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New MPI Georgia Member Profiles submitted by:
Ginger Garner, CMP 
Associate Director, Meeting Planning and Management
The College Board
Member since 2006

New Member Featured Profile: April 2017

Mallory Siemen
Senior Sales Manager
Mandarin Oriental, Atlanta
Member since: June 2016

After six years of experience in the hospitality industry, Mallory Siemen joined the Georgia Chapter this past summer. She started her career with Starwood Hotels & Resorts, and currently serves as a senior sales manager for Mandarin Oriental, Atlanta. Mallory handles all vertical markets for territories including West Coast, Southeast, and International.  

Mallory has found her membership to be invaluable to her profession having connected with planners and other suppliers at a variety of MPI Georgia meetings and functions. The organization provides a “great opportunity to not only meet new contacts but uncover trends in the market and industry.”

Mallory’s colleagues would best describe her as energetic and always smiling. She is also a self-motivated professional who embraces the following advice: “Push yourself because no one is going to do it for you.”  Additionally, in order to best serve her clients, she encourages open communication and does not assume their needs or expectations.

Business travel takes her from Toronto and California, but this jet setter keeps Italy and Bora Bora on her vacation bucket list.  In the meantime, her next vacation will take her to “The Empire State,” better known as New York City.

New Member Featured Profile: March 2017

Desiree Stoute
Sales Manager
Fogo de Chão Dunwoody
Member since: November 2016

Desiree Stoute was introduced to the Georgia Chapter of MPI by her colleagues last November. She currently serves as a sales manager for Fogo de Chão Dunwoody and is responsible for identifying potential meeting planners and corporate executives in the Dunwoody market seeking space for private parties and small group meetings. While making advances in her career, Desiree has grown her time management and organizational skills; however, she would warn newcomers against prioritizing the need for approval from all of one’s colleagues… and skipping on spell check before hitting “send.”

Travel is an enjoyable pastime for Desiree and she dreams of spending time in Italy. Until her days in il bel paese, she will just have to enjoy Mexico, her next vacation destination. Desiree would also like to share the following piece of advice by Maya Angelou: “When people show you who they are, you better believe them.”

New Member Featured Profile: February 2017

LaToya Southern
Meeting & Events Manager
Arby's Restaurant Group
Member since: 2016

MPI Georgia welcomes LaToya Southern who is the Meeting & Events Manager at Arby’s Restaurant Group where she manages conferences, as well as the annual and internal monthly meetings for the corporate office. She also provides meeting support to other internal departments. LaToya has acquired key professional advice during her career: Be a part of the solution, treating everyone with the same level of respect, and keeping lines of communication open even during the off-season.

LaToya is a wife and mother of two boys and her family supports various volunteer programs with the Arby’s Foundation at the top of the list. In her spare time she is a runner, dancer, reader, and loves to visit new museums, festivals, and events around the metro-Atlanta area with her family and friends. Work will soon take her to Nashville, TN; however, a vacation to Aruba is on the calendar, and hopefully a trip to Maldives – her dream destination.


New Member Featured Profile: January 2017

Jude Creamer
Manager, Global Accounts
Member since: 2016

Jude is celebrating a great first year as a HelmsBriscoe Associate and we’re pleased to introduce her as a new member of the Georgia Chapter. She partners with busy meeting planners by sourcing the perfect venue for their next meeting, and thrives on the energy that networking brings to life. 

Although Jude is new to MPI, she’s a true veteran in the convention industry. For years she worked as an independent floor manager… with far too many shows and cities to count. More recently, Jude focused on working with meeting and exposition planners in design and implementation for crowd management and security programs.

Jude has been involved for several years with IAEE and PCMA. Her favorite part of the meetings industry is the connectedness and lasting friendships that are developed through participating in challenging endeavors with trusted colleagues and clients. In fact, her current business associate was a repeat client going back many years.

Thanks, Jude, for emphasizing the successful outcomes of networking, industry associations, and long-term business relationships.


New Member Featured Profile: November 2016


Katie Block
National Sales Manager
Caesars Entertainment
Joined MPI Georgia: June 2016


MPI Georgia is excited to welcome Katie Block, National Sales Manager for Caesars Entertainment under the Portfolio Brand of Hotels. Her current accounts are based in the southeast including Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia, as well as Pennsylvania. Even though she is a new chapter member, she connected with our organization through previous and current colleagues, and has participated in several events over the past five years. As a best practice, Katie remains involved and connected with the industry. She also recognizes the importance of keeping it personal and makes an effort to remember the interests and hobbies of those she meets. By the way, if Katie has called you at 5 a.m. local time, it was definitely a rookie mistake and a lesson in checking the zip code and time zone before picking up the phone. 

After her next business trip to Las Vegas, she will be visiting her cousin in Hawaii. (Any chance of a Caesar’s on the Big Island?) Katie’s dream vacation has an international flair. She would love to see Nepal and maybe climb Everest Base Camp. Katie’s adventurous spirit fits hand-in-hand with her words of advice, “never stop learning and always be open to alternate ways of doing something.”


Editorial Note from Megan:  Katie, we rocked it out at IMEX 2015 on the VISTA rooftop bar at Caesars Palace watching a celebrity tennis match with Elton John, Billie Jean, and Navratilova. Sponsorship works – very memorable event. 


New Member Featured Profile: September 2016


Philip Gamon
Sales Manager
Hilton Atlanta
Joined MPI Georgia: May 2016

MPI Georgia Chapter welcomes Philip Gamon, Sales Manager for Hilton Atlanta. Philip currently books meetings for Corporate and Association groups based out of the Northeast and Midwest as well as International clients. He also handles Military/Government, Education, Pharma, and Financial accounts. With his recent move to Atlanta, he has found that working in the hospitality industry and joining MPI Georgia have been great ways to meet people. Philip also extends a shout-out to Casey Peterson also was a major influence.

As a Millennial, Philip feels that transition and change is inevitable. In fact, his shared best practice centers on thinking outside the box and reinventing oneself to grow. “If you come in everyday being the same person and you don’t challenge yourself, you won’t grow as a person.” Philip is enjoying his time in Atlanta and can’t see himself leaving anytime soon at least not until New Year’s when he plans to watch the Ball Drop in Times Square. And maybe the luck of the New Year will find him watching the Detroit Lions play in the Super bowl.

“It’s a pipe dream.”

New Member Featured Profile: August 2016

Say hello to Nathan Horne with SongDivision 


Nathan Horne
Director of Business Development
Joined MPI Georgia: May 2016

Nathan is a recent transplant to Atlanta and a former active member of the MPI Greater New York chapter after having spent the prior seven years working in New York City. Since 2010, he has been a part of the global sales team at SongDivision, a company that helps organizations connect to and communicate with their target audiences using the power of music. They design interactive experiences for global meetings and events including general session openers & closers, team building, experiential marketing, and gala entertainment. As for best practices, Nathan suggests developing an intimate relationship with your Customer Relationship Management system (CRM) and following-up with your clients through hand-written thank you cards. 

His colleagues would describe him as organized, direct, and a below average golfer. 

Music has been a part of Nathan’s professional career since graduating from Berklee College of Music in Boston. Prior to the meetings and events industry, he was a talent agent representing several top tier jazz artists touring across the globe. When he’s not working, he can be found hanging out with his wife and two children… eating toast, planning a dream vacation to Scandinavia, denouncing the use of Times New Roman, and watching Seinfeld reruns. When Nathan was a kid, his father used to say, “It’s what you learn after you know it all that counts.” Now as an adult, he feels it is “a clever turn of phrase that took years to sink in [and is] an important concept if we want to continue to grow and learn as adults.”

New Member Featured Profile: July 2016

   V. Elizabeth "Betsy" Hardy
Georgia State University - Perimeter College
Joined MPI Georgia: February 2016

MPI Georgia Chapter welcomes Betsy from Georgia State University’s Perimeter College who joined us while enrolled as a student in UGA’s Event and Meeting Management program. In her current position, she is at times the grease and at other times the wheel. As a coordinator, Betsy fosters smooth operations within her team as they “roll along the office and college logistics and operations trail.” Based on her work experience, Betsy cautions about agreeing to do too much in a short time frame; however, she also recommends as a best practice reviewing the next day prior to closing the current day. “It helps me to refresh my "to-do" list.”

Betsy has traveling on the horizon as her upcoming family reunion will be held in Savannah’s historic district. She also dreams of vacationing in the locale with a mountains at her back and a hypnotizing body of water is in front of her. San Francisco, CA and Hiawassee, GA are two places that call her name.

A piece of advice Betsy will never forget: “Don't take any wooden nickels. Choose who/what you will serve. Be a light. Look for the light.”

New Member Featured Profile: April 2016

    Jennifer K. Griffeth
Director of Institutional Advancement
Athens Tech Foundation
Member since November 2015


MPI Georgia Chapter welcomes Jennifer who comes to us from the Athens Tech Foundation. The Athens Tech Foundation is a mission driven non-profit organization that partners with Athens Technical College and with the community to build the workforce of today and for the future. With her B.A. in Business Marketing and Management from the University of North Georgia, Jennifer continued her professional development by enrolling in the University of Georgia Center for Continuing Education Event and Meeting Management Certificate Program. While enrolled in this program, several meeting industry professionals introduced her to Georgia MPI.

She is passionate about development work and finding out what makes people want to give. She states, “some do not even know that they want to give and being able to help them realize that every gift whether it be the gift of influence, gift of inspiration, or gift of support in monetary form can do so much to help the lives of our students and staff of Athens Technical College.” Outside of her professional world, she enjoys coaching a little league team, supporting her local chamber of commerce, and traveling. Her next destination will be a location filled with history.

“When I travel, I want to go somewhere I have never been before and experience the culture and history that the destination has to offer. I learn new and exciting things when I travel and try to incorporate what I learn into event ideas.”


New Member Featured Profile: January 2016

    Danielle Dunfee
Director of U.S. Sales
Santa Barbara Beach & Golf Resort
Member since: January 2016


MPI Georgia welcomes Danielle who comes to us from the Santa Barbara Beach & Golf Resort on the island of Curacao in the Dutch Caribbean. She currently manages Group Sales for the Southeast and Southwest territories along with weddings. Prior to assuming her current role in July 2015, she spent the last four years with VailResorts representing properties in Jamaica (Half Moon), St. Lucia (The Landings), Costa Rica, Miami, the Bahamas (Bimini), and the Dominican Republic. Her coworkers see her as the “local authority of the Caribbean” with her incredible knowledge base.

A traveler at heart, Danielle dreams of renting a catamaran and visiting several Caribbean beaches throughout the islands. In fact, her next vacation is already planned for Curacao. More than 20 families will be joining Danielle and her husband with their two children for a week-long adventure. She travels because it is important to her believing that “experience is far more valuable than money will ever be.”

Danielle’s advice for living a fulfilling life, “if it’s important to you, you make the time.”


New Member Featured Profile: December 2015

Submitted by Ginger Garner, CMP, The College Board

    Sara Slaback
Sales Manager
Georgia Tech Hotel & Conference Center
Joined MPI GA: November 2015  


Sara is a sales manager covering the Georgia corporate market at the Georgia Tech Hotel and Conference Center. She graduated from Georgia Southern University with a BS in Hotel & Restaurant Management and a minor in Business Administration. After graduation, she began her career in hospitality at the Georgia Tech; however, she left after two years in search of additional experience at a different property. Just shy of a year, she returned to the Hotel and Conference Center in a sales role. What a great fit because she truly loves her job focus and the people with whom she works.  

As an avid and spontaneous traveler, she often does not plan her trips in advance but instead sets annual resolution for herself to visit a set number of cities. In 2015, she exceeded her goal of 12 cities actually traveling to 17 including Los Angeles, Seattle, Miami and Vancouver. In the coming year, her sights are set on more international destinations and hopefully Greece will make the list as it is her dream vacation.

New Member Featured Profile: October 2015

Submitted by Ginger Garner, CMP, The College Board

Chris Yueh
Director of Programs
The Atlanta Chapter of the American Institute of Architects
Joined MPI GA: August 2015  



Chris serves the American Institute of Architects’ Atlanta Chapter membership by planning annual events. In addition, he manages the continuing education program and assists in volunteer-driven initiatives such as public awareness and outreach.

Eileen Roehl of Murfree Group connected Chris with MPI GA as they were both members of the Dunwoody Toastmasters Club. When Chris decided to make a career change in 2013, Eileen invited him to attend an event where he made numerous network contacts.

As an avid tennis player, Chris applies the following mantra to both work and tennis matches: “one point at a time.” His coworkers would best describe him as hard working, persistent, and adorable. Let’s hope he can share these characteristics with the world as his dream vacation is to circumnavigate the world and visit unique and exotic locales.


New Member Featured Profiles: September 2015

Submitted by: Ginger Garner, CMP, The College Board

Jan Finnegan
Marketing and Sales Director
Savannah Lodging
Joined MPI GA: July 2015 




Working for Savanah Lodging, Jan leads a talented team representing two hotels in the Savannah Historical District – Hampton Inn by Hilton and Holiday Inn Express. Prior to joining the Savannah Lodging team, she was in the broadcast news industry for 34 years, most recently as a news director for the local CBS station, She has a BA in Journalism/Broadcasting from the University of Maine.

Jan was introduced to Georgia MPI by Savannah Lodging Managing Partner, Mark Dana.  She implements several best practices with her team such as brainstorming; some of their best ideas come from these off-the-cuff meetings. Jan is also big on one-on-one meetings to review weekly successes, challenges, and “to-do” lists. Her father imparted the following words of wisdom: “take care of the people with whom you work – the team only succeeds if all members are pulling their own weight and watching out for one another.”

When not at work, Jan serves as a member of the First Baptist Church of the Islands on Wilmington Island where she also sings in the choir. Now that football season has returned, she looks forward to watching games with her family whether they are high school, college, or NFL. She is also planning upcoming college visits in Atlanta for her teenage son. Jan adores baking so there is never a shortage of homemade goodies in the house.

Sabria Farhat
Group Sales Manager
The Watergate Hotel
Joined MPI GA: July 2015 

Sabria joins the MPI Georgia chapter with 10 years of luxury hospitality experience in New York, Boston, and most recently Washington D.C. 

Sabria is fortunate to have started her career in hospitality as Director of Events for the iconic Four Seasons Restaurant in NYC. Here she had the unique opportunity to organize programs for notable figures. From Bethany Frankel’s wedding to fundraisers with the Dalai Lama – she credits her ever evolving understanding of the luxury market to these dynamic service experiences.

Currently Sabria is honored to be part of a team of luxury professionals re-launching The Watergate Hotel in Washington D.C. following a $190 million renovation. As Group Sales Manager for the Southeast, Sabria is inspired everyday by the historical and architectural significance of the hotel she is so proud to represent.  

 New Member Featured Profiles: August 2015

Submitted by: Ginger Garner, CMP, The College Board

Kim Zane Dodson
Special Events Manager
City of Alpharetta
Joined MPI GA: July 2015





A warm welcome to Kim – Special Events Manager, representing the City of Alpharetta. In order to be successful in her career, Kim places communication as a top priority. She learned early on that listening to clients and understanding their need makes her job so much easier. As we all know, lack of communication can devastate any best-laid plans. 

There is always a solution to any problem and it is better to know early than later.”

Kim was introduced to MPI GA through a personal connection with Heather Herrig, MPI GA Membership Director, and Principal of Every Last Detail. They met at their daughters’ school while volunteering for Field Day. More specifically, the baton race brought them together. Kim is planning a vacation to the Isle of Palms in South Carolina to visit family before the end of summer. And as a best practice, she recommends yoga, meditation, deep breathing, and coffee to combat the stresses of event planning.


Anna Corley, CMP
Southeast Region Meeting Planner
Ernst & Young, LLP
Joined MPI GA: July 2015





Anna comes to the MPI Georgia chapter having spent four years planning meetings with the Ernst & Young Atlanta office, concentrating on their Florida market. She organizes events held in Jacksonville, Orlando, Tampa, Miami, and Boca Raton. She will be heading to Palm Springs, California to support one of the firm’s largest and most prestigious events, the EY Strategic Growth Forum®, consisting of over 2,000 entrepreneurs of Fortune 500 companies gathered for a week of learning with seminars featuring celebrity entrepreneurs.

Anna became familiar with MPI GA after joining the CMP Study Group. Her fellow participants influenced her to join. She feels fortunate to have made those connections and is looking forward to increasing her involvement with the chapter. Anna’s coworkers describe here as detailed, thoughtful, friendly, and a lover of cracked black pepper. She even keeps a pepper grinder in her desk drawer. To celebrate her five year wedding anniversary, she and her husband look forward to time in Turks & Caicos.

This corporate planner lives by these words, instilled in her by her parents: “Remember who you are." She also endorses handwritten notes of gratitude to thank others when something goes right.

Thank you to our newest volunteer, and July 2015 featured new member, Ginger Garner, CMP, Lead Meeting Planner at The College Board. Ginger was introduced as a new member last quarter and has now taken on the role of columnist for our New Member featured section. Talk about a volunteer success story! We appreciate you, Ginger.

  New Member Featured Profiles: July 2015

Todd Deas
Senior Event Manager
Alcon, Commercial Meetings, Vision Care
Joined MPI GA: January 2015


Todd Deas has over 20 years of experience as a marketing communications professional serving small to mid-sized and Fortune 500 companies in the telecommunications, technology, healthcare, pharmaceutical, and financial industries. His expertise has driven business and consumer marketing programs, as well as launched new products and services for major corporations.

Currently Todd is a Senior Event Manager for Alcon Vision Care, makers of AIR OPTIX & Dailies Total 1 Contact lenses, solutions, and surgical equipment. He was introduced to MPI Georgia by Monica Compton, CMP, of Pinnacle Productions. They collaborated on a few projects and she always talked about what a great organization to join.

Todd started in the events industry back in the tech boom. He says, “So much money was being made and spent in the corporate world, and the event budgets were strong. I was having a blast and have been ever since.”

Virginia "Ginger" Garner, CMP
Lead Meeting Planner
The College Board
Joined MPI GA: November 2006




Ginger manages national conferences and regional workshops for the Middle States and New England regions of the College Board, a mission-driven, not-for-profit organization that connects students to college success and opportunity. The College Board has been her professional home for almost 14 years. She has a B.A. in Sociology from Georgia State University and is currently pursuing her masters in hospitality administration from the University of Nevada Las Vegas.

Ginger was introduced to Georgia MPI through participation in the CMP Study Group. She met a fabulous team of professionals and learned a great deal about the meeting industry through her classmates. Outside of the College Board, Ginger supports her local historical society as the treasurer and webmistress, and spends a majority of her time making memories with her family and friends.

 Welcome to our New Members as well as some familiar friends who have recently renewed their membership.

Please look for the New Member ribbons at upcoming events so you can say hello to these hoteliers, CVB representatives, students, suppliers, and planners.
Kelley Atkinson, Association Services Group
Wendy Basco, Ritz-Carlton Lodge at Reynolds Plantation
Megan Campbell, Yamaha Motor Corporation
Renee Carden, Lake Lanier CVB
Anne Clarke, Saint Lucia Tourist Board
Fran Cohen, Novelis
Holeigh Daniel, InterfaceFLOR
Mary Frances Dart, Supershuttle Atlanta
Lawrence Davis, Jr   
Todd Deas, First Data Corporation
Bethlehem Dempsey, Student
Karen Ewing, Student
Allison Forthun, CMP, Omnience
Tikima Funderburg, McKesson
Theresa Galletta, City of Smyrna
Tina Godwin, Coral Hospitality
Carnen Hendrych, McKesson
Matthew Hodge, US Motivation
Mary Hogan, Student
Dina Iglesias, Proof of the Pudding
Sheila Jones, Student
Satara King, Printpack
Kenneth Krom, BBJ Linen
Brad Langley, Nth Degree
Suzy Larocco, C2Eventz
Penny Long, CMP, eventlogix 
      Trish Luckenbill, Westin Hilton Head Island Resort & Spa
Matthew McGeady, Philadelphia Marriott Downtown
Dwight McQueen, Supershuttle Atlanta
Jennifer Nirenberg, Peachtree City CVB
Julkes Norman-Maloy, Experient
Sarina Patel, Sutherland Asbill & Brennan
Kristin Pearl, Nth Degree
Cori Pickwick, Prima Eye Group
Steven Potts, Georgia World Congress Center
Alicia Robertson, Hyatt Atlanta Midtown
Alexandra Rodbell, NAPA/Genuine Parts Company
Kristin Rogers, EMCVenues
Leah Ruth, Actio Marketing
Elsita Sacarello, Student
Nia Salandy Gaskin, CMP, Global Productions
Jacqueline Sarvis, Student
Sharon Shively, CMP, CMM, Root Events
Debi Smith, CMP, CMM, McKesson
Michael Sparks, CMP, Southern Company
Allison Spicer, CMP, Home Depot
Mary Lynn Stone, KPMG
Mallary Taylor, Savannah Convention Center
Jeanna Torregano, Student
Valorie Vines, Dolce Atlanta - Peachtree
Mike Walsh, Amp'd Entertainment
Evie Wenick, McKesson 


New Member Featured Profiles: June 2015

Mike Walsh
Amp'd Entertainment
Joined MPI GA: March 2015


Mike began his career in 2003, interning for a popular radio station in Atlanta. In 2004, he began his DJ journey working for some of the top parties and clubs in Clearwater Beach, FL and Chicago, IL. After returning to his home town, he created Amp’d Entertainment, with a focus on bringing turntablism and a unique approach to corporate events and wedding receptions.

Mike’s clients expect something different then the norm and he strives to create a unique experience every time. Amp’d is now an industry leader is highly recommended by Atlanta’s top venues and planners seeking nothing but the best for their clients.

He was introduced to Georgia MPI by Anna Williams of Juice Studios. When Mike’s not working you can find him training Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and enjoying all of the great food & drink you find in our great city.


Kelley Atkinson
Meetings & Events Coordinator
Association Services Group
Joined MPI GA: January 2015

Kelley manages the trade show for Association Services Group’s largest event which is a conference with more than 3000 attendees and 300 exhibiting companies. She has a B.A. Communications & Media Studies from Clayton State University and an Event & Meeting Management Certificate from the University of Georgia.

Kelley was introduced to Georgia MPI by Miranda Allen, CMP, whom she worked with during in internship at Merle Manders Conference Center.  Miranda and Kelley later worked together planning events for March of Dimes.  She learned about the hospitality industry by receiving hands on experience in the non-profit sector, wedding industry, and association management. When Kelley isn’t buried in paperwork or traveling she enjoys spending time with her newborn niece, having dinner with friends, or a good nap with a good book.

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