Meet the Event Garde Team
Our clients think of us as a strategic partner who doesn’t just work for them—but works with them, as an extension of their team.
Our clients think of us as a strategic partner who doesn’t just work for them—but works with them, as an extension of their team.
Aaron Wolowiec is a learning strategist and meetings coach for leading trade associations and individual membership societies across the United States. Committed to the latest research and trends on learning, intentional networking environments and meaningful transfer exercises, he launched Event Garde, a professional development consultancy, in 2011.
Aaron earned a master’s degree in administration from Central Michigan University (CMU). He’s also a certified association executive (CAE), a certified meeting professional (CMP) and a certified tourism ambassador (CTA), as well as an Association for Talent Development (ATD) master instructional designer.
An active member of the American Society of Association Executives (ASAE), Aaron is chairman of the Professional Development Section Council (PDSC), as well as past chairman of the Young Association Executives Committee (YAEC) and a 2009-2011 Diversity Executive Leadership Program (DELP) scholar.
Currently, he serves the Michigan Society of Association Executives (MSAE) as a top-rated Academy of Association Management faculty member on professional development and as the lead CMP Prep Course instructional designer/facilitator. Aaron is also a nationally recognized presenter on professional development, meetings and events-related topics.
His contributions to the meetings industry earned Aaron the Convention Industry Council’s (CIC) top #CMP30 Influencer Award in 2015. Likewise, he serves on the Michigan Meetings + Events editorial advisory board and writes a regular column for the magazine called, “The Meetings Coach.”
In addition to maintaining the Event Garde blog, featured in both Alltop and Association Universe, Aaron has contributed to such national publications as Association Adviser, Associations Now, BizBash and Meetings & Conventions.
When he isn’t traveling, Aaron enjoys exploring the local food and drink scene, transforming his 1912 Spanish Revival house into a tranquil home and tending to various wedding day details. He is currently co-writing a learner engagement e-book and pursuing certification as a Technology of Participation (ToP) facilitator with the Institute of Cultural Affairs.
Aaron lives in Kalamazoo, Michigan, with his dog, Lillie.
Cally supports organizational growth by building and maintaining relationships with both existing and prospective clients. Additionally, Cally leads many of the firm’s strategic marketing initiatives, including outreach to association leaders nationwide, and facilitates a number of financial recordkeeping responsibilities in collaboration with the organization’s accountant. Prior to joining Event Garde, Cally worked for a statewide trade association. Her responsibilities included customer service, project management and event planning.
I stay abreast of the latest research and trends on learning by attending various programs sponsored by MSAE and the Michigan Chapter of MPI. Additionally, our team is involved in a book club. Through this opportunity we aim to read up to six books a year as a team on topics related to adult learning, communications, business operations and more.
MSAE has a monthly get-together called Associ8@5:08 where I meet with my peers to discuss both trending issues in our field and casual events of the day. Through the Greater Lansing CVB, I regularly attend Certified Tourism Ambassador programs that showcase Lansing-area locations and convene local community members. Finally, I enjoy networking with knowledgeable planners and suppliers at MMPI events.
How do you transfer new skills, knowledge and abilities to your work? Almost every time you speak to someone or read an article/book, surf the internet, you learn something new. Though not all ideas are necessarily good, most will help you in some way, better your skills or understand something more clearly.
St. Clair Shores, MI
Early in her career, Kate served as association coordinator for the Michigan Association of Secondary School Principals, where she managed two associations and focused on developing leadership students and advisers. Coordinating about 40 conferences, meetings and camps annually gave her extensive experiences in event and information management. On top of the conferences, boards, marketing, membership and other duties that came with the job, Kate was also responsible for the association’s in-house technology projects and websites. Then she had kids! “To make a long story short, I exited the world of long hours, overnights and weekends at an association and traded it for a world of longer hours, nights and weekends working for myself - but with kids underfoot.” During early motherhood, Kate focused on consulting for clients from both business and association worlds on technology tools, as well as computer tech support and website development. Now she works with Event Garde clients on their conventions, exhibitions and more!
One of the things I looked forward to after completing my bachelor’s degree was having time to read for fun – for myself. I mostly enjoy reading books that focus on professional development and self-improvement. Reading time is hard to come by so I try to follow resourceful people and topics across the different media platforms. On Flipboard, I love reading articles about education, productivity, motivation, happiness, decision-making, teaching, and mindfulness. On Twitter, I recommend following @EventGeek, @CharlieCurve, @coolmomtech, @FastCoLead, @FastCompany, and, of course, @EventGardeLLC.
When I’m not working, my “spare” hours are often loaded with family events and things that revolve around my children. And given everything people have going on these days, interesting discussions usually still arise about workflow, processes or other frustrations. I enjoy helping people become more efficient and effective. I love seeing productivity and organization in action.
When I come across something that truly strikes me, something that I want to wrap up into how I work and what I do, I want to be reminded of it every time I sit down at my desk. I will post things on my whiteboard as reminders. I have to experience it and incorporate it with consistency. I learn by diving in, and I transfer by doing.
I have four children. I don’t need pets. Unless someone finds me a dog that won’t shed, will clean up all dropped crumbs, will train itself, is kid-friendly and doesn’t bark incessantly.
Adrienne is a graduate of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Institute for Organization Management (IOM) program based in Athens, GA. She’s also a recipient of the Institute for Credentialing Excellence (ICE) credentialing specialist certificate. In addition to her work with Event Garde, Adrienne and her husband, Keith, own a boutique association management company (AMC) specializing in the development and maintenance of certification programs. Based in Littleton, CO, Adrienne serves as its chief operating officer and chairman. Previously, she served as the director of credentialing and operations for the National Board of Surgical Technology and Surgical Assisting (NBSTSA), as well as chief staff executive to multiple national association certification programs via Partners in Association Management. Adrienne has extensive experience in exam development, ANSI ISO 17024 accreditation, NCCA accreditation, education audits and credential marketing.
Association Trends 2016 Young and Aspiring Association Professional
To keep on top of the latest trends within the education/credentialing space, I am constantly reading the latest white papers, books and articles. Likewise, I frequent many webinars on the latest and greatest research and subscribe to many blogs on topics critical to the professional development community.
As a member of CSAE, FSAE, ASAE and ICE, I enjoy leveraging these opportunities – both formal and informal – to network with my association, education and credentialing colleagues.
I enjoy the opportunity to leverage my newfound knowledge and connections in my day-to-day work and find that I’m more successful the more quickly I’m able to apply these new ideas and fresh takeaways to real work situations.
Miniature Schnauzer named Jessie James
Kristen joined Event Garde in June 2013 as digital content manager and is responsible for Event Garde’s various communication platforms, including the blog and newsletter. She also works for Michigan State University’s public relations office. Kristen is experienced in several key communication disciplines, including publications, print media, media relations, and issues communications. She is the former editor of an international trade publication and the former communications director for a nonprofit health care association. Kristen is a 2000 graduate of MSU’s journalism program.
I subscribe to dozens of e-newsletters and blogs that cover a gamut of topics relevant to the meetings and events industry. I also read leading industry magazines (usually online), and maintain Google alerts for various topics.
I am an active participant of CMPRSA and regularly attend its events. At the same time, I am a member of the PRSA CHE programming committee, a responsibility for which I regularly network, whether in person at meetings and events, or via social media.
For me, my biggest knowledge transfer happens through written communication. After learning something new and absorbing its content, I write about it, often inserting my two cents. And after every post, I use Twitter to transfer that knowledge to my followers.
East Lansing, MI
Fish—hundreds of them (over the years)!
Jenny manages Event Garde’s social media presence by regularly posting to Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. Additionally, she maintains thousands of contacts in the firm’s database. Jenny earned a Bachelor of Science degree from Central Michigan University (CMU) and is a Certified Tourism Ambassador (CTA) for Greater Lansing. When not supporting Event Garde clients, Jenny works for a multinational retail corporation and spoils her dog, Mylee.
I scour the Internet daily for articles and blogs on learning trends and research to pass on through our various social media platforms.
I attend Lansing CTA functions at least once a month and enjoy the opportunity to network with planners, suppliers and other community members during those functions.
Any new takeaways I learn about social media I like to implement right away. I then evaluate on an ongoing basis whether or not the change has impacted engagement.
I enjoy reading – usually human interest or suspense. I also enjoy relaxing and watching TV. Walking Dead, anyone?
Shih Tziu mix: Mylee
Ben is a graduate of Illinois State University and holds a master’s degree in communication. During his graduate work, Ben completed Illinois State’s instructor training program and conducted original research on athletes in crisis, family businesses and small group communication. In addition to his work with Event Garde, Ben is an instructor for the University of Wisconsin where he teaches courses to traditional and adult degree learners in communication, management and information technology. Ben is also a staff member for the Health Information, Management and Technology joint venture program between the University of Wisconsin System and Bellin College of nursing where he helps prepare the next generation of healthcare leaders. Ben enjoys producing educational and small business promotional videos and can often be found looking through the viewfinder of a video camera or cutting together the latest shots in the editing bay. Ben and his wife, Annie, are avid travelers. After visiting all seven continents, they are on to their next goal of kayaking in all of the world’s oceans.
I stay connected through webinars and research conducted by ASAE, ATD and NCA. I also participate in monthly faculty development through the University of Wisconsin.
I attend monthly and quarterly meetings of NCA and also attend ASAE events when I am able.
I am always testing new ideas and technologies in my work to identify unintended consequences, both good and bad, before implementing the latest and greatest for clients. I love testing and tweaking to find the perfect solution.
Grand Rapids, MI
B.A., Calvin College
M.B.A., Grand Valley State University
I’ve worked in accounting for more than 30 years, starting at Calvin College, my Alma Mater, in 1983. After spending 18 years there, I changed jobs to work at Stepping Stones Montessori School and began my master’s studies at Grand Valley State University. Shortly after earning my degree in 2007 I started working for Grand Rapids Public Schools in their human resources office. I started my own accounting company – Tim Berghuis, Accountant – as a part-time venture while I changed jobs to work at the West Michigan Environmental Action Council (WMEAC). In 2014 I finally realized my dream to become completely self-employed. My wife, Jill, and I also run an AirBNB operation from our home in the lively Eastown neighborhood of Grand Rapids, Michigan.
I preach best practices when it comes to QuickBooks and accounting work, so it’s important to me to stay informed on the latest in regulations and technology. I’ve always been interested in researching my clients’ questions and I am drawn (Go Math Club!) to the numbers side of business operations.
I enjoy leveraging both Facebook and LinkedIn to network.
With QuickBooks tutoring, I show people how to accomplish the tasks necessary to run their operations. So my ability to support client transfer is usually face-to-face and one-on-one. I move from the general (e.g., always balance your business checkbook because that is the key task to running a business) to the specific (e.g., here are the 10 steps from start to finish on how you should balance your checkbook).
Born in Grand Rapids and raised in South Windsor, Connecticut. Returned to the nest to attend college and never left.