IRF Trustee Bios
|SUSAN ADAMS, CPIM, CEP is Vice President of Travel & Engagement at Next Level Performance. She is committed to generating business improvement through recognition, incentives, and engagement and her areas of expertise include travel and marketing operations, content creation, 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 has 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 as a past president of the Recognition Council.|
|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.|
|COSIMO BRUZZESE joined PRA in 2002, bringing with him an outstanding sales record in the hospitality industry with several years of previous experience in hotels, airlines and cruises. In his current role as Vice President of Business Development, Cosimo is responsible for developing and maintaining Sales & Marketing and is the primary contact for Corporate and Incentive clients. He currently serves on the IRF Board of Trustees, FICP Influence Committee and is a former Board member of MPI, FICP Hospitality Partners Advisory Council, Board of Directors for ADMEI and Co-Chair of SITE Young Leaders; he is a past SITE Kevin Forde Spirit Award recipient and was also named one of Special Events Magazines Top 30 under 40 in the events industry and Collaborate Magazine Top 40 under 40. Cosimo is the proud father of twins.|
MORGAN CRAIN It's no secret the Un-carrier works hard, but it plays hard, too. In fact, that's where you'll find Morgan Crain—at the intersection of hard work and celebration, with her pom poms cheering. T-Mobile, knows what success looks like, and celebrates this success in Un-carrier style. Morgan spends each day of the year focused on recognizing others – and she and her team do that in a big way.
As the Senior Manager for T-Mobile’s Rewards and Recognition team, Morgan leads the development and delivery of innovative and dynamic departmental and company-wide recognition programs. These include reward programs like the PEAK Recognition Award – the pinnacle of achievement at the T-Mobile – and Winners Circle, which rewards the top performing frontline employees in its retail stores and customer care. But whether it’s a complex, company-wide award program or a small gesture of thanks, Morgan helps ensure that meaningful recognition remains a big part of T-Mobile’s DNA.
T-Mobile has built a strong reputation for listening to customers and evolving based on their feedback, and in the true Un-carrier spirit, the company’s sweet suite of offerings evolves based directly on feedback from #TeamMagenta – after all, people are willing to give more fuel to the Un-carrier machine when they feel recognized, motivated, and engaged!
MIN CHOI serves as the Executive Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer of Germania Insurance. Min has worked in the insurance industry for over 20 years in different roles, with the last decade focusing on revenue growth. He has successfully created numerous reward programs to engage audiences and develop sustainable top line growth patterns. He is an advocate for the incentive industry and provides guidance to insurance professionals who have limited experience with building their own programs.
Germania Insurance is the largest farm mutual insurance company in Texas, providing coverage for their policyholders in auto, property and life. For over 100 years, Germania has been the insurance that Texans Trust.
|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 worked with Holland America Line before beginning his career in tourism. During his 25 years of working within the European Travel Industry, 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 on January 1st 2000, Joost and his wife Iris Langanke became owners of First Incentive Travel. The clients of First Incentive Travel are US based corporate clients traveling outside the USA with their incentive programs. Joost and his wife are also minority owners of Liberty USA. Liberty USA is organizing programs for MICE groups coming to the USA and is part of Liberty International. Joost achieved his CITE (Certified Incentive Travel Executive) Certification in 2007, his CIS (Certified Incentive Specialist) in 2012 and the CITP (Certified Incentive Travel Professional) in 2019. All three certifications are from the association SITE. Joost became SITE’s member of the year in 2015 and SITE’s Master Motivator in 2015. Additionally Joost is a MPI member and received his CMM (Certified Meeting Manager) Certification in 2005. He also has Certifications from CLIA (Cruise Line International Association) which are ACC (Accredited Cruise Consultant), MCC (Master Cruise Counsellor) and ECC (Elite Cruise Counsellor). Joost is a mentor of several hospitality students and participates in the Future Leaders Forums all over the world.|
KAREN DEVINE is a 38-year veteran of the incentive travel industry, bringing a wealth of knowledge given her history of combined customer and supplier experience. After 10 years working for incentive companies such as Carlson Marketing Group and S&H Motivation, Karen began her supplier career in the Worldwide Sales Office in Chicago for Four Seasons/Regent Hotels & Resorts.
After representing an established multi-country DMC throughout Europe as Director of Marketing in the U.S., she joined Rosewood Hotels and Resorts where she became the Regional Director of Sales in Chicago representing the entire collection of luxury hotels and resorts. Joining Radisson Seven Seas (now Regent Seven Seas) in 2000, Karen became the Director of Charter & Incentive Sales representing this luxury cruise line to the incentive market nationwide.
Opening 3D Cruise Partners in 2004 allowed Karen and her team to bring instant cruise ‘insider’ expertise to customers by providing immediate access and complete details for all cruise lines.
Karen’s combined buyer/supplier (hotel, DMC, cruise) experience is unique in the industry, benefitting 3D’s clients with a diverse background to provide cruise and geographical expertise.
|SARAH HAINES has been in the events industry for over 15 years. She became an employee-owner at ITA Group in 2007 starting in operations and has moved to various leadership positions within the company. In her current role she leads a team of over 250 event professionals handling purchasing, operations, air operations, registration and onsite event execution. Her primary focus is helping clients infuse strategy and the science behind motivating people into their events. Sarah believes in a culture of integrity, teamwork and unwavering commitment to excellence. In her free time she enjoys spending time with her family, traveling, running and taking on various projects around the house.|
CHRIS JOHNSON joined Land O’ Lakes in 2016 and currently leads a centralized corporate team responsible for driving strategy across five work groups including Corporate Travel, sourcing, event management, technology and event operations. Additionally, Chris has responsibility for sports marketing and sponsorship, tradeshow exhibit management, LOL campus conference center operations and all corporate premium solutions.
Recognized by Incentive Magazine as Top 25 Incentive Industry Influencer, September 2018 - Chris has over 20 years of creative and business savvy event marketing and travel operations experience across a wide range of event and travel management functions at a global level. His passion is driving experience through collaboration and strong teamwork. He also represents the industry on various hotel and partner customer advisory boards.
Chris enjoys adventure, sports and travel with his wife Julie and their triplet boys.
|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, Vice President, Marketing and Industry Relations, brings to the table decades of trade show and corporate meetings industry experience. He came to Fern in 2019 from Production Resource Group (PRG). Jim's career prior to that spanned the industry, including roles with exposition service contractors, convention centers and hotels. Committed to supporting the professional growth of the industry, Jim has been active in PCMA, both locally and nationally. In 2014 he was honored by PCMA as the “Distinguished Service Professional of the Year.” Additionally, he is active with the Incentive Research Foundation and Corporate Event Marketing Association (CEMA). Jim is excited to be part of a company with a deep-rooted culture of service and solutions that is designed around the customer first.|
PATRICIA KERR, CMP, is a 25-year veteran in corporate meeting and conference management. She is a past member of the FICP Board of Directors, serving as its Chair in 2009. Patricia is recognized internationally for her expertise in strategic driven leadership in the areas of Strategic Meeting Management, Incentive & Recognition Development, Program Planning/Implementation and Strategic Sales Support. Patricia has been named as a "Changemaker" by Corporate Meetings & Incentives twice in her career. She has served on the MPI Executive Advisory Council. As AVP, Meeting & Event Management at Nationwide, she strategically drives enterprise wide meetings, conferences and events including the development of innovative cost-effective solutions that enhance client satisfaction, drive sales behaviors, increase revenue and lower meeting expenditures. In addition, Patricia's organization manages in excess of 300 meetings and incentive conferences globally.
Patricia works out of Nationwide’s corporate headquarters in Columbus, Ohio as a proud Canadian. She lives in New Albany, Ohio with her husband Jeff and their son Jonathon – a recent Ohio State University grad. They facetime daily with their daughter Jessica who is a third year Education student at Laurentian University in Canada.
|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.|
|CINDY MIELKE is Tango Card's Director of Channel Marketing - Incentives and a Certified Professional of Incentive Management. Her passion is helping teammates, clients, and partners achieve incentive and recognition program success. A strong advocate for the incentive industry, Cindy was awarded the Karen Renk Fellowship and inducted into the Hall of Fame by the Incentive Marketing Association (IMA) in 2019. She also currently serves on the board of the Incentive and Engagement Solutions Providers council of the IMA.|
KELSEY NICOL joined Mutika, Italy’s premier Experience Management Company (EMC) in 2019 as Director of Business Development. In her current role, she is responsible for strategic customer acquisitions and marketing development within the USA and Canada. Being based in the U.S. allows her to be available to Mutika clients and support with their program’s intricate details. Kelsey believes you are only as good as the last program you operated and supports the Mutika team on reimagining today’s client and participant journey through understanding the lifestyle of travelers.
Having also been on the buyer side, she understands the importance of listening to a customer’s needs. Previously, Kelsey spent 15 years with a third-party and during this time, it was important to have a well-rounded understanding of event management. She began her career in operations and then moved to presale, account management and ended in sales. Her experience took place operating incentives on six continents. Kelsey is deeply passionate about the incentive industry and creating unforgettable memories for others that become emotional stories passed throughout family generations. Kelsey is also an active member of FICP (Financial Insurance Conference Planners), SITE (Society for Incentive Travel Excellence) and ADMEI (Association of Destination Management Executives International).
|CHRIS RUANE currently serves as Vice President, Meetings and Incentives for Accor Hotels. Based in Toronto, Canada, Chris oversees the Global Sales Organizations M&I team for the Accor’s North & Central American Region where he plays a key role in developing and executing the strategic direction, deployment and productivity for this important market. Chris has been working in hotel sales and marketing for 32 years including his last 26 years with Accor (FRHI/Fairmont Hotels).|
|KAREN SUTTLE is the sales manager for Maui Jim Corporate Gift’s midwestern region. She has been involved in the incentive and promotional product industry for over 30 years, and 14 of those years have been with Maui Jim. Karen has also been involved in the Society of Incentive Travel Excellence (SITE), Meeting Professionals International (MPI), and currently a trustee of the Incentive Research Foundation (IRF). She also achieved Maui Jim’s coveted Kahuna Club award seven times as well as achieving the Big Kahuna (top sales person in the company) twice. When Karen isn’t out selling or traveling the world, she is curled up with a good book or spending time with her husband, kids or two granddaughters.|
|KARI VRBA is an industry veteran with over 20 years of experience in delivering performance improvement solutions focused on business development, client solutions, marketing, creative and events. 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.|