General Sessions

Come hear our 2014 ICHRIE Conference Speakers!

Wednesday, 30 July, 2014


Deborah Long Sexton

President and CEO Professional Convention Management Association (PCMA)
Deborah Sexton joined the Professional Convention Management Association in March 2005 as President and CEO. In conjunction with this role, she also serves as President of the PCMA Education Foundation. Under her leadership the organization’s membership is at an all-time high and the PCMA annual meeting has broken attendance records for the last 3 consecutive years.

A 30-year veteran of the meetings and convention industry, Sexton previously served as President of the Chicago Convention and Tourism Bureau (CCTB).  Sexton is also a past Chair of the Convention Industry Council, and the Foundation Board of Trustees of the International Association of Convention and Visitors Bureaus. She is an active member of the American Society of Association Executives, and the International Association for Exposition Management. She formerly was an officer of the Board of Directors of the Meeting Professionals International.

Thursday, 31 July, 2014


Katherine Lugar

President and CEO

American Hotel & Lodging Association

Presentation Title: "Education: The Foundation of Tomorrow’s Lodging Advocacy Leaders"

Katherine Lugar is president and chief executive officer of AH&LA.  As the head executive of the largest trade association representing the U.S. lodging industry, Lugar implements and directs AH&LA's services and works directly with the volunteer officers and board of directors in determining the industry's major strategic initiatives.  She also oversees AH&LA’s two affiliate organizations, the American Hotel & Lodging Educational Foundation (AH&LEF) and the Educational Institute (EI).

Lugar comes to AH&LA with 20 years’ experience in private sector public affairs and on Capitol Hill.  She previously served as executive vice president, public affairs, with the Retail Industry Leaders Association (RILA).  While there, she was principal contact for the federal government affairs team and political outreach program and positioned RILA as the premier organization on the retail industry’s core priorities, including workforce, healthcare, tax, trade, supply chain issues, asset protection, and credit and finance issues.  She was also principal contact for the association’s government affairs committee, and was instrumental in doubling the size of the Retail Leaders PAC.  Her tenure at RILA was marked by several significant accomplishments, including the development and execution of a major and successful campaign to regulate debit swipe fees (hailed by Politico as the biggest legislative battle of 2011); the creation and implementation of a dual state-federal campaign to level the playing field on sales tax collection; and overseeing successful efforts to block major pro-labor initiatives.  

Before joining RILA, Lugar was vice president of federal government relations for Travelers Insurance, serving as the company’s chief representative before Congress and the administration.  She has also served as vice president of legislative and political affairs at the National Retail Federation, where she led efforts to update decades-old overtime regulations, championed bankruptcy reform legislation into law and supervised the association’s political and grassroots outreach programs.  Lugar’s career in Washington began on the staff of Indiana Congressman Tim Roemer.  

Lugar is a graduate of The University of Colorado - Boulder.