This Just In

Informa’s McConnell Receives IAEE Pinnacle Award

Sue Pelletier, Senior Editor
Rick McConnell (center in white shirt and tie) and team in 2017 when they took home the honor of Most TSE Gold 100 Shows (Photo by Oscar & Associates)

The awards watch party may have been virtual, but the honor was very real as David Dubois, President and CEO of the International Association of Exhibits and Events (IAEE) presented its Pinnacle Award to Rick McConnell, President, Informa Markets, during Virtual Expo! Expo! IAEE’s Annual Meeting & Exhibition 2020, held Dec. 8-10.

Calling it “one of IAEE’s highest honors,” Dubois said the award, which was established in memory of the late Founder and Past President of IAEE (formerly NAEM) William Hunt Eisenman, “recognizes extraordinary achievement by a member who has furthered IAEE’s objectives as well as advanced our entire industry over the course of his or her career,” including promoting education and the dissemination of knowledge, and introducing or developing innovative techniques. McConnell’s contributions, he added, “spanned decades and embodied the highest ideals, trust and professionalism our industry has to offer.”

In his acceptance speech, McConnell said he was “very humbled by the award.” While he admits he has made a number of cumulative contributions over his time in the industry, “I have to say that one award going to one individual is not the full story. The full story is the many, many leaders and mentors and people that I’ve come into contact with who helped make my career what it is — they are in in many ways the recipients of this award as well.”

He also lauded IAEE for its strong education and networking opportunities, both of which have been key contributions to his success both as a student and a speaker. IAEE “helped make my career a lot more fulfilling.”

Related. McConnell was the subject of Trade Show Executive’s June 2011 cover story: Rick McConnell: Building HW’s Portfolio During Touch Times

McConnell’s career as a leader in the trade show and events industry has spanned more than 30 years, during which he has employed more than 1,000 people, worked on almost 300 events, and mentored thousands more, including several past IAEE chairs and other industry leaders.

“Rick is distinguished leader and longtime honoree of Trade Show Executive’s awards events. He has graced our stage more than once leading or participating in thought-provoking panels and taken home many Grand Awards over the years,” said Gabrielle Weiss, TSE VP and Editor-in-Chief. “All of us at TSE couldn’t be happier for Rick. It is a well-deserved and hard-won honor.”

He began his career at Informa in 2014 when it acquired Hanley Wood Exhibitions, and his leadership has helped drive Informa Markets to become the fastest growing trade show organizer in the US. In addition to being a long-time active IAEE member, he also is on the Board of the Society of Independent Show Organizers (SISO) and is a frequent speaker at events and seminars.

Also honored at the virtual awards watch party on Dec. 9 were:

  • Rick Simon, Founder, United Service Companes, who received the Distinguished Service Award in recognition of his distinguished service to IAEE and to the exhibitions and events industry. See more about his achievement here.
  • Nancy Walsh, Informa Market’s recently promoted President, North America, who received the Woman of Achievement Award for her work in leading the way in advancing women through her outstanding leadership within the industry and her community. Learn more about the achievements that led to her award here.
  • The National Business Aviation Association (NBAA) received the International Excellence Award for its exceptional performance in creating, launching, managing and growing international events.
  • Mark Zimmerman, CEO, Zimmerman Consulting LLC, received the Humanitarian Award for his commitment to equality and social responsibility.
  • Deb Ferbrache, CEMChris Pendley, Director of Data & Digital Services, Messe Frankfurt North America; Kareem Salvant, Event Logistics & Facilities Support Manager, The Javits Center; and Landon Shores, Senior Business Development Manager, Freeman, received the Chapter Merit Award for their ideas and/or work that has benefited IAEE as an organization in some special way.
  • Troy Love, CTA, CMP, CASE, CEM, Senior Sales Manager, Visit San Antonio, received the Bob Dallmeyer Educator of the Year Award for his outstanding creativity, positive attitude, and ability to transfer knowledge through good communication skills and innovative teaching to promote life-long learning to exhibitions and events industry professionals.
  • Shannon Binger, CEM, Senior Manager, Meetings and Services, American Thoracic Society, received the Volunteer of the Year Award for her work in progressing and fulfilling the charge of a committee or task force on which she serves. Binger also is one of the grant recipients of the 2020 Bob Dallmeyer Education Fund.
  • Chuck Elias, CEO & Co-founder, 42Chat and the 42Chat Team, received the Innovative Business Solution Award for achievement by an IAEE member or member organization in the creation of new and innovative business solutions.
  • Molly Hamill, CMP, CEM, Manager, Exhibition Sales, International Association of Amusement Parks & Attractions (IAAPA), received the Young Professional of the Year Award for excellent professional performance by IAEE members 35 years of age or younger who have committed their time to advancing the standing of young professionals in our industry.

Reach Rick McConnell, (214) 693-0672 or; reach David Dubois at David Dubois at (972) 687-9204 or


TSE Data Center