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Freeman Announces Succession Plan Following Bob Priest-Heck’s Retirement

Maddy Ryley, Managing Editor
Freeman Announces Succession Plan Following Bob Priest-Heck's Retirement

DALLAS — Freeman announced its succession plan for the Chief Executive Officer role following Bob Priest-Heck’s retirement in mid-2024. Current President and Chief Operating Officer, Janet Dell, will take over the CEO role, effective July 1, 2024.

Dell joined Freeman in 2018 as Executive Vice President and Chief Growth Officer, and has been with the company ever since, serving in multiple key roles. In 2020, she was appointed President and Chief Operating Officer, where she leads the company’s global business operations and business development among other responsibilities like overseeing global long-term strategy.

“Over the past five years, it has been an honor to be part of Freeman as it evolved into the company it is today,” Dell said. “Having the opportunity to work closely with Bob has taught me a tremendous amount about the industry, leading with integrity and empathy, and our talented and resilient team across all levels and functions.”

She was a key part of remolding Freeman’s workforce at the end of the pandemic, as she led the ramping up of productivity and growth of the team by rehiring 95% of furloughed employees, driving record revenue growth and onboarding more than 3,000 new employees.

Prior to joining Freeman, Dell was CEO of Marsh ClearSight, a leading company in risk, safety and claims management software, and she had also served as Marsh’s Chief Operating Officer of Global Sales.

Related. Bob Preist-Heck Awarded the Krakoff Award at the 2023 SISO CEO Summit

While Priest-Heck is retiring in July 2024, he will continue as a member of Freeman’s Board of Directors following his 15 years of service at the company. Throughout his time at Freeman, Priest-Heck has also served as Chief Sales Officer, President and Chief Operating Officer. His tenure as CEO marked the first time the role was held by someone outside of the family.

With 35 years of experience in the events industry, Priest-Heck is known for his innovative leadership and progressive initiatives. On the sustainability-front, he was part of the CEO advisory group that launched the Net Zero Carbon Events pledge in 2021. While under his leadership, Freeman was recognized as No. 4 in Best Employers for Women by Forbes.

During the pandemic, Preist-Heck spearheaded Go LIVE Together, which focused on legislative advocacy efforts for the events industry. Go LIVE Together transformed into the Exhibitions & Conferences Alliance following the pandemic, and he serves as a board member of the organization.

“Since Janet joined Freeman in 2018, she has transformed Freeman in ways large and small,” Priest-Heck said. “She has instilled a data-driven approach to decision-making, cultivated an integrated operating model to drive better cross-team collaboration and customer experience, and made meaningful strides to expand and diversify our workforce. Janet’s leadership and compassion are unmatched, and I look forward to seeing her lead Freeman in this exciting and dynamic time for the company and the events industry at large.”

Reach Bob Priest-Heck at

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