KLIMMEN, Netherlands — Women in Exhibitions Network (WIEN) announced Sonia Thomas will become the global organization’s first Executive Director, effective Nov. 1.
Thomas brings more than 20 years of association experience to the new role, including as the Director Operations and Chief Operations Officer of UFI, The Global Association of the Exhibition Industry, where she worked for more than 14 years. She also works as a Senior Consultant for event management and exhibitions at jwc GmbH.
“I’m very honored to be the organization’s first Executive Director. It is something very close to my heart, and a continuation on some of the work I started whilst at UFI,” Thomas said. “I want to raise the profile of WIEN and will be working on bringing women together to share information and experiences, and network. I also want to reach more women across the globe. Gender diversity and female representation at senior level is still very low in our industry, especially compared to entry level, and it is important to identify the reasons for this glass ceiling. I think that many men would like to see more gender diversity, they just don’t know how to go about making their organization more inclusive. More gender diversity also makes economic sense: Research has shown that diverse, inclusive organizations benefit from higher profits. There is a long way to go, but I am very optimistic.”
“The next chapter of Women in Exhibitions Network will be about building from our strengths and centering our voices to re-invent our impact in a changing industry,” Oana Cipca, Founder of WIEN, stated. “As WIEN faces the challenges and opportunities ahead, we are happy to have our new Executive Director Sonia Thomas officially represent this community. I always admired Sonia for her collaborative leadership style, commitment to women in our industry and her proven record. We are proud that she is taking this role and working with us on bringing WIEN forward.”
Launched in the Netherlands in 2018, WIEN’s goal is to empower women in the trade show and exhibition industry, encourage diversity and networking, as well as nurture and provide mentorship and community to the next generation of women leaders. Along with its already established UK, North America, Germany and Middle East chapters, WIEN recently expanded the network with its Netherlands chapter in July 2022. New international chapters are expected to form in 2023, further growing the network.