IRF Trustee Bios
|SUSAN ADAMS, CPIM, CEP is Vice President of Engagement at Next Level Performance, a Dittman Company. She is committed to generating business improvement through recognition, incentives, and engagement and her areas of expertise include marketing operations, demand generation, copy writing, group and individual travel management, event planning, and product development. She is an author and frequently contributes to industry press. Currently, she serve on the board of the Incentive Research Foundation (IRF), and as chair of the Research Committee. She recently served as secretary of the board of directors of the Incentive Marketing Association (IMA), as a member of the Incentive & Engagement Solution Providers and the Performance Improvement Council (strategic industry groups of the IMA), and am a past president of the Recognition Council. She has earned both CPIM and CEP certifications, and has been a member of SHRM and RPI.|
|MARK ALT, Senior Vice President and Director of Sales for Maritz Motivation Solutions. Mark Alt brings diverse experience to lead a team of sales professionals representing results-based loyalty and motivation solutions. His experience in both the motivation and learning divisions of Maritz enables Mark to guide the Maritz team in designing innovative programs for clients that deliver higher levels of loyalty and sales performance through the sales channel, employees and customers. Mark’s sales career has encompassed both direct and channel sales. While at Oracle he was involved in leading sales teams to focus on government, defense systems, utilities, and engineering solutions. He is an advisor for Global Channel programs for manufacturers and distributors in the technology market. He was a member of the US Chamber of Commerce-Telecommunications and Ecommerce committee. Currently resides as the Board of Directors on Action for Autism. Mark is also a mentor to the SixThirty organization. He enjoys working with and motivating individuals so they can achieve greater potential. Mark received a bachelor’s degree in Computer Science from Southern Illinois University. He is married with three boys, three girls and two dogs. In his spare time, he loves to golf.|
|STEPHEN COOK has broad experience through various sales positions in the travel industry including account executive, sales director, vice president sales & marketing. He is currently owner and Chief Inspiration Officer at Lorandus Meetings, focusing on providing meeting planning solutions for customers throughout North America.
His specialties include: Destination and hotel selection for companies seeking meeting planning and incentive travel support.
|JOOST DE MEYER, Joost worked with Holland America Line before beginning his career in tourism. During his 25 years of working within the European Travel Trade, Joost worked primarily in management positions for various Dutch and German tour operators. Moving to Florida in 1997, Joost became a partner in First Incentive Travel and at the beginning of 2000, Joost and his wife Iris became owners of First Incentive Travel. The clients of First Incentive Travel are international corporate groups traveling to the USA. Joost achieved his CITE (Certified Incentive Travel Executives) Certification in 2007 and his CIS (Certified Incentive Specialist) in 2012. Both certifications are from the association SITE. Additionally Joost is a MPI member and received his CMM (Certified Meeting Manager) Certification in 2005. In January 2015 he received his ACC (Accredited Cruise Counsellor), a certification from CLIA and is working on his MCC.|
|MICHAEL FREEDMAN, International Director of Group Sales for AmStar DMC. Michael Freedman leads the Amstar DMC Meetings & Incentives team in 5 countries (Mexico, Dominican Republic, Jamaica, Hawaii & Costa Rica) as Director of International Sales. Michael has been living in Mexico for over 20 years working in the hospitality industry. Having hosted 3 IRF invitationals, 2 consecutive years with Amstar, Michael brings his passion of delivering top notch programs to the incentive industry.|
|BRETT HATCH is Sr. Director, Corporate Gifts/Special Markets at Maui Jim Sunglasses. Since starting the corporate division in 2000, Maui Jim has become known as The World's Most Memorable Gift Experience in the Incentive industry. With over 20 years' experience in the Incentive and Promotional Product industry, Brett has global responsibility managing business strategy, partnerships, and marketing of the Maui Jim brand with a focus on gift cards, merchandise, and the incentive travel markets. He has served on the board for IMA(Incentive Marketing Association) 2007-2011, past member of the Motivation Show/ITME advisory board, and was chosen to participate in the 7th Annual "Incentive Magazine" Industry Roundtable. Brett is actively involved with the Annual Invitational event for the IRF.|
|CHRIS JOHNSON is Director of Global Travel and Corporate Events at Land O' Lakes, Inc. He has over 20 years experience in incentives and events with past positions as Director of Sales and Events at PartyLite, Manager of Incentive Travel and Events at Creative Memories, and Account Director at Carlson Marketing Group.|
|BICH-LIEN KALDAHL recently retired from United Airlines after 31 years in aviation sales and management. She was a Meeting, Incentive & Group Sales Manager, a position she had held for over 16 years combined with Continental & United Airlines. In this role, Ms. Kaldahl seeked out and facilitated corporate, group, incentive and meeting travel. She worked closely with many tourism offices and Convention Visitor Bureaus to help increase meeting and group business worldwide. Prior to this, Ms. Kaldahl held positions of increasing responsibility in the Continental Sales organization in Baltimore, Washington DC and Chicago. Ms. Kaldahl is very involved with the hospitality industry and was the SITE Chicago Chapter President in 2007 and 2008 and SITE Leadership Council in 2007. She is a member of MPI, PCMA, FICP and SITE.|
|JIM KELLEY, VP of Marketing, is focused on bringing the services, solutions and consultative approach of PRG to those organizations whose events require best in class multidisciplinary audio, video, lighting, production, staging, content capture/webcasting, digital signage, presentation management, ars and video production solutions across the U.S., Canada and other global destinations. Jim is also a member of: PCMA—Chair-Education Conference; IAEE—Previous Board Member, Current Member of the Senior Executive Education Committee; CEIR-National Trustee: PCMA Capital Chapter-Director of Education.|
|SOMA KIM draws on two decades of hospitality sales experience at some of the most renowned players at the luxury end of the industry. As Account Director, Incentive Sales at Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts, she is focused on direct sales efforts in the Incentive Market, building solid relationships, increasing market share and generating revenues for the still-expanding luxury brand. Prior to joining Four Seasons, she spent just over two years as Director of Global Sales with Morgans Hotel Group, transforming a struggling operation by revamping global sales strategy, implementing effective promotional strategies, and boosting the company’s image both internally and externally. Born in Cambodia and raised outside of Chicago, Kim was drawn to hospitality through a personal love of travel and discovered her passion for the sales side of the industry while pursuing a Bachelor of Science degree in Hospitality Administration/Management from Eastern Illinois University. A strong believer in the power of Incentive Market, Kim was named 2015 Outstanding Partner of the Year by the performance improvement company MotivAction. She will serve on the board of the Incentive Research Foundation, the leading organization funding research studies and developing products serving the global incentive industry, for 2016-2018.|
|MIKE MAY, CMP, IP is President and owner of Brightspot Incentives & Events, a full-service performance improvement company based in Dallas, Texas. Brightspot helps enterprise clients drive performance improvement and channel engagement through group incentive travel, recognition and incentive programs, event planning, and engagement campaigns - with creativity, flexibility, and a commitment to results. Under Mike’s leadership, Brightspot has quadrupled in size, added many Fortune 1000 clients, and broadened its expertise. Mike is also a member of the Performance Improvement Council of IMA and regular presenter at The Motivation Show and IMA webinars.|
|RODNEY MORROW, Director of Sales and Marketing for Accor Hotels and Resorts representing The Fairmont Pittsburgh. Rodney has over 20 years of experience in luxury hotels in North Carolina, Atlanta, California, Las Vegas and Pennsylvania. Rodney has worked for Ritz-Carlton and Fairmont Hotels and Resorts as well as luxury independent properties. His current role includes managing the Sales and Marketing teams while continuing to maintain and develop relationships in the marketplace. His greatest fulfillment at work comes from mentoring and developing hospitality Sales people. Rodney enjoys spending time with his wife and twin daughters. Rodney has been a participant in the IRF Invitational since 2007.|
|SCOTT SIEWERT has more than 25 years of experience in performance marketing. His experience and skills have translated into successful programs including five-star incentive travel and points programs, innovative employee recognition programs, and meetings and events. He has contributed to the design, sales and account management of a combined total of 15 consecutive years’ worth of SITE and IMA award winning incentive programs. Scott’s hallmark is developing incentive rules and structures that successfully “Move the Middle” performers. To illustrate this commitment, he has completed the course on ROI Analysis by The ROI Institute and is a Certified ROI Professional. He is also a Certified Recognition Profession. Scott is passionate about the incentive travel business. He has been to 92 countries on 6 continents photographing each and every adventure. He has a Master of Business Administration from Emory University with a Finance concentration. He also serves as a Board Member on the Recognition Council of the IMA.|
PATRICK SMITH is a hotel sales executive with almost 30 years of hospitality industry experience. Patrick speaks, blogs, and travels extensively in his current role leading the group sales teams and group sales efforts in North America for all of The Leading Hotels of the World (LHW).The Leading Hotels of the World is the oldest (founded in 1928) and largest (430+ properties) luxury hotel brand in the world.
Patrick joined the iconic hotel brand in 2000 and was tasked with both building a dedicated group sales team and a cohesive sales strategy for LHW’s member hotels globally.
Patrick’s strategies of focusing on customer’s needs first, fostering an environment that facilitates relationship building , and highlighting LHW’s differentiating experiences has led to double digit annual growth for the brand in the group market.
In his spare time Patrick can be found driving his vintage BMW, listening to music too loud, working in his garden, at the gym, cooking for friends and family, reading books, or seeking out authentic and local experiences.
JANET TRAPHAGEN has been in the hospitality industry for over 25years. Today as President of Creative Group, Inc, a CMI Top 25 incentive firm, she maintains responsibility for all sales, marketing, operational and execution activity within the organization. She joined Creative Group in 1996 in an operations role as Account Manager. In 1999, she transitioned into sales as an Account Executive and in 2004 was promoted to Vice President/Account Executive. During her tenure as an Account Executive, she was recognized as “AE of the Year” in 2006, 2007, 2008 and 2010 and served on the company’s Management Committee and Sales Management Team. Janet has served on the Starwood Advisory Council and is a frequent contributor on industry panel discussions with Four Seasons, Ritz-Carlton and Marriott Hotels. She is also a member of the Sales Management Summit, a board for senior sales executives and NAPW (National Association of Professional and Executive Women).
|KARI VRBA leads MotivAction’s strategic vision of presale which includes sales, client solutions, marketing, creative, and purchasing teams. Kari is an industry veteran with 20 years of experience in delivering performance improvement solutions. Her work and client programs have received global recognition from SITE, CMI25, and Incentive Magazine. She plays an active role in industry roundtables and advisory boards for several leading hotel chains and in the past has participated on the Board of Directors for the Minnesota Chapter of Site and multiple committees for SITE International.|
|BETTY WEINKLE is a Vice President of Partnership with Blackhawk Engagement Solutions. Her responsibilities include management of key strategic partners in addition to business development in alternate channels such as wellness. Betty’s 25 years of leadership in the incentive industry includes board membership in the Incentive Marketing Association and as a past President of the Incentive Gift Card Council. She has led research development, been an outspoken incentive champion, and is a designated Certified Professional of Incentive Management. She has additionally enjoyed mentoring a number of successful folks in the industry. She is a tremendous advocate for the power of incentives.
|TODD ZINT, Todd uses his two decades of experience in the industry to support NFP’s meeting strategy as a shared service for the enterprise. He focuses on aligning meeting logistics with event goals and objectives, maximizing return on value. Prior to joining NFP, Todd worked in several Fortune 500 companies, including Ingram Micro, AXA Financial, MetLife, Washington Mutual, Maritz Travel Company and the Ritz Carlton Hotel Company. He is an active member in the Financial & Insurance Conference Planners association, serving as its chairman in 2011. He received his Bachelor of Science from Northern Arizona University. Todd lives in Austin, TX, with his wife, Monique, and their two children.|