12-13 SEP 2024

Meet the 2023 Predict Speakers

Predict speakers provide big picture information through forward-thinking content to help position your organization to be future focused.

Armida Ascano

Consumer Behavior and Generational Trends Expert, Futurist, and Chief Insights Officer
Trend Hunter

Armida Ascano is the brain behind Trend Hunter’s content, trend sessions and innovation work. As a Futurist, Founder and leader of Trend Hunter’s Futurist Team, she has crafted hundreds of trend frameworks and innovation tools that are used by some of the world’s largest brands including: Red Bull, Domino’s, Panasonic Starbucks, Johnson & Johnson, Bacardi, Mastercard, Viacom, Universal and Toms Shoes. Her expertise is in getting high performance teams to think differently about their customer segmentation and opportunities.

As Trend Hunter’s most-requested Futurist, Armida has a passion for trend forecasting with a specialized focus on generational segmentation. Armida joined Trend Hunter in 2010 as an editor. With 10 years of hunting trends under her belt, she has curated and studied over 50,000 trend case studies and one billion views of traffic, making her an expert in Internet culture and consumer behavior in the digital age. She has been featured by Global News, the Globe and Mail, CTV, and more.

Cathy Breden, CMP-F, CAE, CEM

Chief Executive Officer
Center for Exhibition Industry Research (CEIR)

Cathy Breden, CMP-F, CAE, CEM is the CEO of the Center for Exhibition Industry Research (CEIR). Breden provides strategic direction and manages the day-to-day activities and business operations of CEIR. CEIR conducts primary, exhibition-related research studies to help exhibition stakeholders with evolving norms, shifting marketing trends and other issues that can have an impact on the channel itself or how to use if effectively in light of trends. Reports include digital/technology, attendee/exhibitor engagement, attendee acquisition and retention, generational workforce shifts, economic performance and impact, and exhibitor studies evaluating motivations for use of the exhibition marketing channel. She has been working with CEIR since 2006.

Cathy also serves in the capacity of Executive Vice President/COO of the International Association of Exhibitions and Events® (IAEE), a trade association representing the exhibitions and events industry. She began her association management career in 1984. She is the 2022 Chairperson of the Events Industry Council Board of Directors. She earned the Certified Meeting Professional (CMP) designation in 1990, the Certified Association Executive (CAE) designation in 1995, the Certified in Exhibition Management (CEM) designation in 2019 and was recognized as a CMP Fellow in 2022.

Kelly Comboni

Kelli Comboni

President of LeftField Media
Clarion Events North America

Kelly is an accomplished leader in the events industry with 20+ years of experience in both consumer and B2B events. With a visionary mindset, Kelly has been at the forefront of some of the most remarkable ventures in the field, including the triumphant launch of New York Comic Con. Her unique ability to curate and execute exceptional experiences has been evident as she has overseen more than 100 events across the United States, Canada, and Brazil.

Her portfolio includes renowned consumer enthusiast brands like Anime NYC, Anime Frontier, Awesome Con and Rose City Comic Con, demonstrating her commitment to delivering captivating experiences for attendees.

In addition to her contributions to the consumer events industry, Kelly has brought innovation to the forefront with events like MAU (Mobile Apps Unlocked), IGA (Indian Gaming Tradeshow & Convention), IGB Live! North America (iGaming Business), Consero, and Quartz Events & Network.

Nancy Drapeau, IPC

Vice President of Research

Nancy is a 24-year market research veteran with over 18 years in the business-to-business exhibitions sector. As CEIR’s VP, Research, she conducts industry-wide studies and reports on current trends in the exhibition industry. She holds a BA in Government from Georgetown University and a master’s in advanced European and International Studies from l’Institut Européen des Hautes Études Internationales.

She is an AC Nielsen Burke Institute trained focus group moderator. She is a well-respected industry speaker and an active member of the Marketing Research Association (MRA) as well as a past participant of the International Association of Exhibitions and Events (IAEE) Future Trends Task Force and member of the Convention Industry Council’s (CIC) Research Committee. She lives in Maine, is married with a 16-year-old son and a border collie puppy named Moxie.

Dr. Peter Fader

Frances and Pei-Yuan Chia Professor of Marketing
The Wharton School at University of Pennsylvania

Peter Fader is the Frances and Pei-Yuan Chia Professor of Marketing at The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. His expertise centers around the analysis of behavioral data to understand and forecast customer shopping/purchasing activities. He works with firms from a wide range of industries, such as telecommunications, financial services, gaming/entertainment, retailing, and pharmaceuticals. Managerial applications focus on topics such as customer relationship management, lifetime value of the customer, and sales forecasting for new products. Much of his research highlights the consistent (but often surprising) behavioral patterns that exist across these industries and other seemingly different domains.

In addition to his various roles and responsibilities at Wharton, Professor Fader co-founded a predictive analytics firm (Zodiac) in 2015, which was sold to Nike in 2018. He then co-founded (and continues to run) Theta to commercialize his more recent work on “customer-based corporate valuation.”

Fader is the author of three books: “Customer Centricity: Focus on the Right Customers for Strategic Advantage” (2020), “The Customer Centricity Playbook” with Sarah Toms (2018), and “The Customer-Base Audit” with Bruce Hardie and Michael Ross (2022).

He has won many awards for his research and teaching accomplishments. Among these achievements, he was named by Advertising Age as one of its inaugural “25 Marketing Technology Trailblazers” in 2017 (and was the only academic on the list).


Barnaby Fletcher

Director, Head of Global Risk Analysis, North America
Control Risks

Barnaby has extensive experience in helping clients across the world identify, understand, and mitigate the risks facing their operations. He currently leads Control Risks’ risk analysis practice in North America. In this role he helps some of the world’s largest companies understand the political, operational and security landscape in the US and Canada, as well as working closely with his colleagues across the world to forecast geopolitical risks and help clients navigate these as they expand internationally.

Barnaby previously spent over a decade focused on sub-Saharan Africa, leading Control Risks’ risk analysis practice in East and Southern Africa. This role involved helping companies enter and operate in some of the world’s most challenging environments and overcome issues ranging from Islamist insurgency in northern Mozambique to civil conflict in Ethiopia.

Before joining Control Risks, Barnaby was a contributing analyst to the Economist Intelligence Unit, focusing on political and economic developments in sub-Saharan Africa. He also worked as a business journalist, contributing work to publications including Engineering & Mining Journal, Hart’s E&P, Oil & Gas Investor, and Africa Confidential.


Kimberly Hardcastle-Geddes, CEM

mdg, A Freeman Company

As chief marketing strategist of mdg, the nation’s leading marketing and public relations agency specializing in audience acquisition, Hardcastle-Geddes and her team provide solutions that increase attendance and exhibitor participation for live and online events.

Kimberly has worked in both the United States and Europe, holds a Master of Science in Business Administration with an emphasis in Marketing and has 19 years of event industry experience. She is an IAEE Krakoff Leaders Institute alumna, a columnist for PCMA’s Convene magazine and a frequent presenter of industry seminars on strategic marketing planning. She’s also a mom, runner, reader and Peloton addict.


Lisa Malikow

Senior Vice President, Event Operations and Programming
Winsight Media (National Restaurant Association Show)

Lisa Malikow is the Senior Vice President, Event Operations & Programming for Winsight Exhibitions (now part of Informa Connect) and has over 22 years in exhibitions management experience.  In this role she is responsible for the strategic and operational management of The National Restaurant Association Restaurant, Hotel-Motel Show® is the largest annual gathering of restaurant, foodservice, and lodging professionals in the world, from all 50 states and 100+ countries each May to Chicago, Illinois. Lisa joined the Show in October 2008 as Show Manager of the International Wine, Spirits and Beer Event focused on the adult beverage segment in foodservice. Currently, Lisa oversees a variety of critical areas for the Show, including event operations, special events, education programming, year-round digital strategies and budget management.

Prior to the Restaurant Show, Lisa spent over 7 years at SmithBucklin Corporation primarily focused on trade shows in the technology and business-trade sectors. Lisa is a former Chairperson of the Midwestern Chapter of the International Association of Exhibitions and Events and is currently vice-chair for the Major American Trade Show Organizers (MATSO) council. Lisa is a graduate of DePauw University with a B.A. in Communications Arts & Sciences.


Vincent Polito

Chief Executive Officer
Society of Independent Show Organizers (SISO)

With more than 20 years in senior leadership positions in the industry, Vincent is recognized as a content development and execution specialist. During his career, he’s had two international postings (at Reed Exhibitions (RX) and The Interface Group/Ziff Davis), launched events on five continents and developed highly specialized conferences in technology, life sciences and healthcare. Vinnie was managing director at mdg (the tradeshow industry’s leading strategy and marketing agency). Vinnie is a past Chairman of the International Association of Exhibitions and Events (IAEE). On January 1, Vinnie became the CEO at SISO, The Society of Independent Show Organizers.


Dr. Sam Potolicchio

President, Preparing Global Leaders Forum
Founding Executive Director, Center For Global Leadership at American Councils

Dr. Sam Potolicchio was named one of “America’s Best Professors” by the Princeton Review, the Future Leader of American Higher Education by the Association of Colleges and Universities, and winner of the OZY Educator Award as one of the six outstanding American educators. He was also profiled in a cover story on his leadership curriculum by Newsweek Japan as the “Best Professor in America”. Potolicchio is President of the Preparing Global Leaders Forum and Distinguished University Professor, Department Chairman and Vice-Dean of the Faculty of Political Science at the Russian Presidential Academy of National Economy and Public Administration. He is a visiting lecturer at the University of Bologna (Italy). He is a columnist for Newsweek Japan, a Distinguished Global Scholar at the Canterbury School of Fort Myers, and a lecturer on Leadership at the Library of Congress for OWLC, an international leadership program of the United States Congress. Potolicchio is an adviser to prominent business, non-profit and government leaders. He created and designed the first undergraduate degree in Global Governance and Leadership in English in the Russian Federation where he serves as Academic Director.

Potolicchio has served as the Director of Global and Custom Education at the McCourt School of Public Policy at Georgetown University, has been a visiting professor at New York University, and joined Senator Richard Lugar as tag team senior lecturers at UIndy’s Semester in Washington. Potolicchio has delivered lectures in over 85 countries, from Oxford, LSE, Cambridge and Yale to Iraq’s Komar University and Donetsk State University. As a middle-school basketball coach, he led his Little Hoyas to 6 league titles and previously served as a 5th grade Latin teacher, public high school teacher of Law and History and secondary school admissions officer.

From 2015-2019 Potolicchio served as the Director of Global and Custom Education at the McCourt School of Public Policy at Georgetown University, has been a visiting professor at New York University, and joined Senator Richard Lugar as tag team senior lecturers at UIndy’s Semester in Washington. Potolicchio has delivered lectures in over 85 countries, from Oxford, LSE, Cambridge and Yale to Iraq’s Komar University and Donetsk State University. As a middle-school basketball coach he led his Little Hoyas to 6 league titles and previously served as a 5th grade Latin teacher, public high school teacher of Law and History and secondary school admissions officer.

Sam received his B.A. Government from Georgetown, B.A. Psychology, Georgetown, M.T.S. Theology and Culture from Harvard, PRSE, Harvard, MA, Government, Georgetown and PhD, Government, Georgetown.


Stuart Ruff-Lyon, CMP, DES

Chief Events and Sales Officer
Risk & Insurance Management Society (RIMS)

Stuart Ruff-Lyon, CMP, DES has worked in the events and hospitality industry since 1998 and joined RIMS in 2012 as Director of Meetings and Events, was promoted in 2016 to Vice President, Events and Exhibitions. and was promoted to Chief of Events and Sales in 2022.

Stuart is passionate about business events and is an advocate for strategic events that increase revenue, grow brand exposure, and support the goals and objectives of RIMS. He currently oversees event sponsorship sales, attendee acquisition strategies, and all content for RIMS RISKWORLD. Ruff-Lyon is the lead liaison to the Exhibits Advisory Committee (EAC) and the Annual Conference Programming Committee (ACPC) and leads a team of 9 professionals.

Stuart is a Certified Meeting Professional (CMP) and serves on business event advisory boards for the cities of Denver, Chicago, San Francisco, Philadelphia and Anaheim. He also served as the 2020 Chair of the Board of Directors for the Professional Convention Management Association (PCMA). On the PCMA BOD, Ruff-Lyon oversaw strategic planning and global development strategies.


Jackie Williams

Event Director

Jackie Williams has more than 17 years of experience in the tradeshow and events industry. With vast involvement in the B2B and B2C space, Jackie has worked on a variety of events, including New York Comic Con, Star Wars Celebration, and Book Expo America, as well as several joint ventures, and has been an integral part of many event launches. Jackie is currently the Event Director for Bar Convent Brooklyn and was named to Trade Show Executive’s 2022 Women to Watch List. An active reader and warm weather enthusiast, Jackie resides in the suburbs of Washington, DC, and holds a bachelor’s degree in marketing from Saint Joseph’s University in Philadelphia.