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IAEE Honors Cathy Breden with Renaming of the Woman of Achievement Award


DALLAS — Cathy Breden, CMP-F, CAE, CEM, is being honored by the International Association of Exhibitions and Events (IAEE) with the renaming of the IAEE Woman of Achievement Award to the IAEE Cathy Breden Woman of Achievement Award.

“I have so much love for this industry that has rewarded me with incredible friendships,” Breden said. “I’ve had the privilege of working with amazingly accomplished women who embody the commitment to excellence that the IAEE Woman of Achievement Award recognizes. Given that the bulk of my career has been with IAEE, I am deeply honored that the association saw it fitting to add my name to this award. I am humbled and touched beyond words with the decision.”

Breden, who serves as Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer, has dedicated 29 years to the association and is also involved with other industry organizations including being the 2022 Chairperson of the Events Industry Council Board of Directors. Breden has also been recognized for her valuable contributions to the exhibition industry, including by the IAEE Chairperson’s Award (2015).

“This year celebrates the 10th anniversary of the IAEE Woman of Achievement Award, which was created to highlight and celebrate exceptional women in our industry — one of whom is IAEE’s very own Cathy Breden. It was Cathy’s vision to create a safe space specifically for women in our industry,” said IAEE President and CEO Marsha Flanagan, M.Ed., CEM. “She has served as a mentor to many female professionals, including me. She mentored the team in creating our entire initiative including our Women’s Leadership Forum, award, salary benchmarking, community discussions and more. I am elated that we are recognizing Cathy’s dedication by naming this award in her honor.”

Related. IAEE Announces Marsha Flanagan as President and CEO; First Female CEO in 95-Year History

Effective June 28 of this year, Breden will retire from the association. In her role, she is responsible for the annual business plan, budget and enterprise culture, delivering the operational plan in accordance with the plan approved by IAEE’s Board, and providing executive leadership.

She also serves as the CEO of the Center for Exhibition Industry Research (CEIR).

“I cannot think of a more deserving person for this honor. I am proud to call Cathy a trusted colleague and friend,” said Marie Browne, IAEE Chairperson and Group Vice President at RX. “She is an inspiration to me, her team, and countless women in our industry. Her intelligence and leadership, combined with her passion and commitment, have positively contributed to the advancement of women in our industry. I am pleased that future recipients will associate this prestigious award with Cathy and reflect on the path that she has carved for so many.”

Previous recipients of the award are: Kimberly Hardcastle-Geddes, CEM (2023), Lenay Gore (2022), Rachel Wimberly (2021), Nancy Walsh (2020), Julie Pazina, CEM-AP (2019), Jennifer Hoff, CEM (2018), Megan Tanel, CEM (2017), Jacqueline Russo (2016), Karen Chupka (2015) and Julia Smith, CEM (2014).

Nominations for the 2024 IAEE Awards are open until August 30. Find more information and submit nominations here.

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