Colorado Meetings + Events is pleased to present a top-notch 2010 Hall of Fame. Our editorial advisory board, comprising 16 professionals from the meetings and events industry around the state, nominated and selected this outstanding group. We recognize four seasoned professionals, three promising up-and-comers and a lifetime achievement winner.
Retired President // Colorado Hotel & Lodging Association
Interim Director of Government & Community Affairs // VISIT DENVER, the Convention and Visitors Bureau
As soon as the last confetti was thrown and political speech given at the August 2008 Democratic National Convention (DNC), Ilene Kamsler retired on Sept. 1, after 23 years as president of the Colorado Hotel & Lodging Association (CH&LA). The break was surely welcome after chairing the DNC hotel committee, and she's enjoyed less stress and more free time to garden, cook, entertain and remodel her Denver home.
However, she's dusted off her business attire and is serving as VISIT DENVER'S interim director of government and community affairs.
Those who know Kamsler are well aware of her skill in this arena as she helped with the bond issues for Denver International Airport, Coors Field, the original convention center, FasTracks and other major projects, but her legacy at CH&LA also includes her efforts to grow the programs of the organization. "Previously, we were a lobbying entity; we didn't help members train employees, manage the costs of their operations, etc.," she says.
The goal was "staying ahead of legislation impacting lodging and tourism in Colorado," says Kamsler, who notes that she also enjoyed working on initiatives with Colorado communities and issues championed by the National Hotel & Lodging Association, such as immigration reform.
Prior to setting up residence in Colorado, the Pennsylvania native was director of the Utah Hotel & Lodging Association from 1980 to 1986 and assistant director of Ski Utah for two years. She cut her hospitality teeth at Snowbird Ski & Summer Resort from 1972 to 1978. "What happened at Snowbird felt like five years of hotel and restaurant management school."
Kamsler graduated from Brooklyn College - City University of New York and attended graduate school at University of California, Los Angeles. Her first jobs were developing recreation programs and running recreation centers.
She offers wise words to people new to the tourism, meetings and events professions. "Our industry is one that focuses on making certain that the end result makes someone else successful. ...You will definitely get your share of ‘attaboys' and ‘attagirls' in this profession, but the spotlight should never be on you."
Up-and-Coming Meeting Professional
Meeting Architect // Kinsley
In a period of two months last year, Ashley Davis staged a three-day event, got married, held a nine-day conference for her biggest client, GE, and went on a honeymoon. Not only is this a demonstration of what Davis can pull off, it's a glimpse of the persistence and effort she put into completing internships at Denver's Décor N More and Chicago's Hyatt Regency McCormick Place, graduating from Metropolitan State College of Denver and landing a job as a meeting architect for Littleton-based Kinsley.
It's ironic that she changed her major five times at Metro State, dipping her toes in business, art, communications and marketing waters before leaping into hospitality. "I've been planning events since I was 10," says Davis, who grew up in Louisiana and moved to Colorado after high school. "No meeting is ever the same...and I get to go to different places and venues across the world. I enjoy starting a project and getting to see it completed."
She's become very involved with Meeting Professionals International (MPI) - Rocky Mountain Chapter, serving as a past director of member recruitment and receiving the organization's 2009 President's Award of Excellence. Davis is particularly interested in getting college students involved in MPI and helps bring industry professionals into the classroom and coordinate the "Backpacks to Briefcases" education conference.
Nicole Marsh, CMP, DMCP
Owner // The Arrangers
Nicole Marsh is probably tired of hearing the question, "How do you juggle everything?" The president and owner of The Arrangers, a destination management and event planning company with offices in Denver and Vail, and the busy mother of 1-year-old triplets and a 6-yearold son simply answers, "I just take everything as it comes and stay positive. It's a balance; when I'm home, I'm home. With the team I've built at The Arrangers, I don't have to have my hands in every facet of the business."
The Colorado State University alum also relishes time trying out new restaurants and taking in a ballgame with her husband, Brad. She joined The Arrangers in 1998 and purchased the now 40-year-old company only two years later. She currently serves as the president of the Association of Destination Management Executives (ADME) on the national level and chair-elect of the Meetings Industry Council (MIC) of Colorado and is a past president of the Rocky Mountain Chapter of the Professional Convention Management Association (PCMA).
"I feel like I need to give back to the industry that has given so much to me and to stay on top of things," Marsh explains.
She encourages her employees and people new to the industry to get involved. "That's where you get to know people on a different level, different than as a client or supplier... get on a committee, chair a committee, get on boards, work you way up in an organization.
Michael Roffino & David Squires
Owners // Design Works by Dave & Mike
David Squires and Michael Roffino work in tandem so well that our editorial advisory board insisted that they be inducted as a team. The career and educational paths of the coowners of Design Works by Dave and Mike are so similar that it only seems natural that the men joined forces to set up shop, both bringing more than 20 years of experience to the table.
The business partners attended Colorado State University, with Roffino earning a degree in interior design and accepting a job at Atmosphere before joining Salutations seven years later. Squires majored in business and accounting and was introduced to the floral trade in Louisville and Ft. Collins before accepting positions at Atmosphere and Salutations.
In 2001, the two launched their own enterprise. "We have served clients all over the continental U.S. and Hawaii from our Denverbased location," Roffino says. "I often tell people, for me, going to work is like going to an art class. Everyday I get to be creative, uniqueand fun. I'm surrounded by a gifted staff and an encouraging environment, and my office has a window... what else could I ask for?"
Squires adds, "Most days I am motivated by the thought of being able to tap into my love of design and know that we touch lives in a personal way with our creativity."
Event Manager // Epicurean Catering
Jill Livingston couldn't have asked for a more exciting start to her career. After completing her degree at Ball State University in Indiana, Livingston moved to Los Angeles, where she worked her way from food and beverage manager of several iconic venues to general manager of some of the best hotspots. "I saw some absolutely crazy and amazing events! I couldn't get enough," she says.
After getting reacquainted with a guy she knew from college (now her husband), she moved to Colorado and jumped right into the Denver event planning industry. As an event designer for Epicurean Catering, she has become known for bringing innovative ideas to the table and has mastered the art of kosher catering, becoming the go-to designer for Denver's Jewish community.
Livingston relishes using her creativity and imagination. "Not everyone is lucky enough to be encouraged to be different with each event, and that is what I love about this job. I also get to see my ideas from start to finish and that is so rewarding."
In 2009, Livingston had the chance to put all of her skills to work for a cause very close to her heart, the Cancer League of Colorado. After her husband successfully battled cancer earlier in the year, the couple teamed up with her vendor partners to host a fundraiser that raised $27,000 and currently are looking into starting their own foundation.
Special Event Planner
Owner // Blue Eyes Consulting
Patty Moser has been a part of the hospitality industry in Colorado for almost 20 years. Her experience spans the whole gamut of the meetings and events world, from hotels to destination management companies, event design and venue management. Today, she brings all that experience together as the owner of Blue Eyes Consulting, which she reignited in October 2008.
After graduating from Kansas State University and seeing the hospitality industry through the eyes of her uncle, who was president of the Texas Restaurant Association, Patty joined Hyatt before venturing into destination management. Upon going out on her own in 2001, Moser secured the Denver Broncos as one of her first accounts. The responsibility of opening the special events department at INVESCO Field was at hand, which turned into becoming director of sales for the venue.
Moser's next endeavor was launching the consulting division of Edge Sports & Entertainment, a Pat Bowlen Sports company, in 2006. As director of business development, she shared best practices for creating nontraditional revenues streams with other professional teams, local venues and hospitality companies before returning to her own consulting business in 2008.
"My tagline is my motto, something I recite daily: Never lose sight of your goal," Moser says. "The tagline supports me personally- reminding me that my goal is balance of family and career-and also gives defined direction for my clients." She recently started a charity, Blue Eyes Birthdays, to deliver personalized birthday cakes to kids who might not otherwise receive one on their big day.
Up-and-Coming Special Event Planner
Conference Services Manager // Hyatt Regency Denver at Colorado Convention Center
Gillian Frothingham grew up with Stratton Mountain, Vt., as her playground. When it came time to pursue a higher education, she chose Ft. Lewis College in Durango, where she was a bike racer and a student in business administration with a focus in tourism and resort management. It was then that Frothingham officially fell in love with the hospitality industry, she recalls.
In March 2006, she joined the Hyatt Regency Denver at Colorado Convention Center only three months after it opened. "To get up and be part of the team every day and see successes is fun," says Frothingham, who was named the 2008 Hyatt Regency Denver Manager of the Year.
She's also worked as catering sales manager for Grand Hyatt Denver and Hyatt Regency Newport and spent time as the sales and marketing manager for Aramark at Red Rocks Amphitheatre and Visitor Center. "Ultimately, I want to be a catering/convention services director someday. I would still get the day-to-day with groups and help new managers grow and see if it's the career they want to pursue," she reflects.
The best things people can do to break into the field, Frothingham advises, are to "use your resources, ask questions, have multiple mentors in multiple parts of the industry and have fun, because it can become extremely stressful." She enjoys taking part in fundraising bike rides and is becoming involved in the National Association of Catering Executives - Greater Denver Chapter.