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Presentation

2024
SPEAKERS

Karen Cortell Reisman, M.S., is the founder of Speak For Yourself® & Associates, a communication consulting firm. She teaches corporate and association audiences how to “speak for yourself” to become better communicators, craft a compelling message and build trust with stakeholders. She has spoken in the U.S., Germany and Israel, and is the author of two books on how to communicate and sell. Her clients include the American Heart Association, Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Pizza Hut, ThyssenKrupp Elevator, Intuit, Sprint, and Deloitte Touche. Karen has one bachelor’s degree, one master’s degree, one Longhorn cow named Bliss, one daughter, one son, and one husband… not necessarily in that order.

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Christine Cashen delivers a fast-paced, entertaining program brimming with memorable quips and relevant content that helps audiences spark new and innovative ideas, manage conflict, energize employees, and create a happier more productive workplace. She has earned the Certified Speaking Professional and Certified Virtual Presenter credentials, and she is one of the few individuals to meet the rigorous induction criteria of the National Speakers Association, CPAE Speaker Hall of Fame. Her ability to pull in audiences with her insights on commonplace situations makes her message unforgettable. Christine holds a master’s degree in Adult Education, and in 2016 was the recipient of an honorary doctorate from Central Michigan University. She is the author of two award-winning books on creatively using humor at home and in the workplace. Before embarking on her journey as a speaker, she worked as a university admissions officer, corporate trainer, and broadcaster.

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Joe Bedsole, CTA is Director of the Austin-based regional sales office for the Arlington Convention & Visitors Bureau. He has been with Arlington over twelve years and has over 27 years in the hotel, CVB and association world, working for hotel companies such as Doubletree, Le Meridien, Marriott and Fairmont Hotels & Resorts. He has been a board member for the Texas Society of Association Executives, the Society of Government Meeting Professionals – Austin Capitol Chapter, and is a Past President of the Austin/San Antonio chapter of MPI. He has been a frequent volunteer instructor for the Austin Community College Meeting Planning certificate program. In 2013 he was honored with the Distinguished Affiliate of the Year award from TSAE, and in 2019 was named the Industry Professional of the Year by Southwest Showcase.

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Corey Greenwood, SHRM is the Event and Exhibitor Services Manager at the Austin Convention Center and Palmer Events Center. He oversees the largest unit of individuals between the two venues, managing the set up crew as well as the event maintenance, rigging and custodial teams. Greenwood has held positions as an Event Coordinator at both the Dallas Convention Center and a Senior Event Coordinator at the Austin Convention Center. He moved to his current role in 2021. He earned a BBA in Entertainment & Sports Promotion from Northwood University-Texas in 2012. Prior to joining the events industry he served in the U.S. Navy as an Operations Specialist and as a member of the special forces unit VBSS team, literally searching for pirates in the Pacific.

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Lisa Grinstead is the Sales Manager for Visit Lubbock, where she has been employed for the past 14 years. She handles the Association, Government and Corporate markets. She started her career working for Sheshunoff Information Services as a manager before moving on to the association world in 2004 as the Managing Editor and Director of Education for the Texas Association of Assessing Officers. She is a graduate of Hardin-Simmons University in Abilene, and has received her Masters degree from St. Edwards University in Austin.

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Liz Hundley, CMP, is the Department Chair and Instructional Professor in the Programs of Hospitality Management and Meeting & Event Planning at Austin Community College. While working on her undergraduate degree from the Hilton School for Hotel and Restaurant Management at the University of Houston, she became involved in the culinary intern program with Starwood Hotels. After many years in the industry, she transitioned into college-level instruction for up-and-coming industry professionals. Hundley has a B.A. from the University of Houston, Hilton School for Hotel and Restaurant Management; an MBA in Business Administration from Augusta State University, and is a Certified Meeting Professional since 2008. She has been teaching at Austin Community College since 2004.

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Toni Lira is the Texas Area Director of Sales for Hilton Worldwide. She has over 30 years of experience in the hospitality industry, beginning her hotel career with Red Lion Hotels & Resorts in Texas and Colorado. She spent 18 years in Colorado and New Mexico representing two resort properties for Destination Hotels & Resorts as a National Sales Director before moving back home to Texas. Once here she started with the Hilton Austin sales team, before moving up to her current position with the Hilton Worldwide Sales. She was awarded Hilton Austin’s 2018 Leader of the Year and 2018 Leader of the Quarter, in addition to being nominated for the Austin Hotel & Lodging Association’s 2018 Leader of the Year. She is a graduate of Southwest State University, now known as Texas State University.

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Heather Munnell is Director of Client Experience for VDA, an experiential marketing and event design agency based in Massachusetts. A sales and marketing expert, she works with small businesses and international corporations to amplify communication and connection with their audiences. In addition to being a passionate sales and events strategist, Heather has 20 years of experience in delivering corporate events to Fortune 500 companies that include sponsorships, team building, and event design for both live and virtual events. While at VDA she has played an integral part in developing a cohesive sales and marketing strategy for new product development. In addition to her work in the industry, she has completed 10 triathlons, modeled in storefront windows, been a singing waitress for a murder mystery cabaret and worked as a traffic cop.

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Stephen Nold, co-founder and CEO of HubDM, has been serving at the intersection of technology and the events industry for virtually his entire working life. After working for Intel and Team Tech International early in his career, he served as President of Advon Tech, a firm devoted to assisting meeting industry companies incorporate technology into their daily operations. After Advon was acquired by Tarsus in 2010 he moved to WhoAt Inc. as VP and General Manager before becoming a full-time consultant. For many years he has consulted with associations and corporations to identify digital marketing solutions that boost profitability and performance. HubDM, a platform devoted to assisting organizations expand their reach by combining their community with digital marketing tools, was launched in 2021. A graduate of The University of Texas, Nold earned his MBA from the Naveen Jindal School of Management at UT Dallas.

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Philip Prasek is the Assistant Director of Client Relationships at Freeman Audio Visual. He has over 12 years of experience in the event production industry. He has worked at Freeman for more than 10 years, starting as a Audio Specialist in 2010. He moved up to Project Manager a few years later, then was promoted to Senior Client Solutions Manager before becoming Assistant Director in 2019. He is a graduate of Texas State University. And in an interesting bit of synergy, his wife Kayla Prasek is the official photographer for Southwest Showcase. Phil and Kayla have four children.

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Heather Reid, ARCT, MSc, DES, is the Founder & CEO of Planner Protect Inc., a contract review agency that negotiates fair and balanced event contracts for organizations hosting live events. With almost 30 years experience as an entrepreneurial event planner, she consults with event hosts and industry professionals to negotiate balanced event contracts that treat each party equally. Hundreds of contracts reviewed and more than $8.6 million tracked in actual cash savings and avoided financial risks is testimony to her effectiveness. Reid has received national recognition for her thought leadership and innovation in the industry, including being named to the Canadian Meetings & Events Hall of Fame in 2017, and being named one of Connect’s distinguished “15 over 50” for 2021. A sought-after contributor to industry associations and media, she has a major impact on countless event professionals every year.

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George Rojas is the Director of Staffing & Development for RK Group, responsible for managing the daily operations of the food and beverage (F&B) personnel at the Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center in San Antonio. A 27-year-veteran of the food and beverage industry, he was the Director of Operations for The Club at Sonterra Country Club prior to joining RK Group. There he managed member services and F&B operations of the club’s three restaurants, six private ballrooms, outside services for two golf courses, golf tournaments, tennis tournaments, social committees and social events. A graduate of the University of Incarnate Word in San Antonio, he is a member of the American Chef Association, the Texas Chef Association, and the Lone Star Chapter of the Club Managers Association of America. He currently serves on the advisory board of the St. Philips Culinary College in San Antonio.

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Alice Shikina is a mediator, negotiation coach, international speaker and author of Negotiating With Your Kids. She has a theatre background, which she draws upon in her mediations and negotiation coaching. Her ability to achieve positive outcomes is a result of her extensive experience mediating divorces, personal injury cases, and landlord/tenant and workplace conflicts. She also runs small group negotiation coaching courses for business professionals. Part of her ability to understand and relate to a wide variety of people and situations comes from the many different locations where she has lived and worked. Alice grew up in southern Louisana and attended college at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio. She lived three years in both the Czech Republic and Honolulu, Hawaii, and currently resides in Oakland, California with her two teenage boys. She speaks Czech fluently and Japanese conversationally.

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Ray Valles is the Austin-based Senior Sales Manager for Visit El Paso. During college he worked at the Walt Disney Company for four years, then spent over six years with Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts where he worked at properties in Austin, Vail, Orlando, New York, Maui, and Whistler Canada. A native of El Paso, he is a graduate of Texas Tech University in Restaurant, Hotel and Institutional Management.

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Shaun Yates is the Director of Sales for Kalahari Resorts and Conventions in Round Rock. A 20-year veteran of the hospitality industry, he started his journey at the age of 22 working for Caesars Palace as a Colosseum Sales Intern on the Celine Dion show, “A New Day.” He transitioned into Catering and Convention Services there before moving on to Orlando for 10 years, in the process participating in the opening of a new resort and making the jump to sales. He has been in Austin for the last six years, first as the Director of Sales for Hilton Austin and then as Director of Sales at Kalahari starting in May of 2021. He is a graduate of the University of South Carolina and has a wife, Kristen, and a son, Logan.

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