ESPA announces newest superstars leading event services industry

The Event Service Professionals Association (ESPA) has announced the recipients of its awards highlighting outstanding leadership in the event services sector, as well as association leadership and engagement.

The honours were presented during the association’s 2024 Annual Conference at the Hyatt Regency in Indianapolis, USA.

The list of 2024 ESPA award winners includes:

Executive Excellence Award – Diane DiAntonio, CMP, CEM, the general manager at Massachusetts Convention Center Authority.

DiAntonio was honoured for her commitment to team engagement at the MCCA. She was instrumental in develop a programme that encouraged and advanced industry participation by the event services team members while also serving to retain experienced employees. It is a programme that incentivises team members to earn industry designations.

Event Service Professional of the Year Award – DeShawn Fitzpatrick, CMP, the sr. client services manager at Visit Houston.

This prominent award celebrates an event service manager who helped make a meeting planner shine, as Fitzpatrick did by providing exceptional event servicing to the American Academy of Physician Associates (AAPA) and Delta Sigma Pi Business Fraternity. 

“From day 1, DeShawn took on a high level of responsibility to ensure that our organization had a first-class and memorable conference,” said Anthony Maggiore, senior director, conference and meetings at AAPA.

Leadership in Event Service Award – Jarrica Guzman, the event services manager at Branson Lakes Area Chamber of Commerce & CVB.

Guzman was recognised for brilliantly resurrecting popular events and programs following the global pandemic.

“Jarrica went above and beyond to bring new life to two of our events that died off when Covid-19 hit,” said JoAnna Curtis, director of destination services and events organisation at Branson Lakes Area Chamber of Commerce & CVB. “She worked hard at rebuilding Ignite Event for young professionals in the area. Additionally, Jarrica helped grow the attendance to record numbers for the Ignite events in 2023, the first year since the end of 2019 for Ignite. She also assisted in revamping and bringing excitement to our Leadership Academy programme.” 

2024 Meeting Professional of the Year – Bridget Robinson, CMP, CMM, the American Legion director of national conventions and meetings.

“Bridget is an exceptional meeting planner who appreciates teamwork and provides recognition when due,” said Beth Butler, the director of destination services at Visit Charlotte, adding that Robinson was “organised and practical” and always leads with “grace.” 

ESPA also presented a first-time ever 2024 Appreciation Award to long-time Executive Director Lynn McCullough for exceptional support and years of dedicated service to the organization.

ESPA also presented association engagement awards to four members.

“As the only association and voice representing event service professionals from CVBs, hotels and convention centres from across North America for more than 30 years, ESPA is proud to present its 2024 award recipients, who represent the latest event services industry superstars along with those that work in close partnership with event service professionals,” said Denise Reid, 2023 ESPA president. “The award winners reflect ESPA's commitment to recognising excellence and leadership in the event services industry. Earning an ESPA award is a testament to the high level of professionalism, leadership and collaboration they bring to the event services industry.” 

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