event planning team

Convene is inspiring proof that excellent, empowered event planning teams build great companies. Our colleagues are innovative professionals from diverse backgrounds, bound by a commitment to creativity, collaboration, and simply amazing customer service. Each one of us understands and takes pride in our role of producing the most effective meeting our clients have ever experienced. Our event planning team will make your job easier and provide an excellent experience for your company.


Executive Team

Steve Sackman
Steve Sackman
Vice President of Sales
Bio

With over 25 years of sales & Marketing experience, Steve has been in multi-property and enterprise sales leadership positions for the last 12 years. Most recently Steve was VP of Sales & Marketing for Highgate Hotels in NYC overseeing group and transient sales for a portfolio of 11 hotels.  Previously he was Regional Vice President of Sales & Marketing for Destination Hotels where he oversaw Sales, Marketing, e-commerce and Revenue distribution for up to 13 hotels throughout the East Coast and Midwest as well as overseeing regional new property transitions and integrations into the Destination portfolio. Steve has served multiple terms on the Board of Directors for The International Association of Conference Centers.  A lifelong New Yorker, Steve is a graduate of New York University.

Fun Fact

Steve once rode a mechanical bull.  He will never do that again.  Ever.

Convene Headshots
German Villatoro
Regional Executive Chef
Bio

German started his culinary career after graduating from L’Academie de Cuisine, Bethesda Maryland, in 1996. He stayed in the Washington DC area after graduation for a few years and then launched a world tour of culinary experiences.  German's extensive culinary experience includes working for Hyatt Hotels, Hilton, Rosewood Hotels & Resorts, Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts, and Le Granouille. He served as the Interim Executive Chef for the Ames Hotel in Boston, and the Hudson Hotel here in New York, where he won the title #TACOknockout in a contest sponsored by Thrillist. 

Fun Fact

Originally from El Salvador, German’s foodie experiences have also taken him to DC, Orlando, Austin, Dallas, New York, Antigua, British Virgin Islands and Boston.

Convene Headshots
Mark DePiero
VP of Operations
Bio

With more than 25 years of diverse industry experience, Mark has achieved success in all aspects of conference center and hotel operations, revenue generation, real estate development and acquisitions. Most recently, Mark served as regional director for The Compass Group, a global leader in food service management and hospitality. He had the operational responsibility for Flik Hotels and Conference Centers in the Northeast and in the Midwest and was also responsible for the start-up and roll out of a corporate multi-property day conference center initiative which included the opening of centers in seven states. Previously, he had been with Dolce Hotels & Resorts for 15 years as senior vice president for acquisitions and development, in addition to serving as SVP of operations for North America and Europe. Mark has an associate degree in Occupational Studies in Culinary Arts from the Culinary Institute of America and a Real Estate Certificate from the Professional Development Program at Cornell University. He has been a member of the North America Board of Directors of International Association of Conference Centers (IACC) since 2006 and served on the Global Board of Directors of IACC for four years.

Fun Fact
Convene NYC team members
Siobhan O’Leary
VP of Human Capital Management
Bio

Siobhan has worked as a Human Resources executive for over 25 years, predominately in the luxury hospitality field for notable organizations such as Four Seasons Hotels & Resorts, Rosewood Hotels & Resorts and Hyatt Hotels. There, she gained international experience, capitalizing on her understanding of various cultures to develop local leaders who shared corporate goals. She had the honor and enjoyment of developing promoted individuals all over the world. Siobhan’s commitment to university partnerships afforded graduates invaluable opportunities for the last two decades. In leading the Human Capital Management efforts for Convene, Siobhan will develop and implement people strategies to serve as the backbone for the company growth and individual success paths. Siobhan is a Certified Professional Coach, and founder and principal of Aubergine Partners, a Coaching and Leadership Development firm based in Dallas, Texas. Siobhan graduated from Louisiana Tech University. In 2004, she completed the Harvard Executive Education program and later participated in a course at the French Culinary Institute in New York.

Fun Fact

Siobhan once played racquet ball with Karl Malone and sang in a cabaret in NYC. Not at the same time.

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Kenneth Clark
Chief Financial Officer
Bio

Prior to joining Convene, Ken served as CFO for Chef’s Warehouse – a specialty food distributor. He helped manage the company’s finances through several acquisitions and a major consolidation prior to overseeing its successful initial public offering. He enjoyed a nearly six year tenure with the firm starting as corporate controller in 2007 before moving up to CFO in 2009. Previously, Mr. Clark had been vice president-controller at Credit Suisse Energy and director of asset management and analysis for United Rentals, a publicly-traded, equipment rental company.  He began his career at Arthur Andersen as a CPA.  He is a graduate of Western Connecticut State University with a BBA in accounting and currently resides in New Fairfield, with his wife and four children.

Fun Fact

Ken enjoys all types of outdoor activities, with favorites being skiing, golfing and fishing.

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Chris Kelly
President & Co-Founder
Bio

Chris co-founded Convene (formerly Sentry Centers) to capitalize on converging trends in real estate and workplace collaboration. In his role at Convene Chris leads brand and revenue development, marketing and research, partnerships, client and community relations, human capital management, and guides strategic planning in collaboration with his partner and team.   Chris has become a leading industry spokesperson on alternative workplace strategies, collaboration and entrepreneurship. He also founded The ReThink Forum, a multinational hybrid conference and sits on the Young Leaders Board of CoreNet New York, the leading association for corporate real estate professionals.   Previously, Mr. Kelly co-founded evoJets, a leading provider of global private jet charter services and has started a number of other small business ventures in the United States, Equador, and Costa Rica.   He is a graduate of the Villanova School of Business with a focus in marketing and has twice been recognized in Inc. Magazine’s “30 Under 30” list of most promising young entrepreneurs for roles in Sentry Centers and evoJets.

Fun Fact

Outside of work, Mr. Kelly’s passion for traveling in developing economies has taken him to over 30 countries on five continents. He is a lifelong student who especially enjoys playing drums, photography, and cooking at home with his wife Adriann and their families.

 

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Ryan Simonetti
CEO & Co-Founder
Bio

Ryan Simonetti is a dynamic entrepreneur with unique expertise in real estate and finance as a product of the combination of his early institutional career and more recent hands-on, small business experience. Ryan co-founded Convene (formerly Sentry Centers) with his business partner, Christopher Kelly. Previously, Ryan served as a vice president at Gramercy Capital Corp., where he was in charge of the workout and restructuring of a billion-dollar loan portfolio including $600 million of related real estate investments. Before joining Gramercy in 2006, Mr. Simonetti was a real estate banking analyst within the global real estate group at Lehman Brothers, where he focused on the structuring and securitization of commercial mortgage-backed securities.

Fun Fact

A graduate of Villanova University, Mr. Simonetti has been recognized in Inc. Magazine’s “30 under 30”, a list of America’s most promising young entrepreneurs. Outside of work, Ryan enjoys golfing, fishing, reading, and thinking of the next ‘big idea.’

Joyce Bromberg
Joyce Bromberg
VP of Strategy and Research
Bio

With more than 30 years of hands-on industry experience, Joyce Bromberg is a renowned workplace management expert specializing in human-centered design, who is setting the standard for how employees interact with their work environment. As director of research and innovation for Convene, Joyce conducts the critical collaboration research guiding the company’s business and marketing strategies and helps to guide the overall design of the company’s meeting collaboration space and customer experience. Joyce is also the founder and principal of The Bromberg Group, an innovation and design consultancy located in Glen Arbor, Michigan and New York City. Prior to starting her own firm, Joyce was director of research for Steelcase Inc. Her other areas of focus included retail banking, the future of work, role of physical space in knowledge management , plus, a worldwide study of Generation Y and its impact on the workplace. She was the lead developer of Community-Based Planning, a space-planning methodology and web-based tool set.

Fun Fact

A graduate of the High School of Music and Art, Joyce has a BA in Art History from Stony Brook University, New York.


Directors

Jordan Hendin
Jordan Hendin
Area Director of Sales and Marketing
Bio

As both an entrepreneur and corporate professional, Jordan brings a unique voice and over 15 years of Sales & Marketing experience to Convene.  Having been a small business owner for over 10 years for Red Carpet Events & Marketing, Jordan worked with hospitality clients to maximize strategic sales and optimize marketing and branding opportunities. Prior to joining Convene, Jordan worked with companies including: Branded Restaurant Group, Cipriani, Denihan Hospitality Group and China Grill Management.

Fun Fact

Jordan is a certified professional chef and graduate of The Natural Gourmet.

Derek Damon
Derek Damon
Director of Hospitality
Bio

Derek has worked as a hospitality professional for 20+ years, half of these in an entrepreneurial role as an owner/operator of 7 successful Johnny Rockets franchises. Derek transitioned into luxury hospitality with Rosewood Hotels & Resorts. Both in the areas of Food & Beverage and the Rooms Division, he gained invaluable experience in the art of guest service, while running solid financial business operations. In 2013 he moved to New York City to become the Director of Operations for the Loews Regency Hotel, which was going through a 12-month closure and refurbishment. Derek skillfully transitioned the hotel from the preopening construction phase to its grand reopening in January of 2014. His hands on style assisted in earning the property a ranking in the top ten of all hotels in NYC by TripAdvisor within 6 months of its re-opening. Derek is passionate, authentic and focused. His dynamic leadership style and entrepreneurial spirit are in perfect accordance of what Convene stands for.

Fun Fact

Derek has lived in 14 cities so far.

Tom Burghardt
Tom Burghardt
Corporate Controller
Bio

Tom has had a successful career building strong accounting teams in preparation for scalable company growth.  Prior to joining Convene, Tom worked as Director of Finance for The Chefs' Warehouse where he assisted the company through its successful initial public offering.  Prior to Chefs’ he worked for Ethan Allen Global, Inc. for ten years starting out as a retail accountant and eventually ending his tenure with them as Manager of Retail Accounting and Financial Reporting.  He is a graduate of Siena College with a BBA in Accounting and also obtained his MBA from Marist College with a concentration in Information Systems. Tom resides with his wife and two children in Poughquag, NY.

Fun Fact

Tom starts his day each morning by hitting the gym before commuting into the city.  Tom enjoys theatre, biking, roller coasters and spending time with his family. 

Alex Adelman
Alex Adelman
General Manager
Bio

After graduating from the University of Arizona with a degree in Communications and minor in Business Management, Alex joined the Carlyle Hotel’s Housekeeping and Guest Relations management team. Most recently, Alex was responsible for expanding the Umami Restaurant Group to the East Coast, and successfully opened three of their restaurants.  

 

Fun Fact

Alex has climbed the highest peak of the Grand Canyon and enjoys surfing, skateboarding, and snowboarding.

Tara Sindoni
Tara Sindoni
General Manager
Bio

Tara is originally from Waltham, MA and graduated from the University of Connecticut with a degree in Business Management. She brings with her almost 20 years of experience managing restaurants as well as directing operations at several hotels and conference centers. In her spare time, Tara likes going on runs with her dog and spending summer weekends on the beach.    

Fun Fact

Tara is the only “only child” in a very large Italian family.

Drew Kromm
Drew Kromm
Director of Purchasing
Bio

Drew grew up in Westchester County, NY and has excellent industry experience. He graduated from the Culinary Institute of America with a degree in Foodservice & Hospitality Management. Drew constantly pushes the boundaries of food in a corporate setting, which ultimately led to his earning of the “Manager of the Year Award” in 2014 at Convene. When he’s not working, Drew loves to play his guitar, cook, or get outdoors.    

Fun Fact

Drew studied Mandarin Chinese for six years and then was able to use his skills when he traveled to China for two months.

Jeremy Joseph
Jeremy Joseph
General Manager
Bio

Jeremy comes from luxury brands and brings great knowledge in Food & Beverage. He previously managed the dinner team at Asiate, a 4-star fine-dining restaurant in NYC, as the Assistant Food and Beverage Manager. Jeremy also comes from the hospitality industry with previous experience working for The Carlyle Hotel and the Mandarin Oriental. He graduated from Temple University with a degree in Tourism and Hospitality Management. His last semester in Boulder, Colorado was spent developing a guest carbon footprint offset program at The Boulder Outlook (the town’s first zero-waste hotel.) Jeremy is pursuing the Court of Master Sommeliers.

Fun Fact

Jeremy loves spicy Chinese food. The spicier, the better.

Convene NYC team members
Jonathan Wheatley
Director of Technology
Bio

Right after high school, Jonathan joined the Air Force where he spent four years getting valuable experience before attending the University of Vermont. After graduating, Jon moved to China for three years working for Cushman & Wakefield. Jon joined Convene to be part of something that is changing things for the good of the workplace.

Fun Fact

Outside of work, Jon loves being outdoors and traveling.

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Kevin Huang
General Manager
Bio

Kevin graduated from The University of California Santa Barbara with a B.S. in Communication. His hospitality career began at the Front Desk of The Carlyle Hotel where he worked his way up and most recently lead the Catering Department as Catering Sales Manager, before moving into his role at Convene.

Fun Fact

Kevin is a native Californian who enjoys adventurous dining, the outdoors (if he can find a way out of Manhattan) and a good sipping bourbon. He also misses the beach a little bit…

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Eve Chiang
Assistant General Manager
Bio

From a young age, Eve knew she would work in the hospitality industry, as it’s where her true passion lies. After graduating with a B.S. from a hospitality university, Eve has worked in the hospitality field for over 20 years with focus in operations and meetings.

Fun Fact

In her spare time, she can be found baking healthy snacks for the office or buying any new kitchen gadgets.

Kathy
Kathy Tran
Regional Director of Operations
Bio

Kathy graduated from Temple University School of Tourism and Hospitality Management in Philadelphia and currently serves on the Alumni Board. Most recently she opened and managed three meeting and event facilities in Philadelphia for The Hub.

Fun Fact

Kathy grew up in a military family and lived in four different countries. From those experiences, she became a big foodie, and can’t wait to hit every New York food truck.


Relationship Management Team

Convene Headshots
Sophia Marshall
Account Coordinator
Bio

Sophia graduated from Niagara University with a degree in Luxury Hotel Operations & Event Management. She has a lot of experience in the industry as she previously worked in catering sales for the Hilton and Panera Bread. She was also in guest services for The Grand Hotel Villa Serbelloni in Italy as well as sales for The Conference & Event Center in Niagara Falls. Originally from California, Sophia moved to New York to pursue her interest in hospitality and events.

Fun Fact

Sophia lived and worked in Lake Como, Italy where she became fluent in Italian in under a year.

Natalie Owens
Natalie Owens
Account Manager
Bio

Natalie graduated with a Degree in Hotel Management from a top hospitality school in Switzerland, Glion Institute of Higher Education. Prior to Convene she spent over 8 years in the hospitality industry including working for Marriott Hotels and Resorts. In her free time, Natalie enjoys working out and trying new restaurants.

Fun Fact

After spending 5 years in South Florida she has become an avid country music fan and goes to as many concerts as she can.

Hope Mangum
Hope Mangum
Account Manager
Bio

Hope is a southern girl at heart as she is originally from Houston, TX and attended Louisiana State University. She transferred to Marymount Manhattan College where she earned her degree in Business and Communications. Hope has a lot of past experience in hospitality as she previously worked in various hotels with positions in sales and administration. She managed a lot of customer relations and even used to plan meetings herself.  Hope loves to take Pilates, try new restaurants, and spending time with her rescued dog, Buster.  

Fun Fact

Hope was the captain of her cheerleading team in high school and continues to show pride in her native Texas accent.

Jenna Orenstein
Jenna Orenstein
Account Coordinator
Bio

Jenna recently graduated “Summa Cum Laude” from Fairleigh Dickinson University where she earned her B.S. degree in Hotel and Restaurant Management. She brings with her several years of previous experience working in various country clubs and restaurants, including Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse. Her exceptional customer service and communications skills make her a great fit for the Convene team. In her spare time, Jenna likes to volunteer at an animal shelter and spend time practicing yoga.  

Fun Fact

Jenna has been practicing yoga for almost 9 years and plans to become a certified yoga teacher in the future.

Brittany Valente
Brittany Valente
Marketing Manager
Bio

Brittany started with Convene as a Marketing Intern and joined us after recently graduating from Ithaca College with a B.S. in Business Administration. While a student, she held eight marketing internships and was Vice President of two professional organizations, the American Marketing Association and the International Business Association. Brittany gained her marketing experience through working for Verizon, Time Warner Cable, HBO, Marketing Werks, and for Bloomberg LP as a Global Team Leader.

Fun Fact

When Brittany isn’t busy traveling, she is attending concerts. She has traveled to 10 different countries and has attended over 54 concerts.

Taylor Phaneouf
Taylor Phaneuf
Account Manager
Bio

As a proud attendee of the University of Florida, Taylor was included in the Top 100 Sophomores of the Warrington School of Business. Prior to Convene, she was the Philanthropy Hospitality Coordinator at Dance Marathon for three years. Taylor loves to travel and has studied abroad twice, in Rome and Madrid. She brings her ambition all the way from the south but is constantly seeking out new activities in the Big Apple.

Fun Fact

Taylor has been to exotic countries like Thailand and Australia but her favorite is Italy.

Convene NYC team members
Jacquelyn Friel
Account Manager
Bio

With a B.A. in Advertising form Michigan State University, Jackie brings a creative perspective to the Convene sales team. Her eye for innovation evolved from her background in advertising, design and sales. Past positions have also enabled her to hone her skills in project coordination and teamwork.

Fun Fact

Jackie recently moved to New York City and finds the lifestyle exciting.  From the amazing fashion to the latest food craze the city is everything she imagined.

Meredith
Meredith Kolmer
Account Manager
Bio

Meredith graduated from Villanova University with a B.S. in Human Services. In her past work at ITS Neopost, she showed persistence and dedication which led to an immediate promotion. Her four years of sales and account management experience makes Meredith a great asset to the Convene team.

Fun Fact

Meredith played lacrosse throughout college and manages to stay competitive by running in races and playing golf in her free time.

Nathan Ingram
Nathan Ingram
Account Director
Bio

Over the last six years, Nathan has worked at a variety of Day Conference Centers in New York City including internal and privately owned facilities. Prior to joining the Convene team, he was the Sales & Operations Manager for Marenzana Conference Services, gaining experience in Sales, Operations, Food & Beverage, as well as, Audiovisual Services. Nathan is a proud member of both MPI and HSMAI.  

Fun Fact

Nathan enjoys spending time at the beach with family and friends – that is – when he can’t get a tee-time.

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Flora Zaretskaya
Account Manager
Bio

Flora graduated from the Fashion Institute of Technology with a degree in Fashion Merchandising Management. She was first introduced to the hospitality industry when she came to Convene as an intern in 2010 and then joined us full-time when her internship ended.

Fun Fact

She is fluent in Russian and has been dancing Latin ballroom for over 10 years.

Christine Julian-Wells
Christine Julian-Wells
Senior Account Director
Bio

Christine graduated with a B.S. in Hotel and Restaurant Management, after which, she accumulated 17 years of meeting and catering sales experience. Prior to joining Convene, she collaborated on the opening of the W New York. She has been the recipient of multiple awards at the W New York including Manager of the Year, Manager of the Quarter, and Conference Services Manager of the Year.

Fun Fact

Christine loves a challenging workout – including her twin daughters!


Finance Team

Tom Burghardt
Tom Burghardt
Corporate Controller
Bio

Tom has had a successful career building strong accounting teams in preparation for scalable company growth.  Prior to joining Convene, Tom worked as Director of Finance for The Chefs' Warehouse where he assisted the company through its successful initial public offering.  Prior to Chefs’ he worked for Ethan Allen Global, Inc. for ten years starting out as a retail accountant and eventually ending his tenure with them as Manager of Retail Accounting and Financial Reporting.  He is a graduate of Siena College with a BBA in Accounting and also obtained his MBA from Marist College with a concentration in Information Systems. Tom resides with his wife and two children in Poughquag, NY.

Fun Fact

Tom starts his day each morning by hitting the gym before commuting into the city.  Tom enjoys theatre, biking, roller coasters and spending time with his family.

Convene NYC team members
Jamie Tong
Financial Associate
Bio

Prior to joining Convene, Jamie was a Staff Accountant for the Corporate Finance Department at Marsh & McLennan Companies for 16 years. Jamie was responsible for the cash flow management for them and its subsidiaries. She also worked in collaboration with public affairs on special projects like 9/11 and Katrina disaster relief contribution funds.

Fun Fact

Jamie believes in this quote: “Live, Love & Laugh” and starts her day by watching “I Love Lucy” episodes.  She also loves to read, attend street fairs and volunteer at homeless shelters


Human Resources Team

Convene Headshots
Danielle Davis
Human Resources Manager
Bio

Danielle attended UMASS Amherst and Montclair State University where she earned her Master’s in Counseling. She has a successful track record in associate relations, training and third party partnership building. Before joining Convene, Danielle had multiple roles with TJX Companies, Inc. including a Human Resources Business Partner and Foundation Specialist. Danielle brings with her a strong work ethic and professional HR expertise to make Convene an even better place to work.

Fun Fact

Danielle loves cows. She collects anything and everything with them.

Convene NYC team members
Siobhan O’Leary
VP of Human Capital Management
Bio

Siobhan has worked as a Human Resources executive for over 25 years, predominately in the luxury hospitality field for notable organizations such as Four Seasons Hotels & Resorts, Rosewood Hotels & Resorts and Hyatt Hotels. There, she gained international experience, capitalizing on her understanding of various cultures to develop local leaders who shared corporate goals. She had the honor and enjoyment of developing promoted individuals all over the world. Siobhan’s commitment to university partnerships afforded graduates invaluable opportunities for the last two decades. In leading the Human Capital Management efforts for Convene, Siobhan will develop and implement people strategies to serve as the backbone for the company growth and individual success paths. Siobhan is a Certified Professional Coach, and founder and principal of Aubergine Partners, a Coaching and Leadership Development firm based in Dallas, Texas. Siobhan graduated from Louisiana Tech University. In 2004, she completed the Harvard Executive Education program and later participated in a course at the French Culinary Institute in New York.

Fun Fact

Siobhan once played racquet ball with Karl Malone and sang in a cabaret in NYC. Not at the same time.

Contact

237 Park Ave Support Team

Natalie Owens
Natalie Owens
Account Manager
Bio

Natalie graduated with a Degree in Hotel Management from a top hospitality school in Switzerland, Glion Institute of Higher Education. Prior to Convene she spent over 8 years in the hospitality industry including working for Marriott Hotels and Resorts. In her free time, Natalie enjoys working out and trying new restaurants.

Fun Fact

After spending 5 years in South Florida she has become an avid country music fan and goes to as many concerts as she can.

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Julie Starr
Regional Production Manager
Bio

Julie graduated Magna Cum Laude from Ithaca College with a B.A. in Drama/Stage Management.  Her "show must go on" mentality was honed backstage on more than thirty live theatrical productions and while managing large scale public events, like Fleet Week, at iconic NYC institutions.

Fun Fact

Julie loves crossword puzzles and attempting to complete them (in pencil) and Jeopardy! She finds that she is able to answer many clues thanks to her travels and can’t wait to continue learning while exploring the globe!

Alex Adelman
Alex Adelman
General Manager
Bio

After graduating from the University of Arizona with a degree in Communications and minor in Business Management, Alex joined the Carlyle Hotel’s Housekeeping and Guest Relations management team. Most recently, Alex was responsible for expanding the Umami Restaurant Group to the East Coast, and successfully opened three of their restaurants.  

 

Fun Fact

Alex has climbed the highest peak of the Grand Canyon and enjoys surfing, skateboarding, and snowboarding.


1800 Tysons Blvd Support Team

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Tiffany Soukhaphonh
Production Specialist
Bio

Tiffany recently graduated from the nation's highly ranked Temple University's School of Tourism and Hospitality Management. As a Philadelphia native, Tiffany learned the ins and outs of the hospitality industry starting as a caterer, working high profile events, to curating events at art galleries in the city. Tiffany always had a passion for the process of creating whether it be trying a new recipe, assembling a new DIY, photography, writing, and of course planning events.

 

Fun Fact

Tiffany grew up in an entertainment-filled, musical family where she followed her dad and uncles touring and performing. Her father built a mini recording studio in her childhood home where she and her relatives would record demos and footage.

Convene NYC team members
Stephanie Reilly
Service Manager
Bio

Stephanie is a recent graduate of the University of South Carolina where she earned her B.S. in Hotel, Restaurant, and Tourism Management with a concentration in Event Management. She also spent time studying at the Apicius International School of Hospitality in Florence, Italy where she gained a knowledge of international hospitality trends, chocolate, and wine. Stephanie’s previous work experience ranges from helping produce events at country clubs, assisting wedding planners, and interning for a meeting & events facility in Philadelphia.

Fun Fact

Stephanie loves new adventures whether it’s trying the new Korean BBQ truck down the street, traveling in different countries, or even swimming with sharks (hoping to add sky diving to the list next!). Her favorite season is college football season – especially when the South Carolina Gamecocks are winning!

Kathy
Kathy Tran
Regional Director of Operations
Bio

Kathy graduated from Temple University School of Tourism and Hospitality Management in Philadelphia and currently serves on the Alumni Board. Most recently she opened and managed three meeting and event facilities in Philadelphia for The Hub.

Fun Fact

Kathy grew up in a military family and lived in four different countries. From those experiences, she became a big foodie, and can’t wait to hit every New York food truck.


101 Park Ave Support Team

Taylor Phaneouf
Taylor Phaneuf
Account Manager
Bio

As a proud attendee of the University of Florida, Taylor was included in the Top 100 Sophomores of the Warrington School of Business. Prior to Convene, she was the Philanthropy Hospitality Coordinator at Dance Marathon for three years. Taylor loves to travel and has studied abroad twice, in Rome and Madrid. She brings her ambition all the way from the south but is constantly seeking out new activities in the Big Apple.

Fun Fact

Taylor has been to exotic countries like Thailand and Australia but her favorite is Italy.

Convene Headshots
Stephanie Evans
Service Supervisor
Bio

Stephanie was born and raised in the Bronx, New York and earned a B.S. degree in Business Administration. Before joining Convene, Stephanie had over eight years of experience in restaurant business. In addition to her amazing service with Convene, she has a son and is a full time Mom.

Fun Fact

Stephanie loves to bake and has her own pastry business on the side. She works from home and bakes all different types of pastries for various occasions.

Kelly Taikina
Kelly Taikina
Production Specialist
Bio

Kelly is a recent graduate of James Madison University where she studied Hospitality Management and Business. Prior to joining the Convene family full time, she started as a Production and Service Intern. Kelly’s previous work experience ranges from working in a restaurant, a Food and Beverage internship at a country club, banquet serving, and an externship with Aramark in the JMU dining halls. She loves being able to combine her creativity, past experiences and what she learned while in school to help her plan events at Convene. Kelly enjoys spending her free time with her friends, family and her maltese-yorkie puppy, Jersey.

Fun Fact

She loves to travel to new and exciting places, but her favorite place to go is Block Island, Rhode Island.

Laura C.
Laura V. Chidyllo
Production Manager
Bio

Originally from Illinois, Laura attended the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign where she earned her B.S. Degree in Advertising. Laura has a wide range of skills with previous work experience in fields, such as search engine marketing, social media marketing and finance. Laura is an active member of a New York City volunteer organization and loves to hike and travel.  

Fun Fact

Since hiking is one of Laura’s favorite activities, her greatest hiking accomplishment was conquering the Mueller Hut route and Tasman Glacier in New Zealand.

Ruben Apena
Ruben Apena
Executive Chef
Bio

Ruben was born and raised in Peru but has made the move to New Jersey where he now resides. He has an extensive schooling background as he previously studied at the Institute of Culinary Education and The International Culinary Center. While in school, he majored in Fine Cooking and Techniques of Food Styling. If he’s not playing his guitar or spoiling his family with incredible meals, he’s improving his chef skills and continuously looking for new cooking techniques.    

Fun Fact

A full house is no match for Ruben—he loves the heat and the rush of busy days.

Jeremy Joseph
Jeremy Joseph
General Manager
Bio

Jeremy comes from luxury brands and brings great knowledge in Food & Beverage. He previously managed the dinner team at Asiate, a 4-star fine-dining restaurant in NYC, as the Assistant Food and Beverage Manager. Jeremy also comes from the hospitality industry with previous experience working for The Carlyle Hotel and the Mandarin Oriental. He graduated from Temple University with a degree in Tourism and Hospitality Management. His last semester in Boulder, Colorado was spent developing a guest carbon footprint offset program at The Boulder Outlook (the town’s first zero-waste hotel.) Jeremy is pursuing the Court of Master Sommeliers.

Fun Fact

Jeremy loves spicy Chinese food. The spicier, the better.


810 Seventh Ave Support Team

Maureen Condon2
Maureen Condon
Production Specialist
Bio

Maureen is a graduate of the Hospitality and Tourism Management Department within the Isenberg School of Management at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. While at UMass, she was very involved within the Hospitality Department through her work as a Student Ambassador where she would give tours of the Hospitality facilities and speak with prospective students and their families, as well as aid the professors of the department in different projects. Prior to joining Convene as an intern during the Summer of 2014, she worked at a platinum rated country club on Long Island as both an intern and waitress; it was there that she first realized she wanted to go into events within the hospitality industry.

Fun Fact

Maureen has been to South Africa twice! She is one of four girls, and her twin sister Shannon was also an intern at Convene within the Finance Team. 

Convene NYC team members
Krzysztof Ozarowski
Service Manager
Bio

Prior to Convene, Kris already had a lot of experience in the hospitality industry. He learned to be so detail and service oriented while previously working in banquets at the Millennium Broadway and the Warwick Hotel. Kris graduated with a degree in International Studies at City College here in New York and took additional courses in Technology as well.

Fun Fact

Krzy is originally from Poland but the Long Island in him is here to stay.

Ivan Cazares
Ivan Cazares
Chef
Bio

Ivan is one of our talented Chefs with a great passion for cooking. His talent derives from his hometown roots while growing up in Mexico City. Ivan constantly seeks out new flavors and interesting food combinations.

Fun Fact

When he’s not cooking in the kitchen, he is out spending time with his family.

Flora Zaretskaya 220x260
Flora Zaretskaya
Account Manager
Bio

Flora graduated from the Fashion Institute of Technology with a degree in Fashion Merchandising Management. She was first introduced to the hospitality industry when she came to Convene as an intern in 2010 and then joined us full-time when her internship ended.

Fun Fact

She is fluent in Russian and has been dancing Latin ballroom for over 10 years.

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Michael Shaw
Technology Manager
Bio

Michael has spent over 15 years in the technology industry, working as a lead technician, director, administrator and project manager. He has also spent a fair amount of time in the hospitality industry, working with Marriott, Sheraton and The Ritz Carlton hotels. Most important to him is complete customer satisfaction and providing clients with a superior technology experience.

Fun Fact

Michael is an accomplished musician as well as a history aficionado. He also enjoys long distance running.

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Julie Starr
Regional Production Manager
Bio

Julie graduated Magna Cum Laude from Ithaca College with a B.A. in Drama/Stage Management.  Her "show must go on" mentality was honed backstage on more than thirty live theatrical productions and while managing large scale public events, like Fleet Week, at iconic NYC institutions.

Fun Fact

Julie loves crossword puzzles and attempting to complete them (in pencil) and Jeopardy! She finds that she is able to answer many clues thanks to her travels and can’t wait to continue learning while exploring the globe!


32 Old Slip Support Team

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Amanda Grimmett
Production Manager
Bio

Amanda is a graduate of Hillside College with the B.A. in English. Her outgoing, service-minded personality and entrepreneurial way of thinking has  afforded her the opportunity to run summer seminar programs at the Foundation for Economic Education. Prior to that, Amanda was a key player in planning and executing student events at Hillside College.

Fun Fact

Amanda plays four instruments and has recently started her own embroidery business.

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Kevin Huang
General Manager
Bio

Kevin graduated from The University of California Santa Barbara with a B.S. in Communication. His hospitality career began at the Front Desk of The Carlyle Hotel where he worked his way up and most recently lead the Catering Department as Catering Sales Manager, before moving into his role at Convene.

Fun Fact

Kevin is a native Californian who enjoys adventurous dining, the outdoors (if he can find a way out of Manhattan) and a good sipping bourbon. He also misses the beach a little bit…

Convene NYC team members
Jacquelyn Friel
Account Manager
Bio

With a B.A. in Advertising form Michigan State University, Jackie brings a creative perspective to the Convene sales team. Her eye for innovation evolved from her background in advertising, design and sales. Past positions have also enabled her to hone her skills in project coordination and teamwork.

Fun Fact

Jackie recently moved to New York City and finds the lifestyle exciting.  From the amazing fashion to the latest food craze the city is everything she imagined.

Convene NYC team members
Nicole Cruse
Production Manager
Bio

Nicole graduated from Niagara University with a Bachelor of Science in Hospitality and Tourism Management. She interned in Event Production with Pinch Food Design, a unique catering company in Chelsea, New York. Upon graduation, Nicole became an Assistant Dining Room Manager at Plainfield Country Club.

Fun Fact

Nicole loves learning about food and wine. She also has a passion for interior design

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Jenifer Santangelo
Production Manager
Bio

Jen graduated from Farleigh Dickinson University with a B.S. in Hotel and Restaurant Management. Throughout Jen’s career she has won manager of the month award three times and two “Spirit to Serve” recognitions from Marriott Hotels. She has over 8 years of work experience with several Marriott properties and has maintained an optimistic attitude in everything she does while motivating those around her.

Fun Fact

Jen thinks that exercising is a very important part of life and she enjoys cycling and playing tennis.

Alex Parada
Aleksandra Parada
Executive Chef
Bio

Executive Chef Aleksandra Parada developed her passion for food in Poland where she was born and raised. She entered the Culinary Institute of New York, expanding her knowledge of food, refining techniques and honing skills. Upon graduating, Aleksandra secured her first position working as a prep cook at the Millennium Broadway Hotel in New York City, followed by 10 years as Assistant Executive Chef. In 2010, Aleksandra began a three-year tenure working at the prestigious River Club in New York City as their Assistant Executive Chef. Among her numerous responsibilities in commanding the restaurant, Aleksandra trained staff, created innovative menus, and organized banquet events for Manhattan’s elite.

Fun Fact

When Aleksandra is not in the kitchen, she enjoys spending time outdoors during all seasons – snow skiing or summer barbequing with her family.


730 Third Ave Support Team

Robert Digges
Robert Digges
Technology Manager
Bio

Rob honed his technical skills during six years of service in the United States Air Force. There he learned the fundamentals of Information Technology and communications.  He then went on to travel the country, installing and maintaining computer controlled IT and A/V systems for several government agencies and Fortune 500 companies. Rob came to Convene as a full time Technology Specialist in May of 2014 and was promoted to the position of Technology Manager in July of 2015

Fun Fact

Rob is a lifelong lover of music, a drummer, and a vocal musician.  His passion for singing earned him the opportunity to perform with an invitational choir at Carnegie Hall 3 years in a row.

Hope Mangum
Hope Mangum
Account Manager
Bio

Hope is a southern girl at heart as she is originally from Houston, TX and attended Louisiana State University. She transferred to Marymount Manhattan College where she earned her degree in Business and Communications. Hope has a lot of past experience in hospitality as she previously worked in various hotels with positions in sales and administration. She managed a lot of customer relations and even used to plan meetings herself.  Hope loves to take Pilates, try new restaurants, and spending time with her rescued dog, Buster.  

Fun Fact

Hope was the captain of her cheerleading team in high school and continues to show pride in her native Texas accent.

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Geraldine Diaz
Service Manager
Bio

Geraldine graduated with a B.A in Liberal Studies from Medgar Evers College, while working as a Manager at Balthazar's Bakery.  She joined the Convene team as a part-time service technician and shortly after joined the culinary team at 730 Third Ave as a Cafe Manager. Now with more than 8 years of hospitality experience, she has been promoted to the service management team. 

Fun Fact

Geraldine loves beauty and owns over 50 MAC Lipsticks. She is constantly seeking out new collections to stay on top of trends. 

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Zach Pointon
Service Manager
Bio

Zach graduated from Niagara University with a degree in Hotel Property Development and Operations. He took his first career move as an Assistant Food and Beverage Manager at the Carlyle Hotel in NYC. From there, his experience in the industry continued when he moved to the Umami Restaurant Group as an Assistant General Manager at the flagship location on 6th Avenue. Zach grew up just under Lake Ontario in Oswego, New York. 

Fun Fact

As a side gig and hobby, Zach is a pro-basketball scout for the Texas Legends, which is a D-League affiliate of the Dallas Mavericks.

Desiree Ortiz
Desirée Ortiz
Production Manager
Bio

Desirée is a New Jersey native with a B.S. in Interdisciplinary Health Services from Saint Joseph’s University. She became interested in event planning as an undergrad after co-directing a 2,000-person community festival benefitting those with special needs. Desirée is excited to be a part of an innovative company that is continually at the forefront of industry trends.

Fun Fact

Desirée loves exploring new places and pastimes. Her latest adventures include snorkeling in Turks and Caicos, driving the countryside of the Emerald Isle, strolling the ancient streets of Porto, and many days thinking of where to next.

William Gabrell
William Gabrell
Service Manager
Bio

Billy studied Conference Center Management at Baruch College and graduated with a degree in Operations Management. He started with Convene as a Production Intern and was brought onto the team full-time because of his enthusiasm and incredible teamwork. In his past work experiences, Billy was able to create training programs that were sustainable and efficient within the organizations.

Fun Fact

In his free time, Billy is often asked to be the Maitre’ D for weddings.

Ruben Perez
Ruben Perez
Executive Chef
Bio

Ruben attended the University of Guerrero in his home town of Alcozauca de Guerrero in South-West Mexico. He has been a great part of assembling an incredible team in the kitchen and continues to help mold the future of Convene culinary. When he is not cooking up something tasty in the kitchen, Ruben is spending time with his daughters, watching soccer, or playing basketball.  

Fun Fact

Ruben grew up wanting to be a priest then decided to pursue marine ecology in college. Thankfully he eventually found his true passion in food and became a chef.

Tara Sindoni
Tara Sindoni
General Manager
Bio

Tara is originally from Waltham, MA and graduated from the University of Connecticut with a degree in Business Management. She brings with her almost 20 years of experience managing restaurants as well as directing operations at several hotels and conference centers. In her spare time, Tara likes going on runs with her dog and spending summer weekends on the beach.    

Fun Fact

Tara is the only “only child” in a very large Italian family.

Meredith
Meredith Kolmer
Account Manager
Bio

Meredith graduated from Villanova University with a B.S. in Human Services. In her past work at ITS Neopost, she showed persistence and dedication which led to an immediate promotion. Her four years of sales and account management experience makes Meredith a great asset to the Convene team.

Fun Fact

Meredith played lacrosse throughout college and manages to stay competitive by running in races and playing golf in her free time.

Joe Chapman
Joe Chapman
Technology Specialist
Bio

Joe is one of the original members of the Convene Technology Operations. With over 10 years of audiovisual and telecommunications experience in hospitality environments, he is known as our “service ambassador” in the technology department for his warm hospitality to all of our clients and standout service levels.

Fun Fact

A proud Brooklynite with an eclectic taste for music who enjoys snowboarding and spending time with family and friends.

Convene NYC team members
Keisha George
Production Manager
Bio

Keisha graduated from Skidmore College in 2011 with a B.S. in Business Management. While attending undergrad, she became interested in the hospitality industry due to her instrumental role in planning and executing numerous on-campus events and functions. Keisha brings 3 years of event planning experience and her energetic can-do attitude to Convene.

Fun Fact

Keisha is an avid fan of comic books and loves attending NYC Comic Con.

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Eve Chiang
Assistant General Manager
Bio

From a young age, Eve knew she would work in the hospitality industry, as it’s where her true passion lies. After graduating with a B.S. from a hospitality university, Eve has worked in the hospitality field for over 20 years with focus in operations and meetings.

Fun Fact

In her spare time, she can be found baking healthy snacks for the office or buying any new kitchen gadgets.