Inaugural Women In Exhibitions Network North America kicks off with strong leadership session


More than 165 attendees recently participated in the inaugural Women in Exhibitions Network (WIEN) North America chapter Zoom event March 8 in celebration of International Women’s Day.

The virtual event featured three female leaders in the exhibitions industry:

  • Nancy Walsh, President of North America, Informa
  • Mary Larkin, President, Diversified
  • Carrie Freeman Parsons, Chair, Freeman

The women spoke about lessons learned along their career paths and finding strength from mentorship and community.

“The grass may look like it is greener on the other side for working-moms or stay-at-home moms” Walsh said. “…we all have been challenged along the way, but it’s important to trust your decisions.”


Larkin said she often leaned on a close group of friends she met in college. “They are really good at bringing me down to earth,” she added.

Freeman Parsons said she was “grateful for women who challenged me to get out of my comfort zone.”

Other key takeaways shared from one of WIEN’s founding members and respected industry journalist, Danica Tormohlen, includes:

  • Instead of asking Why me? Ask Why not me?
  • It’s worth it to work with an executive coach. You have options!
  • When it comes to negotiating, determine what’s most important before you have the conversation.
  • Don’t be afraid to ask. (What’s the worst that can happen?)
  • Stop the mom guilt. You can have it “all.”
  • No mentors in your organization? Try reverse mentorship.
  • Our mothers, daughters, sisters, friends and co-workers can push us, ground us and teach us so much! Lean into those relationships.

The WEIN North America chapter launch event also marked the opening of the membership drive for the newly formed organization.

WIEN is open to all women involved in the North American exhibitions industry whose business is related to the organization and facilitation of exhibitions for both B2B and B2C. Members do not need to be currently employed by a company/association in the industry to join.

HERE is more information on WIEN. Membership will be opening soon for anyone who is interested.

“It took almost two years for the idea to come to fruition, but we launched the North American chapter of Women in Exhibitions Network to a fabulous group of women.  It was fantastic to launch with hearing from three special leaders about how community helped shape their careers.,” said Martha Donato, co-founder of WIEN North America and president and co-founder of Mad Event Management.

She added, “It was especially lovely that Oana Cipca, the founder of the International WIEN joined us for the meeting. Therein lies the silver lining of COVID, we had the time to finally do what we had wanted to do and connect, even though we were on different continents.”

Donato serves as president and co-founded the chapter with an official start date of Jan. 1, 2021, along with Stephanie Selesnick, who serves as secretary and heads International Trade Information and Laura Purdy, who serves as treasurer and is GM of Toronto’s Exhibition Place.

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