair, Department of English and Communication Studies & Director of General Education Texas Lutheran University
Dr. Steven Vrooman, PhD, is Professor at Texas Lutheran University, Chair of the Department of English and Communication Studies, and Director of General Education. He has been researching Internet communication since it emerged from BITNET in the 90s. He is the author The Zombie Guide to Public Speaking. He has spoken at TEDx, INBOUND and many other events.


Johni Amos, Associate Director, Conference Administration/Fiscal Affairs, American University
Johni Amos joined American University Conference & Guest Services in March of 2016. Prior to coming to American University, she worked in conferences at Virginia Tech. She has also worked in various Student Affairs roles at Bowling Green State University, The Washington Center for Internships and Academic Seminars, and Kenyon College.

Kim Araya, Director of University Conference & Guest Services, American University
Kim Araya is the Director of University Conference & Guest Services at American University in Washington, DC.  Prior to her coming to American University in January of 2014, her previous position for 10.5 yrs was the Director of Conference & Event Services at the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities in Minneapolis-Saint Paul, Minnesota.  She was instrumental in getting the ONE STOP-SHOP concept set-up on the U of MN campus.  She currently opened AU’s conference center in the summer of 2017. Kim is currently serving as a board member for ACCED-I and has served two years as the Region 5 Director and has served on various committees of ACCED-I since 2005.  She works closely with colleagues in various Convention and Visitors Bureaus, area hotels as well as other Universities in the DC/MD area to help market the surrounding cities as well as her University.

Laura Bachman, Assistant Director of Conference Services, Lehigh University
Laura Bachman is the Assistant Director of Conference Services at Lehigh University; a position she has held since 2006.  Previous to that time, she worked for Sodexo at Lehigh University.  Laura’s current role includes overseeing the recently renovated Iacocca Conference Center, assisting with the planning and execution of both internal and external events as well as the summer camp and conference program. 

Laura is the Chair of the Leadership Development Action Team, is a co-chair of the Pittsburgh Hospitality Committee and a past regional leader from 2014-2017.  In addition, she was the 2017 Patrick Perfetto Volunteer of the Year award recipient.  


Mary Kay Baker, CCEP, Director of Conference Services, Lehigh University
Mary Kay Baker, CCEP, is the Director of Conference Services at Lehigh University; a position she has held since 1996.  Previous to that time, she worked in the Residence Life/Student Affairs field for 13 years.  Mary Kay’s current role includes overseeing the recently renovated Iacocca Conference Center, assisting with the planning and execution of both internal and external events, overseeing the summer camp and conference program, and budget and financial management for her area. 

May Kay was the Chair of the Nominations and Recognition Action Team from 2009-2014, is a member of the Pittsburgh Hospitality Committee and is currently a board member for ACCED-I.  She will assume the position of President of the board at the close of this year’s conference. 


Marty Bear, PMSI Promos
Marty Bear has been an innovator in the promotional merchandise industry for over 30 years.

President and Founder of PMSI-Professional Marketing Services, Inc., Marty has traveled the world in search of the most innovative promotional items for events, meetings, conferences, sponsorship and theme programs.

Marty also founded the Westfield Chapter of MPI and has been a proud member of PCMA, IAEE, ASAE for over 20 years.


PMSI has introduced many new products into the meeting and event industry over several decades including The Mini Case, badges with vinyl strips for ribbons, new technology items, 26 colors for custom totes, attaches, and backpacks and more. Sponsoring and exhibiting at over 40 industry shows each year, Marty offers a very entertaining, high energy program that will stimulate your creative mind and leave you with many new ideas and applications to engage your staff as well as conference attendees and sponsors.


Nicole Braatz, Sales and Marketing Manager and Kathy Newstead, Manager of Operations, Queen’s University-Kingston, Ontario, Canada
Nicole Braatz is currently the Sales and Marketing Manager for Housing and Ancillary Services at Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario, Canada. Prior to Queen’s University, Nicole spent 25 years with Canada’s national airline, Air Canada as a Regional Sales Manager.  When she is not working,  Nicole loves to travel, shop and maybe enjoy a little wine! 


Trish Carlson, Director of Conference & Event Services, Loyola Marymount University
Trish Carlson is the Director of Conference & Event Services at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles where she has worked for 20 years.    As Director, she is responsible for the Event Scheduling, Event Operations, Conference Services Offices as well as Commencement logistics at LMU.  Her professional background includes hotel sales and auto show coordination for Nissan and Infiniti.   She is also a proud Past President of ACCED-I.


Deneice Clifford, Manager of Operations & Event Services, University of the District of Columbia
Deniece is the Manager of Operations & Event Services at the University of the District of Columbia (UDC). UDC is the only public university in the nation’s capital and the only urban land-grant university in the United States. Deniece is in her 12th year there, and in her 3rd in her current role. UDC is comprised of a Flagship campus that offers Bachelor’s, Master’s and Doctoral degrees; a law school with a fully functional courtroom; 5 Community College sites that offer Associate Degrees, Certificate Programs, Continuing Education and Workforce development Programs; an airport hangar that houses the aviation maintenance programs; a research farm and 4 urban food hubs. Deniece oversees all aspects of the event management, logistics and operations for events at these various locations. She handles content and program development, budget management, design, AV production and vendor management. In addition, she is also responsible for scheduling locations for all academic courses throughout the University system. Deniece has a Bachelor’s degree from Howard University and a Master’s degree from the University of the District of Columbia.


Heather Cockrum, Executive Assistant to the Provost and Senior Vice Chancellor, University of Tennessee, Knoxville
Heather Cockrum is a native East Tennessean who has coordinated special events at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, for thirteen years. In her current role as the executive assistant to the Provost and Senior Vice Chancellor, she oversees events for faculty, academic administrators, and VIP guests. In 2012, she recognized a need to connect event/meeting planners across campus. What began as an initial luncheon to offer space for conversation between 15 individuals has grown to twice-a-semester lunch and learns and other networking opportunities for more than 130 planners across two campuses. Challenged by two takeaways from the 2017 ACCED-I annual conference to “be the indispensable resource on campus” related to events and “take on more than your job description,” Heather designed and instructs two courses related to event planning each semester through the university’s Office of Employee and Organizational Development. She also created and coordinated a one-day conference for UT meeting and event planners in February 2019, sponsored by UT’s Office of Human Resources.  


Stacy Cornett, Events Manager, Vanderbilt University

Stacey Cornett is thrilled to have recently joined the Vanderbilt community and the Event at Vanderbilt Team! Her main focus is managing events in the Student Life Center. Originally from Alabama, Stacey has spent the majority of her career in event management, marketing, project management and communications. Additionally, she loves going to concerts, hiking, spinning, football (Roll Tide!) and her two puppy dogs.


Kendra Courson, Director or Special Events, College of ACES, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Kendra Courson is the Director of Special Events for the College of ACES (Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences) at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.  Kendra has been with the College for over 8 years.  Her previous position for 8 years was as the Director of Conferences & Special Events within University Housing.  Kendra’s current position not only includes planning special events such as investitures, farm trade shows and campus wide events with the Chancellor’s office and President’s house, she also manages the conference center within the College’s 6 story library.   Kendra’s 20 years with the University also includes a stint as an Assistant Director of Recruitment and Admissions.

Mary Cranwell, MA, Director of Conferences & Special Events, Georgian Court University
Mary Cranwell has been a collegiate conference and events professional for, yikes, over 30 years at Georgian Court University and a member of ACCED-I for most of that time.  She directs conferencing; community education programs; academic and recruitment events; campus scheduling; Mary is grateful to have had the opportunity to serve our association as a regional leader, dozens of committee assignments, a member of the board of directors, treasurer, and president.  In addition, she has presented over 20 workshops at regional and annual conferences, predominantly on special events.  


Daniel Dykstra, Director, University of Colorado Boulder
Dan Dykstra brings 30 years of collegiate conference and event planning expertise to Conference Services at the University of Colorado Boulder. Prior to his arrival, Dan spent 18 years as Director at Georgia Tech building a highly successful and nationally recognized conference services operation. He also held conference and events positions at his Alma Mater, Colorado State University.

Upon arriving to CU Boulder in the summer of 2016, Dan was charged with evaluating an already successful conference and event services office to further increase the efficiencies and effectiveness of the operation.  He has successfully accomplished this goal through deliberate analysis and assessment of CU Conference Services lines of business, services, client portfolio, and processes.  By strategically prioritizing operational enhancements and changes, outcomes have resulted in measurable and large increases in revenue, customer satisfaction, and enhanced university reputation.

Dan continues to be an advocate for the collegiate conference and events industry, and enjoys both the opportunities and challenges of this profession.  He has been active in Association of Collegiate Conference and Events Directors-International (ACCED-I). Dan is an ACCED-I Past President and a current member of the Nominations Committee.  A highlight of his career is when he was named recipient of the 2016 Jack Thornton Distinguished Service Award. He is a frequent presenter for webcasts, educational forums, regional meetings and annual conferences for ACCED-I and a variety of affiliated associations. Dan has also contributed to several articles focusing on collegiate and hospitality issues, trends and hot topics.

Jordan Farmer, Event Manager, Vanderbilt University
I have worked in events for about 8 years now and I have been at Vanderbilt for 2.5 years so far in the Events at Vanderbilt office. I primarily oversee Alumni Hall and the Student Life Center. We also have a team of about 80 students that work in our Events at Vanderbilt team but I co-manage the space as well as 14 of those students. Through this position I have found a love for higher education and I enjoy connecting with our students through our professional development sessions, one on ones, and teaching them event management. Outside of work I enjoy focusing on my health and fitness as a hobby and spoiling my puppy Simba.


Matt Florian, Founder, Eris Enterprise, LLC
Matt Florian, MBA has made his career helping organizations around the world unleash their data to achieve greater insights and customer awareness of their products and services. For many organizations, capturing data is perceived as important, but the reasons are not always clearly specified. Consequently, data collection and utilization are unnecessarily delayed, and the benefits of these actions are unrealized. Mr. Florian has worked with clients, large and small, to move their data management into a cohesive and executable strategy. These transformations have helped clients build prospect analytics for growth, pricing models for revenue maximization, and operational analysis to improve their bottom line. He works closely with his clients to create a pragmatic strategy that fits the culture of the organization. Most recently, he founded Eris Enterprise, LLC, a data analytics company working with organizations to improve their data management and optimization. Over the past 2 years, Eris Enterprise has engaged with associations and conference planners to develop innovative strategies and products that improve operations, data gathering, and analytics. 

Rick Glass, Assistant Director of Events, Conferences, and Support Services, University of Richmond
Rick Glass is the Assistant Director of Events, Conferences, and Support Services at the University of Richmond in Richmond, Virginia.  He has been the Director of the Jepson Alumni Center since it opened in 1997 and also manages many of the Summer Conference groups that come to campus.  Rick has been an active member of ACCED-I for many years on a regional and national level and is completing his term on the ACCED-I Board of Directors as of the end of this Annual Conference.

Sarah Goodrich, CCEP, Director of Conference Services, East Stroudsburg University
Sarah Goodrich has been the Director of Conference Services at East Stroudsburg University of Pennsylvania since 2000.  During that time she has also been a member of ACCED-I, where she earned her CCEP in 2003. Sarah has also served as regional director and regional director elect for region 11.    She serves on both the CCEP and ACCED-I Connections Committees.

Krystal Grace, Assistant Director of Residential Life for Conferences and Special Events, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Krystal Grace is the Assistant Director of Residential Life for Conferences, Special Events, and the Student Dining and Residential Programs Building at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.  Krystal has worked with Conferences and Special Events for over 14 years including her time as the Coordinator.  Krystal’s love of events started as a student when working summers as a Conference Clerk and later a Summer Coordinator.  As the Assistant Director Krystal has enjoyed working with groups throughout the year to host events in the Student Dining and Residential Programs building.  Krystal works closely with campus and community partners to host regional and national events and recently expanded her responsibilities to include planning the Move-In days at Illinois. 

The Conferences and Special Events operation hires 25-35 students per summer to staff area desks and work with conference sponsors.  The Student Dining and Residential Programs Building hires 55-65 students each year to staff the information desk and package station.

Krystal enjoys volunteering for ACCED-I and is currently serving on the Hospitality committee.  Krystal hopes to earn her CCEP very soon.

Sandy Hammer, Co-founder and CMO, AllSeated
With over 20 years of experience in the international event industry, Sandy Hammer is the co-founder and CMO of AllSeated, an award-winning VR Technology platform with the goal to revolutionize and digitize the event planning process.She began her career as a corporate planner for a high-tech company, running events globally. During that time, she amassed a portfolio of corporate conferences, seminars, forums and brokerage events for customers such as Orange Global, Telefonica and O2UK.Her position at AllSeated allows her to pursue her passion for educating and advancing the industry. In addition to being a national speaker, Sandy serves on the 2019 Weddings International Professionals Association board, and is a regular contributor to Catersource, WeddingIQ and NACE. BizBash recently named Sandy one of the top 500 event professionals in the industry.

Tiffany Hammond, Assistant Director for Conference Services, The University of Southern Mississippi
Tiffany first began her Conference & Events journey as a summer conference assistant at Millsaps College. Immediately after graduating from Millsaps, she worked in Student Affairs approximately 8 years and was promoted throughout the years to Director of Events, Scheduling, and Conferences & Camps before transitioning to The University of Southern Mississippi where she currently is working with youth and the community in Event and Conference Services. She also works with faculty and various departments to book professional conferences and events on campus. Other activities include teaching freshmen students as a Lucky Day Instructor; Game Day Entertainment & Events for the New Orleans Louisiana Saints; and game day live stats for the USM athletics department.

Other notable accomplishments: Tiffany serves as an advocate for the American Heart Association speaking to the community, attending fundraisers, and participating in events. She also is an active board member for Hattiesburg Area Habitat for Humanity, where she currently holds an executive officer position.


Jeff Hartmann, Assistant Director of College and Community Events, Colorado College
Jeff entered into the academic world 2.5 years ago as the Assistant Director of College and Community Events at Colorado College.  Utilizing 7 years of hospitality management experience in hotels and restaurants as well as 15 years in the sales industry with different organizations has provided him with exceptional negotiation, customer service and organizational skills. 

Jim Hodges, Director, Conference & Event Services, Duke University
While an undergraduate, Jim had his first experience working with campus events and programs as a summer conference assistant. After college, Jim was hired as Program Coordinator to serve summer programs at Duke University. Over the years, Jim has been promoted several times and now serves as Director of Conference and Event Services. In his current role, he leads the CES team as they coordinate meetings and large-scale events, run registration services, host summer programs and overseeing facility operations for the student union.  Jim is a long time member of ACCED-I and serving on the Board of Directors as Immediate Past President. He has presented at numerous conferences for ACCED-I and has led peer review audits at other schools for their conference and event operations. He also is a member of the University’s Emergency Management Council and the Special Event Planners Council. After over 25 years on the campus, Jim loves that every day is different and all the people he has met along the way.

Matthew Jauregui, CCEP, Associate Director of Conference and Event Services, Loyola Marymount University
Matthew Jauregui is the Associate Director of Conference and Event Services at Loyola Marymount University, where he was worked for the past 18 years, both as a student and a fulltime staff member. Matt oversees the Summer Conference program and sits on the Commencement Committee at LMU. He obtained his CCEP in 2013.

Steven Kaczmarczyk, Assistant Director, Conferencing & College Events, Valencia College
Steven Kaczmarczyk [Kaz-Mar-Check] is proud to work at Aspen-prize winning Valencia College in Orlando, Florida, and serves as the assistant director of conferencing and college events. Steven’s primary duties include leading conferences and events focused on college-wide faculty and staff professional development, commencement, high-profile public relations events, national conferences and meetings hosted by the college. In these duties, he frequently works in-depth with event apps, digital surveying, email marketing, paid online advertising, social media, website analytics and more. In 2006, he earned a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration – Marketing from the University of Central Florida and has been a member of ACCED-I since 2013. 


Krysta Kasinski, CCEP, Director of Conferences and Events, California Maritime Academy
Krysta Kasinski has been in the events and conferencing business for over 15 years…starting first in the hospitality industry, switching over to higher ed in 2005. She worked as a Conference and Events Coordinator for the University of California, Berkeley for over 10 years before taking on the Director of Conference and Events position at CSU Maritime Academy about 3 years ago.

As part of ACCED-I, Krysta has served in numerous leadership roles, volunteered at many annual and regional events, provided mentorship to new and long-time industry peers, and has found the relationships formed through the association to be her biggest professional asset. 


Jami King,  Assistant Director for Event Services at The University of Southern Mississippi
Jami King is the Assistant Director for Event Services at The University of Southern Mississippi, overseeing more than 35,000 square feet of meeting and event space.  She has been with the university since 2002 holding various positions within Student Affairs.  She also holds a bachelor’s degree from USM in Tourism and Hospitality Management.

During her career at Southern Miss, she has been instrumental in the opening of the Thad Cochran Center, the Trent Lott National Center and most recent the Joe Paul Student Theater.  In 2008, she was the recipient of the Staff Excellence Award.  From 2009 – 2012, Jami served on the University’s Staff Council, serving as chair for several committees.  She has worked extensively in the areas of student development, event planning, risk management and customer service training. 

Jami has been a member of ACCED-i since 2014 and is currently working on the Collegiate Conference and Event Planner (CCEP) Certification.

Mrs. King is an active member of the Junior Auxiliary of Hattiesburg, a non-profit organization that serves underprivileged children and families in the community.  Over the past four years, she has chaired several service projects and has served as a board member for two consecutive years. 

Jami enjoys being at home with her family, attending sporting events and any activity poolside or at the beach!  She resides in Petal, MS with her husband and 4 children!

Christina LaDue, Associate Director of Conferences and Special Events, Amherst College
Christina LaDue is the Associate Director of Conferences and Special Events at Amherst College, a small liberal arts college in Massachusetts. At Amherst, Christina oversees Summer Programs coordinating over 40 educational and athletic programs that make Amherst College their home during the summer months. During the academic year Christina supports the Conference & Special Events team’s execution of campus events including guest speakers, academic symposiums, multi-day conferences and festivals such as LitFest, the College’s marquee festival celebrating Amherst’s literary life. This spring, Christina had the distinct pleasure of participating in ACPA’s the 21st Donna M. Bourassa Mid-Level Management Institute. Prior to her time at Amherst College, Christina worked for Harvard Medical School in Boston, MA and American University in Washington, D.C. Christina holds a Bachelor of Arts in Communications, Law, Economics and Government and Masters of Science in Justice, Law and Criminology, both from American University. In her free time, Christina enjoys kayaking with her husband and hiking with their dogs, Luke and Scout. 

Lina Layiktez, Director of Conference and Event Services, University of California at Davis
Lina Layiktez has over 25 years of experience in the events and marketing industry, spanning meeting planning, marketing and event and tradeshow production. Lina is Director of Conference and Event Services at the University of California at Davis, a department that oversees approximately 12,000 events annually. In addition to running a successful collegiate conference program, Lina and her team plan and manage their own events including bridal shows, green event planning conferences, fun runs, etc. Lina chairs the UC Davis Event Planners Exchange, an ad hoc group of campus event planners started in 1994. Lina and her team teach classes and produce events for the group that is now over 500 strong.

Nikki Lee, Senior Associate Director of Events Management and Conference Services and the Student Union, University of Texas at San Antonio
Nikki Lee is the Senior Associate Director of Events Management and Conference Services and the Student Union at the University of Texas at San Antonio. She has over 20 years in the event world and loves working with students. She is proud to also oversee the food pantry in the Student Union for students in need on campus. Her latest adventure has been to collaborate with numerous committees in 2017 to centralize the event process on a tri-campus community. Dreams really do come true!

Nathan Lubich, Assistant Director for Operations, Yale University
Nathan Lubich is the Assistant Director for Operations with Yale Conference & Events at Yale University.

Nathan received a Bachelor of Art degree from the University of Wisconsin, Stevens Point in History, Spanish and International Studies and a Master of Science degree from Arkansas Tech University in College Student Personnel.

Coming from a Residence Life background, Nathan worked closely with housing operations at Fairfield University before transitioning to the Office of Conference & Event Management where he oversaw summer operations with a focus on summer housing for students as well as non-student interns.

Nathan joined the Yale Conference & Event team in 2017 where he continues to focus on the operational side of summer programming while testing the limits of just how much change he can roll out at once.

Frani Mancuso, Director of Conference & Event Services, The University of Scranton
Frani Mancuso serves as the Director of Conference & Event Services at her alma mater, The University of Scranton.   Her responsibilities include generating revenue through  camps and conferences, planning major institutional and Advancement events, and budget administration for the department.   Frani is a member of the Employee Wellness Committee, Circle K Club Advisor and past President of the Kiwanis Club of Scranton.   She recently received her Pennsylvania Real Estate License.

Frani is the 2017 recipient of the University’s Sursum Corda Award in recognition of her contributions to the life and mission of The University and has been a member of ACCED-I since 2005 and presented at the 2015 National Conference.   

Nancy Martin, Associate Director, Student Center and Deniece Clifford, Manager of Operations & Event Services, The University of the District of Columbia
Nancy Martin is the Associate Director for the University of the District of Columbia’s, LEED Platinum, Student Center and oversees the operational aspects of the building including, but not limited to, space reservations, event management, audio visual, cleaning, event staffing. She has been with the University of the District of Columbia since 2016.

Prior to her work with UDC, she spent five years working as a Conference & Events Coordinator at American University, five years as a Conference Manager at the University of Virginia and as a student Conference Assistant prior to be hired as a full-time staff member. She received her Bachelor of Arts from the University of Virginia and her Master of Science from American University.

Nancy has been an active member of ACCED-I since 2007; she is currently serving as Region 4 Director-Elect and excited to serve as Region 4 Director for 2019!!

Pam McElrath, Associate Director of Residential Camps & Conference Services, University of Texas at Dallas
Pam McElrath is the Associate Director of Residential Camps & Conference Services (RCCS) at The University of Texas at Dallas.   She received her Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology and Master of Arts degree in Interdisciplinary Studies at West Texas A&M University.  After years focusing on Residential Life and student housing, Pam successfully created the RCCS and corporate intern housing programs at UT Dallas from the ground up.   She lives by challenge of taking ideas and putting them into practice, while supporting the student population and educational mission of UT Dallas.   She enjoys her time with family, reading, and binging supernatural or medical dramas.   Pam also loves to help others who are looking to expand their program or find creative ways to “make it work.”    You can reach Pam at


Becky McMillen, CMP, Executive Director of University Conference Services, California University of Pennsylvania
Becky McMillen is a proud wife and mother who enjoys obstacle mud runs and has passionately pursued a career in event planning. That career landed her on a college campus outside of Pittsburgh more than 10 years ago and has slowly built a fire within her to pursue leadership in higher education. Becky serves as the executive director of the University Conference Services Department at California University of Pennsylvania. She received a Bachelor of Arts in Communications at Waynesburg College and her Master of Business Administration at California University. She is enrolled in Indiana University of Pennsylvania’s Administration and Leadership Ph.D. program. Becky started her career working for a nonprofit organization near Pittsburgh, operating its annual conferences, leadership training and staff development programs. In her current role, she leads a team of conference service professionals as they coordinate meetings and large-scale events and oversees operations for a large arena and meeting space facility on campus. Becky is also a past president of Meeting Professional Internationals Pittsburgh Chapter and serves on several committees within the Student Affairs division at California University of Pennsylvania. With over 15 years in the meeting and events industry and over 10 years working in higher education, she brings a mix of experience from both fields. Becky is energized by the hustle and creativity behind each unique event she encounters. 

Justin Michaelson, Assistant Director of Conferences and Special Programs, Trinity University
Justin is the Assistant Director of Conferences and Special Programs at Trinity University.  He began his career as a student employee in the conference office and has been with the University in a professional capacity since 2013.  Currently, he oversees 15+ summer conferences, or 6,000+ attendees, annually and coordinates numerous internal and external symposiums, conferences, meetings and events throughout the academic year.  

Megann Murphy, Associate Director for Event Services, University of Colorado Colorado Springs
Megann Murphy is the Associate Director for Event Services at the University of Colorado Colorado Springs.  She has been with the University since February of 2012.  She has been with the department as they have transitioned to a centralized event services model, self-operated catering and opened the Ent Center for the Arts, a modern multi-venue performing arts center.  Megann has also helped the department transition to different event operations software (EMS and Caterease to Kinetic Software (Kx), Meeting Matrix to Social Tables).  Her department processes almost 20,000 events/meetings/etc. per year.  She currently supervises five professional staff members and six student staff members.  She is president of the Staff Association, vice president of the Slippery Rock University Sport Management Alumni Board and serves on the board of directors for the Southern Colorado Women’s Chamber of Commerce.  Megann received her undergraduate degree from Slippery Rock University in Sport Management and her MBA from Nichols College.  She previously worked as an Assistant Athletic Director at Western State University (formerly Western State College).  Megann enjoys spending her free time with her husband and two kids in the great outdoors of Colorado. 

Jill Newman, Account Executive, Ungerboeck Software
Jill Newman is an Account Executive at Ungerboeck Software.  She has over 15 years of experience in Higher Education and has been with Ungerboeck Software for 3 years.  Jill works closely with existing and potential customers in the Higher Education and Corporate market.

Kathy Newstead, Manager of Operations, Queen’s University-Kingston, Ontario, Canada
Kathy Newstead is currently the Manager of Operations with Event Services at Queen’s University. 
Kathy brings a wide variety of experience from a progressive career with Queen’s since 2004, with prior roles in the Chemistry Department and with the School of Business.  She completed her Bachelor of Commerce in Hospitality and Tourism Management at the University of Guelph.  When not working pass times include hiking and spending time with family at the cottage.

Christina Patarino, CCEP, Conference Coordinator, University of Colorado Boulder
Christina Patarino has worked in the hospitality industry for over 40 years.  For the last 19 years, she has been with Conference Services at the University of Colorado Boulder, serving as the Scheduling Conference Coordinator and the last 12 years as a Conference Coordinator.  She has planned conferences locally and nationally for up to 13,000 participants, along with organizing youth trips to both Rome & Germany.  Christina has been an active member of ACCED-I for 11 years by volunteering and presenting, along with being a Regional Director and the Hospitality Co-Chair for the Annual ACCED-I 2012 Conference in Denver.  In 2016, she received her CCEP.   In her “spare time,” Christina is a singing Diva and most of all loves spending time with her family and friends.


Florine Postell, CCEP, Program Director, University of Cincinnati
Florine Postell {POST-ELL} Florine has been a member of ACCED-I for 5 years and recently earned her CCEP She has worked at the University of Cincinnati for 13 years, in various capacities in Campus Services, the division in charge of auxiliary services. Currently a program director with the Department of Conference & Event Services she has extensive experience with event planning, conference management and logistics, and client relations.

Prior to joining the university Florine was engaged in international relations positions where she engaged locally with the mayor’s office, corporate and civic leaders in efforts to host inbound delegations from abroad.

Florine has served on the national board of Protocol Diplomacy International – Protocol Officers Association for 6 years. She also served on the protocol committees for both the 2010 FEI World Equestrian Games hosted in Lexington, KY and the 2012 World Choir Games, hosted in Cincinnati, OH. These experiences have provided Florine with a wealth of knowledge about the intriguing world of protocol. 

Michael Pulli, CMP, Conference & Event Specialist, University of California Irvine
There are no strangers in Michael Pulli’s world. There are only friends he hasn’t met yet. Anything less would be a bombalicious pizookie with whipped cream and sprinkles but no one to share it with.

A native of San Diego, where every day feels like May or June (except May or June), Michael worked at Sea World for three years while earning his degree in marketing from San Diego State University. He spent the next 25 years with Delta Air Lines working his way from baggage handling and ramp operator to many years as a marketing manager. He also covered the Rams, Raiders, and USC Football (during the John Robinson and Marcus Allen years) as a spotter for the stadium announcer with three Super Bowls, three Japan Bowls, one American Bowl in Wembley Stadium to his name. After that with many years in Luxury Hotels and corporate and event planning with Ingram Micro and over 7 years at UC Irvine, managing approximately 10,000 events per year and winner of multiple customer service awards!!

When not helping clients with room setups, dining choices, AV requests, and other event details like explaining why bonfires are better suited to an open-air venue, he unwinds on the golf course, enjoys fine dining and popularly priced California wine.

Ladies and Gentlemen to show you how to “Unleash Your WOO here is Michael Pulli, CMP 

Steve Robertson, CEO, Julian Krinsky Program Development & Management
Steve Robertson is the CEO of Julian Krinsky Camps & Programs (JKCP), an organization specializing in youth-to-adult programming that turns curiosity into passion and skill. Steve has been with the company for over 20 years, utilizing both his talent with people and passion for the growth of the business. He started as Director of Human Resources & Operations, quickly moved to Chief Operations Officer and, four years ago, became CEO. His primary goal has always been to cultivate a positive company culture and build a dynamic team of professionals within JKCP that achieves results - moving the company forward in a continuous state of growth, while staying on the cutting edge of technology and programming. 

As CEO, Steve, steers the Julian Krinsky brands, JK Camps & Programs (est. 1978) and JK Program Development & Management (JKPD&M), which he helped spearhead. He is a speaker and published expert on the topic of Millennials and Gen Z, is a guest lecturer at Wharton School of Business of the University of Pennsylvania’s summer programs, and has published articles in Entrepreneur, Inc., Huffington Post, TODAY Parenting Team, and more. 

For JKCP, he oversees 20-plus programs and camps ranging from business, cooking and sports, to pre-college academics. These programs attract participants from across the country and around the world. JKCP partners with highly esteemed institutions such as the University of Pennsylvania, Yale University, Villanova University, and even the NFL! 

JKPD&M partners with leading organizations, foundations and universities to create innovative, professionally run programs for children, teens, college students and adults, and has developed and refined services required to successfully manage and operate educational, academic and sports programs. Steve was instrumental in bringing this arm of the business to life and believes the company will continue to grow in this direction. 

Both organizations have earned international recognition for providing high quality programs in safe environments, conducive to learning and growth. Steve surrounds himself with strategic thinkers & creative professionals, key ingredients for an entrepreneurial and visionary leader to thrive in, as he continues to steer the company, keeping it focused on its mission and vision. |

Heather Roden,  Sales Director and Event Manager, Hope College
Heather Roden is the Sales Director and an Event Manager at Hope College, where she leads the external sales efforts for the campus, including selling their 50 room inn and conference center.  For nearly 20 years, she has promoted positive growth at the college by recruiting community groups to the campus while collaborating with faculty/staff/students to support their vision for college events.  She likes to “bump the lamp” in her day to day by putting forth extra effort and encouraging her team to go the extra mile to keep clients coming back to Hope year after year.  In 2016, she was awarded the ACCED-I Patrick Perfetto Volunteer of the Year award and she currently sits on the ACCED-I Board of Directors.  Outside of Hope College she enjoys being a mom to 4 children, getting ink with her eldest, working out to hair band music with friends, and traveling anywhere and everywhere with friends and family.      

Tess Saffar, Assistant Director of Conference Services and Continuing Legal Education, American University
Tess Saffar is the Assistant Director of Conference Services and Continuing Legal Education at American University Washington College of Law in Washington DC. Prior to starting at the Washington College of Lay in April 2018, she was Assistant Director of Sales & Marketing just up the street at AU’s main campus with University Conference & Guest Services. Tess started out in the field by spending two summers throughout her undergraduate at American University working in summer conferences.  Despite receiving her Bachelors of Arts and her Masters of Arts in the unrelated field of International Relations from American University, she was hooked on working in the conference and events world. The day after her graduation from AU, she began working full time as part of the University Conference & Guest Services Team.  Now, almost 6 years and a few positions later, she is still just as excited to be a part of this ever changing industry. 

Mary Seaton, Assistant Director of College Relations in the College of Ag Sciences, Penn State University
Mary Seaton is the Assistant Director of College Relations in the College of Ag Sciences at Penn State.  In this capacity, she is responsible for Industry and Legislative Relations for the College.  As part of her industry relations responsibilities, she manages the Office of Conferences and Short Courses.  The Office of Conferences and Short Courses is a fee for service unit, managing over 300 conferences each year and processing approximately $5 M in revenue annually. 

Prior to working at Penn State University, Mary started her career in hotel and restaurant management, working for 15 years in the service industry.  Building on her knowledge of event operations in hotels and Restaurants, Mary took her first Penn State position as Event Coordinator at the Hintz Family Alumni Center in 2001.  Mary then took on additional responsibilities and worked for the Alumni Association for 6 years as the Assistant Director of Alumni Events, managing over 800 alumni and university events each year. In addition to working at Penn State, Mary is a proud Penn State Alum.

Mary has used Cvent since 2003, and has helped standardize the use and adoption of Cvent at Penn State over the last 15 years.  

Cal Seelye, Executive Director for Auxiliary Services, Central Michigan University
Cal Seelye serves as the Executive Director for Auxiliary Services at Central Michigan University.  Seelye has been Executive Director since 2015, but began his career at CMU in 1990.  His jobs at CMU include Residence Hall Director, Assistant Conference Manager, Academic Advisor, adjunct faculty member, Assistant Director of Residence Life, Director of Camps & Conference and Director of Events and Conference Services.  Cal’s current role has oversight of the Auxiliary Service budget as well as oversight of the following areas on campus:  Auxiliary Operations, Campus Card Office, the CMU Bookstore, Campus Dining (residential and retail operations), Printing Services, Events & Conference Services and University Events.

Cal has been actively involved in ACCED-I since he served on the regional leadership team from 2012-2014.  He currently serves on the ACCED-I Board of Directors.  At the end of the conference in Pittsburgh (2019), Cal will begin his term on the Executive Committee, starting as President Elect.

Devin Shelby, Director of Membership, ACCED-I
Devin Shelby is the Director of Membership at ACCED-I Headquarters, where she has worked since 2015. Devin oversees the recruitment and retention efforts at ACCED-I and manages the sponsors and exhibitors at the Annual Conference. She also oversees the Leadership Development Action Team, Student Development Action Team, and Corporate Advisory Council. Prior to her role at ACCED-I, Devin worked for over six years as the Membership Director for an association management company which operated associations in the hospitality, retail, and tourism industries. In her free time, Devin enjoys the outdoors and volunteers to be the recruitment advisor for her collegiate sorority.

Brenda Soto, Director of College Events, Colorado College
Brenda Soto is the Director of College events at Colorado College and has been there for the last 31 years.  She has held multiple positions including purchasing staff assistant, manager of summer conferences, assistant director of conferences and housing.  She has over 20 years in higher education event planning experience and has been a regional director for several years for region 4. In 2013 Brenda won the outstanding institutional achievement award for her teams work on the waldo canyon fire emergency plan.

Renée Soutiere, Conference Coordinator, University of Vermont
Renée Soutiere is a Conference Coordinator with University Event Services at the University of Vermont in Burlington.  She has worked at UVM for fourteen years, twelve of which have been with UES.  She is an alum of UVM and the current Regional Director for Region 5.  In her spare time, she coaches ice hockey for her daughter’s hockey team and helps with the family business, Snowflake Chocoaltes, as much as possible.

Erica Spencer, CCEP, CMP, Director of the Conference Services Bureau, Florida Institute of Technology
Erica Spencer is the Director of the Conference Services Bureau at Florida Institute of Technology and has worked in collegiate conferences and events for more than 15 years.  She is a certified Collegiate Conference and Events Professional (CCEP) and a Certified Meeting Professional (CMP).  Erica is the current chair of the CCEP Action Team and has been a member of ACCED-I since 2007.  

Robert Vignali, Regional Sales Director, Cvent
As Regional Sales Director at Cvent, Robert oversees Cvent’s sales of the flagship event management solutions division and the mobile app solutions division to colleges and universities. For the past 12 years, he has helped implement technology solutions for events teams at major universities, including NYU, Harvard, Boston College, Columbia, Cornell, UT Austin, Purdue, and many others. Robert graduated from the University of Virginia.

Wendy Villeta, Assistant Director, Conference Services, University of Miami
Wendy Villeta has more than a decade of experience in conference and event services and developing relationships within higher education.  Before her current move to the University of Miami as the Assistant Director of Conference Services, she has directed numerous high profile events with tremendous success including large conferences, fundraising events, festivals, golf tournaments, and corporate meetings as the Manager of Conference and Event Services at Barry University in Miami, FL.  Good at wearing multiple hats, Wendy is adept at responding quickly to changing circumstances, always maintaining an upbeat, can-do attitude. She excels at logistics and operations, and her attention to detail means that events and meetings go smoothly from concept to completion.  This variety of experience provides Wendy with a depth of expertise to carefully determine thoughtful and technical answers to event flow and operations.

An avid baker, she enjoys spending time with her husband and two boys.  She is a sports fan and is a long-time long-suffering Miami Marlins fan.  

Carye Vogt, Manager of Conference Services and Hospitality, California State University, Northridge
Carye Vogt is the Manager of Conference Services and Hospitality at California State University, Northridge.  Working in the Housing Department, Carye oversees not only Summer Conferences, but Guest Housing, Marketing and Mail Services for Student Housing. Throughout her 6 years at CSUN, Carye has created an environment that has quadrupled gross revenue while only increasing the student staff from 10 to 14 along with two professional staff (including herself). Carye’s strength in creating a team comes from her 20+ years in education as a high school teacher and professor of political science. Carye earned her Master’s Degree in American Studies from Pepperdine University.  Carye has been a member of ACCED-I for five years and has been a member of the Student Development Action Team for two years. Carye’s philosophy is from the wise world of Mary Poppins – “In every job that must be done, there is an element of fun!”


Marie Voitus, Director of Camps, Slippery Rock University
After earning a Bachelor of Arts in Corporate Communications and Marketing from Walsh University in her home state of Ohio, Marie Voitus has gained four years of experience working the full range of events logistics and event sales within the hospitality industry. She started her career in Nashville, Tennessee bringing forth her niche for logistics as a Creative Services & Operations Manager for a Destination Management Company, which ultimately led to the success of over 25 corporate programs. Additionally, her knowledge for cohesive brand management allowed her the ability to generate numerous industry-wide event awards, promotional materials, and website designs for the destination management company as well as a local singer/songwriter.

Her operational experience combined with a forward-thinking mindset allowed Marie to move into a Sales & Marketing Manager position at a new up and coming venue in downtown Pittsburgh in 2016. There, she developed a Sales and Marketing Plan that branded and introduced the venue to the local industry all while actively creating operational systems, which lead the venue to award-winning success granted by the Pittsburgh Convention & Visitors Bureau.

In 2018, Marie pivoted her event career to include her love of sports as Director of Camps at Slippery Rock University. Her streamlined strategies in sales and marketing combined with her logistics background allows her to host over 3,000 campers spread over 40+ summer camps, by collaborating with university and external departments. Marie strives to implement new Standard Operating Procedures to generate additional revenue by cultivating new and innovative sales and marketing techniques to make Slippery Rock University a destination camp location throughout Northwestern PA.  

Luke Warren, Head of Sales & Account Management, Kinetic Software 
Luke has spent the last 10 years of his career working closely with the Education sector, he has a wealth of experience in compliance and mission critical software. Luke has managed Sales, Marketing and Account Management teams for much of his career and has been able to demonstrate significant growth & improvements through great customer partnerships.

Meghan Webb, CMP, Assistant Director, Conference and Events, University Guest House & Conference Center, University of Utah
Meghan Webb has worked in hospitality at the University of Utah for more than 19 years and is passionate about customer service and working with clients in higher-education. Meghan graduated from the University of Utah with a degree in Parks, Recreation, and Tourism with an emphasis in Hospitality Management and has the Certified Meeting Professional (CMP) credential. Meghan manages two departments including Conference Services at the University Guest House hotel and Conference & Event Management, and as such she is in a unique position to work in conferences as both a planner and a supplier. Meghan is active in ACCED-I where she is currently serving as a member of the Board of Directors for the association. She loves that every day in hospitality holds something new – new clients, guests, challenges, decisions. When she isn’t at work, Meghan loves spending time in the Utah outdoors and going on adventures with her three children.


Torrez Wilson, Conference & Program Services Coordinator, Georgia State University

Torrez M. Wilson is an event logistics and operations professional with over ten years of experience in both traditional and non-traditional higher education. He currently serves as conference and program services coordinator at Georgia State University, in which he oversees the College of Arts and Sciences Event Center as well as assists internal and external clients with event management. Before arriving to Georgia State, he served as assistant director of student involvement & the Student Center at Georgia Gwinnett College. At Georgia Gwinnett, Torrez was responsible for managing operations, event logistics, and student employee development of the 81,400 square foot LEED-silver certified Student Center. He was also responsible for program initiatives, including student activities, civic engagement, leadership development, and intercultural awareness. Other experience includes serving as director of student activities at Paine College as well as serving in a faculty role with the University of Phoenix’s College of Humanities.


Mr. Wilson holds a master of public administration degree and a bachelor of arts degree in music, both from Savannah State University, and has acquired the Certified Meeting Professional (CMP) designation from the Events Industry Council. He holds past memberships with the Association of College Unions International and was a 2014-2015 Leadership Fellow with the National Association for Campus Activities. He is a current member of the Association of Collegiate Conference & Event Directors International and has been published in professional magazines as well as presented educational sessions at a multitude of conferences. He is a 2016 graduate of the Gwinnett Young Professionals Leadership Institute and looks forward to completing a doctoral program in learning, leadership, and organization development.


A lover of the arts, Mr. Wilson is a classically trained musician and has performed in front of many audiences, as well as served in operations and production management positions with organizations such as the Augusta Symphony Orchestra, the Hilton Head Symphony Orchestra, the Savannah Music Festival, and the City of Savannah's Department of Cultural Affairs. He also curated the Student Art Gallery in the Georgia Gwinnett College Student Center.


Within the community, Torrez is a life member of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc., where he serves on the executive board for the Nu Mu Lambda Chapter (DeKalb Alphas) and as Southern Region Chairman of Fraternal Standards. He also serves on the board of directors for the Miss Fulton County Scholarship Program. A native of Augusta, Georgia, Torrez currently resides in the Atlanta area and enjoys home improvement projects, traveling, amusement parks, and playing musical instruments.