Karen Gonzales is the Director of Global Business Development at the International Association of Exhibitions & Events (IAEE) and works closely with new and existing partners, sponsors, and exhibitors to showcase their brand in the exhibitions and events industry globally. She also acts as the Chairwoman for The Meetings Industry Fund and a past chair for the Events Industry Council’s Certified Meeting Professional (CMP) Governance Committee.
Karen has been accepted into the CMP Fellows Program and is a recognized tenured CMP who has made significant contributions through service and education to the meetings, exhibitions, and events industry. She is active in several industry-related organizations.
Karen loves to spend time with her family, friends, and any type of dog(s).
What inspired you to work in the international association sector? Would you recommend this career to others?
In the early 2000s, I worked for Meeting Professionals International (MPI) as Director of Multicultural Initiatives. I learned a great deal about cultures, customs, and how business is conducted in other countries, and was keen to learn more so that I could work globally.
I highly recommend this career as you continually learn and develop your knowledge while being able to conduct business in the global environment we all live in.
How does your association #EmbraceEquity?
IAEE works closely with its DE&I Committee to include and support members from all walks of life. The importance of equity, inclusion, and diversity cannot be understated, and as a global association, IAEE takes DE&I seriously. We are celebrating the 10th anniversary of its Women’s Leadership Forum, which has been held in the US, Asia, and soon in the MENA region. IAEE is also present in over 50 countries, enabling its members to learn and conduct business globally.
How important are diversity, equity, and inclusion for the future success of associations?
I have said this before, we live in a global environment. To be successful, we must embrace DE&I, and that is no exception for associations. To grow as association executives, we need our members to have a voice to gather different perspectives and ideas.
Associations have to know their members: where they come from, who they are, and what they want to achieve. One way to do this is by asking them to confidentially share this information and explaining the importance of the data and how it will help the association grow.