Advisory Council gets inside the brains of meeting professionals. How? Before we launched the site, we asked meeting professionals what they need in a Web portal. What they told us is what you see on!

The Advisory Council continues to play an active role, sharing advice and recommendations for new features and additions to Members of the Council are listed below:

Elizabeth Carter
Senior Enterpise Event Planner
Cambridge Investment Research, Inc.
Fairfield, IA

Elizabeth Carter joined Cambridge in 2022 and has more than 15 years of experience in the financial services industry. In her current role, Carter helps enterprises at Cambridge plan conferences and meetings. She also assists Cambridge’s Event Planning Team to coordinate other industry-related events for financial professionals. Carter earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Public Relations from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Carter has been planning financial conferences and events for 16 years, many of which were spent in Washington D.C. as the Senior Meeting Planner at Investment Company Institute (ICI).

Windy Christner, CMP
Windy Christner Meetings and Events, LLC
Annadale, VA

Windy Christner has more than 20 years of experience in the meetings industry and has been at the American Pharmacists Association (APhA) for more than eight years. The APhA meetings include an Annual Meeting and Exposition held in the spring with about 7,000 attendees and an exposition of over 200 companies, and a Combined Forces Pharmacy Seminar held in the fall for approximately 1,200 attendees and an exposition of over 100 companies.

A big fan of, she calls the site "a reliable and current source for anything and everything meeting related. It's a one-stop shop for any planner."

Ray Ezelle
Executive Director
Discover Dunwoody
Dunwoody, GA

Ray is a senior hospitality sales, marketing, event and business development executive, with more than 25 years of Industry experience. Ezelle has served as Vice President of Sales, Sports and Services with Visit Virginia’s Blue Ridge, Roanoke, Virginia; Executive Vice President of Business Development, Connections Housing, Suwanee, Georgia; Vice President, Connect Meetings, Norcross, Georgia; and Area Director of Sales and Marketing, PCH Hotels – Resort Collection on Alabama RTJ Golf Trail. Ray founded Total Hospitality Industry Solutions (THIS) in Suwanee with Gary Schirmacher, another industry veteran.

Discover Dunwoody is the official destination marketing organization for Dunwoody, which is located in the Atlanta Perimeter area.

Cecilia Ferrara
Associate Director, Seminars, Colleges and Webinars
American Association for Justice
Washington, DC

Cecilia has nearly a decade of non-profit administration experience, with a focus on meeting management and support. After assisting the association with the Government Affairs and Annual Conferences--along with smaller events such as quarterly board meetings—Cecilia oversaw the launch of the Educational Institute’s own Global Trade Educational Conference (G.TEC) in 2015. Managing the conference from conception to completion, Cecilia found ConventionPlanit to be an invaluable tool in the site selection process. “They are an incredible resource, from RFP Valet to making hotel and location recommendations,” she says. “I cannot thank or recommend them enough.”

Cecilia is actively working towards her CMP designation and hopes to receive it within the next year.

Karin Soyster Fitzgerald, CMP, CAE, DES
Chief Operating Officer
AMC Institure
Fairfax, VA

Karin Fitzgerald is an experienced association executive who lives and breathes non-profits. She currently serves as the COO of the AMC Institute, which represents association management companies. Prior to AMC, she served as the COO of the U.S. Geospatial Intelligence Foundation and COO and deputy executive director of the International Association of Fire Chiefs.

Fitzgerald began her association career at the American Subcontractors Association in the mid-80s and has worked for several industries serving in various departments, including meetings, education, membership services, human resources and government affairs. Karin has extensive leadership experience as a volunteer of several professional societies and associations, including the American Society of Association Executives; the Professional Convention Management Association, where she served as president of the Capital Chapter; the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s Institute Program, where she served as chairman of the Northeast Board of Trustees; and the Association of Meeting Professionals, where she served as chairman of the board.

Fitzgerald holds a B.S. from Radford University, and is a graduate of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s Institute for Organization Management, with the IOM designation. Fitzgerald is also a Qualified Administrator of the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator®.

When she is not working, you'll find her out with one of her 12 nieces or nephews or fundraising for the National Multiple Sclerosis Society.

Darlene Lyons
Executive Vice President
T3 Events
Las Vegas, Nevada

Darlene Lyons is the founder and President of EzEvents, Inc. She is an active Author, trainer and speaker on the subject of professional event management. She has over 25 years of experience and has been responsible for the planning and execution of over 5,000 events on the North American continent.

She has worked with many of the worlds’ leading speakers and entertainers, and thrives on the excitement of the event industry. Darlene is responsible for the day-to-day operations of EzEvents. Her role includes leadership of the event teams, strategic development and execution of new event strategies, new business development, and event execution.

Prior to creating EzEvents in 2000, Darlene was the Director of Events for a global home portal, In that role she and her team managed over 30 events a month, resulting in record sales and rapid growth. Darlene currently serves as Past President a Director at the Orangevale Chamber of Commerce. In 2012 she cofounded The Orangevale Food Bank. She has a passion for street ministry and enjoys being involved in the community.

“I enjoy using the many features offered by Convention I often depend on the site to get my job done with ease regardless if the event task is big or small,” she says.

Kasey R. McNeil, CEM
Director of Meetings & Exhibits
Society for Maternal-Fetal Medicine
Washington, DC

Kasey McNeil has been a meeting planner for more than 17 years. She has led management of exhibits for annual conferences and other events for numerous associations. McNeil has worked with the International & American Association for Dental Research, AAPA, and the International Association of Fire Chiefs (IAFC), where she managed exhibits for the annual citywide convention as well as the association’s smaller conferences.

McNeil has also served as the Exhibit Operations and Events Manager at the American Gastroenterological Association (AGA)/Digestive Disease Week (DDW), where she managed exhibits for the annual citywide convention, including security, expo floor and vendors, general contractors, and 250-450 ancillary meetings and industry supported seminars during each conference. Prior to working in conference planning, McNeil worked in hotel management for eight years as a banquet manager and catering sales manager at hotels such as the Hilton, Embassy Suites and Doubletree.

Her favorite feature of is RFP OrganizationSM. She particularly enjoys the platform's ability to organize quotes for service providers without having to re-key any information. "I would highly recommend this free service to both meeting planners and tradeshow managers," she says.

Mary Power, FASAE, CAE, CMP
Executive Coach
MPowering Leaders Executive Counciling
Arlington, Virginia

Well-known industry player Mary Power planned on entering the profession ever since her days at Michigan State University, where she majored in Hotel, Restaurant and Institutional Management. In her new role as the Presidnet & CEO of the Council of Better Business Bureaus, she will undertake the unique challenge of understanding the complexities of CBBB's mission and how all of the pieces fit together. She will also focus on helping people understand what CBBB and its chapters do.

Most recently, she was a Principal at Celtic Partners, a Virginia consulting firm. Power's leadership skills distinguish her in the industry. As a past President & CEO of the Convention Industry Council (CIC), she fostered consensus on the industry's biggest issues among the 32 meetings-related associations that belong to the CIC.

She also served as the Executive Director of the Human Resource Certification Institute, where she worked to strengthen the Institute's international presence. She made HRCI's certification designations a worldwide standard for the HR profession. She has a broad perspective on the industry, having worked for Sheraton and InterContinental Hotels for 20 years.

Always looking for new ideas herself, Power is a big fan of the "Stellar Tips" section of, where she finds some of the best new ideas from meeting professional colleagues.

Valerie Sumner
VRS Meetings & Events Inc.
McLean, Virginia

Valerie Sumner is principal of VRS Meetings & Events Inc., a full-service meeting and event management firm. She was previously president for all divisions of the TCI Companies, and also worked for The Capital Informer, Radisson Hotels, and Americana Hotels.

Annette M. Suriani, CMP, CFMP, DES
Principal and Meeting Strategist
AMS Meetings Solutions
Fairfax, Virginia

Annette M. Suriani, CMP, CFMP, DES is chief business events strategist for AMS Meetings Solutions, an association and meetings management firm she founded in 2012. She has been an event planner for 20+ years working with professional societies, trade associations, Boards of Certification, faith-based groups, Foundations and social groups. She has a proven track record managing trade shows and annual meetings. Annette is a well-respected leader in the meetings industry not only through her business but through her volunteer commitments with PCMA Capital Chapter, PCMA Headquarters and Kids Give Back. She also hones her event planning skills by serving as the Chairman of the Social Committee for the 200 unit condominium complex she lives in by planning monthly events that include wine and cheese tastings, Zumba classes and happy hours.

She currently serves as the Executive Director of the Association of Meeting Professionals and works with approximately half a dozen clients on their annual meetings and events.

Carrine V. M. Todman-Lewis, DBA, MTA, CMP, CVEP
Meeting Industry Consultant/Event Strategist
Washington, DC Metro

Carrine Todman-Lewis is an accomplished meeting industry professional with 10 years of progressively responsible experience planning and managing conferences, meetings, and special events for government and association clients for audiences ranging from 25 to more than 2,500. Carrine has extensive meeting industry knowledge and a proven track record of success in customer service excellence. She is a personable and influential communicator with exceptional organization, financial management, and contract negotiation skills.

Carrine was the conference lead on the team that won the 2009 Assistant Secretary’s Outstanding Contractor award from the United States Department of Health and Human Services. She was the 2005 recipient of the Maralyn Eisenstodt Scholarship, which recognizes a professional dedicated to a career in meetings and hospitality. She is a Certified Meeting Professional and a Certified Government Meeting Professional. She recently added Certified Virtual Event Producer to her repertoire. She is a member of the Professional Convention Management Association, where she serves on the Emerging Professionals Committee and is a student mentor. She is also a member of the Society of Government Meeting Professionals.

Carrine earned a Master’s degree in Event and Meeting Management and a Professional Event Management Certificate from The George Washington University in Washington, DC. She also earned undergraduate degrees in Business Administration—Marketing and Business Management Technology from the University of the Virgin Islands, in St. Thomas, VI. She is currently pursuing a Doctor of Business Administration degree with a Leadership specialization at Walden University. Her area of research interest is service quality in the hotel industry.

David Williams, CMP
Administrative Management Services, Inc.
Cleveland, Ohio

David L. Williams has a broad range of experience from several perspectives and more than 30+ years in the association/conference management industry.

AMS has managed hundreds of conferences and several associations with a membership base ranging from 50 to 5,000. With offices in Ohio and New York, AMS and Williams are noted in the hospitality industry for their integrity and attention to detail.

He is a member of the Professional Convention Management Association (PCMA), the American Society of Association Executives (ASAE), International Congress and Convention Association (ICCA) and Meeting Professionals International (MPI). He is Past Chair of the International Relations Task Force and Committee of PCMA, past Board member of PCMA and a current Trustee of the PCMA Education Foundation.

Leslie Zeck, CMP, CMM
Director of Meetings
International and American Associations for Dental Research
Alexandria, Virginia

Leslie Zeck, CMP, CMM oversees a department of three meeting professionals as the Director of Meetings at the International and American Associations for Dental Research. The team is responsible for planning the annual conventions for each organization annually for up to 7,000 attendees, as well as regional conferences in Africa, Asia, Europe and South America.

Zeck has more than 20 years of experience in the meetings and events industry having planned everything from Congressional receptions and gala dinners, to national and international conventions and meetings.

Before joining the ACEC recently, Zeck served as the Manager of Events and Conferences at the American Council of Engineering Companies and the American Red Cross national headquarters. She holds a Masters degree in non-profit management and health policy from Virginia Tech University.

A big part of her online activity takes place on, which Zeck calls "user-friendly and reliable."


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