Advisory Board


David Adler

Founder & Chief Executive Officer, BizBash Media (New York)

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David Adler is founder and C.E.O. of BizBash Media, the source for essential information about event marketing, meeting and event planning, and business entertaining in New York City, Los Angeles, Boston, Chicago, Miami, Orlando, Las Vegas,  Toronto and Washington, D.C. BizBash Media operates and publishes BizBash magazine.

The company also hosts trade shows and award shows in major event markets. BizBash’s annual New York award show was featured in the center column of The Wall Street Journal, and Adler was named one of the “25 Most Influential Leaders” in the meeting and event industry by Meeting News magazine. Adler is also the co-creator of White House Correspondents Insider (, a Web site that covers the media as a “micro-niche”.  In recent years, Adler has taken over the management of the career of his father, Warren Adler, author of more than 30 novels, including War of the Roses and Random Hearts, both of which have been made into major motion pictures.

From 1994 until 2000, Adler was vice president of corporate communications for PRIMEDIA; previously, he held the same post at Macmillan Inc. from 1988 to 1990. In those positions, Adler was responsible for events, public relations, charitable giving, branding, and special chairman and C.E.O. projects including the Notre Dame University Conference on the Holocaust in 1998. Events projects included the 50th anniversary of Seventeen magazine, the 25th anniversary of New York magazine, the annual New York magazine awards, the 100th anniversary of the Daily Racing Form, and the annual Soap Opera Digest award celebration.

Adler resides in New York City and is active in several nonprofit and professional organizations, including board positions with NYC & Company, the WNET Education Committee, and the Dean’s Advisory Council of the American University School of Communications.  He has been instrumental in launching WNET’s Celebration of Learning and Teaching as a member of the organization’s education committee.


Jon Brandt

Founder, Momentus (New York)

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Jon S. Brandt, is a successful entrepreneur who has built and successfully sold multiple companies.  His latest success story was turning a vision improved, quality patient care in the allied healthcare education sector.

Mr. Brandt turned that vision into the very successful organization, and the largest allied healthcare certification organization in the Country. The National Healthcareer Association (NHA) was sold in June 2009.

As a hard driven overachiever Jon Brandt has turned numerous ideas into profitable businesses creating new markets and market leadership status.


Joan Eisenstodt

Founder, Eisenstodt Associates (Washington, DC)

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Joan Eisenstodt founded Eisenstodt Associates, a Washington, DC-based meetings and hospitality consulting, training and facilitation company in 1981. She brings 35+ years experience to her work with associations, corporations, hotel companies and DMOs, to facilitate and design meetings, conduct training, perform departmental audits and negotiate contracts.
Joan is retained as a hospitality industry expert witness and is on the Editorial Advisory Board of the Journal of Convention and Event Tourism. Her industry activities include involvement in ASAE, DMAI, MPI, and PCMA. Currently she serves as Chair of ASAE’s Ethics Committee, is on DMAI’s Committee on Social Responsibility, on the Education Task Force for PCMA, and on MPI’s Global Emerging Leaders Community.
Her passions for life-long learning, meeting preparation, risk anticipation, contingency planning, ethical and inclusivity practices, and meeting excellence have been well-recognized by MPI, HSMAI, and NSA; as an inductee into the CIC Hall of Leaders, by the PCMA Foundation for Lifetime Achievement as an Educator, and by IACC with the Pyramid Award, and by IACC with the Mel Hosansky Award for Distinguished Service.
You can find Joan on twitter (@joaneisenstodt and @focusforum), blogging at and active on linkedin.


Howard Givner, Ex Officio

Executive Director, Event Leadership Institute (New York)

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With over 20 years of industry experience, Howard Givner is a widely recognized expert in the field of special events. He is the founder of Paint The Town Red, Inc., and the former CEO of North America for Global Events Group, the 13th largest event agency in the world, which acquired Paint The Town Red in 2008. During his tenure the company won over 30 industry awards. He is President of the International Special Events Society (NY Metro Chapter); a columnist for Event-Solutions Magazine; has served on the Advisory Board of Special Events Magazine; been a judge of the Gala Awards & HSMAI's Adrian Awards; and is a frequent speaker at industry conferences.

He currently serves as an advisor to the board of directors of First Protocol, an event agency headquartered in London and NY, and has been profiled in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, CNBC, National Public Radio, ABC News, The Apprentice, and USA Today, in addition to numerous trade media. As an industry advocate, Howard frequently assembles and moderates roundtables and panels with other thought leaders on important industry topics such as R.O.I., virtual meetings, planning mega events, and restructuring in-house event departments. On a personal level, Howard sits on the Board of Directors of Every Child A Reader, the charitable foundation of the Children’s Book Council. He lives in Westchester, NY with his wife and two children.

Howard is the creator of the Super Planner mobile app, winner of BizBash Event Style Award for Best New Product, and finalist for the Special Events Magazine Gala Award for Best New Product.


Rebecca Grinnals

Founder & President, Engaging Concepts (Celebration, Florida)

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Rebecca Grinnals is widely regarded as one of the foremost experts on the business of weddings & honeymoons. She is the founder and President of wedding and honeymoon industry consulting firm, Engaging Concepts based in Celebration, FL. Rebecca is a sought after industry consultant, speaker, trainer and business trend expert. She has been a featured guest on CBS’ “The Early Show,” CNN, Entertainment Tonight, CNBC and hundreds of other national and international television & radio programs. She serves as the Chairperson of the Leadership Advisory Board of WIPA (Wedding Industry Professionals Association) and was recently named as one of the “Top Ten Social Media Influencers in the Wedding Industry” by WedBiz Journal.

Prior to creating Engaging Concepts, Rebecca co-founded Disney’s Fairy Tale Weddings & Honeymoons for The Walt Disney Company, and spent ten years developing the concept into an unprecedented success. She directed the complete branding strategy, development and implementation of the program, building it into almost a $100 million per year business for Walt Disney World, Disneyland, and the Disney Cruise Line. These efforts resulted in over 20,000 weddings and the coveted status for Disney as the # 1 Domestic Honeymoon Destination.

She has been quoted in scores of wedding & honeymoon related articles including The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, USA Today, Forbes, Cosmopolitan & BRIDE’S to name just a few. She has directly produced wedding events and remotes for, among others, “The Oprah Winfrey Show,” “The TODAY Show” and “Good Morning America.”

Rebecca has orchestrated some of the industry’s most innovative wedding related promotions and partnerships including the Sandals & Beaches Resorts groundbreaking partnerships with Celebrity Wedding Designer Preston Bailey and Cake “Diva” Sylvia Weinstock, the Guinness World Record setting “World’s Largest Vow Renewal” for Harley-Davidson, The Travel Channel’s 6-episode series featuring The Cayman Islands (“Weddings Away-Cayman Islands”), My Destination Wedding with The Knot on the STYLE Network and promotions with top industry brands such as Ritz-Carlton, Martha Stewart Weddings/MSLO, BRIDE’S Magazine, The Knot, the Platinum Guild, American Express, Crate & Barrel and many more.

In 2008, she and business partner Kathryn Arce created an innovative series of luxury wedding business summits called engage! which twice a year bring together 250 of the wedding industries key influencers, thought leaders and tastemakers from around the globe to connect and exchange ideas, innovate and be inspired to take their successful businesses and, in turn, the wedding industry to the next level. All eight engage! events to date have been complete advance sell outs with top wedding professionals participating from over 40 states and 20 countries and have met with rave reviews from attendees and speakers alike.


Andrea Michaels

President, Extraordinary Events (Sherman Oaks, California)

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Andrea is the winner of over 35 Special Event Gala Awards, the first inductee into the Special Event Industry Hall of Fame as well as a winner of two SITE Crystal Awards, MPI Global Paragon Award, two EIBTM (international) awards, and a slew of other recognitions.  All accolades are for impeccable and innovative meetings and events which include international road shows for BMW, Mercedes, Hong Kong Tourist Board and many others of distinction. Her seminars on Creativity, The Profitability of Doing Business, and Anatomy of an Event have earned her international kudos. The summation?  She sets the trends that others follow. Her autobiographical book, “Reflections of a Successful Wallflower, Lessons in Life, Lessons in Business” was published in March, 2010. Another book, co-authored with Deepak Chopra and Jack Canfield, "Stepping Stones to Success" was also released in March, as well as a motivational business book, “Yes You Can!” with authors Dr. Warren Bennis, Jim Rohn and others, released in the fall of 2010.


Gary Pagano

Senior Director of Special Events, MTV Networks (New York)

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Gary is Senior Director of Special Events at MTV Networks where he produces a wide range of events and meetings internationally. He is active in the company's Green initiative and works towards reducing the environmental impact of events. He's been with MTV Networks for over 12 years.  He also has a background in Museum Education and presently teaches Special Event Management at NYU as part of their CSEP program.


Mark Shearon

Founder & Managing Partner, Proscenium Group (New York)

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Mark has spent the last 25+ years thinking about clients, opportunities and solutions. Over that time he has worked with the world’s best-performing brands on their most important communication and marketing programs.

These include programs for Ford Motor Company, American Express, Bank of America, ExxonMobil, Samsung and Walmart.
He has strategized with CEOs, created campaigns with Brand Managers and collaborated with Sales teams on the production of many types of programs.  Mark has worked on a 26,000 person business partner product launch for Ford, played the leading role in sports marketing activations for 150,000+ consumers at the Olympics for Samsung and on numerous critical live meetings of up to 17,500 employees for Walmart.  His specialty is the any-scale, success-critical, high-performance, face-to-face, digitally savvy event that drives a Business to higher performance.

Recently he founded, with some like minded colleagues PROSCENIUM, a live event marketing agency. Their sole purpose is to help their clients and their Brands perform.


Alison Silcoff

Owner, Alison Silcoff Events (Montreal)

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For the past two decades, Alison Silcoff has produced and coordinated some of the highest profile corporate, social and non-profit events across Canada, the United States and Europe. A dynamic professional, she has a solid track record, with a client-base ranging from Ernst & Young and Bank of Montreal to the Canadian Cancer Society and Young Presidents' Organization (YPO). Her events are known for high quality, attention to detail and worldly sophistication which make them truly unforgettable.

A London native and Cambridge University graduate, with many years of corporate experience in Europe and North America, Alison Silcoff brings a refined British polish to events both large and small. From Paris, London, Stockholm and St. Petersburg, to New York, Chicago and Los Angeles, as well as her home base in Montreal and across Canada, Alison and her team have organized the events which have left cities talking. She is bilingual in English and French. Through her international engagements and background, she has strong contacts with the world's most outstanding talents: the most exciting entertainers, caterers, and decorators, as well as specialist suppliers of all kinds.

Alison Silcoff and her staff have created large-scale, flagship events for a long list of corporate and non-profit clients. Yet her talents are also available for organization of the most intimate of meetings or the most private of functions. For Alison, no event is too small. No detail is too minute. And no standards are too high. Her business philosophy dictates that every special event - whether it be a week-long corporate meeting or a creative theme party - should really go the extra mile.


Brent Taylor

Founder & Managing Partner, Event Technology Solutions (Edmonton, Alberta)

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Brent has been working in the meetings and events industry for over 20 years as both a supplier and a planner. In 2011 he founded Event Technology Solutions, a rapidly-growing audio visual company based in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. He is also a partner in Timewise Event Management Inc. which was founded in 1999 and delivers project management services to conferences and conventions. He believes strongly in our industry and the value that meetings and events bring to organizations and our economy. He is an advocate for education, professional development and setting standards as he believes they are the key to advancing our industry as a profession. Brent is an avid volunteer locally and internationally. His primary involvement is with the Event Leadership Institute, Meeting Professionals International, and Convention Industry Council. He is also a regular contributor to various industry publications through articles and sitting on advisory boards.


Richard Waddington

Chief Executive Officer, First Protocol (London)

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Richard heads up company strategy and business development projects within First Protocol as well as working with existing and new clients on defining their event communication requirements and making sure every penny spent is put to work on their behalf. We have a simple saying that runs through the business; 'don't waste your money on events.' Richard sits on a number of committees related to the events industry and regularly speaks on 'Live Event Marketing and the power of Face to Face.' He firmly believes in giving a little back and regularly speaks to students at Universities about the industry both in the UK and US.

Richard is proud to have graduated through the 'University of Life' and like all entrepreneurs was a bit of a rebel in his youth; spending most of his time hatching business ideas from ice skating trips to tuck shops and club nights. Richard worked through a formal hotel industry management program with DeVere Hotels, followed by periods working at the London Stock Exchange, SG Warburg and Rothschild. He has over his career created and ran events for everyone from major corporations to Royalty and Government agencies.

Away from First Protocol Richard is a keen skier, cook and tennis player and lives in Kent with his wife Wendy and their daughter Abi (when home from university with laundry).


Kevin White

Founder & Chief Strategist, XPL

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Kevin is the founder of XPL, a strategic event management agency. Prior to that he was Director of Production for the award-winning event and destination management firm, Empire Force Events.  For over a decade, he has been designing and producing corporate experiences worldwide. 

Kevin is currently the president-elect for ISES International.  He has been an ISES past president of both the Philadelphia and New York chapters, has served as the chair of its international Certification Committee, and is currently serving his third term on ISES’s Board of Governors.

Kevin was one of the youngest event professionals to attain the CSEP certification.  He is an Adjunct Professor at New York University in the Hospitality, Tourism and Sports Management school and has been a presenter at university campuses and event industry conferences throughout the world on various event topics. 

Most recently Kevin has been focusing on environmental research and solutions for the event industry, including his current work on the American technical advisory group developing the international standard for sustainable event management.


Greg Zalkin

Director of Special Events, AFR Event Furnishings (Miami, Florida)

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Entrepreneurship and special events have been two things for which Greg Zalkin has always had passion. He began early on when he landed a job in the White House (Office of Scheduling and Advance.) Always the entrepreneur, he opened his own nightclub in Tampa, then managed production for special events and marketing campaigns for a large New York City-based company, before moving to Miami in 2005 and starting Room Service, Furniture and Event Rentals.

In 2010, Zalkin sold Room Service to AFR Event Furnishings, and joined the team as AFR’s General Manager of the Southeast Region (which includes offices in Orlando, Miami, Atlanta and Dallas). He is now the Director of Special Events and is also head of the AFR product development team and is involved in all aspects of sales and marketing for the company.

© The Event Leadership Institute 2011. All rights reserved.

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