Donna Karl Sakelakos, CMP, has been named director of event services at the New Orleans Ernest N. Morial Convention Center. In her role as director, she will supervise the planning and execution of all events held at the facility. Karl will head a team of nine event services managers and coordinators who boast an impressive 140 years of experience at the convention center, with three managers serving 31 or more years.
Karl, a veteran of the meetings industry for over 30 years, brings a solid and extensive leadership background to the position, including over 18 years of professional convention and association management, and eight years of experience in convention sales and client relations.
She most recently served as vice president of event operations for Tradeshow Logic, where she launched the meetings division and grew it to over 18 annual meeting programs.
She previously served as the New Orleans Convention and Visitors Bureau’s vice president of client relations from 2004–2012. In that role, she implemented improvement strategies and tactics on behalf of meeting and convention buyers. Karl proved integral to the tourism industry’s post-Hurricane Katrina recovery efforts: she spearheaded public relations client contacts and re-negotiations; developed disaster protocols in coordination with local and national officials, and raised $2.5 million in sponsorships to host the PCMA Annual Meeting.
Karl began her career in the meetings industry with the American Academy of Pediatrics in Elk Grove Village, IL. Over the course of 18 years, she rose through the ranks to ultimately serve as director, division of convention and meeting services.
Karl earned her Certified Meeting Professional designation in 1992. Over the course of her career, she has served on the board of directors of many leading industry organizations including GMC-PCMA and PCMA Foundation.
Her leadership skills have garnered her many prestigious awards and nominations, including:
•GMC-PCMA Dick Dano Award (Nominated, 2000);
•Meeting Professional International Award – Hall of Fame Association (2001-2002);
•GMC-PCMA Bob Donovan Award Winner – Meeting Planner of the Year (2003);
•Tradeshow Week Green Innovation Award – The Industry’s Top Eco-Leaders (2009);
•PCMA Spirit Award (2009, 2010).
“We are extremely excited to have Donna on our staff as she will give our operational staff a different perspective on managing events. She has been on both sides of an event: event management and event creation. This is a stellar hire for the convention center,” said Bryan Hayden, vice president of operations of the New Orleans Ernest N. Morial Convention Center. “She also has super client relationships throughout the country.”