Mike Berry, CEO, Kentucky Derby Festival
For the past twenty-one years, Michael E. Berry has been at the helm of the Kentucky Derby Festival – one of the nation’s largest and most notable civic celebrations. Mike oversees the planning and production of nearly seventy events on the Festival’s official schedule each year. With a staff of twenty-three and a seventy-five member Board of directors, Mike works tirelessly to orchestrate this award-winning celebration each year. The Derby Festival spans a two week timeframe in late April/early May and seeks to dazzle and delight spectators from Louisville and surrounding areas all on a budget of $7 million dollars.
Beginning his career at Festival in 1986, Mike’s entire experience has been thirty-two years in the making and now is the longest serving President/CEO in the history of the organization. His earliest involvement with Derby Festival dates back to the 1980’s. As Administrative Assistant to Kentucky’s Governor, Berry also served as the Governor’s appointment to the Derby Festival Board from 1984 – 1986. Mike holds a BA in American Studies and Political Science from Georgetown College (Class of 1983) and is a 1979 graduate of Louisville’s Waggener High School.
Berry serves or has served on the boards of a number of organizations including the Board of Directors for the International Festivals and Events Association (2004 Chairman of the Board) and IFEA Foundation (2011 Chairman of the Board).
Erin Combs, Head of Marking, Seattle, Lyft
Erin came to Lyft in August, 2018 and leads local marketing in the Seattle-based office. She is responsible for the integrated marketing strategy to grow Lyft’s brand and business in the PNW region. In the role, she spearheads innovative partnerships and marketing initiatives delivering on the company’s mission “to improve people’s lives with the world’s best transportation.”
Prior to joining Lyft, Erin was a senior marketing manager at Starbucks, where she oversaw the company’s local community partnership strategy, advancing global business and brand objectives at the local level. In that role she developed a proven model for leveraging partnerships with arts, sports and academic institutions as platforms for innovative brand programming. Erin joined Starbucks in 2011 as a marketing manager and led national retail promotional campaigns. She was a key member of the international launch team for Starbucks Refreshers and helped drive the success of iconic retail programs such as “Treat Receipt” and “Frappuccino Happy Hour.”
Previously Erin managed corporate communications for Microsoft at WE Communications, and developed campaign communication and brand strategy for nonprofit and mission-driven clients including the Pike Place Market, The Seattle Foundation and Mercy Corps at Pyramid Communications.
Erin lives in Seattle, WA with her husband and toddler daughter. She is a graduate of the University of Washington with a degree in communication and is a proud Colorado native.
Craig Cooke, President/Owner, Pacific Rim Talent
Craig Cooke is President of Pacific Rim Talent, Inc. A booking agency representing popular bands and artists throughout the Northwest. Craig has been in the entertainment business since 1974. Mr. Cooke serves on the board of directors for the Washington Stare Festivals and Events association and also manages 3 festivals-A TASTE OF EDMONDS, THE EVERETT SAUSAGEFEST, and THE EDMONDS WATERFRONT FESTIVAL. In the early 80’s Craig hosted a rock music TV show called ROCKIN YOU for the Viacom network. You can see clips of this show at the EMP Museum at the Seattle Center. Craig currently resides in Edmonds, Washington.
Peggy Doering, Valleyfest Executive Director, President of WFEA
Peggy is the Executive Director of Valleyfest, the City of Spokane Valley’s premier event. Peggy started working on Valleyfest as a community volunteer 28 years ago; has led the expanding nonprofit since 1996. Valleyfest began a one day festival in 1990 and has grown into a three day fall festival; five years ago the July Cycle Celebration was added. This nonprofit has twenty six committees, over 200 volunteers, and partners with other community nonprofit to invite visitors to the City of Spokane Valley to shop, play and stay.
With Peggy’s interest in nonprofit work, she was the volunteer coordinator for MidCity Concerns Meals on Wheels Spokane, and an adult trainer with several Girl Scout Councils.
She earned her BA in Speech Therapy and Education at GU which led to employment with school districts in the United States and with state department schools overseas.
In Spokane, Peggy has served on the YMCA Advisory Board, Greater Gonzaga Guild President, GU School of Business Dean’s Advisory board, and Washington State Festival Association.
She resides in Spokane Valley with her husband Greg, and is the mother of three adult children and grandmother to three.
David Doxtater, Executive Producer/Principal Design - The Workshop
David Doxtater founded The Workshop in 1997 with a vision for inspiring people to connect with new ideas, celebrate achievement, and participate in making our world a better place. Following this vision, The Workshop has produced hundreds of events, concerts, galas, festivals and community celebrations that strive to build stronger engaged community.
Concurrent to this work, David has also served as Director of Events at the University of Washington, overseeing hosted experiences for offices of Advancement and the President; and also served Executive Director for the Tacoma Tall Ships Festival. David has been very busy.
Prior to The Workshop, he began his career as a "One Reel Vaudeville" pioneer helping create the Bumbershoot Arts Festival and building it into a world-class multi-million dollar entertainment brand. During this time, he also developed the iconic "Summer Nights at the Pier" concert destination, as well as Seattle's annual 4th of July Fireworks show on Lake Union.
Robert Ezelle, Washington State Emergency Management Director
Robert Ezelle was appointed Director of the Washington Military Department’s Emergency Management Division (EMD) on April 1, 2013 by the Department’s Adjutant General, Major General Bret Daugherty.
Robert joined the Division in October 2010 as the Homeland Security Section Manager, and in May 2011, management of the State’s E-911 section was added to his portfolio. As the E-911 and Homeland Security Unit Manager, he oversaw the planning and operation of the statewide Enhanced 911 emergency phone system, as well as management of the state’s homeland security and emergency preparedness grant programs.
Prior to joining Emergency Management, Robert spent 30 years in the United States Air Force and Washington Air National Guard culminating in various senior leadership roles. Most recently he served as Vice Commander of the Western Air Defense Sector. The Sector is responsible for air sovereignty and air defense of the western United States. During his career he flew F-4, F-15, and F-16 fighters and AT-38B fighter trainer aircraft.
Greg Flakus, GF Strategies, Bonnaroo, Coachella
Greg Flakus founded his company in 1993 as Winning Ticket Strategies. His first client was the Oregon State Fair in Salem,Oregon. Working with management at this Fair, Greg developed a food and beverage tracking system that is still in use today. Greg has since worked with customers throughout North America, including the Houston Livestock Show, San Diego County Fair, Tulsa State Fair, San Mateo Expo and Western Idaho Events Center.
In 2001, the company was renamed GF Strategies, to reflect the firm’s expanded work in helping convention centers, arenas and stadiums with the selection of a master food contractor.
Prior to founding WTS, Greg worked in the Fair industry as the marketing director for the off-track wagering facility network in northern California. He also has worked in public relations for Oregon’s largest horseracing facility. Greg is a 1975 University of Oregon graduate with a degree in Journalism. His wife Carol is a mathematics professor at the local college in Longview, Washington. The business is based in Vancouver, Washington.
Becky Genoways - Genoways Event Management
Becky Genoways is a 30-year veteran of the festivals and events industry, a Certified Festival & Event Executive (CFEE), past Chair of the International Festivals & Events Association World Board of Directors and a member of the IFEA Hall of Fame.
She is a leading industry consultant, educator and producer. She has produced events of all sizes, from a local market with weekly attendance of 3,500 to a major music festival that attracted over 300,000 people. She is the former President and CEO of On the Waterfront, Inc., a multiple-event production company located in Illinois. Her current projects include overseeing the food and beverage program for the Saint Louis Art Fair, and managing the volunteer and food and beverage programs for Memphis in May International Festivals.
Genoways has presented numerous professional training seminars and Certified Festival and Event Executive programs throughout North America, in the Middle East and New Zealand and teaches at the National Recreation and Parks Association Event Management School annually.
Dale Johnson, Francis L Dean & Associates
Dale Johnson, CFEE, CIC have been in the insurance Industry since 1985. I have been working with Festivals, Fairs and Events for 30 years. I am From Fort Wayne, Indiana & I Manage the Indiana Office for F.L.D. I am a Graduate of Purdue University. Married - to wonderful wife (Marcia) for 35 years. I have 2 Children - A Daughter who is a RN here in Fort Wayne and a Son (in Seattle) who works as a manager for Amazon Web Services.
I Live in Fort Wayne, Indiana with my wife Marcia. I also have 2 grandsons (Parker & Preston). I Like Golf, Volleyball and I am an Avid Cycler. (9,000+ miles per year).
Melissa A. Jurcan, CSEP, Principal, Compass Group USA
For over 20 years she has been a part of several major events, including the opening of both the Seattle Seahawks and Arizona Cardinals Stadiums, Super Bowl 2006 and 2008, 2001 MLB All Star Game, Tostitos Fiesta Bowl and BCS National Championship Game, international soccer, major concerts and more.
Melissa has created and/or consulted on sponsorship and marketing campaigns for various companies, including: Microsoft, Seattle-Chinatown International District, Seafair (Seattle’s Summer Celebration), the University of Phoenix Stadium & Qwest Field & Event Center (NFL/Multipurpose event venues of which she was part of the opening team), Global Spectrum (one of the nation's leading facility management firms), Tacoma Rainiers (AAA Seattle Mariners), Village Theatre, and several Seattle-area restaurant/event venues, amongst others.
For the past 12 years, Melissa has been a member of the International Live Events Association (ILEA) and served in several leadership capacities, including: International Board of Governors, AZ chapter founder & president, western regional vice president, and most recently, president of the Seattle chapter. In 2008 she earned the Certified Special Event Professional (CSEP) designation, the hallmark of professional achievement in the special events industry. She is a proud member of the Washington Festival & Events Association (WFEA) and the Northwest Meetings + Events Magazine editorial board.
Melissa believes that “life should not only be lived, it should be celebrated”, and thus a career in the event industry was inevitable. When she is not planning events for companies she is involved with, she can be found roping her friends and family into celebrating any holiday she can think of (or make up). She is also an avid travel and adventure seeker and a voracious scrabble player.
Beth Knox, President/CEO-Special Olympic Games 2018
Knox recently completed serving as the President and CEO of the 2018 Special Olympics USA Games that were held in Seattle. Considered to be the most significant event in Seattle since the 1990 Goodwill Games, the Special Olympics showcased the abilities of athletes with intellectual disabilities, providing for world-class competition and inspirational experience.
Prior to that, she served as President and CEO of Seattle Seafair from 2005 -- 2015, overseeing Seattle’s largest regional celebration with 75 events – 10 of them large scale – over eight weeks.
She also was the President and CEO of the Seafair Foundation and the Boise River Festival in Idaho from 2001 – 2003. She served as a Vice President at One Reel for two different stints (1994 – 2001 and 2003 – 2005), in charge of revenue development for a $22 million operation that produced Bumbershoot – The Seattle Arts Festival, At&T Summer Nights at the Pier concert series, Teatro Zinzanni, AT&T Family Fourth and many other events.
She began her career as the Director of Promotions at Seafair, serving from 1988 – 1994.
Trevor C Lane, Assistant Professor, Community & Economic Development Director, Washington State University
Trevor C Lane is a member of the Washington Events and Festival Association (WEFA). He is also an assistant professor and the director of community and economic development with WSU Ferry County Extension. With almost 13 years of higher education experience, Professor Lane also has more than 15 years' experience planning events, as well as working in the music and festival industry. Professor Lane's research and instruction focuses on agritourism, small business, and entrepreneurialism, as well as working with public or elected officials to develop public policy and other special projects. Professor Lane bridges agriculture or business with technology and progressive knowledge advancement. Recent work with agritourism at a local level in Washington has resulted in an agritourism video that won a State award from the Washington Extension and Specialists Association (WEASA) and a Regional award from the National Association of Country Agricultural Agents (NACAA). Professor Lane has presented nationally on several occasions and most recently at the National Association of County Agricultural Agents where best-practices with story-telling and production of the agritourism video was shared with other Extension professionals across the nation. Agritourism workshops cover the history, rules or regulations, marketing, promotions, business planning, and fundamentals or best-practices to support agritourism operators.
Jody May, President, Festivals Inc.
Jody has been an integral part of the company’s growth for the past 31 years. With over 8 years of advertising, retail and hospitality experience under her belt prior to committing full-time to Festivals Inc. in 1988, Jody continues to bring innovation, creativity and most importantly a level of service unprecedented in the industry.
Jody’s leadership and management style promotes teamwork and attention to detail on all accounts and raises the bar for the company’s expectations to deliver above and beyond every time. Jody has managed all aspects of special event production for over 25 major community festivals and celebrations and corporate events. She has handled venue negotiations and has worked closely with a variety of government agencies in numerous cities in the State of Washington. Her opinions and input regarding special events continues to increase each year as cities attempt to better understand the business and support the benefits that events bring to any community.
Jody’s innovative approach to advertising and marketing for special events won numerous awards from both the International and Washington Festivals & Events Association. Many of these strategies have since been successfully adopted by other regional events. Jody believes that flexibility, creativity, superior service and dedication will continue to be an integral part of a winning formula for success in an ever-changing business environment.
Robert Mitchell, Director of Community Disaster Medicine
A Philadelphia, PA native, Dr. Mitchell received his medical degree from Philadelphia’s noted Jefferson Medical College. He completed his Ob/Gyn residency at the Lankenau Medical Center, eventually settling outside of Seattle, WA. in 1984; he went on to shepherd over 3500 babies safely into the world.
Choosing to retire in 2002, Dr. Mitchell embarked on a very different path just a few months later, a journey seemingly ripped from the pages of a Tom Clancy novel, training extensively in aspects of weapons of mass destruction and disaster response, traveling to distant places few know exist, embedded with military warriors and heroic first responders, an entirely different team and mission experience from his years delivering babies. He has faithfully carried back this extensive knowledge serving his community as the Director of the Disaster Medicine Project/DMP.
The Disaster Medicine Project is a non-profit service organization devoted to improving information sharing and community engagement in disaster readiness at all levels; from emergency management, first responder, healthcare, and public safety stakeholders to schools, churches, volunteer organizations, private sector businesses to neighborhoods and cul-de-sacs.
In 2016, he joined the instructor team of Boston’s Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center Fellowship in Disaster Medicine, an affiliated fellowship of the Harvard Humanitarian Initiative, as Director of Community Disaster Medicine.
The latest DMP training endeavor, STBVI/Stop the Bleed for the Visually-Impaired, focuses on the blind, ignored and underestimated in the realm of community disaster response capability; STBVI successfully launched on 13 October, graduating 18 newly-trained “immediate/bystander responders” who are not, as they self-describe, “dis-abled”; they are “differently-abled”.
We will never be disaster-proof. BUT, we can be DISASTER-READY!
Mike Moe, Managing Director, Washington Tourism Alliance
Mike is a Washingtonian through-and-through. Born in Spokane, he grew up on Tiger Mountain, 30 minutes east of Seattle. After high school, Mike fell in love with the tourism industry, working on steamboat cruise boats up and down the Mississippi River. His tourism career has taken him around the world. Among his many jobs, he was a photographer, a maitre’ d, and an overland tour guide in South America. In 2012, he was the second employee to join the WTA. After 6 years of working to help pass tourism marketing legislation, Mike can’t wait to play a part in showcasing Washington to the world. He now lives in Seattle with his wife Shannon, son Kieran, and dog Pacha.
Scott Nagel, President, Birchhill Enterprises
Scott Nagel has been making an impact on the world of the arts, festivals and events for more than 35 years as a performer, producer, executive director, publisher, and manager. He is one of the founders and the Executive Director of the Dungeness Crab and Seafood Festival, Executive Producer of the Ocean Shores Sand and Sawdust Festival, Director of Events for Victor's Lavender, and president of Birchhill Enterprises, a special-event and management consulting firm. He was one of the founders and Executive Director of Washington Festivals & Events Association, Vice-President of the International Festivals and Events Association, and Executive Director of the Sequim Lavender Growers Association among other projects.
As Executive Director of the Northwest Folklife Festival for 18 years, he made Northwest Folklife one of the most acclaimed traditional arts organizations in North America. Scott has worked with festivals and events throughout North America including Mexico and Canada as well as Australia, Ireland, Northern Ireland, China, and Eastern Europe.
Erika Olsen, Winthrop Rhythm & Blues Festival, Portland Waterfront Blues Festival
Erika Olsen is a native Washingtonian who grew up on Seattle’s Capitol Hill. Prior to devoting her professional life to music and festival productions, she worked in the non-profit sector as the Human Resources Director for the HMO Pacific Health Plans. She currently is the Festival Director for the Winthrop Rhythm & Blues Festival as well as the Assistant Artistic Director/Marketing & Production Coordinator for Portland’s Waterfront Blues Festival. Erika loves to run, dance, listen to live music, cook, watch the Seahawks, spend time with her family & friends and try and make the world a better place.
Under Erika's leadership, she and the Winthrop Rhythm & Blues Festival received the coveted “Keeping the Blues Alive” Award in 2015. This prestigious national award from the Memphis-based Blues Foundation recognized Erika for her compelling work on the Winthrop R&B Festival, known as “the best little festival” and is the longest running blues festival in Washington state. As a longtime member of the Washington Women’s Foundation, Erika currently serves on its Intersectionality Cohort. Erika is also a WFEA board member.
Mike Prebezac, Event Management Services
Michael V Prebezac has been in the event rental & service contracting business, in the Seattle area, since 1974, both owning and managing companies that specialized in equipment & services for Tradeshows, Festivals, Fairs & Special Events. These events have included Bumbershoot, Northwest Folklife Festival, Seafair, Everett International Air Fair, as well as many community festivals, state & county fairs, and hundreds of corporate and special events. The company was sold in 1999.
Michael started Event Management Services as an event consulting business in 2002, and has developed it into a full production and event management company.
Michael is currently Technical Production Director for The University District Street Fair, Fremont Fair, Kirkland Uncorked, Fremont Oktoberfest, and the Dungeness Crab & Seafood Festival, and provides contract services for a dozen cultural festivals, at the Seattle Center, as well as other events around the Seattle Area.
George Sharp, Rural Program Manager, Thurston Economic Development Council
Thurston Economic Development Council George has had a thirty year career in community and economic development. He has worked with many communities and organizations in helping them determine and or develop what are their unique attributes to help them standout from the crowd. He is an admitted festival and event fanatic, attending more than 50 a year. He was the director of the National Lentil Festival 1990-1998. He co-created the Tumwater Artesian Brew Fest in 2013 and Co-created the Bucoda Boo-Coda Spook-Tacular Festival in 2018. Sharp was the Rural Tourism Development Manager, Marketing Manager and Education and Training Coordinator for the Washington State Department of Commerce 1999-2010. He was the Executive Director of the Olympia-Lacey-Tumwater Visitor and Convention Bureau 2010-2015. He currently is the Rural Program Manager for the Thurston Economic Development Council. He has received multiple awards from Washington State Tourism, Washington Festival and Events Association and the International Festival and Events Association for his work over the years.
Bruce Skinner, Executive Director, Washington Festivals & Events Association
Bruce Skinner was one of a handful of people who started selling festival and event sponsorship in the mid-80’s, and is a highly regarded consultant to business and the special events industry with vast experience. He currently is the Executive Director of the Washington Festivals and Events Association, after serving as the Chief Revenue Officer for the College Football National Championship Game held in Phoenix in January of 2016.
He is the author of the book, The Complete Guide to Selling Event Sponsorship, published by John Wiley & Sons, Inc., of New York, and is the founder or co-founder of five Rock n Roll marathons in Seattle, Portland, Phoenix, San Antonio and Nice, France.
He served as the executive director of the Fiesta Bowl in Phoenix, Arizona, (1980-1990) and President of the International Festivals and Events Association (1990-2001). He also has served as the Executive Director of the Olympic Medical Center Foundation in Port Angeles – Sequim.
Jon Stone, Principal, CEA Partners
Jon Stone is a Seattle-based arts and cultural leader, festival producer and civic place-making consultant. For decades he has played key roles in the creation and execution of iconic concert, festival and theater experiences as well as educational, awareness building and business development programs for youth and emerging communities. Jon's consulting practice specializes in start-up, new lines of business and organizational turnaround work.
Chris Swenson, Office of Film + Music + Special Events, Chair, Seattle Special Events Committee,Seattle Citywide Events Manager, Film + Special Events Program Manager at the Seattle
Since 2012, Chris has served as the City of Seattle’s Citywide Event Manager, Seattle Special Events Committee Chair, and Seattle Film + Special Events Program Manager. Since 2008, Chris has overseen and coordinated over 2,800 Special Event Permits, including NFL, MLS, and WNBA Championship Parades, and has overseen and coordinated over 4,000 film permits including major motion picture “50 Shades of Grey” and television series “Grey’s Anatomy.” Prior to his work with the City, Chris was an independent Seattle record label owner and artist manager during Seattle’s Grunge Years™ of 1989 to 1994, and a successful small business owner over his 13-year film career from 1994 to 2007. During his film production career, Chris led visual conception and design on feature film, independent film, corporate, and commercial film productions across the country, including Production Designer for four locally-made feature films and ten years of Seattle Mariners commercials. Chris is a member of the Washington State Film Leadership Council, UW Film Advisory Board, and Artist Trust EDGE Advisory Board. Chris is a fourth-generation Seattle area native and makes his home in West Seattle with his wife and two children.
Heather Teegarden, CSEP, Natural Resources Outreach Programs Coordinator, WSU Snohomish County Extension
Heather Teegarden, CSEP, is an award-winning event professional with over 20 years in the industry. In 2006, Heather began planning waste-free events at Woodland Park Zoo. She has been educating and promoting the importance of eco-friendly events ever since! Heather currently manages the Sustainable Community Steward and Waste Warrior programs for WSU Snohomish County Extension in Everett. Heather is a Certified Special Events Professional (since 2003) and former accredited LEED Green Associate (2015-2017). She is also Master Recycler and is looking forward to helping you make your events more sustainable!
John Thorburn, Marketing Director, Bold Hat Productions
John is a 12-year veteran in event marketing, and has led the marketing strategy for Hop Scotch Spring Beer and Scotch Festival, Fremont Fair, Kirkland Uncorked and Fremont Oktoberfest since joining the Bold Hat team in June 2014. He is skilled in social and digital marketing, traditional advertising, and brand management, and he's passionate about emerging technologies, community building and overall marketing trends.
Prior to joining Bold Hat Productions, John was the Vice President, Communications and Marketing at the Northwest Marine Trade Association, which produces the Seattle Boat Show - the third largest boat show in the U.S., and largest on the West Coast. John received his degree from the University of Washington in Communications, and holds a certificate in Advanced Digital Analytics from the University of San Francisco.
Trudi Webster, Media Director/Culinary Liaison
As the Media Director/Culinary Liaison, Trudi manages websites and social media accounts (i.e. Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram) for Taste of Tacoma, Bite of Seattle, and Oktoberfest Northwest, in addition to contracted events and festivals under the New Growth Solutions banner. Trudi also liaises directly with local chefs and restaurants to secure, and manage onsite presence at key events, and for external media engagements, of which she acts as the official spokesperson for Festivals Inc.
Trudi writes press releases, social media campaigns, radio and television scripts, and digital advertising, and coordinates with local print media to design and publish festival programs.
Trudi held the role of Senior Event Manager with Festivals Inc. & New Growth Event Solutions team before advancing into the role of Media Director. She has extensive experience managing a diverse portfolio of major events and festivals around the world, including US Military events in Spain, corporate events in California and unique community festivals in Australia including the Beef, Bells & Bottletree Festival, the Chinchilla Melon Festival, and more.