People News: Charlotte Regional Visitors Authority, Encore and More Welcome New Executives, Appoint Veteran Leaders

October 23, 2023

Across the U.S. corporate event-related organizations are placing industry veterans at the helm of venues, event organizing and management companies and CVBs. Check them out.

Charlotte Regional Visitors Authority 

The Charlotte Regional Visitors Authority (CRVA) has appointed Steve Bagwell its new CEO. He will take the helm from outgoing CEO Tom Murray, who retires in November. 

Now in his 28th year with the CRVA, Bagwell currently serves as vice president of venues, responsible for overseeing the management of the Charlotte Convention Center, Bojangles Coliseum and Ovens Auditorium, as well as back-of-house support services at the Spectrum Center and the NASCAR Hall of Fame. A CPA, Bagwell has held crucial roles in operations, technology and finance within the organization. 


Encore has hired Poonam Mohan as its new CIO, a role that will leverage technology to support the company strategy to elevate the customer experience by strengthening the culture, resources and employee career opportunities. Based in Dallas, she will lead the company’s internal technology innovation to streamline processes and solutions.

Mohan joins Encore after 21 years at American Airlines, where she most recently served as vice president, corporate and enterprise technology. She was responsible for the development lifecycle and operations for technologies supporting commercial and corporate, regional airlines, cargo and IT infrastructure. Her prior roles at American Airlines include managing director, flight operations and crew technology and managing director, revenue and planning technology. Before joining American Airlines, she worked as a consultant at PwC.

San Diego Convention Center 

The San Diego Convention Center Corporation recently welcomed 30-year venue management veteran and Certified Venue Executive Paul Turner as general manager, responsible for overseeing event management, venue operations, public safety and guest services for the 2.6-million-square-foot waterfront facility. 

Turner previously served as vice president of venue management and entertainment operations for Caesars Entertainment in Las Vegas, and prior to Caesars, held leadership positions with the Dallas Cowboys at AT&T Stadium, Philadelphia Eagles, Portland Trail Blazers and Cerritos Center for the Performing Arts. 

Discover The Palm Beaches 

Discover The Palm Beaches appointed Milton Segarra as its new president and CEO. A Certified Destination Management Executive (CDME), he takes the reins from Jorge Pesquera, who recently retired after leading the organization for the past 16 years.

Segarra first joined Discover The Palm Beaches as chief marketing officer in the fall of 2022, and prior to that, led the Coastal Mississippi Tourism Board and also served as president and CEO of Meet Puerto Rico. He also boasts an extensive history in the hotel industry, holding senior sales, revenue and marketing positions with Hilton Hotels and Resorts, Hyatt Hotels and Resorts and Sands Hotels and Casinos.


Destination and event management company CSI DMC has promoted Melis Feingold from vice president, creative services to vice president, creative partnerships, responsible for leading the organization’s charge in elevating creative content and event design, nurturing stronger partnerships and consistently delivering exceptional client experiences. 

Bringing more than 19 years of event and marketing experience, Feingold has been an integral part of the CSI DMC team since 2016, holding a range of director, manager and senior sales and creative services roles. Before coming to CSI DMC, she worked as an event manager at A2 Events.  

Atlanta Convention & Visitors Bureau   

Atlanta Convention & Visitors Bureau (ACVB) recently welcomed Andrew Clark as digital marketing manager, responsible for evaluating ACVB’s content strategy and executing initiatives across digital platforms. He will also create written and visual content to drive engagement with the goal of keeping Atlanta top-of-mind with business and leisure travelers. 

Prior to ACVB, Clark served as the general manager at Hite Digital Atlanta, where he was charged with overseeing marketing campaigns for clients.  

The Hutton Group

Pittsburgh-based The Hutton Group – Inspired Meetings & Events has appointed Mary Hughes director of client engagement, tasked with building relationships and securing corporate clientele needing assistance with meetings, conference and incentive planning. 

A seasoned meetings professional, Hughes previously worked as a senior strategic meeting planner for more than eight years at Medtronic and several years with St. Jude Medical (now Abbott Laboratories) as a program event manager, overseeing national meetings and conventions. 

Visit California 

Visit California has expanded its external affairs team with the promotion of Angie Pappas to associate vice president of external affairs and media relations, responsible for continuing to oversee the PR team while also taking on the responsibility of supervising the organization’s in-house events team.

A dedicated leader in the hospitality industry, Pappas will leverage her expertise to spearhead the organization’s revamped structure, focusing on an all-encompassing external affairs strategy that includes ongoing planning, disaster preparedness, messaging and relationship cultivation with elected officials, media outlets, industry leaders and consumers.

Before joining Visit California, Pappas served as director of communications at the California Restaurant Association for six years, after which she transitioned to Visit California’s corporate communications team, where she has played a pivotal role in key campaigns for nine years. 

As part of this organizational expansion, Sustainability and Public Affairs Manager Dan Smith has been promoted to director of external affairs and will oversee the new role of sustainability manager. 

Grand River Center

Oak View Group (OVG), the new operators of Grand River Center in Dubuque, Iowa, has named 15-year venue and event industry executive and Certified Venue Professional Ryan Bonifas as general manager.

In his new role, Bonifas is responsible for leading the OVG staff in ensuring Dubuque is the top destination for major conventions in the Tri-State Area, continuing to grow the city’s national and regional convention business and assisting the city and its stakeholders in the development of a full-service convention center. He and OVG will also focus on developing new and exciting opportunities for the convention venue, including enhancing the overall guest experience and increasing food and beverage options.   

Bonifas most recently served as director of venue and events at the East Montgomery County Improvement District in New Caney, Texas. 

Philadelphia Convention and Visitors Bureau 

The Philadelphia Convention and Visitors Bureau (PHLCVB) has welcomed David Nash as CRM and research analyst. In his new role, Nash will serve as project manager for all research-related projects, be the primary user of the organization’s CRM platform and play a key part in collecting, analyzing, interpreting and visualizing data for the PHLCVB team. 

Before joining the PHLCVB, Nash served as director of information technology and database management for the Fayetteville Area Convention and Visitors Bureau, and prior to that, worked for Abbott Labs and ACS Inc. A military veteran, Nash served in the U.S. Navy for seven years. 

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