29 Black Leaders in Events You Should Follow

As Black History Month concludes, Glisser continues the conversation by acknowledging 29 black leaders in events that are making history right now. By Vanessa Lovatt & Nardos Abraham.

Vanessa Lovatt, November 1, 2021

You can connect with them all via LinkedIn using the links below.

Michael Adeniya - Chief Operating Officer - UK Black Business Show

Michael Adeniya is a Chief Operating Officer at UK Black Business Show and  Chair D&I Working Group at Events Industry Alliance (EIA).

He’s held commercial roles at DMG World Media and IQPC. As well as spending nine years at Clarion Events, serving as Portfolio Director for their life science division and more recently EMEA D&I Business Lead. He’s a prominent voice in advocating a more inclusive events industry through his work at EIA with events associations and other speaking opportunities.


Tess Vismale, CMP, DES- Chief Event Executioner, iSocialexecution

Tess, the “event rescuer”, has 25+ years experience in event planning, production and technology and is one of the earliest adopters of tech in events being Digital Events Certified since 2013. She sees events professionals as “family” and is ready to support, educate and train professionals on their tech.

She co-hosts “the Event tech Pull Up” podcast.

Mahoganey Jones, CMP, DES, HMCC - Founder & CEO, Event Specialists- Founder & Consultant, EventPreneur Success Club

As the first Canadian Event professional to become a Certified Digital Event Strategist, Mahogany is a true events expert with 17+ years of experience in the events industry. Some of her accolades include the 2021 “Event Professional of the Year'' & “Top 100 Most Influential People in the Events Industry.”


Ashanti Bentil-Dhue Diversity & Inclusion Practitioner | Guest Lecturer | Keynote Speaker

Ashanti is the Founder of Good Soil Leaders, Co-founder of the global network, Black In Events, and co-founder of Diversity Ally, the first HR, Training & Search partner dedicated to creating a diverse and inclusive culture in the global events industry. Diversity Ally became the first Black female-owned business to exhibit at Internation Confex 2021 and was key in putting DEI on the agenda. She hosts a series of webinars, podcasts, workshops and guest talks with more to come including a global D&I accreditation for the events industry next year.


Raphael Sofoluke - Founder - UK Black Business Show Ltd

Raphael Sofoluke is a speaker, author and founder of The UK Black Business Show, an annual conference and exhibition highlighting and promoting businesses founded by people from the black community. The 2019 show had over 2,500 attendees and 110 businesses from across Europe and Africa.


Erica Oghoghorie - Conference and Content Manger - Northstar Travel Group and Founder & Creative Director of Rejuvination Hub

Erica’s goal is to connect people through content. In her role as a content developer, she works to identify the most critical problems and policies applicable to various audiences and execute plans to ensure this information reaches the people that need them.

She also runs a skincare company which strives to boost confidence by providing affordable, effective and ethical skincare solutions.


Damilola Onamusi, Founder & MD, D.A.S.H. Events  

Damilola is a creative social entrepreneur with specialist knowledge in delivering projects across music, culture, diversity and inclusion. She provides creative direction on all client events for DASH Events. She is also an avid lover of music, black culture and fashion; currently building All The Pronouns which focuses on the inclusion of all bodies and individuals irrespective of their gender identity or sexual orientation.

Finally she is passionate about implementing true beneficial change through collaboration and creative solutions which entertain, excite and empower audiences.


Felicia Asiedu - Co-Founder - Diverse Speaker Bureau

Felicia has 15 years' of experience in B2B sales and marketing as a relationship-oriented, creative, enthusiastic individual with exceptional oral communication skills and a passion for success and technology.

She is currently focused on content strategy, management and distribution, campaign management, digital marketing, lead generation and live events.


Dionne Bishop, CSEP - Chief Experience Officer - Events by Dionne Inc.

Dionne specialises in producing engaging live experiences for large corporations and small business owners who value creativity, hospitality and diversity. Dionne’s work has been centred around managing or producing integrated live experiences and marketing some of Toronto’s largest event facilities. She produced events across North America and within the Caribbean delivering customized experiences people remember for years to come.


Ruby Sweeney - Founder & Director - The Events Hub

Ruby Sweeney founded The Events Hub in 2011, bringing together a team of experts who provide clients with a bespoke service which meets their objectives. Her strengths in strategic planning, creativity and adaptability are crucial when a company is placing a great deal of responsibility in the team’s hands.

Ruby is determined to encourage and support the benefits of online events and encourage those that are missing out on holding annual conferences, exhibitions, AGM’s or large meetings to consider planning and designing virtual and hybrid events.


Keneisha Williams - Contributing Writer - Skift

Keneisha is the Founder of Black in Events Network. She is an event professional, speaker, coach, and consultant. She also helps people, brands and companies build their visibility, community, and be socially impactful. She is also dedicated to creating engaging experiences and spaces to enrich the human journey.


Andrew Roby - Event Planner - Corporate Event Planner - Andrew Roby Events

Andrew is an experienced event planner working with professionals, state and federal government, private corporations, and B2B businesses to enhance the event planning experience reaching company goals and marketing strategies. Due to covid-19, he specializes in virtual event planning and teaching companies how to effectively execute highly engaging virtual events.


Alison Crooker, Head of Event Content Strategy & Production, VMware | Founder, Event Content Council 

Alison is a strategic marketing executive with ~25 years of experience leading highly matrixed cross-functional teams of 20+ to build the vision and agenda of global events with 80,000+ participants. She has led the sales strategy of hundreds of conferences across a variety of topics (e.g., AI/ML, Finance, Tech) by developing deep relationships with industry experts and Fortune 500 C-Suite executives. Finance expert who has a passion for and experience in developing stellar experiential content, adept at taking abstract ideas and translating them into actionable opportunities through live content.


Jason Dunn, Immediate Past Board Chairman, National Coalition of Black Meeting Professionals

Jason Dunn develops and manages the Bureau’s comprehensive Diversity Sales & Inclusion strategy, Dunn has been at the forefront of that revival and continues to be the region’s strongest voice for Multicultural Conventions.


Herman Kimani, Business Development - Europe, Dreamtek 

Herman is experienced in Business Development with a demonstrated history of working in the events services industry. He’s highly skilled in Event Management, Business Planning, Customer Relationship Management (CRM), Hospitality Industry, and Management. 

Deanna Nwosu, CMP, DES - Podcast Host - Experience Junkies Podcast

Deanna is a hostess at heart. This created a passion for meeting and event planning which allows her to coordinate countless opportunities to connect with people across all social strata. Deanna has worked on fundraisers, conferences, tradeshows and other events ranging in size from 10-20,000 attendees for almost 20 years and in the hospitality industry since 2000. 

Taking care of clients and creating an ideal attendee experience is second-nature and the driving force behind her work. As an event strategist, Deanna now focuses more on facilitating the front of house experience for attendees through moderating, emceeing and public speaking, while providing clients some limited behind-the-scenes logistics support as well.


Derrick Johnson, Chief Diversity Office & Director of Event Strategy, Talley Management Group 

Derek is a creative problem solver with over 18 years of driving business development and fundraising over $10M for associations. He’s a go to person to solve complex problems using innovative technology and practices. His passion has evolved from virtual learning to machine learning and how artificial intelligence can and will help humanity evolve. He’s coached and provided project oversight to thousands of cross-functional teams and employees, often resulting in higher retention, employee motivation, and optimal growth. 


Lauralee Whyte, Founder, SPECTRUM

Lauralee recently founded SPECTRUM to represent and source extraordinary keynote & motivational speakers, educators, event hosts and entertainers for corporate, live and virtual events. She has set out to find speakers, who are diverse but aren't here to just talk about diversity..

Lauralee aims to present the full spectrum of intersectionality - Women, BIPOC, LGBTQ, Differently Abled, Neuro-Diverse and Socially Challenged storytellers, whose messages are steeped in purpose.


Tara Thomas - Co-Founder & CMO - The Meeting Pool

Tara is an adept and agile marketing professional with more than 20 years' experience leading teams in the full spectrum of marketing strategy and execution.

As well as her experience at The Meeting Pool, she has broad experience marketing technology applications and online services to B2B, enterprise, financial services, publishing, real estate and automotive markets.


Stephen Swarray, Director Commercial Partnerships, Kisaco Research

Stephen is a customer centric event professional committed to driving success for all of his event stakeholders. And expert in conferencing, Stephen has worked across four continents for numerous conferencing and exhibitions businesses. He considers client relationships the most important part of event success and has coached and guided hundreds of burgeoning event sales people at the early stages of their careers. 


Brianne Jones, Event Content Programme Manager, Google Cloud 

Brianne is a senior level Event Content and Speaker Manager, with 17+ years of in-house and agency experience, developing some of the largest global tech conferences in the world. She’s adept at leading large scale projects to their finish line, she can strategically reverse-engineer milestones and develop team workflows that deliver on marketing goals and attendee educational objectives. 


Marshall Jones, CMP - Vice President, Regional Sales - Prestige | Global Meeting Source

As the Regional Vice President of Sales (Western Region) for one of the most Dynamic event consulting firms, MarshallI represents his clients in the following areas: Site Selection, Contract Negotiation & Events Planning and Logistics.

Trust focused and results orientated, Marshall’s reputation is known across the US and beyond. 


Kwame Knight, Event Producer, Events by Knight

Kwame is an event producer, planner and project manager working in corporate, commercial, luxury private & special events and launches. He also plans, produces & manages Virtual & Hybrid events. Credits include: Emporio Armani, Clinique, Stella McCartney, Paul Costelloe, Matthew Williamson, MTV, Adidas, Reebok, Sony Music, EMI Records, Ministry of Sound, Emeli Sande, Heineken The Hospital club, Mishcon de Reya and many more. 

His career highlights include being the first to ever produce fashion shows in London's Tower Bridge, and inside the Petronas twin towers in Malaysia, making them some of the highest fashion shows to ever take place.


Lovelda Vincenzi - International Moderator | Host | EMCEE | Facilitator | Interviewer - World Class Female Speakers

An international event MC, moderator and host who’s passionate about transforming events into memorable experiences.

Lovelda’s client trust her to introduce and/or interview celebrities, senior executives, business owners and politicians such as Monica Lewinsky, Paul Polman and Kunal Nayyar (aka Raj from Big Bang Theory), just to name a few.

She believes great content should be delivered to an engaged audience. 


Mark Howard, Director & Co-Founder, Retail Intelligence Group

Marc is an expert in creating and launching new events and has proven this most recently with his launch of The Retail Summit and in turn the Retail Intelligence Group. His commitment to results and client satisfaction at his events is second to none and he has applied his skills at numerous events businesses in recent year. 


Tanya Dennis - Operations Director - UK Black Business Show Ltd

Tanya Dennis is an events professional with over 10 year's experience organising and managing various events across the globe and creating campaigns with brands including NARS, HSBC, Etihad, Paco Rabanne and Coca-Cola.

Tanya now heads up the Operations Departments for the UK Black Business Week, UK Black Business Show and Black Tech Achievement Awards. She is responsible for the strategic development and implementation of the events and campaigns related to the shows.


Melissa Majors - Chief Executive Officer - Melissa Majors Consulting

Melissa Majors, CEO of Melissa Majors Consulting, is an innovator and optimizer of education, inclusion, & leadership strategies. She has dedicated her career to maximizing the business impact associated with these areas of focus.

Melissa is featured in publications such as Forbes Magazine, Smart Meetings, The Meeting Professional, NorthStar Meetings Group’s Eventful Podcast, The Event DR, and on the keynote stage at events such as Meeting Professional’s International’s WEC, The Northwest Event Show, Catalyst Events, Legg Mason’s DEI Conference, and many more.

Melissa delivers talks on a variety of subjects associated with leadership, learning, and "blameless" inclusion. She differentiates her content by blending research, neuroscience, purposeful stories, and fun into her talks.


Dr. Princess Adim - Video Creator - MyPrincesWay

Princess Adim completed her bachelors in biology at 19 and her doctorate in pharmacy at 22, instead of the normal ages of 21 and 25 respectively. Dr. Adim works hard and always strives to deliver high performances and results. 

Dr. Adim has enjoyed navigating the Boston ecosystem of these industries and beyond for the last 5 years. Her network extends from Kendall Square, MIT, Harvard, CIC, local business conferences and is frequently working with local entrepreneurs, businesses, C-level executives and young dynamic professionals to bolster their morales to meet professional and life goals.


Ola Okunola, Event Sales Specialist for International Events 

“Sales hungry”,  “competitive”, and “tenacious” are some of the words that people use to describe the passion, commitment and work ethic that Ola has have.

Problem solving and strategising with 3 of the top 5 trade show exhibition organisers in the world, she has a professional approach with CEOs, MD's and senior management enables companies to work with her to maximise their presence at exhibitions and achieve a significant increase in revenue for their business


The authors would like to extend special thanks to Ashanti Bentil-Dhue, Karen Daniel and Samme Allen for their many recommendations. 

Vanessa Lovatt is Chief Evangelist and Nardos Abraham is Senior Account Executive at Glisser, an award-winning technology platform powering unique company event experiences and meetings, anywhere.

www.glisser.com


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