Imagine yourself starting your career, eager to learn and meet as many seasoned industry professionals as possible. Maybe you’re nervous or concerned you don’t have the time or resources to educate and network yourself efficiently. Don’t worry. We got you covered.

UpStart provides education and networking for young professionals and students just beginning their careers in the venue management profession. Powered by the IAVM Foundation in partnership with Western Kentucky University, UpStart participants learn valuable career skills from industry leaders while making connections with executives from major venues.  

UpStart is free for young professionals, students, and faculty and is made possible through the support of IAVM members, venue industry leaders, and other partners that have supported the IAVM Foundation’s Build An Amazing Future campaign. It is US$35 for other VenueConnect attendees. Prior registration is required.

Sponsored By: WKU


UpStart: Game Changer 
Monday, August 7 | 8:00 AM - 10:00 AM | Room 201

Moderator: Dusty Saine

Breakfast will be served before everyone’s favorite Game Changer session starts. Game Changer brings together Students and Young Professionals with Industry Leaders for fast paced (think speed networking) Q&A. Every 15 minutes you change to another table to ask more questions all the while learning from some of the industry’s best! Industry leaders who are participating this year are:

Kim Stone, Executive Vice President, Miami HEAT and General Manager, American Airlines Arena
Bob Hunter, CFE, Chief Project Development Officer, Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment
Michael Marion, CFE, General Manager, Verizon Arena
Jason Rittenberry, CFE, CEO and President Kentucky State Fair Board
Karen Totaro, CFE, Executive Vice President and General Manager, San Diego Convention Center Corporation
Jimmy Earl, CFE, Senior Associate Director, Frank Erwin Center
Mark Gnatovic, Senior Vice President , Searchwide
Stephanie Curran, M.A. General Manager, Spokane Convention Center and INB Performing Arts Center
Bobby Goldwater, Adjunct Professor, Georgetown University and President Goldwater Group
Bill Powell, Vice President, Event Marketing and Sales, South Region
Angie Teel, CMP, Director of Events Experiences, Spectra Venue Management St. Charles Convention Center
Robyn Williams, CFE, Executive Director, Portland'5 Centers for the Arts
Ken Treadway, Executive Director Customer Success
Kerry Painter, CFE, CMP, CEM, Assistant General Manager, Cox Business Center
Sue Quinlan, Booking Director at FELD
Bill Bavirsha, Director of Athletic Facilities/Associate Athletic Director, University of Illinois Chicago
Steve Harper, Director of Arenas, Melbourne and Olympic Parks
Steve Romer, Chief Executive, Venue Management Association (Asia Pacific) Limited
Lisanne Lewis, CFE, General Manager, Shaw Conference Centre, Cornell University
Leopoldo Farias, Executive Director, AMEREF


UpStart: Keynote Speaker
Tuesday, August 8 | 3:30 PM - 4:15 PM | Room 206

Moderator: Bobby Goldwater

Speaker: Frank Roach, Chief Everything Officer at Frank Advice and Principal with Pinnacle Venue Services

Come and learn how to get into the industry and how to be one of the best in the industry from one of the best, Frank Roach, Chief Everything Officer at Frank Advice and Principal with Pinnacle Venue Services. Frank will have the attendees learning and excited from the moment he starts with an interactive session. Taking away tips on how to be a leader and succeed in our industry attendees are sure to come out of the room armed with what it takes!


UpStart: Panel Discussion
Wednesday, August 9 | 2:00 PM - 2:45 PM | Room 206

Moderator: Jim Wynkoop, CFE, General Manager, Spectra Venue Management at Boardwalk Hall

A panel discussion  will be led by past and current 30 | UNDER | 30 and Young Professional Industry leaders – Mac Campbell, CVP, Deputy Director Baltimore Convention Center, Max Long, Event Coordinator Virginia Beach Convention Center, Ashley Keen, CVP Technical Director/Production Manager Mesa Arts Center and Annie Wilson, Assistant Production Supervisor Portland’5 Center for the Arts. Come ready to ask questions during the  45 min session to those who were in your shoes not too long ago! 

IAVM is grateful for
the support of our
Global Partners:


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Join the passionate venue industry leaders who are IAVM: