2017-2018 Board of Directors
PRESIDENT: Heather Even, CMP, MA
Heather Even, M.A.
Maple Street Management
Heather Even, MA is Vice President of Maple Street Management, Inc., an Association Management Company. Heather has been involved with Maple Street since 2002, working part time during college as an administrative assistant. Looking for a career change, she returned to Maple Street in 2009 where she became the primary manager for the Kaiser Permanente Nurse Anesthetists Association. She is in charge of all communications via web and email as well as coordinating meetings and special events for all of Maple Street’s clients. Heather holds a Minor in Biblical Studies, a Bachelor of Arts degree in English, and a California Secondary Education Credential from Biola University as well as a Master of Arts degree in English from Cal State Long Beach.
PRESIDENT-ELECT: Brian Gilman
SpringHill Suites Huntington Beach
Brian is a seasoned sales professional working in the travel industry since 2004. His experience includes selling to consumers and businesses in a variety of markets, which offers a unique understanding of the complex travel industry.
Brian has a Bachelor of Arts degree from California State University Long Beach, with the emphasis in Interpersonal and Organizational Communication. Through his experience and education, Brian has developed a keen sense of market trends and sales expertise. He has had the opportunity to participate in a variety of Hilton and Starwood sales training courses, workshops, and seminars that allows for a broad resource base on which to build his career. He continues to build a strong contact network through local memberships in the Anaheim Chamber of Commerce, Visit Anaheim, and a global membership in MPI, among others.
The MPIOC Presidents award was given to Brian in June 2016 for his leadership and mentoring of others in the chapter.
In addition to being passionate for the travel industry, Brian coaches his kids’ soccer and baseball teams, referees, and occasionally has to umpire a game. He lives in Torrance, CA with his wife, two kids, and dog.
IMMEDIATE PAST-PRESIDENT: Lisa Meller, CMP, CEM
Lisa Meller, CMP
Meller Performance Events Group
Lisa Meller, CMP, CEM is Managing Director & Principal for
Meller Performance Events Group. Prior to this, she was Director of WORLDVIEW EVENTS, a business unit of Worldview Travel, Inc.’s Corporate Services department. Worldview Travel’s Corporate Services team offers full service third party Travel Management Company and Event Management Company professional consultation and fulfillment, providing strategic business travel management, corporate travel, and now corporate meetings & events. Lisa opened the Events department in May 2013 to serve the MICE market for both corporate and association business, with clients ranging in size from 25 – 1,000 or more attendees.
Lisa’s experience extends across corporate managed business travel; trade show and event marketing; full service event design, operations and logistics; sponsorship program development management; expositions and trade show operations; site selection and vendor sourcing; corporate incentives worldwide; and special events. She is a credentialed professional and a speaker on topics ranging from Strategic Meetings Management to Sourcing, Event Design, Program Operations, and Logistics. She is a member of SITE and of MPI since 2006 and is actively engaged in industry leadership roles. She has been a featured speaker for Successful Meetings Magazine, MPI SEC, and MPI So Cal educational conferences. She enjoys mentoring others and developing networking strategies to support mutual growth with partners.
She believes in creating rewarding, sustainable relationships and programs built on trust, integrity, and social responsibility. Lisa is an actively competitive Springboard and Platform Diving Masters National Champion and World Record holder, a mother of two, and an avid precision sports and travel enthusiast.
Relevant Awards & Accomplishments:
• 2013-2014 MPIOCC Director of Monthly Meetings
• 2014 MPIOC Meeting Planner of the Year
• 2014-2015 MPIOCC VP Education
• 2015-2016 MPIOCC President-Elect
• 2016-2017 MPIOCC President
• Certified Meeting Planner (CMP) since 2009
• Certified Exhibition Manager (CEM) since 2012
VICE-PRESIDENT, FINANCE: Chip Szmurlo
Tel: 714 956-6552
VICE-PRESIDENT, MEMBERSHIP: Jhoanna Belfer
Ayres Hotels of Southern California
Jhoanna Belfer has served as a volunteer for MPIOC since 2014 and currently leads the Membership committee as VP of Membership. She got her start in the meetings and events industry as an office assistant in 2004 and now oversees sales and marketing for two hotels as Director of Sales at Ayres Hotel Orange and ALO Hotel. An avid traveler, foodie and reader, Jhoanna loves to share her passion for adventure and making personal connections.
VICE-PRESIDENT, EDUCATION: Pawntra Shadab
VICE PRESIDENT, EDUCATION
Elite Productions International
Pawntra Shadab With an extensive and qualified background in the world of event production and design, Pawntra Shadab joins Meeting Planners International, Orange County, as Vice President of Education. Previously, she served as Director of Recognition and Community Outreach. The role at MPI will be balanced with her current title: Vice President at event production and design firm, Elite Productions International. With the company now for eleven years, Pawntra has a masterful hand in designing and producing events for top corporate clients, as well as social and wedding cliental.
In addition to her history with Elite Productions International, Pawntra Shadab has worked countless award shows such as The Academy Awards, The Grammys, and The Golden Globes.
A history of philanthropy to those in need makes the position tailor made for Pawntra. As a previous board member of The National Urban League Young Professionals, which helps historically impoverished urban communities, she organized fundraising events. Volunteering for Make A Wish Foundation and the American Cancer Society are just a couple other organizations she continually supports, satisfying her passion to bettering the community.
Combining her professional experience with her personal passion, Pawntra Shadab accepts the position with enthusiasm and eagerness. When she is not busy on-site coordinating an event, Pawntra enjoys traveling to exotic locales, salsa dancing, and attending concerts.
VICE-PRESIDENT, COMMUNICATIONS: Donna Mulgrew
DIRECTOR, STRATEGIC PARTNERSHIP ALLIANCES: Melissa McGuinness
DIRECTOR, STRATEGIC PARTNERSHIP ALLIANCES
Specialty Coffee Association
Melissa McGuinness is an Event Manager at The Specialty Coffee Association of America (SCAA), currently based in Santa Ana, CA. SCAA is the largest recognized authority in the specialty coffee industry with over 3000 members. The association holds numerous events including the largest coffee trade show in the world with over 800 exhibitors and 11,000 attendees.
With 9 years of experience, Melissa’s role has evolved and she has had the thrilling opportunity to be involved in almost all levels of the association and a hand in virtually almost every area of the tradeshow and smaller industry events. Melissa enjoys all things related to coffee and Colombia, she is an active Crossfit athlete and most happy when she’s hanging out with her husband and two children, age 3 and infant and/or sleeping.
DIRECTOR, SPECIAL EVENTS: Alisa Walsh
DIRECTOR, SPECIAL EVENTS
DIRECTOR, SPECIAL EVENTS: Jessica Niblett
DIRECTOR, SPECIAL EVENTS
DIRECTOR, RECRUITMENT & PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT: Mark Stewart
DIRECTOR, RECRUITMENT & PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT
Tel: 949-581-7531 Ext. 504
Mark Stewart is a 24 year veteran and industry leader in the California chauffeured ground transportation business. His experience includes humble beginnings as a chauffeur, a limousine owner, operations manager and now is responsible handling business development & corporate sales for CLI Worldwide Transportation. He served on the executive board and as President of the Greater California Livery Association-GCLA from 2005-2013.
Mark was awarded the Association Leader of the Year at the 2012-2013 Limousine Digest Show Industry Achievement Awards Gala and the GCLA President’s Award for outstanding commitment and service as President from 2010-2013. Mark is excited to continue to grow in the meetings industry and MPI Orange County by taking the role as Director of Recruitment & Professional Development.
DIRECTOR, RETENTION: Michelle Sais
HSF Affiliates LLC
With 15+ years in the meetings industry, Michelle brings an array of experiences in planning Meetings & Events and enthusiasm to her board position.
She earned her certification of meeting planning from Cal State Fullerton in 2000. Her 4yrs of membership with the Orange County Chapter has consisted of 3yrs volunteering, one year on the Board holding the position of Director of Member Retention as well as awarded the Shining Star 2014 – 2015.
Michelle enjoys living by the beach in Huntington and currently works in Irvine as Manager, Conference & Meeting Services for HSF Affiliates LLC.
DIRECTOR, MONTHLY PROGRAMS: Shannel Crane
DIRECTOR, MONTHLY PROGRAMS
Lake Arrowhead Resort and Spa
DIRECTOR, MARKETING & COMMUNICATIONS: Diana Jameson
DIRECTOR, MARKETING & COMMUNICATIONS
Gateway Canyons Resort and Spa
Diana Jameson is Director of Accounts for Gateway Canyons Resort & Spa, located in the majestic red rock canyons of western Colorado. In this role, Jameson is responsible for promoting and selling to group markets in defined geographic regions to generate resort awareness through sales initiatives.
Bringing more than 22 years to the role, Jameson has an extensive background in multi-property selling, contract negotiations and developing new client and partner relationships. Prior to joining Noble House Hotels & Resorts, Jameson served as senior sales manager at Riviera Palm Springs in California since 2014. Her tasks in this position included marketing the property through email and sales calls, prospecting new clients using tools such as LinkedIn, MPI and SITE memberships, and curating relationships within the community.
Before that, Jameson spent more than 10 years refining her skills during her role as account director at Westin Mission Hills Golf Resort & Spa in California, where she led brand development awareness, cross-sold other Starwood properties and managed creative site visits from 2004 to 2014, earning notable achievements such as Sales Leader of the Year in 2010 and an incentive trip winner in 2006 and 2011. Jameson boasts additional sales positions at California-based properties, including national sales manager at Palm Springs Desert Resorts Convention and Visitors Bureau, senior sales manager at Miramonte Resort & Spa and national sales manager at PRA Destination Management.
DIRECTOR, ONLINE COMMUNICATIONS: Michael Procopio
DIRECTOR, ONLINE COMMUNICATIONS
Pro Audio Video, Inc.
Michael Procopio Is an Audio Visual Specialist. He has worked in the event planning industry for over 10 years specializing in Audio, Visual and Creative Design. Winning the 2015-2016 MPI OC Rising Start Award and being in the industry starting at a young age he has grown into a very well rounded experienced professional.