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Making Change from the Legislative Floor

Julie Pazina, national director of sales at Edlen Electrical Exhibition Services, is bringing a meetings industry perspective to her other job: Nevada State Senator for District 12.

MeetingsNet’s Changemakers list recognizes outstanding meeting professionals for their efforts to move their organizations and the industry forward in unique and positive ways. Find the full 2023 Changemakers list here.

Julie Pazina

National Director of Sales, Edlen Electrical Exhibition Services

Nevada State Senator, District 12

For bringing a meetings and hospitality industry perspective to her work as a Nevada State Senator

When she was just six years old, Julie Pazina remembers seeing her parents—her “super heroes”—show fear for the first time. “I was watching them react from the back seat of our car as a group of people in white hoods and cloaks approached us.” Pazina, now 46 and a state senator in the Nevada legislature, grew up in a Jewish family in the Atlanta area. After that, “I started knocking on doors at age 11 and making calls at 15 for political candidates I believed in. I have worked on campaigns my whole life.”

It wasn’t until 2017, however, when the national director of sales for Edlen Electrical Exhibition Services, living near Las Vegas, decided not only to work on behalf of candidates who advocated for change, but to run for state office in her Nevada district. The impetus? The Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Va., which took place in August of that year. “I believe in representation by the people, for the people. I wanted to give a voice to my community.” That meant not only to her neighbors, but to those who worked in the hospitality and tourism industry, a vital economic engine for Nevada.

Along Came Covid

Championing change did not come easily for Pazina. When she first ran for state office in 2018, with the full support of management at Edlen (which supplies power for organizers of large trade shows throughout the U.S.), she lost the election by only 24 votes.

Recognizing the importance of establishing a voice for the hospitality industry in government, she joined the state’s Commission on Tourism, appointed by the governor as a commissioner in 2019.

Her motivation for making change grew during Covid, as she could only watch the devastation to the hospitality community and saw their challenges getting heard by those in power.

Race #2: Success!

“Serving on the Commission of Tourism and working as part of the recovery committee, I was able to do good things. But I wanted to be more actively engaged. It was an easy decision to run again.” Edlen management backed her fully, for the second time, during her campaign in fall 2022. This time, she won by a comfortable margin and set out to make a difference as a state senator from the 12th district.

Now in her first term, she takes great pride in the Tourism Caucus, which she created to educate other legislators on the workings of trade shows and their economic impact. “In the future, I hope to take them on field trips, where they can witness what goes on behind the scenes in building a trade show, as well as to show them events in action, and the trickle-down effect of the many businesses and jobs the events industry supports.”

In addition to her avid support of the hospitality community, Pazina has introduced 15 bills and co-sponsored dozens more. One of her proudest achievements was seeing a bill signed by the governor that ensures protections for living organ donors so that those giving the gift of life may not be discriminated against by health and life insurance providers.

Keeping Her Day Job

While legislature is in session in Carson City, the state’s capital, from February to June, Pazina works most nights until 7 or 8 p.m., and then goes home to tend to her sales team and event-management clients via e-mail in order to keep her Edlen trade-show business humming.

Serving in the state legislature “has been humbling and a learning experience,” she says.

Realizing that change takes more time than ever before, Pazina underscores that it is still worth the challenge. “It truly is one step at a time.”

View the full list of 2023 Changemakers

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