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Each year, the Professional Convention Management Association (PCMA) honors outstanding members for their contributions to PCMA and the meetings industry. PCMA is proud to announce the winners of the 2011 Achievement Awards, who will be recognized at the 56th PCMA annual meeting, Convening Leaders, January 8-11, 2012, in San Diego, Calif.

“PCMA recognizes and celebrates the exceptional accomplishments of our 2011 Achievement Award winners,” said Deborah Sexton, PCMA president and CEO. “These extraordinary members and meetings industry leaders were selected for their passion and commitment to excellence. They consistently go above and beyond the expected and have made significant contributions to their profession and the meetings industry. We are delighted to honor them during Convening Leaders.”

The recipient of the 2011 Distinguished Member of the Year Award is D. Bradley Kent, senior vice president of business development for Freeman. An icon in the industry, Kent has served on many committees, task forces and on both the PCMA Board of Directors and the PCMA Education Foundation Board of Trustees in his 20-plus years as a PCMA member. Kent’s advocacy and enthusiasm for PCMA’s mission is unparalleled, and in his role at Freeman managing the PCMA account, he ensures that every meeting, design and event is dedicated to delivering against PCMA’s strategic objectives.

The 2011 Distinguished Meeting Professional of the Year Award winner is Deidre Irwin Ross, MHA, CMP, CAE, department director of meetings and administration for the American Osteopathic Association. The award acknowledges a meeting professional who excels professionally, personally and within his or her community. When Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans, Ross made the tough decision to continue with the meeting she had planned there, knowing that it would mean a lot more work for her, and much more risk for her association. Her meeting was the first major citywide conference in the city after Katrina, and she was viewed as a lifesaver to the local hospitality community. A 25 year-plus expert in the industry and a previous PCMA Board Member, Ross continues to be a very active member of the Greater Midwest Chapter, serving for many years in leadership and committee roles.

The 2011 Distinguished Service Professional of the Year Award winner is Rose Horcher, CMP, CEM, vice president of client services for the Chicago Convention and Visitors Bureau. The Distinguished Service Professional Award is presented annually to a meeting service individual. Throughout her career, Horcher has consistently demonstrated her unyielding passion and commitment to our industry and the unique ability to deliver against seemingly impossible requests. She has maintained and grown the confidence of her clients, all while inspiring and leading her client services team into the next level of communication, customer care and client service.

New for 2011, Justin Toth, operations associate, 2015 Pan American and Parapan American Games, is this year’s winner of the Emerging Leader Award. This award honors a member who has demonstrated extraordinary service and leadership early in his/her career. Toth has demonstrated superior leadership since he accepted his position with the 2015 Pan Am/Parapan Games, a very important role as Toronto moves to impress the rest of the world with these events. Toth has worked with the PCMA Canada East Chapter Committees and currently serves as director of student affairs on the Chapter Board of Directors.

The winner of the 2011 Outstanding Service to a Chapter Award is Kathy Smith, CMP, CCMEP, coordinator of Continuing Medical Education (CME), Fox Chase Cancer Center. Smith was chosen for this honor because of her tireless dedication to the PCMA Philadelphia Chapter. Smith contributes a wealth of knowledge and ideas that have helped the Philadelphia Chapter grow. Smith, a past Chapter president, continues to champion the membership cause, developing new ideas and initiatives for increasing members and incentives for retention. She supports all the events and volunteers at each one as well.

The 2011 Educator of the Year is Jeff Hurt, director of education and engagement at Velvet Chainsaw Consulting. The Educator of the Year Award recognizes outstanding achievement in the field of meetings industry education. In his role at Velvet Chainsaw, Hurt is dedicated to improving the quality of education annual meetings and conferences provide. He is one of the strongest voices in the industry extolling the virtues of proper adult education through his blog, Midcourse Corrections, and other social media.

New for 2011, the winner of the 2011 Innovation Award is Godwin-Charles Ogbeide, Ph.D., MCA, B.S., assistant professor, University of Arkansas. This new award was created to help build recognition for strategic, results-focused, innovative events and programs in the meetings and hospitality industry today. Dr. Ogbeide introduced an innovative way of teaching his Meetings, Events, and Conventions Management class. With a method of planning a major city’s event (Lights of the Ozark Parade) and leadership in starting another event (Pet Parade), he successfully raised thousands of dollars for Fayetteville Animal Shelter, Boys and Girls Club, Seven Hills Homeless Center, and University of Arkansas students, while providing his students with real life hands-on experiences needed to excel in the industry.

The winner of the 2011 Spirit Award is Hotel Nikko San Francisco. The relatively small number of employees at this San Francisco property have made a huge impact in the community, volunteering over 1,200 hours annually. Projects include Project Homeless Connect, where they spend time interacting with the homeless and preparing hygiene kits; Project Night Night, where they helped homeless children sleep better at night by providing books, blankets and stuffed animals as comfort; as well as Salvation Army, GLIDE, Florence Crittendon and Parks and Recreation to name a few. The total number of volunteer hours equates to nearly $50,000 a year, in company time, donated by the hotel – a major feat for a stand-alone property.

The 2011 Environmental Leadership Award This award honors progressive ‘greening’ efforts in the meetings industry. The 2011 Environmental Leadership Award winner is the San Diego Convention Center. The San Diego Convention Center proactively develops, implements and encourages sustainable practices for events and business conducted in the building that protect the environment and conserve natural resources for future generations. In addition to an integrated communications plan that engages and educates employees, clients, attendees and community stakeholders in its green efforts, the facility is the first convention center in the nation to go completely florescent in its 525,701 square-foot exhibit hall, which reduces energy consumption by approximately 44 percent in the building.

For more information on the PCMA Achievement Awards, visit pcma.org/awards.

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