People News: OVG360, Encore, Cobb Galleria Centre and More Unveil New Leadership, Make Myriad Promotions

July 6, 2022

As the meetings industry continues its steady journey out of the COVID-19 pandemic, event-related organizations across the U.S. and abroad are tapping new executives, promoting staff and welcoming new team members in preparation for clearer skies ahead. Here are the latest exciting new people developments you need to know!


After taking over management of American Bank Center in Corpus Christi, Texas, full-service venue management and hospitality company OVG360 has revealed its local leadership team. 

Industry veteran Brian Martin has been tapped as general manager of the facility, Joe Castor will serve as general manager of hospitality, overseeing all food and beverage operations, and Nick Ustruck has been named executive chef.

After starting his career with Oak View Group in 2008 at the University of South Carolina, Martin worked in ticketing and event operations at the Augusta Entertainment Complex in Augusta, Ga., where his positions included director of ticketing and director of event services. In 2016, he was appointed assistant general manager of the Macon Centerplex. 

Beginning his 30-year career as banquet manager for The Indiana Roof Ballroom in Indianapolis, Castor has participated in the openings of The Conseco Fieldhouse, Arlington Racetrack, Gillette Stadium, Citizens Bank Park, Nationals Park, Busch Stadium, UBS Arena and most recently, the new Moody Center in Austin. He has led premium operations for the Indianapolis Colts, Indiana Convention Center, Javits Center and Washington Commanders, and also served as director of event operations at the Embassy of Italy and general manager of The Cow Palace and Virginia Beach Sports Center.

An executive chef with 17 years of culinary experience, Ustruck is a graduate of the Scottsdale Culinary Institute of Arizona, after which he focused on a broad scope of catering ranging from small, intimate dinners to large-scale events, including PGA Tour Events, Barrett Jackson Car Auction and NCAA College Football Playoffs.


Encore, a global leader in event technology and production services, has welcomed Jennifer Duffy as director of external communications. As a member of the company’s brand team, she will oversee public relations and external communications, shaping strategies through the development, implementation and measurement of effective communication programs within Encore.    

A seasoned brand-building professional, Duffy brings more than 15 years of B2C and B2B marketing experience to her new role. She most recently served as vice president of marketing for Associated Luxury Hotels International (ALHI), where she shaped a successful, content-focused marketing program for more than 250 independent luxury hotels.  

Prior to ALHI, Duffy served as the communications director for Experience Scottsdale, and previous roles include director of brand marketing, food and beverage strategy at MGM Resorts and regional director of public relations at Loews Hotels, responsible for overseeing the California and Golf Resorts regions.   

Cobb Galleria Centre and Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre 

The Cobb-Marietta Coliseum & Exhibit Hall Authority has promoted Nick Panter to executive chef at the Cobb Galleria Centre and Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre in northwest Atlanta. In his new role, Panter will be responsible for overseeing the entire kitchen and stewarding operation at both venues. A veteran of the U.S. Air Force, Panter joined the venue’s culinary team in 2015 as chef de cuisine and has been promoted throughout his tenure to sous chef and executive sous chef. 

San Diego Tourism Authority 

San Diego Tourism Authority (SDTA) has hired hospitality sales professional Michaelene Sullivan as its new vice president of sales and services, a key leadership position tasked with directing the sales team while representing the organization with clients and stakeholders on a local and national level. 

She previously served as director of sales and marketing for the Manchester Grand Hyatt in downtown San Diego and brings a wide range of experience from her 18-year tenure with Hyatt, including in food and beverage, events and sales.

BPA Worldwide 

Leading global assurance provider of media, technology, events, and sustainability compliance, BPA Worldwide, has named Richard Murphy president and CEO. He replaces Glenn Hansen, who intends to retire in June 2023 and in the interim, has been named executive strategic advisor. 

Bringing 30 years of experience with BPA to his new position, Murphy previously served as executive vice president, responsible for leading global operations and instrumental in launching BPA’s iCompli Technology Assurance division. Murphy joined BPA worldwide in 1992 and has held a succession of management and executive positions in New York, Toronto, Chicago and Shelton, Conn. 

In his new role, Hansen will work on special projects as requested by the BPA board of directors. Initially, these include growing BPA’s iCompli Sustainability (ESG) Assurance services and BPA’s iCompli Event Audit services for in-person, hybrid, and digital events. 

Ernest N Morial Convention Center 

Elaine Williams has been named senior director of sales and event services of the New Orleans Ernest N. Morial Convention Center, responsible for developing and overseeing the facility’s sales and event services functions from planning to execution.

Williams’s career at the venue began with ARAMARK in 1996, when she was named sales manager. While working for ARAMARK, Williams rose through the ranks to achieve the positions of director of sales, director of operations and interim general manager. She joined the New Orleans Ernest N. Morial Convention Center sales team in 2007 as a national sales manager, and most recently served as the facility’s director of sales.  

Cobb Travel & Tourism 

Cobb County, Ga-based Cobb Travel & Tourism (CT&T) has welcomed destination marketing professional Kimberly Franz as its new director of programs and events. In her new role, Franz is responsible for the management and strategic direction of core CT&T program and event operations that will assist in building current and upcoming programs, as well as ensure successfully run events.

Bringing a strong track record of implementing outreach programs, instituting innovative ideas and mentoring successful personnel to her new role, Franz comes to CT&T from Discover Dunwoody, where she worked for more than 10 years in marketing. She currently serves as vice president of the Atlanta Metro Travel Association

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