May 29, 2024 8:58 PM
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IAEE Welcomes Marsha Flanagan as its New President and CEO

Submitted by Nicole Bowman, IAEE



The International Association of Exhibitions and Events® (IAEE) is pleased to announce the appointment of Marsha Flanagan, M.Ed., CEM, as its new President and Chief Executive Officer. With a strong focus on leading innovative strategies and developing intentional and thoughtful collaborations, Marsha will lead IAEE into its next phase of service to the global exhibitions and events industry while supporting the association’s underpinnings of advocacy, sustainability, and DE&I initiatives. She officially begins her new role on December 1, 2023.

“Under Marsha’s leadership, IAEE will continue to serve as the leading trade association for the global exhibitions and events industry,” said Dennis Smith, 2023 Chairperson of the IAEE Board of Directors. “Her vision and strategic approach will ensure that IAEE remains a trusted partner for our members by engaging in industry collaborations and delivering valuable resources, advocacy, and learning opportunities to drive success in the exhibitions and events ecosystem.”

Flanagan brings a wealth of experience and expertise to IAEE. Prior to joining the association, she served in key leadership roles at prominent organizations in the industry, where she demonstrated exceptional leadership and a track record of driving success. Marsha’s appointment follows an extensive search process, during which she was identified as the ideal candidate to lead IAEE into the future.

“IAEE plays a vital role in advancing the global exhibitions and events industry, and I am honored to take on the position of President and CEO,” said Marsha Flanagan, M.Ed., CEM. “I am excited to work closely with the IAEE board of directors, staff, our members, and other stakeholders to drive community engagement and growth for the organization.”

The appointment of Ms. Flanagan comes at a crucial moment for IAEE and the industry as a whole.

“During this period of transition, it has been business as usual with everyone on staff continuing to demonstrate a passion for the industry, delivering exceptional programming and networking opportunities,” said IAEE Interim CEO Cathy Breden, CMP-F, CAE, CEM.

Marsha Flanagan, M.Ed., CEM, previously served as the Senior Vice President of Events and Learning Experiences at IAEE, where she was responsible for all events and learning initiatives, including the Certified in Exhibition Management (CEM), Certified in Exhibition Management – Advanced Professional (CEM-AP), and CEM Fellow (CEM-Fellow) designations.

Prior to joining IAEE, Flanagan was the Director of Content Strategy and Development at the Promotional Products Association International (PPAI), where she was responsible for steering strategy and the development and delivery of all PPAI professional development and editorial offerings.

Flanagan spent six years in the medical industry serving in various roles overseeing operations, purchasing, revenue cycle management, marketing, and business development.

Flanagan began her career with Meeting Professionals International (MPI) and spent 12 years in various roles, including Executive Vice President of Professional Development, where she oversaw operations, including all strategic partnerships, the design and delivery of all professional development offerings, and meetings management.

Flanagan received her bachelor’s degree from Texas Christian University and her master’s in education from the University of Arkansas, specializing in Meeting, Tourism, and Recreation Management. She obtained her Certified in Exhibition Management designation in 2021.

Flanagan is a 5th generation Texan, loves sports and the outdoors, and spends time with family.

“We are thrilled with the search committee’s selection of Marsha Flanagan as IAEE’s next President & CEO. Working with a highly engaged search committee that met with several candidates was a very rewarding and successful process. Their commitment and active participation throughout the search were invaluable. We look forward to witnessing the positive impact Marsha will undoubtedly make in her new role,” said Mark Gnatovic, Executive Vice President, SearchWide Global.

With a strong emphasis on advocacy and community, IAEE remains dedicated to promoting diversity, equity, and inclusion within the industry, championing sustainability initiatives, and providing top-notch learning and networking opportunities through its renowned Certification and Learning Programs.


About IAEE

Trusted since 1928, IAEE provides quality and value to its members through leadership, service, education, and strong relationships. IAEE is the largest association of the exhibitions and events industry in the world, with a membership of show organizers, exhibitors, and exhibition suppliers. Organizers of more than 20,000 exhibitions and buyer-seller events around the world are members of IAEE, and the organization advocates and promotes the awareness of face-to-face exhibitions and events as the primary medium for business development and growth.

IAEE provides relevant, timely, and innovative education to its members and the industry. IAEE recognizes its strategic partners: 4imprint, Convention News Television (CNTV), Freeman, GES | onPeak, Grit Productions and Expositions, New Orleans & Company, New Orleans Ernest N. Morial Convention Center, Personify – A2Z Events, Risk Strategies Company | Buttine Insurance, Swapcard and Synchronicities (Visit Anaheim, Visit Baltimore and Visit San Antonio). Visit for more information.

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