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

Hosting the Optimum Lunch Meeting

On Wednesday, April 14th, Las Vegas NACE hosted its Annual Assistants Day Lunch meeting at the Tropicana Hotel & Casino. The featured speaker was UNLV Professor, and Las Vegas NACE founding member, Patti Shock.

My hectic speaking and travel schedule had blocked me from attending Las Vegas NACE meetings since December. I was looking forward to this meeting for several reasons: To hear Patti Shock speak about Business Etiquette, to see the renovated banquet rooms at the Tropicana, and to chat and network with fellow chapter members.

Getting good attendance at a lunch function is always problematic. When one accounts for travel and arrival time, a lunch meeting commitment can often run to three hours. The meeting showed a tight time window of 11:30am – 1pm. Seemed optimistic to me.

It’s all in the agenda and the execution: Chapter President, Kathy Baldiieri, CPCE, opened the proceedings to welcome members and guests. With each transition at the podium, for announcements and introductions, the handoff had the acumen of an Olympic relay team member, passing the baton.

Smooth Execution by banquet staff is also key: Ronnie Anderson, Catering Manager, at the Tropicana did more than welcome NACE members and guests. He executed a flawless delivery of meals by a super efficient banquet staff.

Once attendees were seated. A beautifully presented appetizer was served. The guest speaker was introduced; immediately thereafter. Banquet service paused, so as not to compete with the presentation.

Lunch, a halibut entrée, was served, immediately following the presentation, and various members of the NACE Board of Directors made concise announcements, with a minimum of interruptions. Having timely and concise announcements (introductions, future meetings, acknowledging sponsors and vendors, etc.,) is another key element. People, in part, attend to network and chat. Too many, or haphazard, announcements can wreck the rhythm of a meeting. The execution at this meeting was superb.

Halibut Entree
Halibut Entree

About hosting: Hosting an association or organization meeting is not a revenue opportunity, it is a marketing opportunity. In this regard, the Tropicana is in the midst of a massive $125 million renovation. In Las Vegas, there have been many new projects underway, during the last year. It’s easy to get lost in the shuffle. Oddly enough, I’ve been to the Tropicana about ten times this year, for entertainment, but I hadn’t yet seen the upgrade meeting and convention area. The purpose of hosting the event is simple: Get people, like me, and many more to visit the property, see the updated rooms, experience the service, and spread nothing but positive news, after the meeting.

The Tropicana succeeded on all fronts!

For a host organization, the primary goals are: To be business-like, efficient, educate attendees, and provide an excellent environment for networking.

From the hospitality table for check-in, to door prize ticket sales, to the overall execution and content of the meeting, Las Vegas NACE hit all the marks. It’s the kind of thing that looks easy when it’s done well. It’s not really that easy, but these are true event professionals. This luncheon was a clinic in How To Run A Meeting.

My skepticism about time: The meeting ended at 1:07pm. I’d say anything within 10 minutes of the stated timeframe of 90 minutes  is near perfection. Great time management!

When one attends a meeting such as this one, you are proud to have a guest with you. I’m sure all members that brought their Assistants were pleased that they attended.

The meeting reminded me how proud I am to be a member of the Las Vegas Chapter of NACE.

Andy Ebon
The Wedding Marketing Authority