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2020 SISO Official Ballot Nominees


2020 Nominees

Martha Donato, President, MAD Event Management LLC

Martha Donato photo

Martha Donato is the founder and president of MAD Event Management, which was established in 2009. Donato has been producing large scale events and conferences for over 23 years, including pop culture events Long Beach Comic Con, Long Beach Comic Expo, and New Jersey Comic Expo, as well as numerous consulting projects, expos, tradeshows, and conferences. MAD’s most recent launches included C3: Comic Creator Conference, which is produced in Southern California and Havana, Cuba. MAD also produces the UAS/Drones for Public Safety Conferences in Miami and LA.

In addition to owning a portfolio of events, MAD provides expert consulting services in the areas of large-scale events, conferences, special events, business development, sponsorship sales, group travel, and venue selection and management.  Donato and partner Marty Glynn specialize in launching new events and projects.

Donato's previous position at Crain Communications involved the management of a portfolio of conferences and special events in the commercial insurance and risk management sectors, producing events such as World Captive Forum; Risk Management Summit; Cyber Risk Summit; Risk Manager of the Year; 40 Under 40 Brokers; Women to Watch; as well as ten+ years developing the pop culture event business for Wizard Conventions (Wizard World) nationally. In addition to producing events, Donato has been involved in exhibitor set-up and marketing for over twenty years, having produced exhibits for events such as San Diego Comicon International, Frankfurt Book Fair, New York Comic Con, RIMS, and many others.

Donato's skills include leadership, business development, budget planning and management, event planning, marketing, sales/sponsorship, and operational expertise. She lives and works in Warwick, NY, and holds a Bachelor of Science degree from Marist College.


Heather Farley, COO, Access Intelligence

Heather Farley

As COO, Heather Farley is responsible for the strategic operations across Access Intelligence’s portfolio. In her tenure at AI, Heather has worked on more than a dozen acquisitions and countless product launches. Her expertise in both direct marketing and paid content has been instrumental in the company’s dynamic transition from a traditional b2b media provider to an events-centric platform company surrounded by media to build and support the communities they serve.

Prior to becoming COO, Heather held roles as a Divisional President and Executive Vice President with the company. Heather is a recognized leader in the b2b community and has been active on both the SIIA (Software & Information Industries Association) and SIPA (Specialized Information Publishers Association) boards, holding leadership positions on both the SIIA board as Treasurer in 2018 and SIPA where she served on the Executive committee from 2015 and served as Chairman in 2017.


Brian Field, Interim President & CEO, Emerald Expositions

Brian Field

Brian Field was named Interim President and CEO of Emerald in January 2020, having joined the company in June 2019 as Chief Operating Officer with responsibilities across marketing, sales and event operations, customer experience, data, and digital initiatives and product innovation.  Brian has over 20 years of experience across both B2B and B2C industries, including eight years at UBM Americas, a division of UBM plc (now Informa plc) as Chief Operating Officer and previously as Managing Director of UBM Medica.  Earlier in his career, Brian held senior positions in operations, product development, marketing, and strategy development at Turner Broadcasting and Omnicom, among others. He holds a bachelor’s degree, magna cum laude, from Connecticut College, a master’s from The Juilliard School, and a doctorate from Columbia University and has served on the faculty of Columbia University and American University’s Kogod School of Business.


Michelle Metter, Partner & Co-Founder, Fast Forward Events

Michelle Metter

As one of the founders of Fast Forward, Michelle has led the strategic direction of the agency since its inception in 2004.

Notably, with launches and success in productions ranging from large-scale consumer festivals to product launches, brand activations and b-to-b conferences and conventions have resulted in numerous awards from USA Today, Wall Street Journal, Biz Bash and others.

With 20 years of experience in event production, event launch, experiential activations, sponsorship sales, marketing, and public relations, Michelle’s leadership, vision, and focus on growth and new business development have since led the agency to become one of the most widely respected in the industry.

Prior to launching the agency, Michelle worked as a Vice President of Public Relations at Formula PR spearheading its Travel and Tourism division and prior to that for the Diving Equipment & Marketing Association as Director of Marketing and Sponsorships driving strategies for the association and its convention which at the time was ranked among the top 200 tradeshows in the US.

Michelle is often recruited as a speaker at industry conferences on talks ranging from intellectual property and events to security and risk management, consumer event marketing in a digital age, and event-based tourism.

She is the incoming chair of IAEE's Public Events Council, an active member of SISO, and holds a WSET level 2 certification in oenology.


Toby Walters, CEO, Elite Exhibitions Ltd

Toby Walters photo

Toby Walters is the CEO and co-founder of Elite Exhibitions. Toby was responsible for the launch of Smarter Show’s flagship event, EV Tech Expo, which was acquired by UBM in 2016. He left the business post-acquisition to set up Elite Exhibitions which went on to launch a portfolio of cruise/marine events such as Cruise Ship Interiors Expo and Cruise Ship Hospitality Expo. The company has grown from 2 employees to 20+ in under 2 years with 4 trade shows and an awards night. The company operates out of Brighton, England.


David Zhong, President, VNU Exhibitions Asia

David Zhong photo

David Zhong President of VNU Exhibitions Asia UFI Global Vice Chairman, Member of UFI Board of Directors, UFI Asia-Pacific Chapter Chairman Founder of UFI China Club

Mr. Zhong has worked as an exhibition organizer since 1991. He founded Shanghai Keylong Exhibitions Service Co., Ltd. as the General Manager in 1993. In 2011, VNU partnered with Royal Dutch Jaarbeurs and established VNU Exhibitions Asia, and Mr. Zhong has been acting as the President since then.

Mr. Zhong has been officially appointed as the UFI Asia-Pacific Chapter Chairman at the 84th UFI Global Congress which was held in Nov. 2017. Later, he founded UFI China Club, established the round table conference, high-end communication, local convention, and exhibition facilities experience, activities such as connecting UFI members with local enterprises, which received warm response and broad support from the government, enterprises, and professionals.

As one of the earliest exhibition enterprises in China, VNU has been the leader of the exhibition industry in China for more than 20 years. With the joint efforts of more than 300 outstanding employees, the company hosts over 35 top domestic exhibitions and conferences each year, with a total exhibition area of more than 1,000,000 sqm.

Over the past 20 years, Mr. Zhong has led the team to create a number of brand exhibition projects with international influence, such as Pet Fair Asia, Shanghai World Travel Fair, International Building Industrialization of Construction Exhibition Asia, HORTI China, etc.

In order to actively promote the entry of international brand exhibition projects into the Chinese market, Mr. Zhong has introduced a series of international brand exhibitions, such as DOMOTEX asia/CHINAFLOOR, R+T Asia, TCT Asia, Salone del Mobile. Milano Shanghai, VIV China, and spurred their continuous development in China. Furthermore, those exhibitions were widely appraised by outstanding industry cooperators such as internationally renowned exhibition organizations like Deutsche Messe AG, Messe Stuttgart, IEG, FederlegnoArredoEventi, etc.

Mr. Zhong has created two operating features - “local internationalization” and “International localization” which were exclusively owned by VNU and has made VNU a Chinese exhibition enterprise with the most independent brand exhibitions and the most international brand exhibitions being introduced, thus leading the Chinese exhibition industry.


  • “Without a doubt the most valuable three days of the year for networking, learning, and meeting colleagues.”
    Tony Calanca, Calanca & Associates LLC
  • “Two of the best acquisitions Access Intelligence had executed came directly from contacts and discussions held at the SISO CEO Summit. Beyond that important networking for transactions, I learn best practices from the best in the industry. The ROI for membership is immeasurable.”
    Don Pazour, CEO, Access Intelligence
  • “The impact of SISO is so much bigger than its size. It feels more like a global council of important tribes than a traditional trade association.”
    David Adler, CEO & Founder, Bizbash Media
  • “Our industry thrives on the personal relationships that face-to-face builds, and the CEO Summit is the ultimate place to build YOUR network!”
    Tom Mitchell, President, Messe Dusseldorf North America
  • “As busy, independent, for-profit organizer, SISO keeps our company connected to all the key players working in this industry and allows great relationships and ongoing learning of best practices from the best in the business. All invaluable assets to help move our business forward."
    Howard Hauben, CEO, H2 Events
  • “The SISO membership represents the entire for-profit tradeshow community and the annual SISO conferences are must-attend events for their educational and networking value.”
    Joel A. Davis, Founder & CEO, JD Events
  • Being a member of SISO has allowed me to navigate the dynamic landscape of our industry in the most effective way possible. Personally, it’s been a journey of continuous learning, networking, and collaboration that fosters deep relationships with industry leaders. Professionally, the insights I’ve gained, the resources I have accessed, and the collaborative initiatives and advocacy work have helped to take my organization to new heights. SISO, to me, is an indispensable asset for my career and business.
    Liz Irving, President, Clarion Events