Speakers and Special Guests
Roadmap for Transforming Meetings, Miami Beach, FL

Ira Almeas

Impact 4 Good

Ira brings 20+ years of experience in the meetings/events industry to Impact 4 Good. Ira is an active member in the Society for Incentive Travel Excellence and has chaired many committees, as well as addressed numerous conferences concerning the incentive industry. Ira has lived abroad both in Japan and Spain and has traveled worldwide.

Ira believes that with success comes a responsibility to others. His vision for Impact 4 Good is that individuals will work more cohesively when they better understand other cultures in society. Helping others builds individual success in both the workplace and at home.

Victoria Ascione, CMP, CMM

Owner & Chief Event Strategist
V Event Management

Victoria Ascione is founder of V Event Management, an integrated event services and management company, and also serves as its chief event strategist. She provides a unique combination of professionalism, creativity and expertise—and is passionate about customer service and delivering excellence for her clients.
An industry veteran with over 25 years of corporate expertise in strategic meetings management, Victoria most recently served as director of corporate meetings and events for Bacardi USA. She holds the designations of Certified Meeting Professional (CMP) and Certification in Meetings Management (CMM), which represent the industry’s highest standard of professionalism.

Deidre Everdij

Cream of the Crop Events

Deidre has been a partner in COTC for the past 7 years, and before that was the owner of Highlight Event Design. She has filled passports traveling worldwide to produce special events and general sessions for top corporate clients. Keenly attuned to the messaging when developing unique theme treatments, she excels in flawlessly blending the creative vision with logistic reality and the budget parameters of each individual client.

Eli Gorin, CMP, CMM

Managing Director
Hospitality Growth Partners

Eli Gorin, CMP, CMM is managing director of Hospitality Growth Partners (HGP), a hospitality consulting firm focused on helping organizations make sense of their approach to meetings and events through meetings management consulting and training/professional development. Prior to HGP, he worked as vice president of global client relations for a convention services company specializing in international group housing for medical conferences, and as president of gMeetings, Inc., a meeting management boutique focused on the logistical development and coordination of international corporate meetings and events with a specialization in the Latin American market.

A great proponent of education within the meetings/events industry, Eli has been part of the adjunct faculty of GWU and Johnson & Wales University, and is currently a senior fellow of the International Institute of Tourism Studies at the George Washington University.

He has received his Certified Meeting Professional (CMP) designation and attained the prestigious Certificate in Meeting Management (CMM), one of the highest-level designations in the industry. A frequent speaker at industry association meetings and conferences, Eli has been a member of the MPI Platinum Speakers Series, as well as a Best In Class Speaker for PCMA.

Katherine Manfredi, CMM, CIS

Managing Director
Manfredi & Associates, Inc.

Katherine is a vibrant and accomplished events professional, speaker, trainer and writer. Since her career launch in marketing at a performing arts center, she’s developed and directed hundreds of events for a range of organizations.

Her passion for incentives and commitment to advancing sustainability and CSR shines through in all aspects of her career. She is an MPI Platinum Speaker, Accredited Trainer for MPI’s Global Certification in Business Meetings & Events program, and Approved GMIC Trainer for the APEX/ASTM Environmentally Sustainable Event Standards.

Katherine is co-founder, GMIC Florida/Caribbean chapter and an MPI Business Panel member. She was recently a global board director for GMIC; an MPI representative for ISO 20121 Sustainable Event Standard Development; MPI advisor to the US Green Building Council Hospitality Advocacy Committee; SITE 2013 Global Conference Sustainability Committee member; and program chair for the 2013 GMIC Sustainable Meetings Conference; and has served in numerous other positions with industry associations.

Katherine is a Certified Incentive Specialist (CIS) and holds a Certification in Meetings Management (CMM).

Benoit Sauvage, CMP

Founder & President
Connect Travel DMC

Ben is president of Connect Travel DMC, the only CMP-certified DMC in the Dominican Republic. He is a director on the Site Florida & Caribbean board.

CTS is a full-house DMC specializing solely in incentive, meetings and event organization, renowned for offering the most personalized and hands-on service in the DR.
CTS is the winner of the 2011 IMEX Commitment To Community Award for its dedication to improving the local Dominican communities while providing clients an opportunity to incorporate a CSR project into their program.

Hallie Sculler

The Great Office Escape

The Great Office Escape provides employee wellness opportunities, as well as meeting, incentive and event planning services. It was founded on the belief that employees and customers (strategic partners, dealers, distributers and/or resellers) are among a company’s most valuable assets. In supporting their ambitions and helping them to achieve their goals, companies in turn help shape their own success.

Before founding The Great Office Escape, Hallie founded Hallie’s Comet Travel in 1983, which focused on all areas of corporate, leisure and incentive travel and corporate meetings and events. She later added golf tournament and travel to her services. She was appointed to the U.S. Dept. of Commerce to Chair the People–to –People sub-committee of the U.S–Japan Tourism Exchange Promotion Program in 1996, where golf was used as a tool to build interest and communication between the two countries.

Sharon Fisher
Sharon Fisher

Founder and IdeaSparker
Play With a Purpose

Sharon Fisher, founder and IdeaSparker at Orlando-based Play With a Purpose, is a professional “experience maker” who runs hundreds of events per year. When all her friends were getting real degrees, she chose to major in “whistle blowing” as her father called her degree in Recreation. Chosen as one of Entrepreneur Magazines Young Millionaires, she has proven that the passion for play works. Sharon’s reputation for leading the industry in creating teambuilding, community service, and icebreaker events has led to 20 years in business. Now the next evolution is putting play on the broader meeting platform—gamifying meetings,making them more engaging and relevant, and adding experiential learning programs to bring learning alive.

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