Navigating International Meetings & Incentives 2017 – Speaker Bios

Kristel Nesrallah, Head of Business Development, Strategic Meetings, North America, American Express Global Business Travel

kristel nesrallah new headshotKristel Nesrallah is the Director of Global Business Development & Strategy for American Express Meetings and Events. She leads the North American team of consultative business development managers that are responsible for strategic development and solution design of meeting programs to drive cost savings, compliance & efficiencies within their

Kristel has over 17 years experience in the meetings and events industry in Operations, Technology, Account Management and Business Development & Strategy.

Originally from South Africa, Kristel now lives just outside of Princeton, NJ


Tyra W. Hilliard, PhD, JD, CMP

Tyra HilliardTyra Hilliard has devoted her career to justice and safety in the hospitality and meetings industry.

Twenty-five years of professional experience combined with an extensive education and research allows Tyra to provide a well-informed but practical approach to crisis preparedness and legal issues.  Her experience in the hospitality and meetings industry includes stints as a meeting planner, convention and visitors bureau sales representative, catering manager, association executive, attorney, and professor.

Tyra is the co-author of a book on Event Project Management.  She has published several research-based articles on crisis preparedness and the meeting planner.  She is widely quoted on legal and crisis management issues in academic and industry publications.

She has been invited to share her irreverent approach to law, crisis management, and risk management with groups worldwide.  She also teaches college courses in business, hospitality, and event management, including courses in Hospitality & Event Law and Crisis Management for Hospitality & Events.

Tyra has been honored for professional achievement as an Educator by the Professional Convention Management Association and received national recognition for her contributions to best practices initiatives with the Convention Industry Council and Meeting Professionals International. She serves on the board of the Southeast & Coastal Georgia chapter of the American Red Cross.

She is one of only two people in the world to have a law degree, a PhD in Hospitality, and a CMP.


Kevin Iwamoto, Senior Consultant, GoldSpring Consulting

Kevin Iwamoto 2016 headshotKevin Iwamoto brings more than 35 years of experience in corporate travel and meetings/events management to GoldSpring Consulting’s clients. He focuses on select projects and consulting engagements, specializing in global procurement, category management, strategic sourcing, meetings and events, Strategic Meetings Management Programs (SMMP) and SMM Maturity Indexing for programs.

Prior to joining GoldSpring, Kevin served as vice president of industry strategy at Lanyon, where he was responsible for guiding the global strategies for engaging with buyers, associations and suppliers. Prior to joining Lanyon, he was a senior global category manager in the Hewlett-Packard Global Travel & Meetings Team.

Kevin is a former President & CEO of the Board of Directors for the Global Business Travel Association (GBTA). He has served on numerous association boards, most recently as a Board member for the US Council for the MPI Foundation. He is considered one of the original founders of SMM and is acknowledged globally as a leading subject matter expert in the discipline.

Kevin has won almost every major industry award in both business travel and the meetings and events industries. Recent accolades include the 2016 MPI Rise Award for Meetings Industry Leadership. He has published two published books, Strategic Meetings Management: From Theory to Practice published in April, 2011 and most recently, Your Personal Brand, Your Power Tool to Build Career Integrity, published in October of 2016.

He holds a bachelor of arts degree in business administration from the University of Hawaii, a Global Travel Professional (GTP) designation from GBTA and a Global Leadership Professional (GLP) Masters designation from the Wharton School of Business via GBTA.


Theresa M. Thomas, Senior Vice President, Powered by iJET

Theresa ThomasTheresa Thomas is Senior Vice President of the Powered by iJET Business Unit and responsible for building partnerships to enable organizations to deliver insight through iJET’s people and location-centric intelligence and services.

In her current role, Theresa is responsible for building a two-way ecosystem of content, intelligence and services that serve the B2B2B markets with a focus on top tier 3rd party technology and servicing organizations.

During her 20+ year career, Theresa has worked in numerous companies’ across the travel industry, holding several leadership positions within the B2B and B2C environments. Most recently, these include Chief Marketing Officer with a leading travel publisher, President of her own Strategic Marketing firm and thirteen plus year’s highlighted by recruitment, promotion and retention by leading firms including American Express, Federal Express and AT&T.

Theresa is from Ohio but has lived in Southern New Jersey since 1996.


Lynne K. Tiras, CMP, President, International Meeting Managers, Inc.

Lynne TirasLynne Tiras, CMP is President and owner of International Meeting Managers, Inc. (IMM), a special events, association and meeting management company. The company was formed in 1986 by Lynne, who has over thirty-five years of meeting planning, association and event management experience.

Lynne is Past President of the Houston Chapter of Meeting Professionals International (MPI) and was named Meeting Planner of the Year for 1988-1989. Lynne served on the international level of MPI’s Advisory Council of Special Interest Groups for Independent Meeting Professionals from 1992 through 1998 and served as chair of that council for 1994 -1995.

Lynne has been a writer for industry publications and a speaker at both Meeting Professionals International’s Professional Educational Conference and the World Education Conference and other industry meetings.

Currently, Lynne serves on the Houston Community Board of Directors of the Arthritis Foundation. Additionally, she is Executive Director for the Texas Business Hall of Fame Foundation.

She has served on Certain Software’s Advisory Board, a leading development company of software applications for meeting and event professionals, the Tourisme Montréal Meetings and Incentives Advisory Board and is a past member of the Meetings Advisory Board of the InterContinental Hotels Group and spent seventeen years on the Board of the Greater Houston Convention and Visitors Bureau.


Virginia Mampre, CFEE, President & CEO, Meetings and Incentive Travel

Virginia MampreVirginia Mampre started in the MICE industry very early, creating and leading domestic and international meetings and travel for groups since 1968, in her youth, when approached to lead a high school group to Mexico for a traveling emersion program and meetings.

In addition to continuing to develop meetings, she has formal expertise in broadcasting where she was in TV station management, and ownership, for many years and also developed incentive programs for PBS associations and member clients. She formed Meetings and Incentive Travel and Mampre Media International, LLC (MMI) a TV/ media syndication, distribution, production and consulting business, in 1984.

In addition to classic MICE incentive programs, she has developed unique tailored and theme incentives, some traveling to multiple destinations domestically and internationally.

Her many honors include the White House Private Sector Initiative Award and the chance to represent Houston at the 2nd World Conference of Mayors in Hiroshima & Nagasaki.

Tim Groser

Tim Groser was appointed New Zealand Ambassador to the United States in January 2016. He is also New Zealand’s Special Envoy to the Pacific Alliance.

In 2005, Tim was elected to Parliament and from 2008 to 2015 was cabinet minister, most recently as Minister of Trade and Minister Responsible for Climate Change Issues.

From 2002-2005 he was New Zealand’s Ambassador to the World Trade Organization (WTO), and the Chair of Agriculture Negotiations for the WTO. He also served as Ambassador to Indonesia from 1994-1997.

Tim is regarded as one of the world’s leading experts on international trade. He has served New Zealand with distinction in a number of capacities, including being New Zealand’s Chief Negotiator in the GATT Uruguay Round, the Round that brought agriculture into the system of the world trade rules for the first time, and has been instrumental in helping to develop the Global Research Alliance on greenhouse gas emissions.

Tim is a Special Adviser on climate change to IEA and an Honorary Adviser to the New York Asia Society.

Alexa Bennett


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