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Aaron Wolowiec

Founder & President


Location: Dallas, TX (Central Time Zone)

Credentials:

Aaron's obsession with learning traces back to preschool, where a knitted purple people eater taught him important life lessons (like cleaning up after yourself).  All these years later, Aaron's honed his craft and now designs engaging, multi-sensory experiences for a diverse range of learners, resulting in the acquisition of new knowledge and skills, the forging of new relationships, and the application of new ideas and perspectives in the workplace. A serial learner and entrepreneur himself (with an alphabet soup of letters trailing his name), Aaron is nationally recognized for his learning, meetings, and facilitation work with boards, volunteers, members, and staff.  Having launched three successful brands - Event Garde (coincidentally reprising his early fascination with the color purple), Healthy by Association, and FACILIT8me - Aaron's equal parts practitioner and theorist. While the hours are long, Aaron ensures there is no shortage of fun amidst the Slack notifications, email pings and video chats - from the personal connections he shares with each client, partner, and colleague to the precious moments of free time spent stalking the latest episodes of his favorite true crime shows and podcasts. 

Download Aaron’s curriculum vitae.

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Dilhara Muthukuda

Director, Facilitation Services

Location: Farmington, MI (Eastern Time Zone)
 

Credentials:

  • Master of Public Health (MPH), Boston University
  • Bachelor of Science (BS), Michigan State University
  • Technology of Participation (ToP) Training:
    • Facilitation Methods
    • Accelerated Action Planning
    • Strategic Planning

Dilhara is an experienced facilitator with a background in strategic planning and diversity, equity, and inclusion. She is skilled in designing and leading engaging workshops that promote dialogue, critical thinking, and action. She is passionate about creating inclusive environments that enable individuals and organizations to reach their full potential. She has over a decade of experience in public health, advocacy, and health equity and racial justice work. When not working, Dilhara enjoys trying new recipes, coaching tennis, and planning her next travel adventure.

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Alina Cooper

Director, Project Management


 

Location: Jacksonville, FL (Eastern Time Zone)
 


 

Credentials:

 

Alina has 18 years in association management experience and is skilled in project management and client relations. Drawing from her extensive experience in the certification and assessment industry, she has assisted certification and licensure programs in their mission to positively impact, serve, and measure applicant competency thru verified assessment practices, delivery, and support services. Prior to entering the testing arena, she served the non-profit sector, enriching customer service experience, educational and professional development programs with her knowledge and enthusiasm. Throughout her various tenured positions and personal life, Alina believes that passion is magic and people are fascinating.

When she’s not cheering on her team members and managing client projects, she’s playing ‘ringmaster’ to her own circus which features two energetic teenagers, her mother, fiancée and devoted pet, Paddy

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Lindsay Gross

Director, Facilitation Services


 

Location: East Lansing, MI (Eastern Time Zone)
 


 

Credentials:

 

 

 

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’s expertise and area of passion in facilitation work is in engaging with the human side of the work and engaging participants and their unique perspectives in order to gain a full understanding of the impact on them personally and professionally.

Lindsay is also an experienced public speaker and trainer, presenting at national conferences on a variety of topics relating 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.

Aside from her job, Lindsay loves exercising and embracing a healthy lifestyle in mind and body. It is her stress reliever and where she finds strengths to take on the challenges of everyday life.

Lindsay also maintains a private counseling practice, continuing her connection to her social work background and working with individuals to help them achieve their unique goals.

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Kara Nacarato

Director, Development & Special Initiatives

​Location: Livonia, MI (Eastern Time Zone)


 

Credentials:

Kara has a passion for helping organizations identify creative ways to work with corporate partners and individual donors. With more than 15 years of non-profit and association leadership experience, Kara has refined skills in working with board members, corporate partners, and individual donor audiences. Kara’s unique consultative approach to selling helps her uncover her clients’ needs and identify custom solutions to reach their goals. She has a diverse background in marketing, sales, sponsorship management, and fund development along with a knack for relationship building. Kara holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in communications from the University of Detroit Mercy with an emphasis in Public Relations, Marketing and Organizational Development. She has received specialized training in facilitation skills and in sponsorship development/management from IEG – a known leader in partnership strategy, development and fulfillment. In her free time Kara and her husband Steve keep busy with their three daughters Emily, Jenna and Avery. When they get a break from car pools and sports activities they enjoy spending time relaxing at the pool or the lake with friends and family during the few warm months in Michigan.

Kate Pojeta

Kate Pojeta

Director, Meetings & Technology


Location: Detroit Area, MI (Eastern Time Zone)

Credentials:

Kate has almost 20 years of association experience combined with extensive technology work. She prides herself on being able to help clients find more efficient and effective ways to manage their meetings, information, data and communications. In addition to overseeing client events and technology needs, her background in leadership and experiential learning carry over to support our facilitation team. When she’s not working, you'll find her running, reading, or enjoying time with her husband and their four kids.

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Tracy Koenig-Poches

Lead Instructional Designer


Location: Portage, WI (Central Time Zone)


Credentials

  • Certificate of Instructional Design, University of Wisconsin - Stout
  • Certified Learning Environment Architect (CLEA)

Tracy is an experienced, dedicated education leader who creates dynamic, engaging learning experiences. She brings a cheerful energy and a positive attitude to the team. She has spent the majority of her career in the high school and college classrooms where she taught English, technology, and French courses. She has also designed and taught English courses for Madison College and the University of Wisconsin—Whitewater. Today she works primarily with associations to provide learning solutions that will move the organization forward and enhance member’s educational experiences. Tracy is also a health enthusiast, personal trainer, and CrossFit trainer.

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Krista Rowe

Director, Diversity, Equity, Inclusion & Belonging

Location: Lansing, MI (Eastern Time Zone)

 

Credentials:

Krista has extensive experience in facilitating, training and providing technical assistance to local, state and national non-profit, government and private sector organizations in Diversity, Equity and Inclusion. She is known for taking great care and patience with participants when assisting organizations in establishing a baseline of understanding, developing methods for systems change and establishing practical skills for equitable practice. Krista is a graduate of Michigan State University and holds a bachelor’s degree in Community Advocacy and Governance with a concentration in Political Science. Krista is passionate about connecting with family and friends, laughing - a lot, and Lake Michigan.

Tim Berghuis

Tim Berghuis

Manager, Finance

Location: Grand Rapids, MI (Eastern Time Zone)

 

Credentials:

  • Bachelor of Arts (BA), Calvin College
  • Master of Business Administration (MBA), Grand Valley State University
  • QuickBooks ProAdvisor
     

Tim’s accounting career spans 35 years and includes employment at large and small non-profits in his home town of Grand Rapids. He earned his undergrad business administration and accounting degrees at Calvin College in the 1980s and completed his graduate studies at Grand Valley State University where he earned his Masters in Business Administration in 2007. In 2014 Tim left his job to become his own boss at Tim Berghuis, Accountant LLC and has had no regrets whatsoever! He enjoys traveling with his spouse, Jill, and in 2020 celebrated their 25th wedding anniversary with the support of their two daughters and four grandchildren.

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Jenny Hill

Manager, Marketing

Location: Lansing, MI (Eastern Time Zone)
 

Credentials:

Jenny manages Event Garde’s social media presence and curates the monthly Gardian eNews.  When not supporting Event Garde clients, Jenny spoils her dogs, Lillie and Linus.

Adrienne Segundo

Adrienne Segundo

Manager, Credentialing


 

Location: Littleton, CO (Mountain Time Zone)


 

Credentials

Adrienne is 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.

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Ashley Uhl

Meeting Planner

Location: Vienna, VA (Eastern Time Zone)


 

Credentials

Ashley Uhl, CAE brings solid association management and event planning skills, as well as experience with exhibits & sponsorships, market research, and membership to Event Garde. Ashley is a strong believer that an association’s main value to members is top-notch experiences, including all aspects of in-person events, from educational content to networking to “Instagrammable” moments. Ashley is an active member of the American Society of Association Executives; and is Vice Chair of the Membership Section Council for the 2019-2020 year. When not working, Ashley enjoys running and training for races. Her favorites are 200ish mile relay races that take 24-36 hours to complete.

Jennifer Grau

Jennifer Grau

Karla Gutierrez

Karla Gutierrez

Tom Morrison

Tom Morrison

CEO of Metal Treating Institute Management

Holly Duckworth

Holly Duckworth

Aplebaum

Lowell Aplebaum

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Jessica Pettitt

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Jenny Stanfield

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John Rampton

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Jamie Notter

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Kelly Clark

Manager of Online Marketing, Naylor Association Solutions

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Sarah Sain

Sarah Sain, senior content strategy and development manager, Naylor Association Solutions

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Kristen Johnson Brogan

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Elizabeth Weaver Engel

CEO and Chief Strategist, Spark Consulting LLC

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Angela Pelc

Moderator, Healthy By Association

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.

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Jim Thompson

Moderator, Healthy By Association

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.

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Sarah Hill

Content strategist at Seven Events Ltd.

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Vedic Yoga

Naylor

Naylor Association Solutions

Dani Mihalic

Dani Mihalic

Corporate marketing manager for Naylor Association Solutions

John Ayo

John Ayo

Internationally recognized keynote speaker, wellness expert (naturopath) and author

Stacey Fenton

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Josh Miller

Director of Gen Z studies for XYZ University

Alyssa Pfennig

Owner of Embarque Yoga Studio, who leads Health and Wellness programming through Event Garde

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Emily Hendershot

Team leader with Nova Strategies

Savannah Phillips

Marketing Intern for Naylor Association Solutions

Molly Schnepel

Former Content Strategist for Naylor Association Solutions

Mary Lou Jay

Stephanie Birnbaum

Content Marketing Strategy Intern at Naylor Association Solutions

Natalie Topalian

Copywriter for The Image Shoppe

Joann L Smikle

Hilary Marsh

Chief Strategist, Content Company

Rob McCarty

CEO, The Image Shoppe

Kim Harwood

Results at Hand Software

Jim Brumbach

Technisch Creative

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James Bell III

State Assistant Administrator, Michigan Deptartment of Health and Human Services

Sergio Fabbrini

Celisa Steele

Julie Ratcliffe

Content Production Specialist for CommPartners

John Bacon

Alexis Travis

Laura Taylor

Christine Saunders

Magdalena Nowicka Mook

Maria Ferrante

Carol Vernon

Peggy Hoffman

Shannon Laing

Eunice Curtis

Scott Oser

Sheri Singer

Sheri Singer

Mark Gray

Andrea Hopkins Holovach

Pete Pomilio

Dr. Michael Tatonetti

David Freeman

Kaitlan Arndt

Cynthia Mills

Michael Butera

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Michael Reed

Maddie Grant

Jeff Cobb

Walt Phillips

MacKenzie Feldpausch

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Danielle Guty

Facilitator & Project Coordinator

Location: Dewitt, MI (Eastern Time Zone)
 

Credentials:

  • Technology of Participation (ToP) Training:
    • Facilitation Methods
    • Virtual Facilitation Methods
    • Environmental Scanning
    • Strategic Planning
    • Power of Image Shift
  • Bachelor of Science (BS), Central Michigan University

Danielle has extensive experience in child welfare, maternal health, public health, equity and reproductive justice work, and military research. This experience has a profound influence on her work as a facilitator, project coordinator, and birth and postpartum doula.  Her intent is to help facilitate an inclusive, safe, productive, and fun space for clients as they do challenging work. Danielle has been working with Event Garde since 2020 and is a moderator for the FACILIT8me community of practice.

Danielle loves being with her family and friends, good food, chasing sunsets, reading, being active, and working with her birth and postpartum doula clients.

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Yesenia Murillo

Facilitator

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Location: Lansing, MI (Eastern Time Zone)

 

Credentials:

  • Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in the Workplace Certificate
  • Cultural Intelligence Facilitator Certificate
  • Coaching for Equity Course
  • Unconscious Bias Learning Lab
  • Technology of Participation (ToP) Training
  • Bachelor of Arts (BA), College of Saint Benedict & St. John’s University
  • Master of Public Health (MPH), University of Michigan, 2023 candidate

Yesenia has extensive experience in health equity, race equity, inclusion, social justice, diversity, cultural competency, community organizing, healing circles, training and facilitation, curriculum design and development, employee resource groups, program development and management, public health, sexual health, health programming, and public speaking. Yesenia has always centered marginalized populations, including racial/ethnic minorities, battered women, immigrants and refugees, victims of rape and sexual assault, formerly incarcerated persons, youth in juvenile correctional facilities, and people with disabilities. She has experience leading projects and workgroups, and always elevates partners and community members in decision making. Yesenia is devoted to dismantling systemic inequities through upstream structural and organizational change. She is passionate and ever thankful for her experience as a career-long facilitator, educator, and trainer. She strives to facilitate equitable, inclusive, courageous, relational, and trusting spaces for people.  

Yesenia loves traveling, yoga, food, dancing, music, people, and above all her family and friends.

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Shannon Lockwood

Event Manager

Location: Annapolis, MD (Eastern Time Zone)
 

Credentials:

  • Certified Meeting Professional (CMP)
  • Certified in Exhibition Management (CEM)
  • Digital Event Strategist (DES)

Shannon Lockwood is a collaborative leader with 10+ years of experience in the meetings and events industry. As an independent meeting planner, Shannon’s passion for project management allows her to support the organizational mission of her clients with exceptionally executed trade shows, conferences, meetings, and events. Her experience with hybrid and virtual events allows her to contribute to the strategic vision of the organization and deliver events with impact. Her professional experience includes work in non-profit associations, official service contractors, and convention center sales and operations. 

Shannon graduated from St. Mary’s College of Maryland, the Public Honors College, with a degree in economics and a minor in political science. Shannon’s certifications include IAEE’s Certified in Exhibition Management (CEM), the Event Industry Council’s Certified Meeting Professional (CMP), and PCMA’s Digital Event Strategist (DES). When Shannon is not meticulously reviewing production schedules and spreadsheets, she can be found racing sailboats, testing out new recipes on her dinner guests, or playing unlimited amounts of fetch with her dog, Crash! 

Heidi Bitsoli

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Trevor Mitchell

Consultant

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Location: Dallas, TX (Central Time Zone)

Credentials:

Trevor Mitchell, MBA, FASAE, CAE, CDP is the Executive Director and CEO of American Mensa, Ltd. and the Mensa Foundation. His focus is on helping leaders and associations create a strategic vision for the future and working to achieve it. Trevor has been involved in association management for over 15 years and has contributed to the profession through speaking, writing, and volunteering. He is currently the chair of the American Society of Association Executives (ASAE) Diversity and Inclusion Committee and Chair-elect for the Texas Society of Association Executives (TSAE). Trevor most frequently consults on strategic planning, strategic implementation, board governance, and diversity, equity and inclusion (including everything from a DEI overview to inclusive leadership). 

Allison Laux

Rocco Haro

Ronie Salazar

Amanda Kaiser

The Empire Lakes Production Team

Sarah Robertson

Carol Blattau

Elyse Flynn

Aaron Schaut

Devon Yousif

Zach Guy

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Lindsay Thomas

Sales & Administrative Coordinator

Location: Concord, NC (Eastern Time Zone)

Credentials: 

  • Bachelor of Applied Arts (BAA), Central Michigan University

Lindsay is an enthusiastic business leader with a proven track record of driving incremental growth and exceeding goals. With more than 20 years of leadership experience, she is adept at multitasking and navigating complex challenges in ever-changing business environments. Lindsay’s commitment to strategic planning, long-term investment, and fostering internal and external relationships positions her as a top contributor across all facets of her expertise. When she’s not busy working, you’ll find Lindsay at home with her husband and their three children. Whether it’s chauffeuring her kids to their activities, a cozy family movie night, or a friendly game of cards, she’s happiest spending quality time with her friends and family.