The following presenters have confirmed their participation in the 2019 NEIRA Annual Conference. Additional presenters will be added to the program and their bios will be listed below once available. Please check back for updates!
Sarah Eustis CEO, Main Street Hospitality
In 2012, after 25 years in retail operations, marketing, design and brand development for Polo Ralph Lauren, Gap Inc., Limited Brands and most recently Etam in France, Sarah returned to Massachusetts to assume a leadership role in her family’s hospitality business. After a year of working to build strategic growth for the company, Sarah led the creation of Main Street Hospitality Group -- a hospitality management group focused on Historic Stewardship & Renewal, Academic Hospitality, Hotels in Partnership with Art Institutions and Downtown Heartbeat Hotels – which continues to head the companies CEO & part-owner.
Chris Gasbarro Owner & President, Ember
With 20 years in the meeting & events industry, Chris is still energized to produce some of North America’s most unique and powerful meetings. As President of Ember, a forward thinking gathering agency, he helps to influence the meeting and event portfolios for wicked awesome brands that include Bauer Hockey, Saucony, Keds, Footjoy Golf, Wolverine Worldwide Inc, Hanover Insurance and the National Association of Mutual Insurance Companies. From a humble beginning as a touring guitar tech to now shutting down Wall Street for an IPO launch event or collaborating with Taylor Swift, Keds and Nordstrom’s to launch a new shoe for the 1989 Tour, Chris has been lucky to assemble and lead a team of some of the best meeting and event producers in the industry. Ember is a 17 person creative gathering agency based in the small seaside city of Newburyport, Massachusetts who exist to amplify brand passion through extraordinary gatherings. As a member of the meetings industry, Chris is a past President of both MPI New England and ILEA New England chapters, and also served on the MPI International Board of Directors. A recipient of the Collaborate Magazine’s “40 under 40” and BizBash’s “2013 Innovator of the year” and about a dozen other industry awards including MPI New England’s “Planner” and “Supplier” of the year award (different years). Prior to Ember, Chris grew up in several meeting and event industry firms including Party by Design and massAV. Even before that, Chris was a roadie, sound engineer and tour manager for some very obscure bands - touring North America in Jeep Cherokee’s and the occasional converted 1974 MCI tour bus.
Meri Keller Vice President, Pinnacle Advisory Group
Meri Keller is a Vice President for Pinnacle Advisory Group’s Boston office. Ms. Keller has over 14 years of hospitality experience specializing in financial and market feasibility, acquisition and development underwriting, value-add opportunity analysis, and single asset and portfolio advisory sales. She has evaluated and advised on numerous assignments throughout the United States and Caribbean including luxury destination resorts, hotel conversion opportunities, university hotels, golf resorts, mixed-use developments, airport hotels, luxury destination resorts, and boutique properties. Prior to joining Pinnacle Advisory Group, Ms. Keller spent over three years working for Jones Lang LaSalle’s Hotels and Hospitality Group (JLL) in the Full-Service Advisory Sales division, where her duties included underwriting and providing opinion of values for nearly $1 billion in full-service hotel, portfolio and financing transactions and assisting in the marketing of those opportunities by preparing offering materials and conducting property and market tours to potential investors. Prior to JLL, Ms. Keller spent five years working for Noble Investment Group, where she actively participated in the acquisition and development of over $170 million of hotel investments through underwriting, market research, due diligence, and closing and operations transition. Ms. Keller was also employed by PKF Consulting, where she performed various appraisals and market feasibility studies covering full-, select-, and limited-service hotels, proposed and existing luxury resorts, and land valuation. Ms. Keller began her career in hospitality managing upscale restaurants for Bravo Development in Atlanta, Georgia. Ms. Keller has a Bachelor of Science Degree from Cornell University's School of Hotel Administration and is an active member of the Cornell Hotel Society. Ms. Keller joined Pinnacle in 2015.
MJ Legault Principal and Strategy Director, Origin
As one of the mountain sport industry’s leading marketing strategists, MJ is widely recognized as a thought leader among marketers in our field. She’s known to call a spade a spade—usually while swearing. Most recently, she has been involved in strategic development for campaigns with Jay Peak Resort, Taos Ski Valley, Lululemon and Smartwool. In between client consultations, marketing lectures, strategy sessions, and airport layovers, you’ll find MJ on her motorbike or snowboard, seeking open spaces.
Justin Patton Executive Leadership Coach
Justin Patton is an international speaker and Executive Coach who empowers leaders to make their voice and presence count. He believes “everything meaningful happens through conversation” and that you change the way you lead, love, and communicate the moment you take responsibility for the energy you show up with every day.
Justin’s experience has allowed him to travel the globe, work with some of the top Fortune 500 organizations in the world, and coach NCAA athletes and contestants in the Miss America and Miss USA organizations.
Prior to being the President & CEO of his own coaching business, Justin was a master facilitator for Yum! Brands where he taught leadership programs in Russia, Canada, and the United States. Additionally, Justin managed the national sales training department for Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield.
Justin has earned both a bachelor’s and master ’s degree in education, became a faculty member for the US Chamber of Commerce, has expertise in body language and executive presence, and he is a member of the International Coach Federation and National Speaker’s Association.
Justin’s high-energy style will keep you engaged and his message will challenge you to look dierently at how you lead and communicate.
Alicia Rainwater Certified Keynote Speaker, The Center for Generational Kinetics Alicia Rainwater is a Certified Keynote Speaker at The Center for Generational Kinetics. Her speaking clients range from Bayer and Ebby Halliday Realtors to The Federation of State Medical Boards. Alicia is a Millennial who has a reputation as a leader in her own generation. She has extensive experience working firsthand to bridge generations in a variety of organizations from hospitals to global non-profits. Alicia has received a tremendous response to her engaging delivery that combines The Center’s latest research and how-to with her unique experience working with clients. She has spoken to thousands of people across the United States. Alicia’s personal experiences working with multiple generations as a non-profit leader, school counselor, and medical social worker make her a powerful and inspiring speaker that effectively demonstrates how to solve generational challenges with employees and customers. About The Center for Generational Kinetics: The Center for Generational Kinetics is the #1 Millennials, Gen Z and generations research, speaking, and consulting firm. The Center’s team have repositioned global brands to win every generation, advised companies on multi-billion-dollar acquisitions, and taken clients from last to first in employee retention. Read The Center’s latest discoveries at GenHQ.com.
Bashar Wali President, Provenance Hotels
Spoiler alert: Just when it seems like the hospitality world is about to be overrun by so-called “soft” brands, generic hotel sub-chains rushed to market by larger generic hotel chains trying desperately to chase an audience they don’t understand, one man swoops in to call foul on the whole sordid affair. Armed with 20 years of hospitality experience and an indefatigable passion for creating distinct, unique, memorable experiences for guests at each of his hotels, he works tirelessly to connect this mixologist with that bee keeper, this restauranteur with that local artist, this guest with that city. He is a connector, a synapse, and a bridge. A reformer, a reframer, and a provocateur. He is Bashar Wali.
Thank You to our 2019 conference sponsors
Gold Level Sponsors
silver level sponsors
bronze level sponsors
Beautiful Surroundings LLC Boston Spirit Magazine GeoVisions HEBS Digital Metter Media LLC
O'Rourke Hospitality Marketing SigmaWifi The Turkish Towel Company Travel Tripper