Event Garde Top

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.

Aaron Wolowiec

Chief Executive Officer

aaron@eventgarde.com

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 past chairman of both the Professional Development Section Council (PDSC) and the Young Association Executives Committee (YAEC), as well as 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’s served on the Michigan Meetings + Events editorial advisory board and has written 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, as well as transforming his 1912 Spanish Revival house into a tranquil home. 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.

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Jennifer Amin

Director, Marketing & Membership

jennifer@eventgarde.com

Location

Washington, D.C.

Bio

Jennifer Amin is a membership and client relations professional who works with associations and membership organizations to build and streamline their membership processes to ensure successful engagement, retention and member acquisition.

Jennifer began her career as an agent and publicist in the music industry where she managed media relations, as well as tour and album release publicity for several world-renowned musicians. She also negotiated crossover roles for musicians in television, Broadway and film.

Jennifer decided to leave the entertainment industry and transitioned her relationship management skills into
leading successful development, engagement and retention campaigns within membership organizations. She most notably led business development efforts for the ultra-high net worth, global membership organization, Institute for Private Investors. She is consistently recognized for her ability to identify current
and future needs within customer relations and member services, including growth strategies, member benefits and programs, and retention techniques.

Jennifer has studied at New York University and the Wharton School of Business.

Born and raised in the foothills of Colorado, she spent eight years living and working in New York City. In 2016, Jennifer relocated to the D.C. area with her husband and three pets, and is now enjoying the slower pace of suburban life. In her spare time, Jennifer enjoys painting, traveling, hiking and camping, and is also an avid scuba diver.

Affiliations

  • Member, ASAE
  • Board of Directors, Tysons Regional Chamber of Commerce
  • Member, Northern Virginia Chamber of Commerce

Awards

  • 2017 D.C.‘s Finest (Emerging Leaders) Honoree, Cycstic Fibrosis Foundation
  • 2017 President’s Club and Club 100 Honoree, ClubCorp
  • 2016 Club 100 Honoree, ClubCorp

Hometown

  • Denver, CO

Learn

Jennifer enjoys learning via programs and webinars through ASAE, Associations Now magazine and blog, Membership Marketing Blog, Private Club Magazine, AMA, LinkedIn, seminars/panels and connecting with peers.

Network

Jennifer primarily networks via ASAE’s Collaborate, local association meetup groups, women’s leadership groups, regional chambers and various networking events in the area.

Transfer

Jennifer likes to continuously learn and tweak her methodologies, often by trial and error. She says, “You come across something new and determine if it would be applicable for a current project or challenge. I also like to learn from others in my field, observe their successes and how they got there, and then transfer it to my current work.”

Hobbies

  • Scuba diving
  • Painting
  • Jewelry making
  • Hiking
  • Running
  • Traveling
  • Fostering for a local animal rescue organization

Family

  • Spouse: Mehul

Pets

  • Beagle: Schmeagle
  • Beagle Mix: Cooper
  • Cat: Oliver

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Lindsay Gross

Director, Facilitation Services

lindsay@eventgarde.com

Location

East Lansing, MI

Credentials

  • Masters in Clinical Social Work from Michigan State University
  • Licensed Macro and Clinical Social Worker by the State of Michigan

  • Certified ToP Facilitator

Bio

Lindsay is an experienced meeting facilitator with over a decade of experience working with multidisciplinary groups, assisting them with goal setting/action planning, and creating an engaging environment that allows for consensus building. She has worked with professionals from both the public and private sector to help them work towards gaining common vision and achieve their goals. Lindsay is known for working with challenging groups to conduct needs assessments, system’s analysis and work together to co-create actionable recommendations for improvement. Lindsay is also an experienced public speaker and trainer, presenting at national conferences on a variety of topics related to overall system change and how to engage with communities.

Lindsay is a graduate of Michigan State University with both her bachelors and masters in Social Work. She is licensed by the State of Michigan in both clinical and macro level social work. Lindsay was recently elected Treasurer of the Technology of Participation Network Board.

Affiliations

  • Technology of Participation Network

  • International Association of Facilitators

Learn

Avid reader who is continually engaging in continuing education opportunities to grow and expand her skill set.

Network

Lindsay attends professional conferences and has recently co-launched a facilitation Community of Practice to enhance networking and connection for facilitators in Michigan.

Transfer

Lindsay attends trainings and industry conferences regularly to stay connected to the leaders in the field as well as the latest research. Lindsay also has extensive experience presenting her work of translating data into action and working with multidisciplinary groups at national conferences and symposiums.

Hobbies

Lindsay enjoys reading, spending time with her three children, husband and friends. She also enjoys her escape from reality, her Pure Barre classes.

Hometown

Novi, Michigan

Family

  • Husband: Randall Gross Jr.
  • Three children: Nathan, Liam and Hannah

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Tracy Koenig-Poches

Director, Instructional Design for Event Garde

tracy@eventgarde.com

Location

Portage, WI

Credentials

  • Certificate of Instructional Design, University of Wisconsin - Stout
  • M.A., English, University of South Dakota

Bio

Tracy is a graduate of the University of South Dakota and holds a master’s degree in English. She has spent the majority of her career in the high school classroom where she taught English and French courses. She has also designed and taught English courses for Madison College and the University of Wisconsin—Whitewater. Tracy is a self-proclaimed techie and has trained teachers K-12 on how to effectively integrate technology into the classroom. She is also a Level 1 certified CrossFit trainer and enjoys coaching others on lifting and mobility techniques.

Hometown

Tracy was born and raised in Fairfax, South Dakota. Her family moved to Wisconsin in 2000, where they fell in love with everything Wisconsin.

Learn

Tracy reads professional articles and blogs daily. Her favorite is “the eLearning Coach,” but she also loves “Big Dog & Little Dog’s Performance Juxtaposition.” Tracy is an avid user of LinkedIn Learning, a member of Adobe and Articulate’s learning communities, and participates in webinars offered by the Adobe and Articulate communities.

Network

On LinkedIn, Tracy is a member of the Freelance in Instructional Design and E-Learning Group. On Twitter, she follows some of the leading instructional designers in the field, including @tomkuhlmann,
@sladetim, @poojajaisingh and @amdchiasson.

Transfer

Whenever she learns a new skill, the first question Tracy asks herself is, “How can I use this to enhance or create an engaging, effective learning experience?” She experiments with it and then asks learners about their experience. Most importantly, Tracy evaluates the integration to see if it helped the learners meet the objectives of that particular learning experience.

Hobbies

  • CrossFit
  • Weight Lifting
  • Biking
  • Reading
  • Writing

Family

  • Spouse: Charles
  • Number of Children: Five
  • Names of Children: Jacob, Olivia, Nathan, Allie and Joe

Pets

  • Vizsla: Bandi

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Kate Pojeta

Kate Pojeta, CMP

Director, Meetings & Technology

kate@eventgarde.com

Location & Hometown

St. Clair Shores, MI

Bio

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 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, website development, and database management. Now she works with Event Garde clients on their conventions, exhibitions, technology projects and more!

Affiliations

  • Meeting Professionals International
  • Drupal Association
  • Elmwood Elementary PTA
  • Beaumont Hospital Parenting Program
  • Spina Bifida Association of Michigan

Courses

  • Dale Carnegie High Impact Presentations
  • Dale Carnegie Leadership Course
  • Apple – Mac OS Certified Technician
  • FileMaker Pro Developer Training

Learn

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.

Network

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. I try to infuse that into all of my relationships and conversations.

Transfer

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.

Hobbies

  • Reading - I enjoy reading books, both fiction and non. I LOVE reading books to my kids - and not just little kid books, but classics like Wizard of Oz, Charlotte’s Web, and more. My kids soak these stories up and it’s been incredibly enjoyable to experience “big kid” books with them.
  • Biking – mostly road biking, but I’m all for trail riding when the opportunity arises. And if you give me the keys to a motorcycle, you won’t see me for a few hours!
  • Coaching and teaching – from coaching soccer teams to teaching baby signs for a hospital parenting organization, to leading our local cub scouts, I enjoy getting involved in the community in a variety of ways.
  • Sewing – probably the last thing I thought I would enjoy, but I’m finding satisfaction and pride in sewing different items that have come about due to necessity (e.g., bean bags for my son’s party favors, custom bibs for my daughter, Halloween costumes for my children, extending Velcro on shoes, winter hats and pockets for special needs walkers). I don’t do it often, but when projects arise, it’s a little known talent I can tap into!

Family

  • Husband: Richard. He’s a science teacher at Dakota High School and coaches track there, as well.
  • Four children: Parker, Maxson, Colten and Sophia

Pets

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.

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Tim Berghuis

Tim Berghuis

Manager, Finance

tim@eventgarde.com

Location

Grand Rapids, MI

Credentials

B.A., Calvin College

M.B.A., Grand Valley State University

Bio

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.

Affiliations

  • QuickBooks Certified ProAdvisor
  • Registered Tax Return Preparer

Learn

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.

Network

I enjoy leveraging both Facebook and LinkedIn to network.

Transfer

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).

Hobbies

  • Morning walks with my wife, Jill
  • Golf with anyone who scores in the 60s for a round of nine holes
  • Cycling

Hometown

Born in Grand Rapids and raised in South Windsor, Connecticut. Returned to the nest to attend college and never left.

Family

  • Wife, Jill
  • Daughters: Jessi and Juli
  • Grandchildren: Jon, Ella and James

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Alina Cooper

Manager, Client Projects

alina@eventgarde.com

Location

​Jacksonville, FL

Credentials

  • Certified Association Executive (CAE)
  • Credentialing Specialist

Bio

Alina is a Certified Association Executive (CAE) with extensive experience in the credentialing industry. Most recently, she served as business development director for a test vendor where she assisted certification and licensure programs in their missions to positively impact, serve and measure applicant competency through verified assessment practices, innovative delivery solutions and support services. Prior to entering the testing arena, Alina served the not-for-profit sector, enriching customer service, educational programs and professional development programs with her knowledge and enthusiasm.

As director of certification for the American Culinary Federation (ACF), Alina was responsible for the day-to-day operations of the certification department for more than 12,000 certificants. She oversaw certification products, delivery operations, candidate compliance, exam development, accreditation activities, vendor contracts/relationships and reporting.

Alina also managed the Business Law and Workers Compensation Sections of The Florida Bar. She was responsible for meeting planning, budgets, continuing legal education programs, certification and various membership development functions. During her tenure at The Florida Bar, she gained valuable knowledge in program planning, development, marketing and communication, and developed a deep appreciation for volunteer boards.

Alina is a proud graduate of Florida State University with a B.S. in Communication.

Affiliations

  • ​Member, American Society of Association Executives
  • Governance Committee, Florida Society of Association Executives
  • Cohort Participant, Jacksonville Chamber/JAX Bridges

Hometown

As a Navy Brat, hometowns change frequently. So Alina likes to call Tallahassee, FL her hometown since it was there that she grew up (both personally and professionally).

Learn

As a self-proclaimed “life-long learner,” Alina gleans information from numerous blogs, whitepapers, newsletters and magazines, as well as from personal, hands-on, active learning experiences. Alina is also an avid Audible listener and reader, often devouring several books at any given time. Likewise, she enjoys attending webinars, conferences and meetings/discussions on various topics of interest.

Network

For Alina, networking is vital. She’s harnessed networking via social platforms and enjoys participating in ASAE, FSAE and IABC programs, as well as connecting locally via the Clay County and Jacksonville Chamber of Commerce.

Transfer

Alina enjoys taking a new skill or knowledge area and putting it to work immediately. It could be as simple as utilizing “the word of the day” in her vocabulary. Transferring the newly acquired skill into daily practice helps hone understanding and harnesses her ongoing growth and development.

Hobbies

  • Cheerleader for her children’s sporting events and extracurricular activities
  • Travel
  • Being outdoors, including hiking, kayaking, and picnicking
  • Enjoying live music

Family

  • Children: Reilly and Kelsey

Pets

  • Collie mix named Paddy

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Jenny Hill

Jenny Hill

Manager, Social Communications

jenny@eventgarde.com

Location

Lansing, MI

Credentials

B.S., CTA

Bio

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 spoils her dogs, Mylee and Lillie.

Learn

I scour the Internet daily for articles and blogs on learning trends and research to pass on through our various social media platforms.

Network

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.

Transfer

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.

Hobbies

I enjoy reading – usually human interest or suspense. I also enjoy relaxing and spending time with family and friends.

Hometown

Gwinn, MI

Pets

Two small mutts: Mylee & Lillie

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Ben Kotenberg

Ben Kotenberg

Manager, Instructional Design

ben@eventgarde.com

Location & Hometown

Oshkosh, WI

Credentials

MS

Bio

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.

Affiliations

  • American Society of Association Executives (ASAE)
  • Association for Talent Development (ATD)
  • National Communication Association (NCA)

Learn

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.

Network

I attend monthly and quarterly meetings of NCA and also attend ASAE events when I am able.

Transfer

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.

Hobbies

  • Kayaking
  • Travel
  • Watching Manchester United beat Liverpool

Family

Wife: Annie

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Sara Krueger

Manager, Team Resources

sara@eventgarde.com

Location

Chicago, IL

Credentials

B.A. in Film/Video Production

Bio​

Sara Krueger is a storyteller and activist with a knack for inspiring people of all backgrounds to join forces and create positive change in the world. In just 15 years, her bold leadership, strategic communications, and penchant for relationship-building have generated nearly $30M for innovative nonprofit programming in the mental health, art, and environmental sectors. Sara’s past organizations include: The Nature Conservancy, the City of Chicago’s Department of Cultural Affairs, Trilogy Behavioral Healthcare, and the University of Michigan’s Institute for Social Research.

Now as a consultant, Sara continues to help clients refine program metrics, streamline their operations, improve internal and external communications, and grow new business. She is passionate about incorporating health and wellness into the office environment as well, recognizing the powerful impact it can have on increasing employee productivity and retention. To this end, Sara completed her 200-hour Yoga & Meditation Training and will soon receive an additional certification in body-positivity and trauma-informed yoga. She plans to partner with companies on adopting more holistic approaches to the workplace that offer employees opportunities to make meaningful connections with their colleagues and learn about stress management and mindfulness practices.

Sara is currently pursuing a Master of Social Work degree from Loyola University to deepen her involvement in social justice work and expand access to care for those who need it most. This journey has already led to more than 100 hours of crisis intervention and advocacy training and nearly 150 hours of providing direct support to at-risk and homeless youth as well as survivors of sexual assault and adults with severe mental illness.

Sara spent her early years in Michigan farm country sneaking tractor rides and cozying up with books by a potbelly stove. She owes much of her artistic sensibilities to her late uncle, who introduced her impressionable six-year-old mind to David Lynch, Dr. Demento, German Expressionism, and 70’s science fiction. When Sara isn’t writing, working, or volunteering, she enjoys walking the shores of Lake Michigan, making elaborate meals and music mixes for friends, and hunting for her next piece of taxidermy jewelry. She lives in Chicago’s Rogers Park neighborhood with her husband Garrett and her two shelter rescues: a 17-year-old cat named Lando and a dachshund/beagle dog named Luna.

Affiliations

Sara is currently a volunteer/member at the following organizations:

  • Rape Victim Advocates
  • National Runaway Safeline
  • Erasing the Distance
  • Member of the Yoga Alliance and Yoga International

Sara’s past organizations have included:

  • Member, Association of Donor Relations Professionals
  • Member, Association of Fundraising Professionals
  • Board Member, Public Relations Committee, Chicago Literary Alliance
  • Board Member, Steering Committee, Emerging Arts Leaders Network
  • Member, Young Nonprofit Professionals Network

Hometown

Dearborn, MI

Learn

Sara stays abreast of the latest research and trends on learning through internet research, conferences/workshops, TED talks, local networking events, books, and articles.

Network

Currently, Sara participates in the following networks/organizations:

  • Yoga International and Yoga Alliance
  • Yoga-to-Transform-Trauma - Alumni Network
  • Nonprofit Storytelling Conference Alumni - Closed Group
  • Chicago Writers Association
  • Chicago Literary Alliance
  • Association of Writers and Writer’s Programs

Transfer

Sara approaches everything she does from a holistic point of view, seeking to identify natural connections between each of her passions and then leveraging those talents collectively for bigger impacts. Sara enjoys strategizing, but also gains deep satisfaction from successfully implementing those big ideas on the ground. Sara’s professional experience has allowed her to easily shift between macro- and micro-level perspectives, helping to bridge gaps that might exist for others. Perhaps Sara’s most valuable skill is her ability to practice active listening and then to adapt in real-time to ask the right questions and get the job done.

Hobbies

Sara’s hobbies include:

  • Walking the shores of Lake Michigan
  • Yoga and mediation, long bike rides, and hula-hooping
  • Reading
  • Making elaborate meals and music mixes for friends
  • Hunting for her next piece of taxidermy jewelry
  • Fiction, poetry, film, live lit performances, puppet theater
  • Travel
  • Discovering new craft breweries to try and experimenting with home brewing

Family

  • Spouse: Garrett Krueger (age 34, finishing his masters in computer science, works in tech support for a small software company). We met at Columbia College Chicago in film school and eventually started dating after graduation. In February 2018, we celebrated 11 years of marriage! Garrett is also a former Michigander (Livonia).
  • No. of children: No children. We plan to foster to adopt in our 40s.

Pets​

Sara has two pets: LandoCalrissian (17 year old female tabby cat named after Billy D. Williams; blame my husband) and Luna Lovegood (5 year old dachshund/beagle mix named after a Harry Potter character). Both pets are adopted from a shelter.

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Kristen Parker

Kristen Parker

Manager, Digital Content

kristen@eventgarde.com

Location

Lansing, MI

Credentials

  • Bachelor of Arts degree in Journalism, with a specialization in Political Science, Michigan State University
  • New Media Driver’s License – Michigan State University

Bio

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.

Affiliations

  • Public Relations Society of America, Central Michigan Chapter
  • Public Relations Society of America, Counselors to Higher Education programming committee member

Learn

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.

Network

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.

Transfer

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.

Hobbies

  • Reading
  • Volunteering with my kids’ various activity groups (Girl Scouts, Boy Scouts and sports)
  • Yoga

Hometown

East Lansing, MI

Family

  • Husband: Chris
  • Three children: Zach, James and Grace

Pets

Fish—hundreds of them (over the years)!

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Adrienne Segundo

Adrienne Segundo

Manager, Credentialing

adrienne@eventgarde.com

Location

Littleton, CO

Credentials

IOM

Bio

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.

Affiliations

  • Colorado Society of Association Executives (CSAE), Professional Development Committee Chair
  • Florida Society of Association Executives (FSAE), Education Committee Member
  • American Society of Association Executives (ASAE), Professional Development Section Council Member
  • Institute for Credentialing Excellence (ICE), Member

Awards

Association Trends 2016 Young and Aspiring Association Professional

Learn

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.

Network

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.

Transfer

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.

Hobbies

  • Reading biographies
  • Travel
  • Gardening and canning

Hometown

Miami, FL

Family

  • Husband: Keith
  • Children: James and Jonathan

Pets

Miniature Schnauzer named Jessie James

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KarelWagner

Karel Wagner

Manager, Instructional Design

karel@eventgarde.com

Location

Fort Worth, TX

Credentials

B.A., Dallas Baptist University

Bio

Karel is an instructional designer/trainer with more than 20 years of experience working in industries such as healthcare and credit union insurance. Her passion is developing instructional material, both eLearning and instructor-led. She has earned several ATD certificates, including Master Instructional Designer, Learning Transfer, Advanced eLearning Instructional Design and Designing Virtual Training, as well as advance training in Storyline and Captivate.

When she isn’t building curriculum, Karel facilitates family wellness programs, primarily pre-marriage seminars for Anthem Strong Families, a nonprofit organization.

Karel and her husband Dan have been together for more than 30 years. They have four children and eight grandchildren.

Affiliations

  • Association for Talent Development (ATD)
  • Anthem Strong Families

Awards

Through Prime Therapeutic’s ‘Star Recognition’ program, Karel won the Quasar and the organization’s highest award, Galileo.

Hometown

Karel was born in Anchorage, Alaska, but grew up in Milwaukee, WI; Fort Worth, TX; and Houma, LA.

Learn

Karel attends certificate programs to enhance her skills a few times a year, reads blogs and participates in eLearning communities, such as Storyline.

Network

Karel spends a majority of her networking time engaging with members of the Association for Talent Development (ATD).

Transfer

When learning something new, Karel immediately incorporates the takeaways into a project and transfers the knowledge to peers. She feels like the sooner she can teach the information to someone else, the more it’s reinforced for her.

Hobbies

Karel’s hobbies include swimming, as well as anything adventurous (i.e., riding motorcycles, sky diving and bungee jumping).

Family

  • Spouse: Dan
  • 4 Children: Danny, Damion, Dezmonique and Danielle

Pets

  • Cat named Haze

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Erik Wakefield

Consultant

erik@eventgarde.com

Location

Minneapolis, MN

Credentials

  • Six Sigma Black Belt
  • BA, Speech Communication, California State University, Fresno

Bio​

Erik is a performance leader that combines his experience in human resources, learning and development, operations management, process engineering, six sigma, change management and leading teams in each of these areas to maximize organizational results. He leverages this varied experience to tackle enterprise-wide challenges holistically through strategies that address people, process and technology.

Erik’s experience spans healthcare, medical device, transportation, logistics, and retail industries. Highlights for Erik include leading teams in the design, development and implementation of operational best practices for a multi-billion-dollar international expansion; leading integration efforts for mergers and acquisitions; guiding organizations on enterprise wide changes and building engaged teams through learning.

Beyond driving great results for organizations, Erik’s passion is helping people maximize their potential by teaching, facilitating and mentoring. Erik continues this focus outside of work through volunteering in his local community.

While Erik grew up and went to school in California, he moved to the Twin Cities over ten years ago and is finally getting used to winter and shoveling snow. In the summers, he loves spending time at the family cabin in northern Wisconsin. When not traveling, he’s usually hanging out with the neighbors or working on projects around the house.

Affiliations

  • Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM)
  • Association for Training & Development (ATD)
  • MN Change Management Network (MNCMN)
  • Pi Sigma Epsilon

Hometown

Orange, CA

Learn

One of Erik’s top 5 with Clifton Strengths Finder is Input and it shows in how he approaches life. He is very inquisitive and collects information on just about anything he finds interesting. Go-to sources for learning for him include subject matter experts, books and blogs, YouTube, Pinterest, and his favorite - firsthand experience.

Network

Erik focuses on nurturing his existing network while continuing to grow it through local associations and networking in the Twin Cities as well as national conferences. He also builds his network by speaking on a variety of professional topics with local groups.

Transfer

For something to really stick, Erik makes it a point to incorporate the new skill or idea into his work. He maintains an individual development plan to stay focused and track progress. A tactic he commonly uses to cement the transfer is to teach others the new skill/idea as well.

Hobbies

  • Traveling
  • Boating
  • Reading
  • Woodworking
  • Hiking
  • Antiquing

Family

Spouse: Josh

Pets​

A beagle named Howard.

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KristinaKauffman

Kristina Kauffman

Moderator, Healthy By Association

kkauffman@lansing.org

Location

Lansing, MI

Credentials

Certified Tourism Ambassador (CTA)

Bio

Kristina Kauffman, CTA is an 11‐year veteran of the Greater Lansing Convention and Visitors Bureau (GLCVB) and has held numerous key roles within the organization. Starting as receptionist, Kauffman has worked her way through several service‐focused positions to become the current events and CTA program manager. In this role, Kauffman is responsible for the planning and execution of internal and community events for the Bureau and the Team Lansing Foundation. Kauffman also facilitates the well‐received Greater Lansing Certified Tourism Ambassador Program. She is focused on promoting the program and its events and opportunities to regional members and potential members alike. One of the most successful CTA programs in the country, the Lansing CTA program now boasts more than 500 members and one of the highest renewal rates in the country. When not busy directly with the GLCVB, Kauffman is a loyal volunteer with the Old Town Commercial Association and serves as director of communications with the Michigan Chapter of Meeting Professionals International. In her free time Kristina enjoys spending time with family and being outdoors – both in the winter and in the summer. She loves cooking, photography and staying in shape by swimming and cross-country skiing.

Affliiations

  • MPI Michigan

Awards

  • 2018 Old Town Organizational Committee Volunteer of the Year

Hometown

  • Holt, MI

Learn

Kristina stays abreast of the latest research and trends on learning via the Internet and reading fitness magazines.

Network

Kristina routinely participates in the following networking opportunities: CTA events, MPI Michigan and the Old Town Commercial Association Committee.

Transfer

Kristina transfers new skills, knowledge and abilities to her work by identifying and quickly applying key takeaways and new information from various learning and networking experiences.

Hobbies

  • Health
  • Fitness
  • Swimming
  • Walking
  • Cooking
  • Cross-Country Skiing
  • Photography

Family

  • One child named Mitchell

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Angela_Pelc.jpg

Angela Pelc

Moderator, Healthy By Association

angela.keller.pelc@gmail.com

Location

Allen Park, MI

Credentials

  • Certified Meeting Professional (CMP)
  • MA, Theatre Management, Wayne State University

Bio​

After spending nearly 20 years in the hospitality and meetings industry, Angela Pelc has transitioned into the health and fitness world.

After having success on the Weight Watchers (WW) program, Angela now services and supports others on their journey as a Coach and Teammate for WW in the metro Detroit area and is currently leading her own meetings. Angela has lost 70 pounds on the program and is diligently working on maintaining it.

Angela has been on board with HBA since its inception and works with the moderator team to make this a useful and inspirational community to support busy professionals who have health and fitness goals.

Angela believes in daily activity and has completed several Beachbody workout programs. She also loves running and yoga.

Hometown

Livonia, MI

Learn

Angela stays abreast of the latest research and trends on learning via Google alerts (among other strategies).

Network

Angela appreciates the opportunity to participate in Facebook discussions and live broadcasts with the Healthy by Association community.

Transfer

Angela loves taking informal polls among friends about trends or fads, especially regarding fitness and nutrition, and then applying them, as appropriate, to her everyday life.

Hobbies

Angela’s hobbies include choral and solo singing, soccer- (or basketball- or track-) momming, improvisational cooking, gardening, sometimes running and playing Pokémon Go with her family.

Family

  • Spouse: Scot, a restauranteur in Metro Detroit
  • 1 child: Bradley, 9, a 4th grader

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JimThompson

Jim Thompson

Moderator, Healthy By Association

jim@caphill.com

Location

Raleigh, NC

Credentials

IOM, CAE

Bio​

Jim Thompson, IOM, CAE, is vice president of association management and strategic development with CHMS, an association management company based in Raleigh, NC. In his role, Thompson serves as the executive director for the National Association of 4-H Agents and the Association of Technology, Management and Applied Engineering, oversees the staff that manage CHMS’s 18 other clients and is responsible for business development.

Previously, Thompson was the executive director of the Association Executives of North Carolina, where he had been since September 2005. While at AENC, Thompson helped the organization grow its membership by more than 50%, saw retention increase to nearly 98% and worked to increase the recognition of the organization with the media, members and government officials. Before working at AENC, Thompson served as the director of business development for the NC Association of REALTORS® in Greensboro, a position he helped establish after his first year of employment with NCAR. He worked at NCAR for more than five years to substantially increase revenue for the association and to streamline the sponsor development program.

Thompson was born in Goldsboro, NC and moved to Raleigh in 1986. He would go on to graduate from Millbrook High School in 1990. He is a 1994 graduate of UNC-Greensboro and has a degree in English and political science, with a concentration in journalism.

Thompson is married to Hollyn, who is the art specialist at Jones Dairy Elementary. He and Hollyn have a son and daughter, and are very involved in the NC Football Club (NCFC).

Since moving back to the Triangle in 2005, Thompson has been extremely involved in the community. He has served as chair of the town of Wake Forest’s Recreation Advisory Board and was elected in 2013 as a Wake Forest Town Commissioner, serving for two years as Mayor Pro-tem. He and his family attend Wakefield United Methodist Church and are charter members.

Affiliations

  • AENC
  • ASAE
  • AMCI
  • Wake Forest Chamber of Commerce
  • Wakefield United Methodist Church

Awards

  • 2008 Young and Aspiring Professional

Hometown

Jim was born in Goldsboro, NC, but raised in Raleigh,NC.

Learn

Jim reads a lot of online articles, whitepapers, blogs and the like. He also networks with numerous association professionals throughout the U.S. at events and retains those resources for future use.

Network

Jim routinelyparticipates in the following networking environments: ASAE events, AMCI annual meeting and numerous AENC events.

Transfer

Jim is constantly faced with new ideas – through the resources he reads and the events he attends. However, he cites trial and error – and a little dumb luck – as the foundation of his success. Jim says that his job as an association professional is to then take those ideas and determine what to incorporate, based on the needs of the association. Jim knows his ideas have been effectively transferred when he sees an organization accomplishing its objectives.

Hobbies

  • Hanging with the family
  • Running
  • Working Out
  • Playing Golf
  • Being a Bourbon snob
  • Just being social

Family

  • Spouse Hollyn
  • Two children named Nelson and Lily

Pets​

  • Sampson - cat
  • Eliza and Pumpkin - sister cats
  • Bailey - dog

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