>>Up-and-Coming Meeting Professional
Ryan Hanson says that he has always been able to appreciate a good event. “I have been an ‘event’ man whether I realized it or not … every gathering of friends and family was an event to me,” he says.
After graduating from Gustavus Adolphus College with a Communication Studies and Religion double major, as well as minors in Theater and Psychology, Hanson assumed he would find a job in the advertising and marketing field.
“I did not know that the event industry existed,” he says. Several production opportunities in college, paired with experience working with Twin Cities event producers and the entertainment industry in New York, got him hooked. I am a huge believer in the power of experience and there is nothing I love more than having the opportunity to create events for individuals.”
Hanson knows that having fun with what you do is important. “This work is work, but it is also play, and that is fun,” he says. “Creating play, everyday. That’s my job—and I love it.”
6625 Lyndale Ave. S., Suite 300/Minneapolis, MN 55423/612.436.4400 Ryan-Hanson@MENTTIUM.com
>>Up-and-Coming Special Events Planner
Director of Catering and Events/Interlachen Country Club
Melissa White climbed the catering and events ladder to reach her position as the director of catering and events at Interlachen Country Club in Edina. “I actually started working at Interlachen Country Club as a banquet server when I was in college,” she says. “That is truly where I really started to love events.”
Though she majored in advertising and minored in communication studies and business management while at the University of Minnesota, White was intrigued by the events industry. Her interest led to an internship with Interlachen, which eventually evolved into her current job.
“I love knowing that what I do everyday is usually a very special occasion for someone else,” she says.
Starting at the bottom gave White the insight that teamwork and great execution is what makes an event successful. This insider knowledge has helped make White a meeting professional on the rise.
6200 Interlachen Boulevard/Edina, MN 55436/952.924.7444 email@example.com
Sales and Production Manager/Heroic Productions
Upon receiving a degree in Mass Communication from Bemidji State University, Dan Zunker worked in the entertainment industry as a lighting and audio technician for bands and clubs. After working at a couple of corporate events, Zunker realized that “…corporate was a whole new world with infinite design possibilities.”
That discovery eventually led him to his current position as sales and production manager at Heroic Productions in Bloomington. He has organized and managed a wide range of events across the country and world, including one in Rome where he was forced to return to his audio tech roots when the language barrier and faulty audio equipment threatened to ruin the event.
What keeps him coming back? “Most of the people in our industry love what they do,” he notes. He concentrates on “how we can use all of that information to make the next event even more spectacular.”
The ability to overcome obstacles and meet each challenge with optimism is a winning combination, and one that will propel Zunker to the top.
801 West 106th St./Bloomington, MN 55420/952.224.9591
>>Best Meeting Professional
Regional Director/HelmsBriscoe Performance Group
Finding the perfect location for your next event is Mary Medcraft’s passion. “I love the challenge that comes with finding truly unique destinations for groups,” she notes.
A graduate of the University of Wisconsin, River Falls, Medcraft stumbled into the meetings and events industry after starting as an administrative assistant in hotels. It was only a matter of time before she held director of sales and sales manager positions.
Recently, Medcraft had the opportunity to travel to Monaco, France, and Italy to conduct site inspections as the regional director at HelmsBriscoe. “We are never doing the same thing two days in a row and no two meetings are alike,” she says, adding, “I love the fact that I can assist planners so they can focus on the more strategic aspects of their jobs.”
Her positive attitude, knowledge and experience have aided countless planners and industry professionals, and will keep her on the top of everyone’s go-to list for events and meetings to come.
8100 Penn Ave. S./Minneapolis, MN 55431/952.888.5110
>>Best Special Events Planner
KATE TOUHEY, CSEP
Senior Corporate Event Planner/Event Planning/Thrivent Financial for Lutherans
Kate Touhey believes that “nothing can be quite as transformative as an effective event.” She took the degrees she earned while attending Hamline University in Saint Paul (a double-major in English and Journalism/Public Relations) and used them as a foundation for developing a lasting career in the meetings and events industry.
After spending eight-and-a-half years in Alumni Relations and University Events at Hamline, Touhey joined Thrivent Financial for Lutherans in 2001 as the new corporate event planner. She now holds the title of senior corporate even planner, which entails overseeing multiple events each year throughout the country.
In addition to her role at Thrivent Financial, Touhey is the president-elect of Minneapolis/Saint Paul chapter of the International Special Events Society (ISES), as well as the organization’s vice president of communications. Her dedication to the industry is evident.
“While my career path thus far has been the result of lucky timing and the support by supervisors to follow my interests and avocations, I wouldn’t have it any other way,” she says. “I believe in the power of events to change minds, reinforce feelings and provide a full-body experience.”
This dedication is just one of the many reasons Touhey deserves to be in our Hall of Fame.
625 Fourth Ave. S./Minneapolis, MN 55415-1665/612.751.3374
KEITH J. REARDON
General Manager, Wildside Caterers/Regional Director, Morrissey Hospitality Companies
Once on track to become a fire fighter in Rancho Cucamonga, Calif., Keith Reardon is now in Minnesota putting out fires of a different nature to ensure events happen without a hitch.
As general manager of Wildside Caterers in Saint Paul, Reardon is in charge of orchestrating huge events, including the 2004 NHL All-Star Game held at the Saint Paul RiverCentre, which culminated in serving more than 4,000 guests at the Bare Naked Ladies concert held at the Saint Paul Winter Carnival’s Ice Palace.
“I was drawn to this industry because of the unique challenges that are inherent to it,” he says. “I like the fact that every day brings something new, and that I lead a professional and passionate team whose expectation is to provide an experience that enlivens the sense, instills well-being and fulfills even the unexpressed wishes and needs of our guests.”
Reardon’s desire to create a memorable experience for all involved has resulted in an excellent reputation within the industry—one that is sure to grow.
175 West Kellogg Blvd., Ste. 503/Saint Paul, MN 55102/651.726.8801