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Panelists

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David Causton
General Manager - McCormick Place and Vice President, Convention Centers, ASM Global

David is a thirty-year veteran of the convention and trade show industry—where he oversees the overall management of the nation's largest convention center.

David began his career in the early 1980s--first managing a consumer event for Baltimore, which then led to a position with the Baltimore Convention Center--where he managed and operated a consumer-oriented exhibition facility. During his time in Baltimore, he was involved in the planning and schematic design to expand the Baltimore Convention Center as it exists today.

In 1994, David moved to Chicago to oversee the 170,000 mid-size-convention facility built as part of the redevelopment of Navy Pier. In 1999, he moved to McCormick Place.  His current duties include managing this premier facility with 2.6 million square feet of exhibit space, 173 meeting rooms, and a 10,000-seat multi-purpose arena.

In addition to being an integral part of the many milestones that have taken place at McCormick Place over the past 20 years, in 2007, under his direction, McCormick Place opened the state-of-the-art McCormick Place West.

Neil McMullin
Senior Vice President - Shared Services, Fern

Neil McMullin joined the Fern team in May of 2012. Neil has spent the last 17 years in the Exhibition and Events Industry as a General Manager of convention centers, conference centers, arenas, and performing art venues in various locations throughout the country, working for a private venue management firm before joining Fern's senior leadership team. Neil has a lifelong passion for working in live events. Neil is responsible for field operations, including quality control and implementing best practices to ensure consistent delivery of high-quality services and products. Neil also oversees all creative services, including structural design, graphic design, production and technology solutions, and carpet operations.

Neil has been a board member of the Exhibitor Services & Contractors Association since 2013 (ESCA), which includes serving currently as President of the Board. Neil is also an active member of the International Association of Venue Managers (IAVM) and has served as the Chair of the Convention Center Sector Committee. Neil graduated with a degree in Facility and Business Management from BYU.

Randy Pekowski
President and COO, The Expo Group

With over 25 years of experience in trade shows and events and as President since 2006, Randy Pekowski has led The Expo Group in realizing double-digital organic and acquisition annual compounded growth. Randy has been heavily involved in both strategic planning and operational execution throughout his career.  His insight and leadership in process and technology innovation led him to become an inventor-of-record for The Expo Group's Automated Convention Processing System and Method (U.S. Pats. 6,557,007 and 6,721,763), that enables the company to deliver its renowned Single Source Solution® service delivery model.

Since that time, his servant leadership continues to challenge the status quo of the competitive landscape through corporate transformation, organizational culture, and financial performance, creating long-term value for the generational company.  Randy enjoys sharing his experience as an active board member in YPO and member of IAEE, PCMA, and ESCA.  He holds a Bachelor of Business Administration degree in Management from Texas A&M University and post-graduate studies in Owner President Management from Harvard Business School.

Jeff Quade
EVP Events, GES

Jeff is responsible for the North American Exhibition's Business Unit. In this role, Jeff is responsible for the sales, client service, design, and operating teams and ensuring they have the resources to help clients create memorable experiences that drive commerce, foster communities, and advance their organization's purpose.

He joined GES in 1994 and has more than 30 years of experience in the exhibition, event, and face-to-face marketing industry. During his tenure with GES has held multiple positions in sales, sales management, and operations management.  He has been instrumental in re-aligning several GES sales teams, led the development and successful launch of several GES client-facing technology solutions, and enjoys helping our clients exceed their live event goals.

Jeff is a past board member of IAEE and CEIR and is also a member of PCMA.  He holds a Bachelor of Science in Industrial Management from the Oregon Institute of Technology.

Joanne M. Sanders
International Vice President and Tradeshow Department Director, IATSE

Joanne Sanders is an International Vice President of the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE), the largest entertainment union in the world. The IATSE represents workers in the film, television, live theatre, music, and convention and tradeshow industries. She is a member of IATSE Locals 30 and 893 in Indianapolis.

Over the past twenty-five years, Joanne has been instrumental in increasing awareness of workers' rights, women's issues, and overall civil rights. She serves as National Secretary for the Coalition of Labor Union Women and is Chair of the IATSE Women's Committee.

Chris Schimek
EVP - Event Delivery, Freeman

Chris joined Freeman's Atlanta office in 1997.  In his current role, Chris oversees Freeman's exposition operations throughout the California, Nevada, Pacific Northwest, South Central, and South East regions, as well as management of Freeman's supply chain and logistics (Procurement and Distribution Centers) and corporate support departments (Freight, Material Handling and Exhibitor Transportation).

His diverse background in operations and administration has helped Chris acquire the knowledge and experience needed to successfully implement Freeman's operating processes, systems, and standards, which are utilized to improve operational efficiencies and customer service continuously. Chris' ability to successfully collaborate internally and externally creates opportunities for innovation, which ultimately helps clients make meaningful connections.

Damon Ross
Senior Group Vice President, CORT Events

Damon Ross is a Senior Group Vice President at CORT Events.  Damon joined CORT in 1998, and prior to his current position with CORT Events, he was Executive Director of Operations for CORT Events and Area Manager for CORT in Southern California.  Before joining CORT, Damon served in various leadership roles across multiple industries, including financial services, distribution, and manufacturing.

Damon is currently serving as Vice President of ESCA and has been a proud ESCA member since 2013.  He is co-chair of the Diversity and Inclusion committee for ESCA.  He and CORT support industry associations that promote tradeshows, meetings, and events.

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