This Just In

Six Women Leaders Reflect on the Year Ahead for International Women’s Day

This is a compilation of six women leaders in the exhibitions industry.

CHICAGO — Friday, March 8, marks the 2024 International Women’s Day, celebrating the social, economic, cultural and political advancements of women, during Women’s History Month. The trade show and exhibitions industry has seen an increase in the number of women in the industry and in executive-level positions in recent years. According to the World Economic Forum, women have been re-entering the workforce at a slightly higher rate than men, which has resulted in a modest gain in the gap between the number of men and women in the workforce.

For International Women’s Day, Trade Show Executive went right to the source — six industry leaders — to ask what they foresee in the year ahead. Here’s what they had to say.




“I have been in the workforce since I was 15 years old. I won’t say the year because that will give away my age; however, I will say that in my 29 years at the International Association of Exhibitions and Events, I have seen a dramatic shift in the workforce. I am heartened by what I read, see and have experienced with the increasing number of women in executive level positions. Trade Show Executive has done an excellent job of profiling women on their covers over the past several years! I am also heartened by the increasing number of People of Color being promoted into executive level positions and being recognized like they should be. At IAEE, we have the first female President & CEO in the association’s 96 years! That took way too long. I am excited by the number of young professionals who are serving on IAEE’s committees and task forces.

“On the industry front, the Center for Exhibition Industry Research released Q4 2023 performance, and as forecasted, the industry continues its recovery, with overall performance down by just 8% over 2019 with full recovery forecasted this year. Time and again, face-to-face marketing has proven itself. People want to do business with people, and even though we may sit on Zoom and Teams meetings, we still need to meet in person to network, shop and buy. I’m bullish on trade shows and am honored to have been in it for all these years.”



This is a headshot of Janet Dell

Janet Dell, President & Chief Operating Officer, Freeman

“This next year has endless possibilities, and I’m excited about what’s ahead. We’ve learned through the Freeman Trends report research that this next generation of attendees prioritize authentic connection and focus on social causes. They want value-based experiences that align their professional goals with their personal values and interests. This means an increased focus on sustainability, holding organizations accountable for being inclusive, ensuring diversity and equity in the workforce, and even how to ethically utilize artificial intelligence to create meaningful connections.

“And events are evolving. Attendees want to get hands-on and experience something special. Experiential is core to a successful trade show floor or conference, but as an industry, we’re expanding beyond traditional venues and event formats to meet the needs of this new audience in order to give them a moment they’ll remember. I’m excited to see this evolution continue in the coming year.”



Kinsey Fabrizio, President, Consumer Technology Association

“One of the most transformative trends we’re seeing in the live events space is the use of artificial intelligence. AI can be used to enhance the attendee experience, powering one-on-one connections and matchmaking, content recommendations and notifications. AI is helping event organizers create a more personalized and valuable experience for event attendees. AI can also be used to help show organizers be more efficient. Back-end office administration, marketing, and business intelligence are just a few examples.”



Related. Trade Show Executive Announces 2023 Women to Watch



Liz Irving, President, Clarion Events North America

“It’s an incredible time for our industry. When I look ahead, I am thrilled to see at the continued evolution of the event models and staying true to the commitment of the value what face-to-face delivers. As an industry, I see a strong commitment to share and learn from on another, and I would encourage everyone to take advantage of this so we can continue to build strong connections, open new doors and resources for our collective customers. On top of this, the continued diversity of and the roles women in the industry are now sitting in are tremendous. What this tells me is there is commitment to the focus on creating an equitable future for continued growth.

“A couple of trends I am seeing: Event organizers are quickly looking at how they capture and use data to further create value for their customers — data that is a combination of what a customer tells us and the behaviors or actions they take. That combination is proving to be successful in further connections, both in person and digitally.

“With the need for further personalization of the event experience, we at Clarion are seeing tremendous opportunities to create niche experiences within our larger events. This trend allows us to connect like-minded individuals who share common interests and challenges and are looking to connect with peers, with content, and with sponsors who can provide more relevant and customized experiences. I also continue to see great work around the production of events to bring forward a blend of personal and professional experiences. Customers look for events that can bring emotion, experience, connection and business together. The rise of DEIB and sustainability have also brought new opportunities to be creative with how we design and deliver. My challenge always is to raise the bar each year to create experiences that we as a consumer would enjoy.”



Julie Kagy, CEM, Executive Director, ESCAPhoto of Julie Kagy, ESCA's new executive director

“I’m encouraged by the increasing visibility and recognition of women in leadership roles within the trade show and event industry. As more women break barriers and ascend to influential positions, we’re witnessing a shift toward greater gender diversity and representation at all levels of the industry. This not only empowers women to contribute their unique perspectives and talents but also fosters a more inclusive and equitable environment for all professionals. I believe that by championing women’s leadership and supporting initiatives that promote gender diversity, we can create a more vibrant and resilient industry for future generations.”



Rochelle Richardson, CEM, Senior Vice President of Expositions and Events, AVIXA

“The trends evolving the landscape of the exhibitions and events industry will be driven by advancements in immersive technology, personalized customer preferences, use of data and research, growing emphasis on sustainability initiatives and the rise in hybrid events.

“Immersive technologies will be used extensively to create unique experiences merging the physical world with digital and simulated realities using augmented and virtual realities. As the association for the audiovisual industry, AVIXA knows the benefits of virtual and augmented reality technologies, and there is data to support these will become more prevalent offerings providing immersive experiences for audiences. We can anticipate increased use of virtual production demonstrations, interactive simulations, and augmented and virtual reality technologies to enhance engagement, facilitate learning, and create memorable experiences for participants, both in person and online.

“We can expect attendees to seek more personalized experiences tailored to their interests and preferences. Event organizers may leverage data analytics and AI-driven technologies to gather attendee insights and deliver customized content, networking opportunities, and recommendations enhancing overall engagement and satisfaction.

“The exhibitions and events industry will continue to rely on data and research to enhance various aspects of operations, marketing, audience engagement and post-event analysis. Event organizers will use data analytics to gain insights into target audiences’ preferences, behavior, and demographics to align marketing strategies, content, and experiences to resonate with attendees. By analyzing historical data and trends, event organizers can use predictive analytics to make more accurate predictions about attendance, exhibitor performance and revenue generation.

“The industry will continue to leverage data and research in diverse ways to drive innovation, enhance attendee experiences, and achieve business objectives while playing a key role in shaping the future of events.”

Reach Cathy Breden at; Janet Dell at; Kinsey Fabrizio at; Liz Irving at; Julie Kagy at; Rochelle Richardson at

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