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Hall of Fame

Click below to learn more about the Spotlight Awards:

What are the Spotlights?

Dates to Remember


Awards Process and Rules

Categories and Criteria

Advisory Board Judges

Past Recipients



Liese Gardner

Liese Gardner has been a major voice within the events industry since 1984 when she was named editor of Special Events magazine. During her 13 years there, she was also named Director of Education for The Special Event and Associate Publisher of the magazine.

In 1999, Liese formed her own consulting firm to market and promote the still nascent event industry to a wider audience. In the past decade, using personal branding, social media, community outreach, media interface, and web and blog design, she and her team developed many successful marketing campaigns for the nation’s top event professionals and organizations. In 2012, Liese became a consultant to Event Solutions magazine, and its later online reincarnation, as well as the online design magazine,, both of which allowed her to be a strong voice for creative individuals and companies. She also writes for her own blog; profiles of these same people and what they do to inspire themselves and others.

Believing that three things really matter in life and in business – to be kind, engaged and helpful -- Liese served on the board of Wedding Industry Professionals Association (WIPA) as Director of Education, and worked with the International Catering Association on their member communications. Her work earned her a Shining Star Award from Wish Upon a Wedding and several Star Awards from ICA.

Tony Conway
Legendary Events

Tony Conway formed Legendary Events in 1997, after 20 years in the hotel industry. The organization has since grown into an award-winning multi-million dollar full-service special events company that includes event planning, catering, floral, and design. In 2013, Tony opened The Estate, Atlanta’s newest luxury event space.

Now one of the most recognized and established special events companies in the Southeast; Legendary has become synonymous with integrity and dedication. In its 18 years of business, Legendary Events has made contributions in excess of $12 million to non-profit organizations and Conway has been awarded “The Special Event - Lifetime Achievement Award” as well as coveted 11Alive Community Service Awards for his indelible imprint on the industry,

In addition to his service to the local community, Conway has served on the boards of The Atlanta Convention & Visitors Bureau, the Alliance Theatre, Leadership Atlanta, Murphy-Harpst Children’s Center, The Atlanta Community Food Bank, Senior Citizens Services, Central Atlanta Progress, UNICEF and SEARCH Foundation. This year, Tony has the honor of being inducted into the Event Solutions Hall of Fame and in the fall is set to launch Flourish, a new 18,000 sq. ft. special event venue.



Hillary Harris
Executive Director
Warner Bros. Special Events

Hillary Harris makes dreams come true—one event at a time. As the visionary at the helm of Warner Bros. Studios Special Events—a full-service event production department specializing in entertainment industry, corporate, charity, social events and weddings—Harris creates and produces more than 275 events per year, both on the Warner Bros. Studios lot in Burbank and at outside venues.  Harris’ team services not only Time Warner and Warner Bros. Entertainment clients—which include “Conan,” “The Ellen DeGeneres Show”, the CW Network, Cartoon Network, and HBO—but also an impressive list of corporate clients ranging from DIRECTV and MTV to Mercedes-Benz and Apple.  Among the non-profits making use of her expertise are The Environmental Media Association and Cystic Fibrosis Foundation. Her success at producing Hollywood premieres, lavish cast parties, themed corporate events, and dazzling fundraisers has earned Harris and her team numerous industry awards.

Throughout her career at Warner Bros., Harris has produced weddings for executives and talent. In the fall of 2012, Warner Bros. officially launched Warner Bros. Celebrity Weddings. She consistently serves as a featured speaker at national and regional conferences around the country, and she sits on the advisory board of two event publications Biz Bash and Event Solutions, as well as the non-profit “Search Foundation,” which serves the special events community. Harris was inducted in to the Biz Bash Media Hall of Fame and was named one of the Biz Bash Innovators of 2012. In March of 2014, Hillary was inducted into the Event Solutions Hall of Fame for continually bringing new trends to the special events industry.



Colin Cowie
Event Designer
Colin Cowie®

Colin Cowie has led an extraordinary life.  He arrived in America from South Africa with $400 in the pocket of a good suit and a tan. But it was his smarts, personality and stylish sensibility that led him into the fast-track, glamorous world of planning over-the-top parties for the who's who of royalty, celebrity and business. Colin has been at the forefront of event and wedding planning for the past 25 years, creating trends and raising the bar for creating the ultimate experience for guests. He is the author of 8 best-selling books that are sold around the world, a contributor to the Today Show, a designer for lifestyle products sold on HSN, and now is at the helm of a new digital venture that is revolutionizing the online wedding planning industry,


Janet Elkins
Los Angeles, CA

The name Janet Elkins instantly elicits a positive response; quite an accomplishment for someone who has been in this competitive industry for more than three decades. And yet, as president of Eventworks, Janet radiates positive energy.

In her role at Eventworks, a national event design and production firm, she leads a diverse staff of talented individuals who, guided by her inclusionary vision, have produced one award-winning corporate event after another. The awards for these often multiple-day logistical challenges include the prestigious SITE Crystal Award, the ISES Esprit Award, numerous Gala Awards, MPI Supplier of the Year, and a Lifetime Achievement Award from The Special Event.

Janet gives back often, addressing audiences at MPI, TSE and ISES events across the world. Currently she is assisting her colleagues in a very personal manner by serving on the board of SEARCH.

In her spare time Janet travels to unique and off-the-beaten path destinations, absorbing all that different cultures have to offer. No doubt the people she has touched there also smile affectionately when they hear the name Janet Elkins.


James R. Watterson
Los Angeles, CA

James Watterson has two bios he sends out. One takes us up to 1998 when he was Vice President of Public Relations and Special Events for Robinsons-May. The other begins after he retired in1998. Both bios are equally filled with stellar accomplishments.

During his 21 years at Robinsons-May James created many well-known community outreach campaigns in addition to producing or volunteering at more than 100 community benefit events.

Upon “retirement,” James continued to produce and/or chair many high-profile benefits and events within the arts and fashion industries including the Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising (FIDM), and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art.

James has been honored for his work by the Pasadena Symphony, Grace Center and the Pasadena Museum of History as a Contemporary History Maker.

At that last event, the night sky was filled with color; a look that reflected this taste maker’s high-flying sense of style. A gracious, artistic, and tireless seeker of beauty, James Watterson is the embodiment of all we hope to be as individuals within the special events industry.



Josh McCall
Chairman & CEO
Jack Morton Worldwide
Boston, MA

Josh McCall’s pioneering contributions to the events industry have elevated and expanded the role of brand marketing from promotion to strategic integration through live events. He has been involved in iconic events such as the Commonwealth Games and the Summer Olympic Games in Greece. He has challenged, expanded and greatly improved the international live events industry, positioning it for growth in the 21st century.


Pauline Parry
Owner & President
Good Gracious! Events
Los Angeles, CA

Pauline Parry is an event industry visionary who evolved her catering business into an internationally recognized event firm. Educator, author, speaker, planner and caterer extraordinaire Pauline has contributed inspiration, content and creativity to the role of food as a centerpiece for every event. She has played an active role in event industry organizations and their activities as well as supporting the industry conferences and tradeshows.


Jaclyn Bernstein
President and Partner
Empire Force Events
New York

Jaclyn Bernstein, a Brooklyn native, was raised with modest means but a wealth of love from friends and family, she says proudly. Jaclyn credits her success to her mother, business partner and best friend Robert W. Hulsmeyer CSEP, CMP and her Empire Force Events team.

Bernstein’s devotion to her “Mommy” powers her professional dedication. Growing up was financially difficult – her mother put them on welfare and food stamps. Jaclyn proclaims she’s glad that she grew up this way – it “event-fully” prepared her for changes and sacrifices she and Robert have made.

Empire Force is a leading event production, design and destination management company. Bernstein met her future business partner Hulsmeyer at the first New York International Special Events Society meeting. They purchased their business in 1994.

Bernstein sits on the Board of Directors of NYC & Company and the New York convention and visitors agency. After September 11, Bernstein helped the New York events community bring business back.

Bernstein’s leadership includes speaking, publications and television news features. She also appeared in the first season of The Apprentice.

Bernstein’s motto is “whatever it takes.” With her passion and energy, she truly influences the event industry.


Deborah D. Borsum, CSEP, CERP, CMD
Co-owner, Chief Executive Officer
The Meetinghouse Companies, Inc.
Chicago, IL

As co-owner and CEO of The Meetinghouse Companies, Borsum and her staff are immersed in the design and production of innovative events including parties, grand openings, product rollouts and concerts by national acts. Her goal is to help clients achieve their marketing objectives through great design, creative messaging, branding and carefully planned logistics.

Borsum’s background in retail fashion and event marketing have been key to her success in building The Meetinghouse Companies as a leading special events design and production firm. Borsum has earned a reputation for innovative business strategies that have contributed to the growth of her company and her clients through the years. “Being strategic is critical in planning events,” she commented. “Combining innovative creativity with tactical planning and flawless execution is essential as today’s clients must see a significant ROI for their events.”

Borsum is a member of several industry organizations, including ISES and MPI. She was the first ISES woman president and was honored with the Klaus Inkamp Lifetime Achievement Award, among others. She is an accomplished speaker at industry conferences and is an established author and contributor to event publications.


Robert W. Sivek, CSEP, CERP
Executive Producer, Co-Owner
The Meetinghouse Companies, Inc.
Chicago, IL

“Logistics are my passion, says Robert Sivek. “I love making the most difficult of events come together.”

Sivek has been doing just that since he got his start in the events business more than 30 years ago.
After graduating college and working in his family’s business for a brief time, he was toying with the idea of social work when he found himself producing fund-raisers for a community center. “I would book a band for a concert,” he recalls, “And that led to me becoming an agent.”

It was while booking a series of 26 concerts that he decided to purchase the sound equipment, rather than rent it. Thus, he became owner of a sound company. From there, it was on to strategic partnerships that eventually led to the evolution of The Meetinghouse Companies, which today is a full-service special event production company.

Sivek is the recipient of numerous honors and awards over the years. In addition to earning his CSEP and CERP certifications (programs which he helped design), he is a member of the American Rental Association and a founding member of ISES. He regularly volunteers his services and talents to industry and community organizations, and is a sought-after speaker with a wide repertoire of topics that span the industry.



Richard Carbotti has been transforming spaces of any scale into detailed thematic and custom-designed environments for more than 25 years. A pioneer in the events industry, he has employed his formal training and knowledge of two-dimensional visual, interior and graphic design to produce spectacular events internationally and in over 30 states. As a founding member of both the New England and Rhode Island chapters of the International Special Events Society, Carbotti is firmly focused on education and the importance of sharing ideas and his creative process. He brings experiences from his many creative endeavors at every level to his 30-year teaching career, and is a proud ambassador to the special events industry. His passion for teaching, the arts and everything this industry stands for is evident not only in his imaginative and stunning events, but in his constant willingness to educate and share his secrets and experiences. A winner of many industry awards, Carbotti’s efforts have garnered him a 2005 nomination for Designer of the Year as well as a win for that Spotlight Award in 2000. Carbotti works tirelessly to create, motivate and excite by using the basic elements of art and design, and with each event sets out to delicately fuse the minds of those past and present while bringing together and integrating the creative thoughts, ideals, styles and reflections of all of our worldly environments.


Bob Estrin has spent more than 40 years working in the special events industry. His career spans major technical changes in event production. He has been involved in a number of events that have shaped the current special events industry. Early in his career, Estrin was part of an audio production team that changed the way we view events today. He was part of the design team for the first Main Street Electrical Parade at Disneyland. He also worked with Bob Jani on the first Super Bowl mega halftime show (Super Bowl XI at the Rose Bowl). He worked with the NFL and NBC to develop the first referee wireless mic system, now a standard in sports. He also was one of the project managers for Bob Jani’s renovation of Radio City Music Hall. In the ’80s, Estrin and his associates were involved in the mega special events of that decade: Liberty Weekend, the Bicentennial of the Constitution, the ’84 Olympics in Los Angeles, the Pope’s first visit to the United States, and the political conventions, campaigns and inaugurals. He was nominated for production mixer of the year for his work on the Olympics. In the ’90s, Estrin moved into technical production management. He worked with numerous award-winning producers on a variety of events as technology rapidly advanced to the level of production in the corporate and social sectors. Since 2001, Estrin has been involved in the design and operation of the technical infrastructure for events. He is an advocate for the creation of environmentally friendly events and meetings. Currently, he is involved in the creation of a green resource directory for the meetings and event industry in California and as executive producer for Green Globe Productions, a Montana-based eco-friendly production company.


Don Mischer is an internationally acclaimed producer and director of television and live events. He has been honored with 13 Primetime Emmy Awards, a record nine Director’s Guild of America Awards for Outstanding Directorial Achievement, three NAACP Image Awards, a Peabody Award for excellence in broadcasting, and Europe’s prestigious Golden Rose of Montreux. Mischer has consistently chosen to produce programs that share the best of human experience, whether it be through the work of our most acclaimed artists or the celebration of our greatest monuments and national events. As a producer-director, his credits range from Super Bowl Halftime Shows (with Prince, the Rolling Stones and Paul McCartney); opening ceremonies of both the Summer and Winter Olympic Games; and the Kennedy Center Honors; to the Democratic National Convention; Hong Kong’s handover to China in 1997; and specials with James Taylor, Sting, Bono, Beyoncé, Mikhail Baryshnikov, Fergie, Willie Nelson and Barbra Streisand, among others. Mischer’s long and illustrious body of work ranks among the best and most watched in the world of entertainment.


Franklyn Dickson is chairman of Ray Bloch Productions Inc., a 54-year-old event production company. There, he serves as producer for such companies as Merrill Lynch, PepsiCo and Wachovia Securities. During his many years with RBP, he has grown the company to national recognition with offices from coast to coast, expanding services to encompass all aspects of event production. Dickson received his master’s degree in marketing from New York University’s graduate school of business. He has written many meeting and special events articles and one book, “Successful Management of the Small and Medium Sized Business.” Additionally, he was among the first to be designated a Certified Meeting Professional (CMP) by the Convention Liaison Council and served for several years on the CMP board of directors. He has received a Crystal Award from the Society of Incentive Travel Executives and was among the inaugural group made an associate fellow of the American Society of Association Executives. Dickson has served on the board of trustees of Valley Forge Military Academy and College and on the board of directors of the New York Society of Association Executives and New York’s convention and visitors bureau.


Steve Kemble, known as “America’s Sassiest Lifestyle Guru,” has been the magic behind countless international events for more than 20 years. His creative ideas, attention to detail and outgoing personality have also led to segments on CBS’s “The Early Show” and E!’s “Countdown to the Oscars.” Additionally, Kemble has showcased his event planning expertise on ABC’s “Extreme Makeover: Wedding Edition” and Style Network’s “Whose Wedding Is It Anyway?” Kemble is a member of US Weekly’s fashion police and has contributed style stories to ESPN’s “Cold Pizza,” as well as to “Entertainment Tonight” and “Access Hollywood.” Kemble has received over 25 industry accolades, including Event Solutions’ Spotlight Award for Event Planner of the Year, the International Special Events Society’s International Volunteer of the Year award and the Meeting Professionals International Planner of the Year award.


Mary Tribble, a certified special events professional, established Tribble Creative Group in 1985 to help organizations communicate to their audiences through strategic event marketing and management. Tribble oversees a staff of 17, which implements project management, public relations, graphic design and in-house video production. Located in Charlotte, N.C., the company produces events and meetings nationwide. The company has received dozens of national and regional awards for its creative approach; Tribble herself has been honored as Entrepreneur of the Year and Businesswoman of the Year, among other awards. She volunteers on a number of nonprofit boards and co-chairs the Charlotte Green Team, a committee she founded that is charged with greening Charlotte’s events, meetings and facilities. The company’s hallmark has been its focus on creating events that make an impact in the community and the world. In 2003, Tribble co-founded and planned The Forum for Corporate Conscience, a high-level gathering of CEOs and activists who debated and took action on issues such as the environment, family, community and leadership. In 2006, Tribble co-founded the North Carolina Conference for Women, an annual state-wide gathering of over 2,000 women.


Jean McFaddin is the legendary producer of the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. She has won over a dozen Emmy Awards for the event. She is also a renowned lecturer and mentor of aspiring young event planners.

Frank Supovitz has risen through the ranks from being an usher at Radio City Music Hall to his present position as senior vice president of events for the National Football League. He currently oversees such events as the Super Bowl, the NFL Draft and the Pro Bowl.

Paulette Wolf originally made her mark as a corporate entertainment specialist. During her 30-year career, she refined the sporting event corporate experience to its current form. Her most recent accomplishment is the publication of her book “Event Planning Made Easy.”


Gene Columbus, Manager for Entertainment Casting, Walt Disney World Entertainment, Orlando, Fla.

William “Bill” Morton, Chairman Jack Morton Productions, New York

Mitchell Kelldorf, President and Owner Sculptware, Scottsdale, Ariz.

Doron Gazit, Owner, Air Dimensional Design Inc. (AirDD) Van Nuys, Calif.


Tim Lundy, CSEP Distinctive Design Events and Rosewood Market

Mona S. Meretsky, CSEP President COMCOR Event and Meeting Production Inc.

Peter Kranske, Vice President/COO Contemporary Services Corporation


John Daly, John Daly International, Santa Barbara, CA

Dr. Joe Goldblatt, CSEP, Dean, Alan Shawn Feinstein Graduate School, Johnson & Wales University, Providence, RI

Andrea Michaels, President, Extraordinary Events

I.L. "Jack" Morton, Founder, Jack Morton Worldwide

Michael Roman, President, Catersource Magazine, Conference and Tradeshow

Tom Shapiro, Founder, Academy Tent & Canvas

Jim Steeg, National Football League, SVP of Events, San Diego, CA

Raymond Thompson, President/Owner, Images by Lighting