People News: Sphere, Savannah Convention Center and More Announce Key Leadership and Promotions

June 21, 2024

A bevy of CVBs, venues and other event-related organizations have been expanding leadership and teams as they position themselves for growth via new business opportunities.

Sphere Entertainment

Live entertainment and media company Sphere Entertainment Co. announced a key promotion and a new executive hire.

Jennifer Koester has been elevated from president of business operations to president and COO of Sphere, a next-generation entertainment medium in Las Vegas. In her expanded role, she will continue working with executive leadership and across the broader Sphere team to grow the business and optimize its operations, as well as provide strategic oversight for Sphere Studios. She will also continue to focus on maximizing venue use across a range of categories, including original programming, attractions, concerts, residencies and corporate and marquee events; driving strategic partnerships; delivering premium customer experience; and growing Sphere as a premium global brand.

A seasoned executive with 30 years of diverse experience in technology, media and entertainment, Koester joined Sphere Entertainment in February 2024 from Google, where she most recently served as managing director, Americas Strategic Alliances, Global Partnerships.

Chandra Allison, a sales and marketing leader with 30 years of experience in the hospitality and events industries, joined Sphere as executive vice president, sales and service. She is responsible for driving Sphere’s sales strategies and ensuring exceptional customer experiences, developing and implementing sales and service strategies, overseeing the sales and service teams, developing and executing comprehensive sales plans, optimizing service delivery and building strong relationships with key clients and stakeholders in the Las Vegas market and beyond.

Allison most recently served as senior vice president of strategy and growth at Oak View Group (OVG), where she was responsible for overseeing strategy and growth across the OVG360 portfolio, including the design and development of meetings spaces, business strategy and programming for OVG’s planned Las Vegas hotel and casino project.

Savannah Convention Center

The Savannah Convention Center (SCC) in Savannah, Ga., announced two key leadership appointments: Al Rojas as assistant general manager and Jacqueline “Jackie” Mitchell as assistant director of event services.

Bringing more than 25 years of industry experience in finance, events and facilities management to his new role, Rojas will oversee the finance, administration, human resources and information technology departments, while also focusing on municipal policy, process optimization and project management to enhance the venue’s overall operations. He previously served as general manager at the Jackson Convention Complex in Jackson, Miss., and the Oklahoma City Convention Center and was also assistant general manager at Reunion Arena and assistant director at Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center, both in Dallas.

Bringing more than two decades of event management, sales and business development experience to her role, Mitchell will play a pivotal role in optimizing the efficiency and effectiveness of the event services department. Her extensive hospitality and events industry background includes serving as director of events at Palm Beach County Convention Center in West Palm Beach, Fla., and a variety of positions at the Jackson Convention Complex, the Orlando Magic, Walt Disney World’s ESPN Wide World of Sports and the Richmond Sports Backers.

Atlanta Convention & Visitors Bureau

The Atlanta Convention & Visitors Bureau (ACVB) welcomed Emma Elder as national sales manager, responsible for selling and marketing Atlanta as a premier destination for group meetings with 251-1,200 rooms on peak night. Additionally, she will represent ACVB at trade shows while coordinating the participation of the organization’s partners. Prior to joining ACVB, Elder owned Blue Heron Events, a New England-based wedding planning company, and prior to that, served as sales and event manager at a boutique Vermont inn, where she oversaw sales for all events, room blocks and ground bookings.


Seasoned experiential marketer and thought leader Joseph Rivers recently joined global agency Spiro as director of sales enablement, responsible for developing and executing comprehensive content and event activation strategies to drive new business sales growth and providing horizontal sales opportunities with existing clientele. He will also create and curate a suite of content mediums including thought leadership, trend reports, written recaps, video interviews and related growth content and innovative platforms.

Massachusetts Convention Center Authority

The Massachusetts Convention Center Authority (MCCA) recently hired Yuisa Pérez as chief people officer. Bringing more than 20 years of experience as a human resources leader, K-12 educator and DEI champion, she will lead the MCCA in fostering a welcoming and inclusive culture for its employees, contract partners and guests. Pérez most recently served as the chief people officer at the Museum of Science, Boston, and prior to that, as senior director of human resources at Family Health Center of Worcester Inc.

Impact XM

Global, full-service event and experiential marketing agency Impact XM has promoted Frank Verrilli from vice president of new business development to senior vice president of new business development. In his elevated role, Verrilli will continue to oversee the entire new business pipeline, leading the creation and execution of strategic sales action plans, exploring opportunities and securing new client partnerships.

Visit Anaheim

Visit Anaheim promoted James Robinson to senior director of meeting sales. Most recently serving as convention sales director, southern region, he joined Visit Anaheim in late 2022. Prior to joining the destination marketing organization, Robinson spent more than six years on Visit Long Beach’s sales team, handling various markets and group sizes. He also boasts an extensive hotel background, serving in sales roles including director of group sales for the Westin Long Beach and as a senior sales manager for Sheraton Park Anaheim.

ASM Global

Venue management and services company ASM Global has appointed 25-year hospitality veteran Kathy Taylor as general manager of Ithaca Downtown Conference Center, a fully electric meetings and events venue set to open in July. In her new role, Taylor will oversee every aspect of the venue management and customer experience, as well as work closely with the Downtown Ithaca Local Development Corporation that owns the venue to drive new economic activity in the destination. Previously, she served as general manager for Genetti Hospitality, regional director of sales for Genetti Hospitality and director of sales at Holiday Inn Express & Suites Ithaca.   

Metro Toronto Convention Centre

The Metro Toronto Convention Centre (MTCC) has named hospitality industry veteran Susan Richardson as vice president of sales. She joins the MTCC after serving as vice president of group and convention sales and director of sales at Visit Detroit, where she led innovative sales initiatives that successfully helped reintroduce Detroit to the meetings and conventions market. Prior to Visit Detroit, Richardson served as director of sales and marketing solutions at the Javits Center in New York City, where she played a pivotal role in formulating the sales and marketing strategy for the building’s expansion in 2021.

The Hutton Group

The Hutton Group – Inspired Meetings & Events, a woman-owned and operated boutique company specializing in meeting and incentive planning and site selection, expanded its team with the addition of Lynn Willison and Rachel Englander as account managers.

Responsible for assisting corporate and association clients, Willison brings more than 25 years of experience in hotel sourcing, meeting planning and onsite meeting assistance. She most recently served as global sourcing manager at Bishop-McCann, where she oversaw the sourcing and procurement of meeting hotels, venues and destinations. Prior to that, she served as director, global accounts for HelmsBriscoe.

Responsible for assisting with all aspects of the site selection and contract negotiation processes, Englander brings a wealth of experience from the hotel industry’s sales/catering and services sides. She most recently worked as a sales manager with the Hilton Fort Lauderdale Beach Resort, and prior to that, planned and executed events for BLT Restaurant Group.

Visit Plano

Visit Plano in Plano, Texas, promoted two team members: Millerann Moya as assistant director and Alysha Carse as director of sales.

A member of Visit Plano’s team for 13 years, Moya served as the CVB’s first in-house marketing specialist for more than five years, after which she was promoted to senior marketing specialist, a role she has held for the last eight years. In her new role, she will continue to lead the organization’s marketing division.

Having served as Visit Plano’s sports sales manager since 2020, Carse will continue to sell the sports market. She recently earned her Sports Tourism Strategist designation from the Sports Events & Tourism Association.

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