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San Diego Convention Center Names Karen Totaro as General Manager

Karen_Totaro_SDCCCImmediate Past IAVM Chair Recently Selected One of 12 Top Female Convention Center Executives

The San Diego Convention Center Corporation is pleased to announce the appointment of Karen Totaro as the facility’s new Senior Vice President and General Manager. Totaro joins SDCCC after serving as the General Manager for the Atlantic City Convention Center.

Prior to Atlantic City, Totaro held the position of Assistant General Manager at the Duke Energy Convention Center. Before that, she served as the Assistant Executive Director at the Oregon Convention Center in Portland for nine years and the Associate Director at the University of Dayton Arena in Dayton, Ohio for five years. Totaro started in the business at the University of Illinois in Champaign/Urbana as the Marketing Manager for the Assembly Hall Arena.

“In our industry, the San Diego Convention Center has always been recognized as a venue at the forefront, so I am simply thrilled to be able to join such a strong team already in place with a great leader like its President & CEO Clifford ‘Rip’ Rippetoe,” Totaro said.

In her role, Totaro will oversee the operations of the facility including Engineering, Event Services, Security/Guest Services, Facility Services and Information Technology. She will also serve as the liaison and contract manager for Centerplate, PSAV and Smart City Networks. Her focus will be all customer-facing experiences within the facility.

“We are excited to have someone of Karen’s standards and qualifications join us here at the San Diego Convention Center,” said Rippetoe. “We look forward to welcoming her to a facility whose purpose is to be the premiere gathering place located at the heart of a world-class destination.”

During her career Totaro has had an active role in the International Association of Venue Managers by serving in several capacities which have included her recent role as Chair of the Board as well as 1st and 2nd Vice Chair of the Board of Directors which equates to three years on the Executive Committee, District IV Regional Director, a member of the Board of Governors, Chair of the Transition Committee, Chair of the Education Council, Chair of the Board Development Committee, a member of the Allied Task Force and two years as a member of the Board of Trustees.

“As the recent Chairman of the Board for the 5,000 member International Association of Venue Managers, I have had the opportunity to travel extensively and nothing compares to the San Diego community in terms of warmth of spirit and creating a unique lifestyle that others only hope to emulate,” she said.

Totaro also served as Chair of the Governance Committee and spent three years on the Leadership/Nominating Committee, which she now Chairs. She was instrumental in the planning of the IAVM Region IV Conference in Portland and assisted with the conference planning in Vancouver, Spokane and Seattle as well as the International Convention Center Conference in Portland in 2010.

In the summer of 2015, Totaro was named a “Woman of Influence” by Venues Today Magazine and was the cover story of FM (Facility Manager) Magazine with an article on “Leadership.” In 2016, she was awarded the “Elite Award” from Facilities and Destination Magazine for making a difference in the meetings industry. Most recently, Totaro was highlighted in Facilities & Destination Magazine on the “F & D A-List of Top 12 Women Convention Center Executives.”

Totaro is a graduate of the University of Illinois. She is a graduate of the IAVM Venue Management School and completed the three-year Senior Executive Symposium in 2007. Totaro received her Certified Facilities Executive distinction in 2009.

Totaro begins her role as Senior Vice President and General Manager on September 30, 2016.

The San Diego Convention Center Corporation is a public benefit corporation created by the City of San Diego to exclusively manage, market and operate the 2.6 million sq. ft. waterfront facility. The mission of the SDCCC is to generate significant economic benefits for the greater San Diego region by hosting international and national conventions and trade shows in our world-class facility.

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