ECN 11th Annual Workshop - Agenda

Thank you for joining us at the 11th Annual ECN Workshop: Taking Your Event to an Eleven.

Keynote Session: Event Trends and Design

Caris Fairfax and Brian Worley provide their insight on Atlanta design trends, event tips, and adding pop to your event

Caris Fairfax

Caris Fairfax is the Associate Publisher of Modern Luxury Weddings Atlanta magazine. Caris first fell in love with event planning in her college years where she served as Vice-Chair for the University of Alabama Homecoming committee as well as the social chair for her sorority. She also interned with the award-winning Rick & Bubba syndicated radio show planning various events. Once Fairfax graduated, she interned with an event production company in London working on various concerts including Live 8. She then moved to Atlanta in 2005 to pursue a career in marketing and corporate event planning where she helped execute everything from local training meetings to 10,000 person plus conventions in Las Vegas, as well as incentive trips in Hawaii and Europe. For the last ten years, Fairfax has risen through the ranks at Modern Luxury, the largest luxury lifestyle media company in the world, which locally publishes The Atlantan, Jezebel, and Interiors & Weddings magazines. Fairfax currently oversees the weddings magazine, attending and planning several events throughout the year.

Welcoming and Inclusive Events - Dunwoody

Aby Parsons is the director of the LGBTQIA Resource Center at Georgia Tech where she oversees all programs, trainings, strategic planning, and resource development. Parsons also teaches in the School of Literature, Media, and Communication, chairs the Pride ERG, and consults on policies relating to equity and inclusion. Parsons conducts trainings for professional associations, corporations, and fraternal organizations. As a scholar-practitioner, she writes and speaks about LGBTQIA topics for academic and public audiences, with interviews appearing in regional and national media outlets. Parsons earned her Ph.D. in Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies from Emory University, M.Res. in Gender and Literature, and BA in American Studies from the University of Central Lancashire.

Expanding Your Network - Ravinia

Helen Taffet is the founder and president of Sensational Baskets, Georgia’s largest gift basket company. Since 1988, when she first made baskets in her basement, Taft has grown Sensational Baskets into a service-oriented gourmet gift service that has been featured nationally on the Today Show and in publications such as Jezebel Magazine, Meetings and Conventions Magazine, and Promo Magazine. Taft also serves as the Director of Membership of the MPI Georgia Chapter, on the Membership Committee of the Atlanta Convention and Visitors Bureau, as Awards Chair for The 2019 Allie Awards, and as Hospitality Co-Chair of Pace Cetters. Taft speaks on the subject of “Sending The Right Business Gift . . . And What Not to Send” to corporate groups such as FedEx, Cox Communications, Deloitte, EWI, and Pace Cetters.

Floral Design - Inman

Todd Hausman serves as the manager of Peachtree Petals. Having graduated from the University of Illinois with a BS in Ornamental Horticulture, Hausman has worked in all aspects of the floral industry for over 35 years. After college, Hausman worked with the Champaign Illinois Park District and soon moved to Houston, TX, where he managed a retail floral shop. He later moved into the wholesale floral industry as a floral buyer and manager. After moving to Atlanta, and working at several wholesale companies, Hausman created Peachtree Petals with AQuick Delivery. In his role as manager, Hausman has secured Master Florist status and is recognized as one of the Top 100 Florists in the United States with FTD.

Tips and Tools for Successful Retreat Planning - Dunwoody

Deborah Covin Wilson, CPLP SHRM-SCP, SPHR, serves as principal of Covin Wilson & Associates, an OD and Learning & Development firm. Covin Wilson recently retired as the director of organizational development and consulting services at Georgia State University. She is a 2015 recipient of the ATD Certification Institute’s CPLP Contributor Award. Additionally, Covin Wilson wrote an article for T+D magazine titled “When Opportunity Knocks, Can You Walk the Talk?” and was a contributing author of the book Road Tested Activities. She received a BA in secondary education from Concordia Teachers College and a MSW from Atlanta University.

Documenting Your Event: Event Photography & Video - Ravinia

Allison Carter has worked as a photographer at Georgia Tech in Institute Communications since February 2018. She is originally from Ringgold, Georgia and holds a degree in magazines and photojournalist from the University of Georgia. She has lived in and documented communities all across the Southeast while working as a photojournalist for serval newspapers and photostudios. 

Brice Zimmerman is in his second year at Georgia Tech after joining the Institute Communications department in February of 2017. As a member of the social media team, Zimmerman is responsible for creating content for Georgia Tech's flagship accounts on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Snapchat. Prior to Georgia Tech, Zimmerman was the Director of Broadcasting and Media Relations for the Fort Myers Miracle, a minor league affiliate of the Minnesota Twins baseball club. He was the play-the-play broadcaster for a 140-game schedule and created digital video content for the Miracle's website and social media outlets.

Catering Panel - Inman

Michelle Heusner-Wilkinson serves as managing Partner & CEO of Time to Dine. An Honors Graduate of The American Culinary Federation Educational Institute and Former Executive Sous Chef of Cherokee Town & Country Club, Heusner-Wilkinson trained under Certified Master Chef, Mark Erickson and Certified Master Pastry Chef, Chris Northmore. She was a member of the silver and gold medalists' Chaines des Rotisseurs Culinary Olympic Team in Frankfurt, Germany.  Heusner-Wilkinson's philosophy is that everyone should have wonderful food to eat. When she is in the kitchen, she feels truly alive. Transforming food from "This is okay" to "This is amazing" is her daily mission.

Mathieu Jourdan-Gassin serves as Bold Catering & Design's General Manager of Design, where he orchestrates product revitalization in high-volume, multi-unit, and boutique gourmet operations. Jourdan-Gassin offers 20 years of experience as a restaurant and hospitality leader, most recently at GL-Events Group in Nice, France. Jourdan-Gassin enjoys running, sampling delicious foods, spending time with family and friends, and studying and enjoying 20th century modern art.

Adam Noyes serves as President of Proof of the Pudding. Noyes's hospitality career began early as a young man working in his family's Atlanta-based catering businesses at house parties, The Democratic National Convention, 1996 Centennial Olympic Games, NBA Final Fours and Super Bowl XXXIV. Noyes earned a hospitality degree from Western Carolina University and went to work for the Ritz-Carlton, Buckhead, as a Food & Beverage Intern. Noyes joined Hyatt Hotels in 1999 and worked in many Sales & Marketing leadership roles over the next 13 years at Hyatt Regency Atlanta, Hyatt Regency Greenville, Hyatt Regency Corporate North American, and Grand Hyatt Atlanta in Buckhead. In this latter role, Noyes was awarded the 2011 Director of Sales & Marketing of the Year Award for Hyatt Hotels Corporation.

Rich Wilner was appointed General Manager of Affairs to Remember Caterers in June 2014. A 30-year veteran of the hospitality industry, Wilner has produced more than 1,200 events, has served in key roles in innovating Affairs' signature designs and sales and marketing strategies, and most recently served seven years as Director of Sales. Recognized with a "Choice Award" for work on the Association of Certified Professional Wedding Consultants national conference, Rich is often invited to speak as an industry expert.