Meet Our Esteemed Panel of Judges

The Canadian Event Awards represent the ultimate challenge for event professionals worldwide. With a rigorous 4-step evaluation process, the awards put entries through a pre-screening, first-round analysis, in-depth evaluation, and final judging to determine the winners. Receiving this award is a testament to exceptional event planning and execution. The judges, consisting of diverse industry experts, bring extensive knowledge on the key factors that contribute to successful events. We are proud to present this year’s esteemed panel of judges. We are proud to introduce this year’s judging panel.

Stacy Wyatt

Founder & Publisher Canadian Special Events & Director Events at UManitoba

With over 20+ years of experience in the events industry, Stacy is one of Canada’s leading event experts. Known for her creativity and strategic approach to producing live experiences, she has established herself as a respected figure in the industry.

As the Founder and Publisher of Canadian Special Events Magazine, Founder of the Canadian Event Awards, and Producer of CSE Live, Canada’s premier show for Canadian events and meeting professionals, Stacy has played a significant role in shaping the Canadian events landscape.

In her role as Director of Events at the University of Manitoba, she leads an award-winning team in the execution of events and forward-facing initiatives that advance the University’s goals and philanthropic priorities. In addition, she is a strong advocate for professional development and has held various leadership positions, such as President of ILEA Vancouver, Communications Chair for ILEA Canada, and Editorial Advisor for CAPS Canada. Currently, she holds the position of President of Event Professionals Manitoba.

Stacy’s skills and achievements have been recognized throughout her career with numerous awards, including Special Event Gala awards, the Senecan of Distinction Award by Seneca College, and several CCAE Prix de Excellence and CASE awards. In 2021, she was named one of Canada’s Top 250 Event Professionals.

Chad Brincheski

ESP Inc. (Event Strategy Partners)

A graduate of Ryerson’s Hospitality and Tourism Management, Chad joined Four Seasons Hotels & Resorts and spent ten years in Catering and Conference Services with some of Toronto’s greatest hospitality landmarks.

With further experience as VP Operations for two event venues and seven years as Director of Event Marketing with one of Canada’s premier management firms, Chad started ESP Inc. in 2011, a client-focused agency specializing in creating spectacular corporate events and charitable fundraisers.

In 2020, Chad founded Hugo Virtual Event Hub, a Made in Canada digital platform, bringing his in-person event expertise to the virtual and hybrid event worlds.

Jason Koop

Writer | Event Professional | Influencer | VP Business Development | Canadian Special Events

Jason Koop is a writer, influencer, fan of Canadian event experiences, and the VP of Business Development with Canadian Special Events.  After more than 15 years in the apparel industry managing accounts for some of the world’s largest designers like Calvin Klein, Tommy Hilfiger, and Vanity Fair Corp, Jason was ready for a change. Combining his relationship-building skills with his marketing background and his new love for events, he has built the largest following of corporate event professionals in Canada for CSE and is helping to lead the brand to a new level of success.

Joel Olandesca

CEO/Co-Founder | SOS Charging Solutions & SOS Web.AR

 Joel is the creator and co-founder of SOS Charging Solutions and SOS Web.AR. SOS is known for providing mobile device charging at events across the globe, but for them it’s more than just charging. In addition to keeping events #chargedup, and providing a unique way for brands to reach attendees, their solutions are well known to bring people together. With their web augmented reality, SOS Web.AR is helping events and brands enhance the experience by combining digital elements with the real world – effectively and simply.

Joel’s background includes extensive experience in mobile technology, marketing, and finances. He is a passionate advocate for the events industry and the impact it has on the global economy and culture. He served as the President of the International Live Events Association-Calgary Chapter for the 2018/2019 chapter year and is currently the Chair of ILEA Canada. Being involved and volunteering directly in the industry allows him to continue on his path as an evolving event professional.

In addition to being an entrepreneur, innovator, and educator, he is also a firm believer in giving back to others. Joel is an avid volunteer who loves to support causes that are close to his heart.

Daniela Caputo

Meetings/Events Professional (a.k.a. Eventista)

With one of the most established careers in the event planning industry, Daniela has built a unique reputation based on professionalism and versatility. Experienced in everything from client services and project management to marketing, event execution, negotiations, and sourcing, she is known for her keen eye on details, impeccable networking skills, and resourcefulness. Daniela is passionate about providing her clients a level of service that is second to none, and won’t settle for anything but the best. Her list of event successes include conferences, corporate incentive programs, and weddings, just to name a few.

Daniela’s expertise is regularly recognized by her peers, with nominations including Planner of the Year – Industry Builder and Mentor. She is a sought-after figure in the meetings/events industry, and her insight on best practices and upcoming trends have been featured in numerous magazine articles. She strongly believes in paying it forward on an education platform (her teaching motto is “Aspire to Inspire!”), and is an in-demand teacher at Lasalle College’s Event Planning Program and certifies future Wedding Planners at WPIC (Wedding Planners Institute of Canada).

Alina Taclemova

Co-Founder Engineered Arts

Alina Tacmelova is one of Canada’s most respected creative design professionals. She’s the founder of Flowers Time, the co-founder of Engineered Arts and the designer behind some of Canada’s most iconic creative installations. Today she continues to push boundaries finding inspiration in the most surprising of places. web:

Hailey Dawood

Owner & Chief Huntress | The Idea Hunter

Hailey is a fearless and focused event professional. Her specialty lies in corporate entertainment, interactive experiences, and event management. The value she brings to the industry at large and the positive environment she cultivates in the company, is why she was recognized as the 2019 Emerging Industry Leader by Canadian Special Events. Hailey expertly mentors her huntresses and spearheads the strategy and creative thinking that goes into each client proposal.

 Hailey has worked with brands across every industry, such as the Toronto Blue Jays, MAC Cosmetics, Shoppers Drug Mart, Air Canada Vacations, McDonalds, Flipp, Sun Life, BMO and so many more. Thanks to her innate ability to find solutions and get things done quickly, there is no challenge too big or too small for her. When she is not doing the heavy lifting at The Idea Hunter, you’ll find her volunteering as the Social Chair for Entrepreneurs Organization (where she is also a member), working up a sweat at the gym or spending time with her husband in the city they love, Toronto.

John MacBride

Information Wrangler | JUNōO & Artam Design Inc.

John is part of a fabulous team of visionaries, designers, producers, and entrepreneurs who are the fuel behind JUNO, a virtual event company, and Artam Design, a live events company. Their HQ is in Toronto, but their workplace is global.

John retired from Seneca College after 30 years as a Professor in the Event Management program. With a Master’s in Education and a Bachelor’s in Fine Arts, John has won awards nationally and locally.

Living in PEI, John shares his beach with foxes, seals, and eagles. His passions include design, charitable causes, and making the world better by bringing people together.

Michael Hooper

Account Manage | Bespoke AV

Michael is a Sales Manager with Bespoke AV in Toronto, and an event professional with more than twenty years of experience.

His professional roots are in theatre and began with several years serving as Production Manager/Technical Director of Toronto’s iconic Factory Theatre, working with Ken Gass, the godfather of Canadian Theatre, himself, as well as some of the country’s most expressive and innovative playwrights and designers.

With all its variety and creativity, the special events industry drew Michael in. Since making the transition 15 years ago, he’s brought the lessons he learned in theatre to help producers, planners, and experiential marketing partners create award-winning events, galas, and activations

Pavel Diaz

Award Winning Meetings and Events Professional |
Glow The Event Store

Pavel Diaz began producing events when he was 11 years old, with a puppet show.

At a talent show in his elementary school in Mexico. At a very early age, he found his passion for producing events. Since that age, he has been involved in all the cycles of producing an event. Events for record companies like Sony Music and Warner Music, working with Ricky Martin and Luis Fonsi.

His expertise in events came from projects like Fashion Week Marketing Campaigns for Fashion and Corporate Industries. In 2013, he fell in love with Canada and moved to Toronto, where he worked for CSE LIVE, Beanfield Convention Centre, and GES Canada. When COVID hit, the industry found a great opportunity to come to the East Coast and bring 20 years of event experience to Glow. He is creating one-of-a-kind event experiences for their clients under a million twinkilights.

Sharon Bonner

Award-Winning Event Producer for 34 years | Event Strategist | Event Consultant | Published Author | VEMM Certified | Bright Ideas Event Agency

Sharon Bonner, VEMM is an award winning Event Producer, Event Strategy Consultant and Published Author who founded and has operated Bright Ideas Event Agency (BIEA) since 1988.

Sharon has always been a trailblazer. In February 2021, inspired by her pivot to virtual events, Sharon released her first digital E-Book called Donuts in the Lunchroom. In April of 2021, BizBash Canada listed Sharon as one of the TOP 250 Most Influential Event Professionals in Canada and in November 2021, BEIA received the Most Innovative Enterprise Award for innovating several projects during the pandemic.

March 2022 brought two ILEA Vancouver award nominations for BIEA, as well as a nomination for Sharon for Event Professional of the Year. In May 2022, the Canadian Special Events (CSE) awarded BIEA with Best Virtual Event and in June 2022, BIEA won an ILEA international Esprit award for Best Event Solution.

By October 2022, Sharon had launched her Event Consulting business to assist clients in producing their own quality events.

March 7, 2023 Sharon received A Woman to Watch Award spotlighting event leaders who are making an incredible impact on their community and the people around them.

Her career has been long and filled with dozens of industry awards, but her greatest accomplishment in her own words is “making a significant impact on an intern’s life that will forever change their trajectory in the event industry”. She plans to give back to the community that served her so well, long after she has retired from producing events.

(Yih-Hsiang), Cheng

Senior Strategist, Brand + Marketing + Experience

Shawn Cheng is an events nerd. With extensive experience in delivering various events across sectors, making him one of the most sought-after event strategists in the industry. Shawn’s clients praised his innovative mindset and proactive attitude, and his colleagues and staff described him as thoughtful, driven, and strategic.

As a Senior Strategist with DAHLIA+Agency, Shawn advises clients on concepts through the completion of their projects. Shawn continues to challenge the status quo and existing playbooks in the business event industry.

A lifelong learner, Shawn is the co-founder of #EventProfsBreakShit. Shawn was named “Planners of the Year” by Smart Meetings Magazine and was named “40

Under 40” by Connext x BizBash. Shawn is a Certified Meeting Professional (CMP), a Certified Digital Event Strategist (DES), and a Certified Event Designer (CED).

Rita Plaskett


Rita Plaskett, CMP, CMM, VEMM is a professional meeting planner with more than 30 years experience, specializing in events, conferences and trade shows.   During this time, she has managed events for corporate, special events and galas, government, associations and not for profit.  Some of the clients but not limited to are: Make a Wish Foundation, Ontario Association of Optometrists, Legacy Awards, TIFF After Parties, Blake’s, FEI Canada (Financial Executives International Canada),  OPHA (Ontario Public Health Association) ADVOCIS (Financial Association), OAO (Ontario Association of Optometrists), CSAE (Canadian Society of Association Executives), TESL (Teachers of English as a Second Language), OTMPC (Ontario Tourism Marketing Partnership) and many others.

 Rita has a diploma in Hospitality and Event Management from George Brown College, taught in the Hospitality Program and is currently on the George Brown Hospitality Advisory Board.  She also holds a certificate in Graphic Design from George Brown College, a Bachelor of Arts from University of Toronto, a certification in Virtual Events and a certification in Event Design.  Rita is a Certified Meeting Professional designation, holds a Certification in Meeting Management from Michigan State University and is a member of MPI and CanSPEP.

 Rita started AGENDUM Inc. in 2003 after 20 years in operations and subsequently management roles for various organizations in the meeting in industry.  Currently Rita Plaskett is President of Agendum Inc. and a Partner in Experiential Experts Inc.

Melissa Deslauriers

News Junkie, Leader, Content Creator/Curator, AV Guru, Coach and Educator

Recognized as one of BizBash’s 15 over 50 in 2022, Melissa Deslauriers is currently an Event & Tour Coordinator and PT faculty teaching Production & Staging and Event Marketing at Conestoga College in Ontario, Canada.

Melissa loves events. In-Person, virtual, hybrid, it all started way back in High School and there was no looking back.

She has held senior leadership roles in Sales and Marketing for such companies as Encore Global, Bespoke Audio Visual and bb Blanc.

Always willing to give-back, Melissa is a current co-leader for the local Toronto AVIXA Women’s Council, an organization dedicated to assisting women in audio visual, production and technology learn, collaborate, and connect.

With 25+ years in the event industry, roles in sales, marketing, and management have given Melissa a unique perspective and understanding of events, technology and the clients that call upon organizations to help them achieve their event goals and objectives.

Teamwork is crucial. Content is key. Creativity, flexibility, and problem solving are an advantage.

Julie Danaylov

Co-Founder, Cirque Revolution

Julie Danaylov, CSEP, RVP is an award-winning Certified Special Events Professional who specializes in the business of show business, production best practises, creative marketing and direct sales. Thirteen years ago, Julie helped Co-Found Cirque Revolution; Cirque-tacular Productions; & in 2018 Perform & Prosper with her two best friends & sisters Elisa & Samantha. Over the course of her career, Julie has volunteered to serve the events industry in multiple roles and capacities including the ILEA (International Live Events Association) Toronto Chapter President; the MPI (Meeting Professionals International) Toronto Chapter Professional Development Chair; and the MPI Toronto Diversity Equity & Inclusion Taskforce Volunteer, to name a few. In addition, Julie is the Lead Event Coordinator for Singularity Media Inc where she helps her partner Nikola “future-prime” their clients with pro-active solutions for expanded results for businesses, associations & organizations around the globe.

Connect with Julie on LinkedIn, Instagram, facebook or TikTok.

Eileen Bistrisky

President, Effective Leadership Consulting Ltd

Eileen is an award-winning entrepreneur who helps business owners and leaders empower teams to profitably benefit people and the planet. Organizations come to her when they want to grow, increase their profitability, and improve their operational effectiveness.

She has a long history with ILEA serving as ILEA Vancouver Chapter President in 2000/2001 and again twenty years later in 2020/2021. She was Western Regional Vice President prior to the formation of the International Affiliate Structure, ILEA Canada Chair 2010/2011, International Board of Governors 2014-2017, and far too many committees and task forces to count.

Eileen has an Executive MBA from Royal Roads University as well as Certified Special Events Professional (CSEP), Management Consultant (CMC), and professional coaching designations. In addition to ILEA, she has served on and chaired numerous other association boards & committees, and speaks at conferences & meetings around the world.

When she is not empowering teams to profitably benefit people and the planet, you can find her in the mountains and wilderness both locally and abroad.

Anthony Vade

Event Experience Strategy Director, Encore

Born and raised in Australia, Anthony now calls Toronto, Canada home. Proudly known as an instigator, creator and change agent, for over 20 years he has helped event stakeholders create meaningful and memorable connections with attendees. He has worked with the largest audiovisual, event tech and event production companies in the industry.  Designing and executing large scale conferences, corporate and entertainment events in virtual, hybrid and live scenarios.

He continues to push experience design boundaries in his role as Event Experience Strategy Director at Encore.

Anthony’s consultative and collaborative approach to customer engagement has resulted in thousands of successful events traversing four continents.

Andrew Roby

Event Producer, Andrew Roby Events

Andrew Roby is a Proud Army Vet and Event and Wedding Planner who is passionate about romantic weddings and engaging events. He has traveled to 25 countries and has had the honor of working with brands such as The International Spy Museum, Axiom Resource Management, Simon Malls, The Knot, Munaluchi Bride, The CW, The Art Institute, Northern Virginia Magazine, The City of Alexandria, VA, Vita Coco, and Kind Snacks. His work has been seen in Forbes, CNN, Fox, Washingtonian Magazine, Modern Luxury, Wedding Chicks, Logo TV, Wedding Wire and many other leading publications.

He has had the honor of working with brands such as The International Spy Museum, Axiom Resource Management, Simon Malls, The Knot, Munaluchi Bride, The CW, The Art Institute, Northern Virginia Magazine, The City of Alexandria, VA, Vita Coco, and Kind Snacks. His work has been seen in Forbes, CNN, Fox, Washingtonian Magazine, Modern Luxury, Wedding Chicks, Logo TV, Wedding Wire and many other leading publications.

He is most proud of his work with charities like Ms. Veteran America, Susan G. Komen, The Cinderella Foundation, and So Others Might Eat who dedicate their lives to helping others. He believes that events are more than just logistical work and that it is what happens before, during and after each event that resonates the most with clients.

He is grateful for his 13 year career and his 5 star rating.

Mia Halabi

Director of Events, Honeycomb Hospitality Group

Mia Halabi is currently the Director of Events with Honeycomb Hospitality Group, a Professor at Seneca College teaching Integrated Marketing Communications for Events and a part time Instructor at George Brown College, teaching Event Marketing Strategies. Mia joins the CSE awards as a judge for a 5th consecutive year and is passionate about both recognizing fellow event professionals for their achievements as well as developing and mentoring future event professionals. When she is not developing the events program at Honeycomb Hospitality, teaching at Seneca or George Brown College, or working on her MBA, Mia can be found wandering the aisles at St Lawrence Market looking for inspiration for her next dinner party!