International Association of Exhibitions and Events (IAEE) named this year’s recipients of the IAEE Awards program, which recognizes professionals who have made outstanding contributions to the exhibitions and events industry.
The recipients will be honored at the IAEE Annual Networking Luncheon and Awards Presentation to be held during Expo! Expo! IAEE’s Annual Meeting & Exhibition Dec. 9-11 in Los Angeles, Calif.
“The IAEE Awards Committee is very proud of this year’s honorees,” said David Audrain, CEM, chairperson, IAEE Awards Committee. “The dedication shown by these exhibitions and events professionals is truly outstanding, and we look forward to honoring their achievements at Expo! Expo!”
This year’s award winners were selected after careful consideration and review by the IAEE Awards Committee and approval by the IAEE board of directors, following an open call for nominations earlier in the year. The following outstanding individuals were selected for recognition:
Vinnie Polito, managing director at VP International
The award recognizes an individual who, over the years, has furthered IAEE’s objectives of advancing exhibition management through the promotion of education, the dissemination of knowledge and the introduction or development of innovative techniques; and who has been dedicated to the perpetuation of the highest ideals, trust and professionalism in this highly specialized field.
Polito has more than 20 years’ experience in senior leadership positions, and has been involved in all facets of the trade show industry. Most notably, he worked for the privately held INTERFACE Group as a Divisional Vice President, working on the COMDEX brand as well as many other brands. He was a Senior Vice President for Reed Exhibitions, a publicly held company, where he ran a portfolio of several events for nine years. In addition, he has also played an active role in several acquisitions.
During his career, Polito has also had two international postings and launched events on five continents. This experience provides a unique global perspective on the future of the trade show industry. Currently, he is the Principal of VP International, a management firm he founded, focused on elevating emerging events to the next level, launching new events and the turnaround of “challenged” events. His current portfolio includes international events, trade shows and consumer events, as well as highly specialized medical congresses. While he was building businesses, he was also active and volunteering in multiple face-to-face industry organizations. Polito was the 2011 Chairperson of the IAEE Board of Directors, and remains extremely active with IAEE. He has also been a long-time member of PCMA, MATSO and SISO.
Tesa Harding, CEM, exhibits manager at the Texas Music Educators Association; Carolyn Hilderbrand, national sales manager at AVTS; Tom Malek, CEM, national sales manager at GES; and Jennifer Kimball, senior vice president, Operations at OnPeak.
The award recognizes those whose ideas and/or work have benefited IAEE as an organization in some special way and is generally reserved for those who have stepped forward at the chapter/local level.
Educator of the Year Award
Bob Kelley, CEM, CMM, and Curtis Love, Ph.D., professor at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas
The award honors IAEE members who possess outstanding creativity, a positive attitude and the ability to transfer knowledge through good communication skills and innovative teaching to promote life-long learning to exhibitions and events industry professionals.
Outstanding Achievement in Industry Leadership Award
Johanne Belanger, president of Freeman Audio Visual | Canada
The award recognizes individuals who have made an extraordinary personal or professional commitment that materially contributes to the advancement of the exhibitions and events industry.
Outstanding Achievement in Innovation in Business Solutions Award
Amandeep Sandhu, vice president of Customer Insights at UBM Tech
The award recognizes achievement in the creation of new and innovative business solutions.
Young Professional of the Year Award
Jennifer Hardee, CEM, national sales manager at Freeman and Barbara Myers, CAE, vice president of Association Services at IMN Solutions
The award honors individuals in the exhibitions and events industry 40 years of age or younger. The award recognizes excellent professional performance by someone who has committed his/her time to advancing the standing of young professionals in our industry.
Rookie of the Year Award
Sarah Soliman, producer/talent at Convention News Television (CNTV)
The award recognizes excellent professional performance by an individual with three or less years of full-time exhibitions and events industry experience.