After more than 12 years at the helm of the Professional Convention Management Association, PCMA President and CEO Deborah Sexton will relinquish the organization’s leadership role after the Convening Leaders conference in January. As she moves onto the next stage in her career—starting her own consultancy—PCMA just announced that its board of directors unanimously voted to give the top job to current chief operating officer Sherrif Karamat.
Calling her years of service to PCMA a privilege, Sexton says, “Having worked alongside Sherrif for more than a decade, I have great confidence in the future of PCMA.” Karamat has worked closely with Sexton throughout her stint at the 6,000-member association for meetings and events professionals, including developing plans to expand PCMA as a global organization, advancing its content platforms, and adapting its educational delivery channels as technology continues to evolve. Before joining PCMA in 2003, Karamat was vice president of business sales and services for the Toronto Convention and Visitors Association (Tourism Toronto).
“Deborah’s passion, boundless energy, and her hunger to continuously innovate have resulted in tremendous growth and progress both for the organization and the industry,” said PCMA Board Chair Mary Pat Heftman in a statement. “We could not be more grateful for her dedicated leadership, driving strategic plans that make PCMA the leader in our industry.” In addition to her role as CEO of PCMA, Sexton has also served as president of the PCMA Education Foundation and publisher of PCMA’s Convene magazine.
Among the highlights of Sexton's time as PCMA president and CEO:
• The organization’s annual conference was revamped to include more experiential and experimental elements, and it acquired a new moniker: Convening Leaders.
• PCMA acquired the Digital Experience Institute to enhance PCMA’s tech and online education and increase global participation.
• The organization led the development of the “business event strategist” concept to advance the profession to a more strategic role that incorporates event design and engagement.
Update 12/5: Deborah Sexton shares why she is leaving in January 2018, and what her plans are for the future: "I have worked with the best of the best, from staff to volunteer leadership to industry icons. I am leaving PCMA in the best financial position since the day it was founded with the strongest team the organization has ever had. Knowing this made my decision to start a new chapter easier. Together this team of staff, boards, members and collaborators will continue to achieve greatness for both PCMA and our industry, and I will celebrate their future achievements with enormous pride."