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Big New Roles for 2 Industry Women

IAEE selects Marsha Flanagan as its next president and CEO, while U.S. Travel Association taps Ishma Haider to be vice president, group travel.

Two longtime industry players have secured high-profile executive positions that are critical to advancing the cause of the meeting, convention, and trade-show market.

First, the International Association of Exhibitions and Events announced the appointment of Marsha Flanagan, CEM, to be its president and CEO beginning December 1. Flanagan’s background is steeped in the professional-education and meetings niche: Most recently, she spent more than a decade as senior vice president of events and learning experiences at IAEE, where she oversaw all meetings and other education initiatives, including the Certified in Exhibition Management designation.

FlanaganIAEE.pngPrior to that, Flanagan (in photo) was director of content strategy and development for Promotional Products Association International, where she directed the strategy, development, and delivery of all professional-development and editorial offerings. And Flanagan began her career with Meeting Professionals International, where she spent 12 years in various roles including executive vice president of professional development, overseeing operations, strategic partnerships, design, and delivery of meetings and other professional-development products.

In a press release, IAEE’s board of directors noted that Flanagan has “a strong focus on leading innovative strategies and developing intentional and thoughtful collaborations. She will lead IAEE into its next phase of service to the global exhibitions and events industry while supporting the association’s underpinnings of advocacy, sustainability, and DE&I initiatives.”

HaiderUSTA.pngThe other executive announcement this week was the appointment of Ishma Haider (in photo) to the newly created position of vice president, group travel for the U.S. Travel Association. Her mandate: “To bolster USTA’s efforts to increase group/meetings travel to and within the United States,” according to a press release. “Investing in group travel and strengthening our role in this critical segment of the travel economy is central to U.S. Travel’s future focus,” added Geoff Freeman, USTA president and CEO.

Further, a USTA spokesperson told MeetingsNet that “we created this new role because we fully recognize the importance and value of the group/meetings segment and the need to foster its growth using every tool available to us. Ishma provides a new level of expertise and focus to support group/meetings travel to and within the U.S. As we ramp up in this space, we will have much more to share on our strategy, collaborations, and activities to boost this segment.”

Haider joins U.S. Travel from Visit Orlando, where she was director of convention marketing for nearly four years. Prior to that, Haider was part of the national meetings and events team at Caesars Entertainment, helping to secure large conventions.

“It is an exciting time to join U.S. Travel and, working collaboratively across the industry, help the group/meetings segment thrive,” said Haider. “I look forward to engaging with U.S. Travel members and the Meetings Mean Business coalition to leverage their collective reach and help this segment continue to grow.”

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