“Advocacy is an ongoing process, and not one that can be easily impacted by jumping in only when there is a crisis.”
That sentiment from David Audrain, CEM, executive director of the Society of Independent Show Organizers, sums up the founding principal of the Exhibitions and Conferences Alliance, a just-launched advocacy organization that will represent the interests of the industry to legislators nationwide.
Audrain is co-president of ECA with David DuBois, CMP, CAE, FASAE, CTA, president and CEO of the International Association of Exhibitions and Events. Their organizations and six others have banded together with several long-term goals in mind: initiating legislation on behalf of business events, maintaining a favorable operating environment for conferences and exhibitions in the United States, and promoting an understanding of the impact of the sector on jobs and the economy.
Two existing advocacy organizations will pursue their work under the ECA umbrella. Go LIVE Together will continue to argue for federal Covid-19 recovery funding for the convention industry under the leadership of Sue Sung, senior vice president, corporate strategy at Freeman. And Exhibitions Mean Business will maintain its efforts to promote the value of face-to-face events and the economic impact of exhibitions at the local, state, and national levels.
ECA, a 501(c)6 nonprofit organization, will be funded through partner associations. The inaugural 11-member board of directors represents the eight founding organizations:
• Cathy Breden, CMP, CAE, CEM, CEO, Center for Exhibition Industry Research
• Melissa Cherry, COO, Destinations International
• Jim Wurm, executive director, Exhibitor Appointed Contractor Association
• Chris Griffin, CEO of Crew XP, representing Experiential Designers + Producers Association
• Bob Priest-Heck, CEO of Freeman, representing Exhibition Services & Contractors Association
• Megan Tanel, CEM, senior vice president of Association of Equipment Manufacturers, representing IAEE
• Clifford “Rip” Rippitoe, CVE, CEO of San Diego Convention Center, representing International Association of Venue Managers
• Douglas Emslie, CEO of Tarsus Group, representing SISO
• Hervé Sedky, CEO of EmeraldX, representing SISO
• Nancy Walsh, president, Americas of Informa Markets, representing SISO
• Yancy Weinrich, chief growth officer, Americas of Reed Exhibitions, representing SISO