At Meeting Expectations, we have an intensive interviewing process to ensure we not only hire the most qualified individuals to do a job, but to acquire top-notch professionals who complement our values-driven culture and delight our clients. Our team’s diverse backgrounds, strength of character and commitment to excellence are our greatest asset. Get to know our company leaders and subject matter experts.
President and Managing Partner
As managing partner and president for Meeting Expectations, Brian is responsible for the overall strategic direction of the company. In addition, Brian is responsible for executive development, key customer contact and the overall financial performance of the company.
During Brian’s tenure as president, Meeting Expectations has attained 90% or better client and staff retention rates. Meeting Expectations has won number awards, including a longstanding position on the Corporate Meetings & Incentives CMI 25 list (a list of the 25 largest and most influential North American meeting and incentive planning companies) and the Atlanta Business Chronicle’s Best Places to Work. In 2010, he spearheaded the creation of Meeting Expectations consulting practice, Ascend Consulting, Inc. Brian further supports the industry by participating in numerous industry councils and roundtables.
Before becoming managing partner and president, Brian was financial manager and vice president of finance and administration. He joined Meeting Expectations in 1997.
Previously, Brian served as managing partner at Meyer and Johnson Accounting Firm, serving a wide variety of clients such as Women's Health and Fitness and Dunkin' Donuts of America.
Brian received his Bachelor of Science from the University of Florida with a concentration in finance and accounting.
Karl Kirsch, CAE
Karl Kirsch, CAE, serves as the vice president of the association management business unit (AMBU). His main responsibility is to lead AMBU client teams into successful execution of association objectives. Through his direct interactions with client boards and senior leadership, he leverages his considerable association management experience to help associations move positively towards their objectives, increase membership and maximize return on investment.
Prior to joining Meeting Expectations in 2002, Karl worked in association management for nearly 20 years as an executive with the Technical Association of the Pulp and Paper Industry, the Institute of Industrial Engineers and national and regional associations. His experience includes executive director and director level positions over membership, technical divisions, certification programs and the implementation of continuous improvement efforts.
Karl holds a Bachelor of Science degree in engineering technology from the State University of New York College at Buffalo and a Master of Science in technology management from the Stetson School of Business at Mercer University. He is also the recipient of the 2014 GSAE Skelton-Massey Award.
Lisa Burton, CMP
Senior Vice President
As senior vice president of the meeting management business unit, Lisa Burton, CMP, is responsible for the operational management and strategic direction of the group, which is comprised of meeting planners, registration and site selection/contract management staff. Her focus is on client relations, staff management and process improvement.
She joined Meeting Expectations in 1996 and has extensive experience with clients world-wide with programs such as customer/franchisee conferences, seminar series, sales and analyst meetings to city-wide conventions. Her customer portfolio includes industries such as high-tech, franchise, salon/spa and agriculture.
Before joining Meeting Expectations, Lisa worked in the US House of Representatives and for the Biotechnology Industry Organization in Washington, DC.
Lisa holds a Bachelor of Arts in political science from Louisiana State University.
Christine Hilgert, CMP
Senior Vice President
As senior vice president of the meeting planning business unit, Christine Hilgert, CMP, is responsible for client management and strategic direction of the meeting planning staff, which is comprised of meeting planners, registration staff and contract management staff. Her focus is to introduce the latest ideas and opportunities offered by the industry to her staff and clients.
Christine has extensive experience in budget management and has overseen client budgets ranging from $100,000 to $10 million. Christine has also facilitated speaker management for programs consisting of 30 - 350 speakers. In addition, she has managed show floors with up to 300 exhibiting companies and 100,000 gross square feet. She has also coordinated the fulfillment and management of many high profile partner programs.
Christine has experience working on meetings at hotels and conventions centers throughout North American, Europe, Asia PAC and the Middle East. She has been the lead venue liaison for programs ranging in attendance, 200-10,000.
Before joining Meeting Expectations, Christine worked as a multi-sport manager with Special Olympics of Georgia.
Christine holds a Bachelor of Arts in hospitality management from Florida State University.
Micheal A. North
Vice President, Finance and Accounting
As the vice president of finance and accounting for Meeting Expectations, Micheal North manages the financial groups and accounts for the concurrent financial management of multiple clients.
Prior to joining Meeting Expectations, Micheal was the external reporting manager for AT&T, Inc. He has previously worked for C. R. Bard Inc., Komatsu Forklift USA, Maxell Corporation of America and Georgia-Pacific Corporation in various positions.
Micheal is a licensed CPA, a member of the Georgia Society of CPAs and the American Institute of CPAs. He holds a Bachelor of Business Administration in accounting from West Georgia College.
Senior HR Business Partner
Senior Human Resources Business Partner Phyllis Abrams leads the strategic HR development of Meeting Expectations. She is responsible for staffing, retention, compensation, benefits, training, employee relations and compliance. Phyllis has more than 15 years of experience in Human Resources, most recently with The StoneHill Group and Avery Partners, where she has had an emphasis on recruiting and HR development.
She received her BA in Communications from Tulane, her MS in Personnel and Employment Relations from Georgia State University and has done extensive additional work through the Atlanta Justice Center focusing on mediation in the workplace. She is also a member of SHRM-Atlanta.
Mary Lynn Miller, CAE
Mary Lynn Miller, CAE is a seasoned association management professional who provides consulting and special projects support to Meeting Expectations' clients. Previously, as chief operating officer for the Atlanta Chapter of the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM-Atlanta), Miller was responsible for working with the SHRM-Atlanta board of directors to facilitate strategic planning for the association and managing its full-service professional staff.
Under her leadership and her team’s efforts, SHRM-Atlanta experienced unprecedented growth, expanding from 1630 members as of January, 2006 to more than 2600 members as of October 2011.
Prior to taking the helm of SHRM-Atlanta, Mary Lynn served as director of finance for Meeting Expectations, providing financial oversight and reporting for several clients, including The Association for the Paper and Pulp Industry (TAPPI), the Association for Information Systems (AIS) and SHRM-Atlanta. She spent over 20 years working for TAPPI, most recently in the capacity of vice president of finance, before joining Meeting Expectations in 2006.
Mary Lynn received an MBA from Mercer University and a Bachelor of Science in business administration from Brenau College. She also completed the Certified Association Executive Program in 1992.
Kowana Ragland, CMP
Director of Meetings
As director of meetings, Kowana Ragland, CMP, works within the meeting planning business unit to manage client engagements as well as serve as a supervisor within the department. Since joining Meeting Expectations in November 2000, she has done extensive work within both the meeting planning and association management sectors.
Kowana has been in the meeting management industry since 1992 and has orchestrated multiple domestic and international conferences in various industries. She has provided conference management services, including but not limited to budget management, strategic and creative direction, exhibit hall management, sponsorship management, marketing, venue management, speaker/agenda management, vendor management, on-site implementation and wrap-up reporting, for association and corporate clients. During the course of her career, Kowana has focused on developing strategies and procedures to improve efficiency and productivity.
Prior to joining Meeting Expectations, Kowana worked at the International Society of Automation (ISA), an organization serving instrumentation, systems and automation professionals.
Kowana holds a Bachelor of Science in business administration from North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University. She served on the 2009–2010 board of directors of Meeting Professionals International - Georgia Chapter as vice president of education. Ragland was named a "Meeting Professional to Watch" by ConventionSouth magazine in 2009.
Director of Registration Services
As director of registration services, Litika Coleman oversees the registration and member services team and is responsible for its strategic direction and operations. She also manages the development, setup and management of online registration, as well as on-site logistics, specifications and training for conferences and events.
Litika works closely with the information technology and meeting planning teams to ensure clients' registration and member services needs are met.
Prior to joining Meeting Expectations in 2000, Litika, along with a team at Hilton Hotels Corporation, developed ROVER, a lead referral program, which generated over five million dollars in revenue within a year.
Litika is a native of Memphis, Tennessee, and received an Associate of Arts from Southwest Tennessee Community College (formerly Shelby State Community College). Additionally, she received a bachelor’s degree in business management and a master’s degree in business administration from Shorter University in Atlanta, Georgia.
Chief Operating Officer
Jeff Rausch is the chief operating officer and a managing partner of Meeting Expectations. As COO, he oversees overall company operations and helps to drive the strategic planning process for the company. Jeff is responsible for partnering with department and business unit leaders to ensure execution of strategic objectives and leading process review and improvement initiatives.
Since 1996, Jeff has been a central part of Meeting Expectations’ growth and development, and has been involved at every phase of client and company operations, including sales, planning, implementation, monitoring and metrics collection and analysis. Under his direction, the company has aligned the goals of each business area with overall company objectives. Further, he has implemented business intelligence initiatives to provide just-in-time information to assist company leaders in making make well-informed business decisions.
In addition to those listed above, Jeff’s responsibilities include ecommerce, compliance, strategic partnerships, time and productivity management, office management, and strategic client support.
Before moving solely into operations, Jeff led the organization’s technology department for more than fifteen years. In this role, he was able to successfully provide the company and its various clients with a broad array of solutions based on their specific needs in a rapidly changing technology environment.
Prior to joining Meeting Expectations, Jeff served as a principal of Moir Danforth & Brandon, an organizational development and strategic planning consulting firm, developing the company's client technology programs. In addition, he has been involved in strategic planning for a wide range of firms, from web development to construction companies.
Jeff holds a Bachelor of Science degree in business administration from Alfred University with emphasis in marketing, biology and art.
Senior Business Development Manager
Nick Rodriguez is the senior business development manager at Meeting Expectations. Nick consults one-on-one with potential and current clients to design their conference and association management strategies. His roles include developing relationships, processing and managing client inquiries, managing bid proposals and negotiating contract items.
Prior to joining Meeting Expectations, Nick served as the director of group sales for Westin Dallas Park Central, national sales manager for Caesars Entertainment and senior sales manager for Le Meridian Dallas North. Nick is a graduate of the University of North Texas where he earned a degree in Sociology and a minor in Business.
Senior Director of Marketing & Creative Services
Allison Germaneso Dixon, as senior director of marketing and creative services for Meeting Expectations, leads a marketing and creative services team to create dynamic and effective marketing programs for a diverse set of corporate and association clients. She also drives Meeting Expectations’ corporate marketing and public relations initiatives. In 2010, the International Association for Exhibitions and Events (IAEE) awarded Allison the Outstanding Achievement in Marketing and Sales Award for Show Management.
Allison is a veteran of art museums, where she learned to maximize marketing resources by identifying and leveraging every available channel to reach the intended audiences and inspire their attendance at art exhibitions, lectures and other special events.
Prior to joining Meeting Expectations, Allison served as senior manager of marketing communications for Novare Group, a real estate development firm. In that role, she managed project-related public relations efforts in five markets and developed sales-enabling e-marketing campaigns.
Allison led the marketing and public relations department for Emory University’s Michael C. Carlos Museum for six years. She promoted major international exhibitions, research initiatives and special events, frequently working with media outlets such as The New York Times, NOVA and CNN, for which she received the Grand Award for a Media Relations Project from the Coalition for the Advancement and Support of Education (CASE). She has also served as an account executive with Melissa Libby & Associates public relations firm and as a publicist for Atlanta’s High Museum of Art.
She has an MBA with a concentration in marketing from Emory University’s Goizueta Business School and a Bachelor of Arts in art history, also earned at Emory.
Allison serves as marketing chair on the Board of Trustees of the Wylde Center and is on the Board of Directors of the Executive Women of Goizueta.
James M. Hobbs
Senior Director of Global Programs
James Hobbs, as senior director for global programs, is responsible for overseeing all aspects of global meeting and conference management for key clients.
James's experience ranges in managing programs from $50,000 to $25 million. He has extensive experience managing both hotel and convention centers in the US and abroad for programs with attendance ranging from 25 to 2000 attendees. James has worked extensively throughout North and South America, Europe and Asia.
In addition, he has managed a variety of suppliers globally to establish local call centers for events, translation services, special event companies, production and audio-visual companies, service contractors, lead retrieval providers, transportation specialists, security specialists and housing management companies.
Before joining Meeting Expectations, James served as director of global conferences for Oracle Corporation.
James holds a Bachelor of Arts in art history and communications from Texas Tech University in Lubbock, Texas.
Senior Director of Sites and Contract Services
Alex O'Keefe Murphy joined Meeting Expectations in 1999 as director of sites and contract services. She has extensive experience researching venues throughout the United States, Canada, Europe and Australia.
As senior director of site selection and contract negotiations at Meeting Expectations, Alex Murphy oversees a talented site selection team, helps clients to select the best venues for their events, negotiates contracts with hotels and convention centers and manages housing for client engagements.
Before joining Meeting Expectations, Alex worked in the American and European hospitality industries for over 20 years, which has allowed her sharpen her skills in venue selection, hotel management and contract negotiations. She completed a management training program with The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company, where she worked in guest services and sales.
Alex holds a bachelor’s degree in business from The Kaufmaennische Handelsschule in Baden, Switzerland. She is fluent in German, French, Italian and English. She serves on the Salt Lake Customer Advisory Board.
Beth Chitnis, CAE
Beth Chitnis, CAE, vice president, serves as an executive director for multiple clients for whom Meeting Expectations provides full-service association management services. As executive director, Beth is responsible for working with boards of directors to facilitate strategic planning for the associations she oversees. She also manages each association's staff at Meeting Expectations to provide support services including communications, database management, membership operations, financial management and meeting/event planning and execution.
Beth joined the Meeting Expectations in 2006. In July 2008, she led a team to open the Chicago area branch of Meeting Expectations to provide more convenient service to clients of Meeting Expectations located in the Midwest and Northeast.
Beth is a member of the Georgia Society of Association Executives (GSAE), where she currently serves as the co-chair of the YourMembership.com SIG. She is also a member of Meeting Professionals International volunteering as a speaker on board governance and membership recruitment and retention strategies.
Beth brings a background in meeting planning, event management, business development and leadership training. She worked as a meeting planner for an international association in Atlanta and for Dale Carnegie Training in Chicago. She holds an MBA with concentrations in marketing and organizational management from Emory University's Goizueta Business School, and obtained her Bachelor of Science in psychology from the University of Illinois at Urbana. She earned her Certified Association Executive (CAE) designation in 2012.
Kate Gemmell, CMP
Kate Gemmell, CMP, provides conference management services for corporate clients including Riverbed Technology, Manhattan Associates, Arby’s Restaurant Group and MedAssets.
Kate has worked extensively throughout North America, Europe and Asia coordinating global programs ranging in attendance from 100 to 5,000. Of particular note is her experience working with a US-based client to produce a customer and partner conference for their Europe, Asia-Pacific and Americas-based attendees in each of those regions. Prior to joining Meeting Expectations in November 2006, Kate worked for the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum, planning and coordinating over 50 events a year for the museum and its donors. At PGI Washington, DC, Kate was involved in many events, including the 2002 Virginia Governor’s Inauguration where she was active in organizing all events, including the two official inaugural balls. Kate has a degree in hospitality and tourism management from Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University and possesses the designation of Certified Meeting Professional (CMP). She was selected as one of ConventionSouth magazine’s “Meeting Professionals to Watch” for exhibiting outstanding professionalism, creativity and dedication in the meetings and convention industry.
Director of Sites and Contract Services
Lauren Andrews, director of sites and contract services, joined Meeting Expectations in April, 2006. She is responsible for researching and contracting venues for clients and meetings of all sizes.
Lauren has worked with clients in diverse market segments, including agriculture, education, entertainment/film, finance, food service, franchising, human resources management, insurance, logistics, manufacturing, non-profit, religious, salon/spa and technology, to find their ideal meeting venues. Lauren serves on the San Francisco Self-Contained Meetings Advisory Council. Previously, she served on the Fort Lauderdale Customer Advisory Board and on the Las Vegas Millennial Customer Advisory Board. She previously worked for The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company for three years. Lauren earned her Bachelor of Arts degree in marketing with a minor in hospitality from Georgia State University. Her commitment to excellence was recognized by Meeting Expectations when she was awarded the Employee of the Year award in 2007. In addition, ConventionSouth magazine designated Lauren as a Meeting Professional to Watch in 2015.
As founding partner of Meeting Expectations, Luis has served in vital roles throughout the company’s 20 plus years. In the early years, Luis held an operational position as the company grew and gained success. Since 2003, Luis has served in an ongoing advisory role to the senior management team, where he assists the team with strategic projects, business development and financial planning.
In addition to Meeting Expectations, Luis is a founder and managing partner of several consulting and advisory firms, serving select clients in media, information services, telecommunications and local advertising industries. While working on stand-alone projects and collaborating with corporate teams, Luis has established long-term working relationships with top executives at high performing European, Latin American and U.S. companies. Luis has also successfully completed over 170 projects for companies such as, British Telecom’s Yell Group, Telia (Sweden), Telefónica of Spain, The New York Times and SNET, a division of AT&T.
Luis’ first entrepreneurial venture was as founder and managing partner of Hello Yellow, a precursor to today’s local business search engines, which was later acquired by US West. As managing partner, he was responsible for strategic planning, business development and marketing and advertising initiatives. Prior to Hello Yellow, Luis worked for General Cable, where he held various positions with increased responsibility including, product manager, export market manager and group director of strategic planning.
He holds dual degrees in Economics & Marketing Management from the University of Georgia and an MBA from the University of Denver.
Jalene Bermudez, CMP
As the founding partner and principal of Meeting Expectations, Jalene Bermudez contributes to the development of company initiatives in the areas of strategic partnerships, sales and direction. In 1992, Jalene launched Meeting Expectations as a full-service events management company focusing on the technology industry.
Meeting Expectations evolved into a worldwide provider of diverse event and conference management solutions, as well as association and educational management programs. Jalene has assisted client companies to plan and execute many types of events ranging from small C-level forums to city-wide educational conferences, in multiple countries around the world. Prior to founding Meeting Expectations, Jalene was a partner of the Colorado-based company, Meeting Planning & More. She started her career as an independent event planner serving the International Golf Tournament after three years of experience in hotel convention services, catering and sales management in her hometown of Denver, Colorado. Jalene earned a Bachelor of Science degree in hospitality management and marketing from Metropolitan State College in Denver, Colorado, and a CMP certification in 1996.