Pop Culture Music & Media Branding Pioneer
Andy Schuon is a uniquely experienced media and entertainment executive. With a career spanning radio, music, television and digital, Schuon has created and managed numerous name brands to deliver content and experiences at the center of the zeitgeist and pop culture.
Getting an early start in Reno, Nevada, Schuon began his career in high school as the youngest radio DJ in America, and later in Denver, Colorado, he became the nation’s youngest station program director at KAZY-FM.
Success as program director of world-famous KROQ-FM in Los Angeles caught the attention of MTV which led to a role as head of programming and production for the network. Based in New York City, he oversaw MTV’s evolution from video jukebox to global pop culture phenomenon by pushing alternative rock and hip hop to the mainstream mixed with non-music programs that reflected youth culture. Later he was given additional responsibility for VH1, and he led the team that created and launched MTV2.
Schuon returned to radio as president of programming and marketing for 185 station group CBS Radio, served on the board of the largest radio syndicator Premiere Radio Networks, and acted as exclusive advisor to XM radio until its merger with Sirius.
As Co-Founder & President of Revolt TV, Schuon reunited with Sean “Diddy” Combs, one of the superstars from his time at MTV, to form a network that has become one of the fastest-growing music and television brands in the USA.
In the record business, Schuon was Executive Vice President and General Manager of Warner Bros., and the founder and CEO of Pressplay/Napster…before Spotify or iTunes there was Pressplay, a joint venture of Universal Music Group and Sony Music., the pioneering music subscription service.
Today, Andy is Co-Founder and CEO of Spkr., an audio platform that is modernizing the way we interact with, share, and listen to audio content.
Cathy Hackl, Futurist, AR/VR Author and #4 Top Tech Voice on Linkedin.
Futurist, speaker, and author, Cathy Hackl is a globally recognized augmented reality, virtual reality and spatial computing thought leader. She’s the #4 Top Technology Voice on LinkedIn, the highest honor on the platform.
Cathy is currently working on her second book The Augmented Workforce: How AI, AR, and 5G Will Impact Every Dollar You Make, slated to be published in 2020.
She has worked or collaborated with brands like HTC VIVE, Porsche, AT&T, UPS, Adobe, Sony Pictures and more. Hackl has led agencies, brands, and companies in applying Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality for marketing and training.
Cathy has been featured in media outlets like Forbes, Barron’s, Salon, VentureBeat, Digiday, Tech Target, CMO.com, and Mashable. She is a global advisor for VR AR Association and was recognized in 2016 by NBC News as one of the top Latina women working in VR.
Before working in spatial computing and technology, she worked as a communicator at media companies such as CNN, Discovery, and ABC News and was nominated in 2007 for an EMMY Award for her storytelling work. She’s also the creator of the world’s first holographic press release and loves all things spatial computing, artificial intelligence and futurism.
More great speakers
Connie Wray has worked in the media industry for over 20 years. A graduate of Cornish College of the Arts in Seattle Washington, Connie has always loved the stage and the arts. She is currently the Morning Radio Show Host of “Connie Wray & Friends” on Reno’s Fun 100.9. Before that, she hosted the Bill and Connie Morning Show on Alice 96.5 for 20 years, the longest-running local morning show in Reno, Nevada. She was inducted into the Nevada Broadcasters Association Hall of Fame in 2012. She has also been active in Television as the host of Reno’s Fox 11 shows “What Women Want” and “Living Local” from 2012 to 2018. Most recently she started The Next Stage - an online docu-series about people and organizations who are following their passions and taking things to the next stage. The Next Stage is featured every Monday Morning on Reno’s Fox 11 Morning News.
Connie is a 2-time heart survivor, recent hip replacement recipient and entrepreneur. She is passionate about making the community a better place. She has been actively involved in supporting Renown Children’s Hospital. Over the past 5 years, Connie Wray was a part of the Renown Children’s Hospital 36 Hours for Kids Radiothon, where she helped raise nearly a Half Million Dollars. She currently sits on the Sierra Art Board, Reno’s Premier arts organization with an emphasis on teaching, nurturing and supporting the arts in Northern Nevada. Connie Wray believes in giving back, lifting others up, and encouraging others to follow their passions.
In 2018, Connie started her own Production Company/Social Media Marketing Business, A Story Media. A Story Media focuses on helping businesses and nonprofits tell their story through video content and storytelling. She understands what it takes to take the leap and follow your dreams.
Connie Wray has been happily married to her Soul Mate, Blaine Gaudard, for 12 years. They share two gorgeous daughters Jessie (24) and Story (9). When she isn’t following her passions on the radio or on camera, she is following her other passion, staying healthy. You can find her working out at Sierra Strength and Speed 4 days a week or practicing mindfulness through yoga and meditation.
Cyndi W. GreenglassX
Cyndi W. Greenglass
Senior Vice President Strategic Solutions
Diamond Communication Solutions, An OSG Company
With a strong track record in data driven communications, strategic planning, and database development, Cyndi helps clients develop, execute, and measure their customer communications with a close focus on user acceptance strategies. Cyndi has razor-sharp strategic skills matched by impeccable on-the-ground savvy and tactical abilities. These qualities have enabled her to build a successful company and reputation in performance based marketing across a broad range of industries including B2B and consumer facing organizations, as well as in critical compliance and regulated communications.
Cyndi is frequently quoted in publications and is a consistent contributor to books, white papers and articles by leading thought leaders in B2B lead generation and marketing.
Over the past ten years, Cyndi has taught, trained and presented at over 50 conferences throughout the world. She has presented to every regional and National marketing group in the US, as well as running private label training for the MetLife, Stanford University, the European DMA, and China Post. She's a frequent lecturer at the university level, including DePaul University, Northern Illinois University, and University of Chicago. As well as:
- Adjunct Professor at WVU Reed School of Media in Data Driven Communications
- Recognized as one of the 2018 Women to Watch in B2B Lead Generation
- Recognized as one of the 2017 Most Fascinating Women in B2B Marketing
- 2018 Teacher of the Year, WVU Reed College of Media DMC Master of Science program
Michael Okimoto has called Lake Tahoe and the northern Nevada area home for the last 21 years. Having worked in the photography and production industry for most of his career, Okimoto currently operates a veteran-owned commercial photography business in the Reno area, focusing on active lifestyle, tourism and hospitality campaigns. Though Okimoto’s long spanning photography career has earned him many awards, he is particularly proud of two Travel Nevada Official Visitors Guide cover images, which were each awarded Gold ADDYs in the American Advertising Awards. Aside from working professionally in the industry, he also enjoys sharing his knowledge by co-instructing at many night photography workshops throughout Nevada and the American West. When he is not shooting commercially, Michael enjoys discovering and photographing Nevada’s unparalleled diversity in public lands.
Bob Mergell is currently the Administrator for Nevada State Parks. He has a Bachelor of Science Degree in Forestry from Northern Arizona University. After graduating from NAU he served as a Military Policeman in the Marin Corps. He worked as the leader of the native plant restoration crew at Glacier National Park before becoming a Ranger for Nevada State Parks where he has worked since December of 1995. He has been a Ranger at South Fork and Lahontan and a Park Supervisor at Wild Horse State Recreation Area, as well as the Northern Regional Manager and most recently the Deputy Administrator.
Michael is the Chief Revenue Officer for Rehearsal, a technology company that enables practice, coaching, and collaboration on any device. Prior to joining Rehearsal, Michael acted as a Partner and Chief Marketing Officer for Noble Studios, an internationally respected digital marketing agency. His leadership on growth initiatives including new business and client services led to a rapid expansion of the digital marketing firm’s clientele, global offices, and landed the agency on the Inc. 5000’s honor roll, being named one of the fastest-growing private companies for five consecutive years.
Michael's prior career stops include executive leadership roles in both agencies, destination marketing organizations, and technology-focused entrepreneurial and economic development organizations.
President & CEO | Global Marketing & Sales
Alex Pace has achieved great success in two very competitive and challenging markets--the travel industry and the Latin American and Caribbean regions. His results-oriented approach has captured the attention of well-known global brands and gained him widespread recognition and respect in the travel industry. His success is a testament to his extensive leadership, team-building, and marketing expertise.
Mr. Pace started his career in 1986 as Assistant Vice President and Special Projects Manager for Value Rent-A-Car in Miami, Florida. At Value Rent-A-Car he successfully managed a fleet of over 15,000 vehicles achieving high efficiency and fleet-utilization. He supervised operations in six major markets. In 1989, Mr. Pace took his experience in the private sector to government as Business Development Coordinator for one of Miami-Dade County’s regional Development Authorities. In this position, Mr. Pace contributed greatly to the growth of the territory and lobbied in Tallahassee for small business funding and economic development.
In 1990, Mr. Pace became President and CEO of TRAC (Travel Representative Abroad Corporation, International). As President and CEO of TRAC, Mr. Pace directed the company’s flagship accounts including Sandal’s Resorts International, Dollar Rent-A-Car, Carnival Cruise Lines, Atlanta Convention & Visitors’ Bureau, and Cunard Cruise Lines. He successfully directed their marketing, sales, administrative, and operational initiatives in 18 countries, while managing each of their multi-million-dollar budgets.
After a decade at TRAC, Mr. Pace started Global Marketing and Sales, Inc., (GMS). Global Marketing and Sales, Inc., specializes in marketing and sales development for companies wishing to grow their business in Latin America.
As President and CEO of GMS, Mr. Pace is directly responsible for the development of each client’s marketing, sales, and public relations initiatives in the region. Current and former GMS clients include; Avis Rent A Car, Travel Nevada, Visit California, Visit Anaheim, Jamaica Tourist Board, Wyndham Hotel Group, Dallas Convention and Visitors Bureau, Aeromexico, and the Tamaulipas Tourism Board. GMS counts on an experienced team of executives across all disciplines and a full support staff to successfully achieve its clients’ objectives throughout the region.
His vision, dynamism and focus on results are key pillars for developing GMS Group, a business and added-value generator for its clients and tourism environment, with a full-service portfolio and operational infrastructure through Symova and Limemedia, e-commerce and digital strategy agencies in the region, as well as Codify, new technology developer and IT solutions leader in Mexico.
Mr. Pace’s in-depth knowledge of the Mexican and Latin American market is widely recognized in the industry. He was President of the Visit USA Committee in Mexico and actively participates in several travel industry associations in the country. He is also trilingual, fluent in English, Spanish, and Italian, and has broad knowledge of the USA and Canada market.
Mr. Pace is married, with two children and enjoys spending quality time with his family.
Jade Broadus is the Vice President and Creative Director at Travel Mindset, a niche-marketing agency that specializes in influencer marketing for the tourism and lifestyle industry. From overall creative strategy to social media and influencers, online and offline activations and every little decision in between, Jade develops the most engaging and innovative marketing campaigns.
With her team, Travel Mindset has managed and executed more than 300 marketing campaigns for clients such as Fairmont Hotels, AccorHotels, Virgin Atlantic, Celebrity Cruises, Airbnb, and country, state and city DMOs and CVBs from all over the world, including Visit Britain, Visit California, Visit Memphis, and Morocco Tourism.
In addition to Travel Mindset, Jade is the CEO of Vagabond3, an award-winning travel blog with over 150K followers. She has photographed and written travelogues for National Geographic and many in-flight magazines, written in-depth guides and how-tos for Expedia, Parents Magazine, What to Expect, Hertz, Marriott/ Rewards, Lonely Planet, The Points Guy, and various other print and online publications.
Jonathan Boulware was raised in Las Vegas, NV and graduated from Bishop Gorman High School. After high school, he attended and graduated from Stanford University, where he received his Bachelor’s Degree in Sociology.
He began his hospitality/gaming career at Mirage Resorts Inc. in Las Vegas, NV in their management development program at the Mirage Hotel/Casino. After graduating from the program, he worked at the Mirage in casino operations as a Table Games Dealer and later as a Supervisor in the Baccarat Room. After working in casino operations, he was promoted to an Executive Host in casino marketing; he worked in this position for four years.
Jonathan then joined the hotel division at the Mirage where he worked as the Director of Hotel Services and was later promoted to the Director of Hotel Operations. He became a member of the MGM Resorts, Inc. team, as the Vice-President of Hotel and Food & Beverage for Primm Valley Resorts when MGM Resorts merged with Mirage Resorts.
While at MGM Resorts he also became a Diversity Champion Instructor. As a Diver¬sity Champion Instructor, he coached and motivated managers and supervisors to understand the importance of recognizing, accepting, and valuing the diversity of thought from all people in all job classifications within the company.
After six years at MGM Resorts, he joined Station Casinos in Las Vegas, NV as the Assistant General Manager at the Sunset Station Hotel and Casino. While at Station Casinos, he was also promoted to the General Manager of the Wild Wild West Hotel/ Casino and the Rancho Wildfire Casino.
Jonathan and his family moved to Reno, NV in 2008 where he joined Jacobs Entertainment Inc. as the General Manager of the Gold Dust West Hotel and Casino in Carson City, NV. He served as the General Manager for eight years before he was promoted to the Nevada Regional Vice-President for Jacobs Entertainment Inc. In his current role, Jonathan leads the three Gold Dust West Casino/ Hotel properties and the Sands Regency Hotel/Casino. He also serves as the spokesperson for the current large district development project in west downtown Reno by Jacobs Entertainment.
In October he will publish his first book, Take Control of Your Body Before It Takes Control of You: 50 Success Actions to Achieve a Healthy Body and a Confident Mind.
He lives in South Reno with his wife of 26 years, Yvette and his 14-year-old daughter, Beth.
Chief Creative Officer, Allied Esports International
With over 25 years of experience in brand theory, esports, and nerd culture, Paul Chamberlain is the Chief Creative Officer at Allied Esports International, the leading global network of dedicated esports properties and content production facilities, where he oversees the company’s brand design and positioning. Paul was the visionary for the successful launch campaign of Esports Arena Las Vegas, the first dedicated esports venue on the Las Vegas Strip, and the brand architect of Ninja Vegas ’18, one of the most talked-about esports entertainment events of 2018 featuring superstar Tyler “Ninja” Blevins. Simply speaking, he put a logo on a pyramid and the world’s most famous streamer in a tux.
Prior to joining Allied full time, Paul was the Co-Founder and Creative Director at Cerebral Itch, a creative agency serving a national roster of entertainment clients, including Paramount Pictures, 20th Century Fox, FX and Hard Rock Hotel Las Vegas.
Paul also co-founded and executive produced two major US comedy festivals in Las Vegas and Hawaii. The Crapshoot Comedy Festival in 2017 featured twenty-six of the most celebrated standup comedians, including Dave Attell, Bert Kreischer and Tig Notaro and The 2014-15 Maui Comedy Festival, which was the single largest destination comedy festival in the United States featuring Jim Jefferies, Patton Oswalt and Reggie Watts.
In a previous life, Paul was the Director of Online Marketing at Akamai Technologies designing showcase streaming environments and forging relationships with major national media companies organizing high profile live events, including Playboy, Lauren Hill and the Star Wars: Phantom Menace premiere. Paul cut his teeth in video games at Midway Home Entertainment, where in 1997 he served up the production of 16 live streams from the floor of the Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) and Sega of America, where he was part of the Sega Saturn and Sega Genesis technical developer support team.
Roger Dow is president and CEO of the U.S. Travel Association, the Washington, D.C.-based organization representing all segments of travel in America—an industry that generates $2.5 trillion in economic output and supports 15.7 million jobs. U.S. Travel’s mission is to increase travel to and within the United States.
U.S. Travel advocates for policies that allow travel to thrive. Dow regularly meets with executive branch and congressional leaders to discuss industry priorities, and his efforts have resulted in major legislative victories. He was instrumental in establishing Brand USA, the highly effective national travel and tourism promotion program.
Beyond U.S. Travel’s role as chief travel industry advocate in Washington, the association under Dow’s leadership provides essential research, including analysis of travel’s significant economic impact and products such as the monthly Travel Trends Index.
U.S. Travel produces annual events that connect the industry, such as IPW—the leading international inbound travel trade show—which drives $4.7 billion in future travel to the United States; and ESTO, the premier learning and knowledge-sharing forum for destination marketing professionals.
Additionally, Dow and U.S. Travel are leaders of the Meetings Mean Business Coalition, which promotes and defends the value of face-to-face business meetings, trade shows, conferences and conventions.
Counted among Dow’s successes is Project: Time Off, a research-driven initiative aimed at vacation usage that evolved to support the expansion of U.S. Travel’s domestic leisure travel agenda.
For his work to unify the travel industry and increase its effectiveness on Capitol Hill, Dow is the recipient of multiple honors, including the 2018 MPI Industry Leader Award, Successful Meetings’ Most Influential People, and the 2008 TRENDS Association Executive of the Year.
Prior to joining U.S. Travel in 2005, Dow advanced through the ranks at Marriott International in a tenure spanning 34 years, where he rose to senior vice president of global and field sales. He has held seats on the boards of ASAE, ASAE Foundation, PCMA, MPI Foundation, GWSAE, the Travel Institute, RE/MAX International and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Committee of 100.
Dow served in the United States Army with the 101st Airborne Division in Vietnam, where he received the Bronze Star and other citations. He earned a Bachelor of Science degree from Seton Hall University and was honored as a Most Distinguished Alumnus in 2012. In addition, he holds an honorary degree from Johnson & Wales University.
Travel Nevada Japan
Biography – Nicole has been responsible for marketing and PR on behalf of tourism clients such as Travel Nevada, PromPeru, and Tourism Fiji since she started with AVIAREPS Japan in April. Prior to joining AVIAREPs, Nicole worked as an account executive for an English Language business magazine in Japan and was one of the top sellers in 2018. Nicole’s extensive career in the communications field has enhanced her creativity and helped her build a large international network. Nicole is passionate about women and LGBT+ rights and is active in local communities in Tokyo. Nicole holds a bachelor degree in Asian Studies with a minor in Japanese from California State University Sacramento
CEO of the Plaza Hotel & Casino
Born in South Africa and raised in London, England, Jonathan Jossel moved to Las Vegas in 2007 to oversee the development of Tamares Real Estate's Las Vegas properties. With diverse real estate holdings in downtown Las Vegas, the crown jewel of Tamares’ portfolio is the Plaza Hotel & Casino. Jossel was part of the team behind the Plaza’s first major renovation project in 2010/2011 that remodeled all 1,000-plus hotel rooms, the 80,000 sq. ft. casino floor and various public spaces, including new dining options led by the award-winning Oscar’s steakhouse inside the property’s iconic glass dome.
Jossel took over as the CEO of the Plaza in 2014, becoming one of the youngest non-restricted gaming licensees in Las Vegas. As CEO, Jossel committed himself to rebuilding the Plaza’s brand that combines contemporary styling, modern gaming, improved guest amenities, and personal customer service for the ultimate, classic Vegas experience.
Since becoming CEO, Jossel has enacted significant changes at the Plaza to reinvigorate the property’s atmosphere and energy with the goal of improving the overall guest experience. This includes the development of niche and unique offerings to set the property apart from the competition. Under Jossel’s leadership, casino operations were revamped to be more competitive and favorable to players. The rooftop pool was reimagined, and 12 dedicated Pickleball courts were added to establish the Plaza as a premier destination for one of the country’s fastest-growing sports. Jossel partnered with a downtown gym to open a one-of-a-kind hotel fitness facility and completed a multimillion-dollar renovation to modernize the convention space, which includes the largest ballroom in the downtown area. He brought rodeo back to downtown Las Vegas with the opening of the Core Arena, downtown’s first and only outdoor equestrian center and multipurpose facility that can also host large-scale sporting events and entertainment attractions. And he most recently managed a $15 million renovation to create more than 120 new Luxe Rooms that offer premium amenities and enhanced accommodations unlike any other downtown hotel.
As a result of Jossel’s leadership, the Plaza continues to experience tremendous growth and great success – often outpacing the increases achieved by the downtown market. He has successfully injected a renewed spirit and energy into a historic property that continues to evolve and improve while maintaining its place as an iconic destination in downtown Las Vegas.
Jossel earned a Business Commerce degree from the University of Birmingham. As a business leader in and resident of downtown Las Vegas, Jossel also takes an active role in supporting the community’s ongoing development and revitalization. He is an active member of the Fremont East Entertainment District board of directors, the Downtown Vegas Alliance and the Nevada Resort Association. He resides in downtown Las Vegas with his wife and three young children.
Director of Marketing & PR
Travel Nevada Korea
Liz has been responsible for marketing and PR on behalf of tourism clients such as Travel Nevada, Hawaii Tourism, Visit California, San Francisco Travel and Four Seasons Hotels & Resorts in AVIAREPS Korea wherein she has been with for 12 years. Prior to joining AVIAREPS Korea, Liz was responsible for managing marketing and PR activities for Hyundai Department Store, a top luxury retail company in Korea. Liz has established strong relationships with major airlines, travel agents and media as well as top consumer partners. Her contribution to the industry was recognized when Asiana Airlines gave her its “Best Partner of the Year” award in 2011. Liz holds Bachelor’s degree from Ohio University under major of international studies and completed leadership courses at Ewha Women’s University.
With extensive experience in international association management, tourism, hospitality industry sales & marketing, Phil DeLone serves the destination of Reno Tahoe as President & Chief Executive Officer of the Reno-Sparks Convention & Visitors Authority.
A graduate from the College of Hotel Administration at UNLV, DeLone has spent nearly three decades in key management positions with Nevada based gaming companies in Las Vegas, Reno and Washington, DC.
For over nine years, DeLone served as Chief Executive Officer for Safari Club International, serving the global safari and outdoor adventure industry. SCI owns and operates a popular international exposition recognized by Trade Show News Network as the 84th largest in the U.S. commercial exposition industry.
Today, DeLone leads 52 full-time staff professionals and oversees all operations for the RSCVA, Reno Tahoe’s destination tourism marketing and sales entity, operating on a $55 million annual budget. In addition to staff at its headquarters, the Authority maintains seven regional sales and business development offices throughout the United States.
DeLone serves the Nevada tourism community as a Commissioner for Travel Nevada and is a member of the Board of Trustees for the National Automobile Museum. DeLone serves on the Advisory Board of the Downtown Reno Partnership – helping make the city center a better place to visit and live.
With his wife Catherine and their precocious Rhodesian lion hound, they make their home in Reno, while enjoying the Nevada outdoors and a welcoming campfire whenever possible.
Executive Vice President, Event Development & Operations
Peter Dropick serves as Executive Vice President, Event Development & Operations for UFC, the world’s leading mixed martial arts organization. He is responsible for all facets of staging UFC’s global live events, including scheduling, venue negotiations and management, operations, and travel. Additionally, he oversees event marketing and media strategies, as well as revenue generation and budget planning and management. Dropick, a key member of UFC’s Executive Team, is based at the company’s headquarters in Las Vegas and reports directly to UFC’s Chief Operating Officer Lawrence Epstein.
During his 13 years with UFC, Dropick has played a vital role in the company’s rapid growth and success, which fueled its record sale to WME-IMG in 2016. Under Dropick’s leadership, UFC has grown its number of global live events from 18 in 2006 to 42 in 2019, with 22 countries now hosting UFC events across North America, South America, Europe, Asia, and Australia. Dropick has also spearheaded efforts to create additional lines of revenue within UFC’s industry leading ticketing operations by driving strategic initiatives, including dynamic pricing and VIP experiences.
Dropick joined UFC in 2006 as Vice President of Event Operations & Production for WEC, a sister organization to UFC, where he oversaw all business operations and television production. He was also responsible for the day-to-day operations of UFC-owned mixed martial arts promotion Strikeforce and for managing the relationship with the broadcast rightsholder.
Prior to joining UFC, Dropick was the Director of Event Development at Honda Center in Anaheim, Calif., where he was responsible for developing and managing Honda Center events, such as the John R. Wooden Classic college basketball doubleheader, NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Tournament, 2005 IBF World Championships, 2004 US Olympic Trials in Gymnastics, and 2003 World Gymnastics Championships.
Earlier in his career, Dropick was the Director of Operations for Atherton Communications, LP, a sports marketing firm that founded the Wooden Classic and Wooden Tradition. He began his career as an Operations Assistant for the 1994 FIFA World Cup USA.
Dropick is a member of the 2020 NFL Draft Las Vegas Local Organizing Committee and has been involved with numerous civic and charitable organizations throughout his career, including the Special Olympics and the Anaheim Ducks Foundation.
Dropick holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science from Syracuse University.
Senior Director of Global Development
Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority
Rafael Villanueva joined the Las Vegas Convention & Visitors Authority in the spring of 1998 as a domestic tourism sales executive and over the past decade has increased the profile of Las Vegas in the Latin American market exponentially. His current mission is to develop and manage the LVCVA’s global strategy. He also oversees the contracts and budgets of 14 International representation offices that promote Las Vegas in over 40 countries.
Prior to joining the LVCVA, Mr. Villanueva served as Executive Director of Advertising and Public Relations at the Tropicana Resort and Casino. His career also included working for some of the top advertising agencies in Las Vegas. Clients included hotel-casinos, banks, and homebuilders. Additionally, he worked for KLAS-TV (Las Vegas’ CBS affiliate) as sales promotion director.
Born in Mexico, Villanueva has spent all but one year of his life in Las Vegas. Rafael is a graduate from Las Vegas High School and the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. Most of his free time is spent with family and with several committee organizations in Las Vegas. He is involved in several travel industry organizations, including International Inbound Travel Association, where he currently holds the position of Secretary on their Board of Directors.
Kim Palmer is the Program Director at Miles Partnership for the company’s Google DMO Partnership Program support services. In addition to all things Google, she specializes in organic traffic generation and analytics for DMOs and resorts. She’s had her hands in every aspect of digital marketing since starting by launching Miles Partnership’s first destination websites in the late 90’s. Kim is a frequent contributor to the Miles Partnership blog on topics surrounding SEO and Google’s evolving role in travel.
President and CEO, Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority
For more than three decades, Steve Hill has had a hand in building the economy in Las Vegas. From literally helping build the casinos on the Strip to attracting new businesses to the area to helping pave the way for major league sports in Southern Nevada, Steve has left his mark on Las Vegas. As the CEO and President of the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority, he will continue to have a hand in growing the local economy by driving more tourism to our destination.
Originally from Ohio, Steve moved to Las Vegas in 1987 to start Silver State Materials, a concrete, sand, and gravel supplier that grew to one of the largest in the country. Silver State was purchased by CalPortland in 2008, where Steve served as a Senior Vice President until 2011. During his time with Silver State and CalPortland, Steve was active in the community, serving as Chairman of Service 1st Bank of Nevada, Chairman of the Las Vegas Chamber of Commerce, and Commissioner on the Nevada Commission on Economic Development, and Chairman of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Las Vegas.
In 2011, Steve’s work in economic development led to his appointment as the Director of the newly established Governor’s Office of Economic Development (GOED) by Governor Brian Sandoval. During his tenure, GOED lured numerous businesses to the state, including such high-profile companies as Tesla, Apple, and HyperloopOne. Governor Sandoval also tapped Steve to serve as the Chairman of the Southern Nevada Tourism Infrastructure Committee which led to the approval of both the $1.4 billion expansion and renovation of the Las Vegas Convention Center and the $1.9 billion Las Vegas Raiders stadium projects. He was subsequently appointed by the Governor to serve as Chairman of the Las Vegas Stadium Authority and as a member of the Southern Nevada Sporting Event Committee to help attract high-profile events to Las Vegas when the stadium is completed.
In 2018, Steve assumed the role of President/COO and then that of CEO and President of the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority, continuing his work to have a positive impact on the economy of Southern Nevada by promoting tourism to the destination. Steve oversees the day-to-day operations of the organization, including operation of the Las Vegas Convention Center, finance, and the expansion and renovation project.
Steve has also served as a member of the Nevada Savings and Government Efficiency (SAGE) Commission, the Clark County Growth Task Force, the RTC Regional Fixed Guideway Citizens Advisory Committee, the Clean Water Coalition, the Legislative Interim Advisory Committee on Air Quality, and as Chairman of the Governor’s Construction Liability Task Force. He earned a bachelor of science degree in mechanical engineering from Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology in Terre Haute, Ind. Steve and his wife Molly have three adult children and are 31-year residents of Las Vegas.
Senior Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer
Brian Killingsworth serves as Senior Vice President, Chief Marketing Officer for the Vegas Golden Knights. As CMO, he oversees the team’s marketing, strategy, branding, communications, content, digital, analytics, retail, fan development, youth hockey and will promote the Golden Knights brand within the community and internationally. In addition, he will work to integrate and cross-promote the domestic wineries owned and operated by Bill Foley as well as his Rock Creek resort properties in Montana and Idaho.
Killingsworth joined the Golden Knights after spending the last two seasons as Chief Marketing Officer of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers of the National Football League. He oversaw all aspects of the Buccaneers brand, including marketing, advertising, content, digital, broadcasting, analytics, research, youth programs, community relations, and events and entertainment.
Prior to joining the Buccaneers, Killingsworth served as the Vice President of Marketing and Brand Strategy for the St. Louis Rams for three seasons. With the Rams, he oversaw the team’s marketing efforts, including marketing operations, branding, creative services, advertising, content, merchandise, concessions, research, youth programs, concerts, events and also explored new revenue opportunities.
Killingsworth spent 10 years with Major League Baseball’s Tampa Bay Rays as the Senior Director of Marketing and Promotions prior to his time in the NFL. With the Rays, he oversaw all marketing, advertising, promotions, and digital and social media for the team.
The Tampa, Florida native graduated from Flagler College with a Bachelor’s degree in Communications in 2000 and earned his MBA, Marketing & Management degree from the University of South Florida in 2002.
Killingsworth and his wife, Emily, have two sons, Cruz and Finn.
Ross Borden is an American entrepreneur and executive producer based in California. He founded Matador Network in 2006 with $11,000 and grew it into one of the largest travel media companies in the world. Ross works on media campaigns and Matador-produced video and influencer projects for brands like Visa, REI, Chevy, Heineken, Subaru, Intel, General Motors and Destinations like Visit Las Vegas, Visit California, Destination Canada, Turkey Home, Brand USA, Tourism Ireland, Visit Scotland and Innovation Norway. He is passionate about helping other entrepreneurs, DMOs and small businesses win on the Internet.
Lisa Motley, a veteran of casino, hotel, sports, and special events advertising and marketing, currently holds the position of Director of Sports Marketing and Special Events for the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority (LVCVA). Before transitioning to the LVCVA, Motley served as the Director of Marketing for Las Vegas Motor Speedway, where she developed the marketing and digital strategies for the property’s 10 tracks and 1,400 event days including NASCAR weekend and two NHRA national events. She also oversaw the B2B initiative and CRM platform.
Prior to LVCVA and LVMS, Lisa held the role of Marketing and Digital Media Specialist for Las Vegas Events, the exclusive special events agency for the city of Las Vegas. Lisa assisted in marketing efforts for such notable events as the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo, USA Basketball, Pac -12 and Mountain West college basketball tournaments, and the New Year’s Eve fireworks spectacular.
Before transitioning to LVE, Lisa enjoyed a six-year tenure with the Golden Nugget where she was the advertising manager. Prior to this Lisa honed her experience at Lund & Manasse Advertising (account executive), New York-New York Hotel & Casino (advertising manager) and Aladdin Resort & Casino – now Planet Hollywood (advertising coordinator).
Lisa Motley has been involved as a volunteer, coach, and game operations team member for Special Olympics of Southern Nevada for ten plus years. In that time, Lisa has devoted her time and effort into helping many athletes with special needs achieve success in the field of athletics and in life. Motley is also the Vice President for the Las Vegas chapter of WISE - Women in Sports and Events. WISE is the leading voice and resource for women in the business of sports. She is a 2019 Leadership Las Vegas graduate and a 2018 40 Under 40 and Women of Intrigue awards winner.
Born in St. Paul, Minn., and a graduate of the University of Minnesota, Lisa has been a Las Vegas resident for 19 years.
Director of Athletics
University of Nevada, Las Vegas
Since arriving in Las Vegas in June 2017, Desiree Reed-Francois has led a transformation of UNLV Athletics, creating significant culture change in order to best serve the department’s 17 varsity sports.
Reed-Francois, the first Hispanic female and woman of color athletics director at the FBS level, was instrumental in installing a new student-athlete focused model with collectively established core values. A former student-athlete at UCLA (rowing1), Reed-Francois is a strong advocate for student-athletes and understands the importance of leadership development and mentorship in ensuring their future success.
Focusing on providing a first-class holistic student-athlete experience, Reed Francois instituted a new administrative structure with staff additions - 70 percent of the department’s new hires were people of color or women, while 63 percent were former student-athletes - and has recruited three new head coaches: Kristie Fox (Softball), Dawn Sullivan (Volleyball), and T.J. Otzelberger (men’s basketball).
Innovative student-centered programs and a renewed focus on academic achievement led to collective student-athlete grade point averages of 3.0 or greater in each of the last four semesters - firsts in UNLV Athletics history. Additionally, UNLV instituted new mental health and nutrition programs and the Rebels Go Pro jobs initiative was also introduced, increasing student-athlete post-graduation employment to a high of 75% - up nearly 50% in two years.
With a focus on building a model enterprise, the department’s finance office and development operations were rebuilt, resulting in record corporate philanthropy, a 30% increase in annual fund members and budgets successfully balanced in both of her first two years at UNLV.
In 2017, Reed-Francois announced a 10-year multimedia rights relationship with Learfield, the largest in the Mountain West Conference. Later that year she oversaw the consolidation of the Athletics Department’s operations with that of the Thomas & Mack Center, increasing the scope of the enterprise by hundreds of employees and millions of dollars. In January 2018, UNLV broke ground on the new, $34 million Fertitta Football Complex, which is scheduled to open in Fall 2019, and she was instrumental in successfully negotiating the Joint Use Agreement with the NFL’s Oakland Raiders for UNLV’s use in the new $1.8 billion Las Vegas Stadium, opening in August 2020. Overall, UNLV Athletics is currently involved in facilities projects totaling $2.044 billion.
Reed-Francois came to UNLV with more than two decades of athletics administration experience, most recently serving at Virginia Tech as deputy athletics director, with previous positions of progressive leadership at Cincinnati, Tennessee, San Francisco, Fresno State, Santa Clara and San Jose State.
Reed-Francois earned a bachelor’s degree from UCLA and a juris doctorate from the University of Arizona College of Law. She is a member of the State Bar of California.
She is involved on the national level, participating in the Division I Athletics Directors Leadership Institute and Fellows Program, Lead1, the Women Leaders in College Sports’ Executive Institute, and as a member of the NCAA Baseball Committee. She has served on numerous Atlantic Coast Conference and American Athletic Conference committees. Reed-Francois has been a presenter at NACDA, NACMA, Women Leaders, Lead1, CoSIDA and Sports Business Journal’s annual conventions.
Reed-Francois and her husband, Joshua, have a son, Jackson (15).
Marc Badain enters his 29th year with the Raiders and his fifth as team president. Badain, who was named to his current post by Owner Mark Davis on Jan. 16, 2015, oversees the entirety of the club’s business operations.
Badain started with the Raiders as a training camp intern in 1991 before joining the football staff full time as an administrative assistant to the coaching staff the following year. He joined the organization’s finance department in 1995 and was named chief financial officer in 2004. Badain served as team president in an interim capacity from 2013-14.
A native of Rochester, N.Y., Badain earned his bachelor’s degree in economics from Emory University and received his MBA from University of California’s Walter A. Haas School of Business in 2001. Badain and his wife, Amy, have three children, Ali, Bernie and Zach. He is a member of the Board of Directors of the Biletnikoff Foundation, Gridiron Greats and the Las Vegas Global Economic Alliance (LVGEA).
Tyler Williams heads up our Brand Aura team; a team that specializes in creating Zappos’ unique and quirky persona via events, campaigns and experiences nationwide. Tyler is also the long-time company Fungineer, responsible for such popular internal events as “Boots and Shorts Thursdays” and “Tutu Tuesdays.” Prior to joining the Zappos’ Customer Loyalty Team in 2011, Tyler did everything from production and construction to drumming for a rock band!
Tyler’s presentation around doing good is to show companies that there is a direct ROI associated with investing in your employees, communities, and customers. It focuses on how changing your marketing (or in Zappos case, Brand Aura) purpose to prioritize doing good can increase your employee happiness, community favor, and customer affinity/revenue. You can simply make more money! Tyler shows how “for good” campaigns have directly translated in to the higher lifetime value of a customer, and reduced expenses in employee attrition.
Mayor Carolyn GoodmanX
Mayor Carolyn Goodman
With 83 percent of the vote, Carolyn G. Goodman won her third term as mayor of the city of Las Vegas on April 2, 2019. She was first elected on July 6, 2011, and her husband of 50 years and 12-year, term-limited mayor, Oscar B. Goodman, administered the oath of office. It is the only known instance of a spouse succeeding a spouse as mayor in the United States. Mayor Carolyn Goodman was also handily re-elected in 2015.
Among her priorities, Mayor Goodman has championed downtown development, improvement in inner-city schools, expansion of homeless resources, coordination among non-profit service providers, adoption of the Nevada film tax credit, and creation of the medical district and UNLV medical school. She represents the city on numerous boards and organizations, advocating for Las Vegas’ $44.9 billion tourism industry on the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority, the Las Vegas Global Economic Alliance, the Southern Nevada Tourism Infrastructure Committee and the Southern Nevada Sports Committee. Additionally, she holds national leadership roles as a member of the United States Conference of Mayors (USCM), serving on its Advisory Board and as vice-chair of its Task Force on Education Reform, and as Chair of the Mayors’ Business Council. In June of 2013, she hosted the 81st annual gathering of the National Conference of Mayors in Las Vegas. The USCM honored her with the Mayors’ 2014 Large City Climate Protection Award.
Carolyn is well known in the Las Vegas community for founding The Meadows School in 1984, Nevada’s first nonprofit, college preparatory school for pre-kindergarten through 12th grades. Carolyn planned and oversaw the entire day-to-day operations for 26 years while also raising her four children. During this time, Carolyn never had ownership of the school as it was incorporated as a 501[c] entity. Furthermore, during her 26 years in leadership, Carolyn never took a salary. She retired in June 2010.
- Governor Steve Sisolak