Las Vegas NACE Ushers In Second Decade

NACEPast Las Vegas NACE chapter presidents, Cheryl Sgovio, CPCE (Thomas and Mack Center) and Frank Gregory (Aria Las Vegas), opened the festivities for annual Las Vegas NACE Gala and Awards Event, by thanking the outgoing Board of Directors and swearing in the 2012 Board. Cheryl and Frank surveyed the evening’s attendees number close to 170, and Frank commented.

“It’s hard to believe that ten years ago we had our first dinner with 38 attendees at the Riviera. Isn’t it incredible to see how far we’ve come in ten years?”

Las Vegas NACE  is in its second incarnation. The first attempt was ahead of its time and did not survive. The current edition, though, is here to stay. A significant part of the effort to relaunch the Las Vegas Chapter of NACE was spearheaded by Patti Shock CPCE (UNLV). In 2010, the Las Vegas Chapter awarded Patti a Lifetime Achievement Award and honored her with Emeritus status for her CPCE designation.

Several years before I moved to Las Vegas, and prior to the chapter being chartered, I met Cheryl Sgovio, CPCE and Michele Polci, CPCE (Caesar’s Entertainment) at a NACE National Conference in Miami. Both would go on to serve as chapter presidents. Cheryl and I served concurrently on the NACE National Board. Both Cheryl and Michele earned the distinction of NACE National Caterer of the Year. In 2006, Jodi Harris (Sight’n’Sound Event) won national honors as Event Professional of the Year.

In a scant ten years, the Las Vegas NACE has earned recognition as NACE Chapter of the Year, twice. It has been acknowledged in multiple categories for chapter achievement, in multiple years.

Individual members such as Carrie Key (DragonRidge Country Club), Annie Payton CPCE (Annie’s Gourmet Italian), and Michele Polci CPCE (Caesar’s Entertainment) have won awards for event excellence. Annie won multiple awards in a single year, and Michele is a near-perennial winner, having accumulated a armload of awards.

Since 2006, three Las Vegas members have received the George Zell Spirit of NACE Award, the national organization’s highest award for overall involvement to NACE and the catering community. Those recipients are: Andy Ebon (The Wedding Marketing Authority), Lisa Lynn Backus CPCE (Bally’s/Paris Las Vegas) and Michele Polci CPCE (Caesar’s Entertainment).

CPCE Designations Number: Lucky 13

The Certified Professional Catering Executive designation represents a level of professionalism achieved by a limited number of people throughout NACE. By placing great value on the designation, and its value to those that hold it, Las Vegas NACE added two new designees last night, bringing its CPCE-holders to 13 (all profiled in a 2-page spread the awards program).

Those designees are:

  • cpce-logoLisa Lynn Backus CPCE
  • Kathy Baldieri CPCE
  • Lynn Clark-Javanmard CPCE, CMP
  • Donnell Bayot M. Ed, CHE, CPCE
  • Amy Dyke CPCE, CMP
  • Annie Kang-Drachen CPCE
  • Shauna Lederman CPCE
  • Gary McCreary CPCE, CMP, CSEP
  • Michele Polci CPCE, CMP
  • Cheryl Sgovio, CPCE
  • Patti Shock CPCE
  • Michael Testagrossa CHE, CPCE
  • Wendy Weisgerber CPCE

Behind the Scenes Involvement

Some involvement is invisible to the average member; however, countless chapter members have served on NACE National Committees and assisted in hosting events associated with Las Vegas – based conferences, such as CaterSource.

A Personal Comment On Leadership and Organization Prosperity

Whether a chapter of national organization, such as NACE, or a one-0f-kind local organization, success starts at the top. Las Vegas NACE surged with a great start, and rode its local prosperity to great heights. While the challenges of the Las Vegas economy put great pressure on Las Vegas NACE, the chapter has survived the most difficult days, and appears poised for new successes.

A key reason for a bright outlook is the continued involvement of past chapter presidents. This is a rarity in most organizations and to Las Vegas NACE, a tremendous benefit. More than just attending an occasional meeting, one finds past presidents involved in specific projects, tasks, supporting future leaders, and even holding spots on the current Board of Directors. With that kind of complementary leadership involvement, Las Vegas NACE maintains its institutional memory, enjoys ongoing success, and promises to do so into the foreseeable future.

Wendy Weisgerber, CPCE (Rio Las Vegas) has the honor and privilege of leading Las Vegas NACE in the second year of her 2-year term as chapter president.

Acknowledging the Las Vegas NACE Past Chapter Presidents:

  • Las Vegas NACERich Beninger
  • Cheryl Sgovio, CPCE
  • Frank Gregory
  • Amy Dyke CPCE
  • Michele Polci, CPCE
  • Kathy Baldieri, CPCE

With every best wish for continued success,

Andy Ebon
The Wedding Marketing Authority
The Wedding Marketing Blog
NACE Member since 1991 Catches Another Website Thief: Affordable DJs Las Vegas – Rocco Saruby

Copyscape.comAbout two months ago, I reported major plagiarism of a wedding industry website, owned by Sasha Souza. Sasha brought the hammer down on the offending Alicia Allen, and her website. has been undercover (requires login and password) ever since. updated – 9-23-13 Domain name and website, abandoned.

I recommended a number of tools to protect your site from plagiarism. The top one being

Today, paid off for Sight’n’Sound, a Las Vegas company. Their website was highly plagiarized by another Las Vegas area DJ service,

It could have been an accident, you say… No… hell no! Take a look at this partial screenshot, and my explanation that follows.

Plagiarized copy

DJ Jodi Harris, Co-Owner of SightNSound, calls herself the CEO of Fun. Strategically, Affordable DJs inserted two words: and Master, and thought that would be OK. By itself, that might have slipped by. However, this blurb shows Rocco as having won an award from the Las Vegas Chapter of NACE. Problem is, Rocco isn’t a member of NACE, and the award was won by Jodi Harris.

Jodi spoke with Rocky (Rocco) this afternoon. They do know each other, having collaborated on a couple of bookings, several years ago. He claimed ignorance on the plagiarism issue, laying it off on his webmaster, Linda Strasberg (reportedly hired from the Yellow Pages). He told Jodi he would have the webmaster call her. Two hours later, no phone call, but magically, this block of copy has been removed from the site.

FYI: Laying it off on the webmaster doesn’t fly. If he didn’t know the plagiarism, he should have known, and it is still his problem.

My guess is Rocky will be pressured to shut-it-down and create a fresh site. If he resists, the hosting service will be contacted about the plagiarism, and they will shut him down.

MY ADVICE: Protect your intellectual property. 

And… it’s bad enough to plagiarise from a business several states away. Plagiarizing from a business across town is incredibly foolish.

I’ll report back on how this plays out….

Andy Ebon
The Wedding Marketing Authority
The Wedding Marketing Blog

Wedlock Magazine presents Andy Ebon for Webinar

Wedlock Magazine presents Andy EbonAs posted on this blog, The Wedding Marketing Authority, Andy Ebon, has become a regular contributor for the new wedding publication, Wedlock Magazine, As part of its regular offerings, Wedlock will be presenting two webinars, monthly, to its subscribers.

No time has been wasted in putting Andy to work. He has submitted his first column for Wedlock‘s second issue. In rapid succession, Wedlock is inviting you to sample a webinar presentation, by Andy, titled: Business Success Through Associations.

This promises to be more than a basic networking presentation. Rather, it will get into more complex issues about relationship building and the unadvertised benefits and pitfalls of involvement in trade associations and networking groups.

You are invited to participate, with my compliments (that means, at no charge). Here is the complete text of the invitation by Wedlock Editor-In-Chief, Jayne Hallock.

You are  invited to register for next week’s webinar, which occurs on Wednesday at 7pm EST. Our guest host is the irrepressible, very experienced and uber-charming Andy Ebon.

Not only is he our new WedLock columnist (look for his debut column in next month’s issue), but he’s agreed to talk to WedLock readers about how to squeeze the most out of their association memberships! We all have them…now let’s really put them to work for our businesses.

This webinar,  titled “Business Success Through Associations” and here’s what Andy and Chris will cover:

“Andy will take us on a guided tour of the various kinds of organizations that call for involvement by wedding industry businesses, and appropriate strategies and techniques for maximizing one’s investment of time and effort.

Some of the takeaways will include:

  • What are realistic expectations for your involvement?
  • What the *published* benefits of membership in an organization…and what are the hidden gems?
  • The differences between a 501 C-3 non-profit organization and a for-profit organization.
  • Knowing an opportunity for a good donation when you see it, and understanding how and when to say “No.”
  • Understanding the difference between membership, volunteerism, and leadership.
  • Which organizations, by type, and which, specifically should get a closer look from you.

Remember – the first hour or so is dedicated to Andy’s presentation, and then we open the lines for questions!

~Jayne Leigh Hallock
Wedlock Magazine

Thanks in advance,

Andy Ebon - signature



Andy Ebon
The Wedding Marketing Authority
The Wedding Marketing Blog

Conversations with Dianna Shitanishi

dianna-shitanishiOriginal published 9/24/2007 – This post is a profile of my friend, Dianna Shitanishi. Sadly, Dianna passed away after losing a hard-fought battle with cancer in early October, 2014. This profile, our last get-together in Honolulu, and many memories of NACE conferences is all I have left. She was a rare person, and I shall not forget her.

No not that Diana. This Dianna is President of the Honolulu Chapter of NACE, and the owner of Hawaii Weddings and Events.

While rejuvenating in Honolulu, Jessica and I spent an evening with Dianna at the Dole Ballroom, for its mid-week, after-work gathering, Bump on the Hump. Even on vacation, when I’m around wedding professionals, I’m always curious to hear what they’re doing, thinking, and planning… and what’s different about their market.

About two-thirds of Dianna’s work are destination events… weddings, conferences, etc.,. Because of time and distance, it is more likely, than in other locations, to not have the benefit of an advance visit by a client, before the week of the event.

Dianna has the benefit of experience working on the hotel side, at the Royal Hawaiian and the Kahala Hotel and Resort, prior to venturing out on her own, about two years ago. She also draws from her involvement in local NACE Chapter for her vast knowledge of the vendors and venues through the Hawaiian Islands.

She has a keen sense of precision and communication, both with her clients and vendors. As Dianna is now the buyer of services, as well as someone who influences client decisions, it is the wise vendor that communicates their needs, parameters, and other issues to make her job easier, not more difficult.

Not all independent event and wedding planners are created equal. Seek out the truly qualified ones, like Dianna, in your market. It’s a long-term relationship, worth developing.

Andy Ebon - signature



Andy Ebon
The Wedding Marketing Authority
The Wedding Marketing Blog