Top Performing Chapter Award




Taylor is an energetic, results-driven meeting & event planner with proven success in event management as a Meetings & Events Specialist II at Thermo Fisher Scientific. She consults in the creation, planning, design and execution of meetings, events, tradeshows and exhibits for internal employees and divisions. In her free time, Taylor enjoys spending time with her Australian Shepherd, Luna, serving as the Freeport High School Junior Varsity Girls Soccer Coach, and playing for the Pittsburgh Hotspurs UWS Team!

An Ohio native, Becky moved to Pittsburgh from San Jose, California in 2016. She's since found a deep love for Pittsburgh (hello pickles & pierogis!) and especially love the tight-knit meetings & events community within the city. Becky is the Director of Catering at The Oaklander, where she loves helping her client's visions become a reality. In her free time, she enjoys reading, hiking with her dog, Annie, and finding the perfect wine & cheese pairing!

Megan uncovered her passion for hospitality at a young age. With that, she has developed and refined her skills through various roles in hospitality, management, and organization. Her years of work with various planners and types of events have given her an exceptional coordination style and expertise. Megan currently serves as the Event Manager for Nova Place; she loves using her role to connect people and craft memorable, tailored experiences.  She joined MPI several years ago and thrives on the connection it brings to the Pittsburgh hospitality community, as well as the educational opportunities it presents. 

Molly Evans is the Business Events Manager at VisitPITTSBURGH. She works with the Director of Convention Services in assisting domestic and international meeting and event planners with the execution of their events in Pittsburgh. Prior to her current role with VisitPITTSBURGH, Molly was an Association Manager at Craven Management Associates, LLC. She managed the International Association of Pediatric Feeding and Swallowing and the Indiana Speech-Language Hearing Association. Most of her time was spent working on marketing pieces, managing membership, and planning and executing annual conferences.

Aside from being involved on the Board of Directors for MPI Pittsburgh, Molly volunteers her time as a member of the Junior Board of Directors at Every Child Inc. and is a team fundraising leader for the Greater Pennsylvania Chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association.

Molly graduated summa cum laude from Kent State University with a Bachelor of Science in Hospitality Management in 2018. During her time at Kent State, Molly spent a summer at the Kent State University campus in Florence, Italy where she completed course work in Sports and Global Tourism.

Jennifer Lishego has over 20 years of marketing and hospitality industry experience, including leadership positions in sales, marketing, and operations. She has produced fashion, beauty, nightlife, and luxury media campaigns in New York. She has also created thousands of experiences as a Sales Event Manager for high-end restaurants in Philadelphia, San Francisco, and Pittsburgh. She is currently at Morton’s The Steakhouse in Pittsburgh.

Lishego received her Bachelor’s degree in Business and Retail Merchandising from Ohio University in Athens, Ohio, and is earning the Certified Meetings Professional (CMP) Certificate. She is also Meeting Professionals International (MPI) Pittsburgh Chapter’s newest Board Member, Director of Monthly Programs, and is the Collumnae Chair for Delta Gamma South Hills Alumni Chapter.

Gina Litterini, VEMM, is a top-tier event planning expert who hails from Western PA. Gina majored in Communications at the University of Pittsburgh, before moving to New York City, where she gained valuable experience at Clear Channel Radio and The Oxygen Network. That business foundation paved the way for her move to Philadelphia, and her media career at Univision, Spanish television. Most recently, Gina honed her skills at the national law firm of Pond Lehocky, beginning her career there as Marketing Director. She excelled across the board but found her true passion in special event planning, recognizing the unique advantage exceptional special events can give an organization. Her particularly adept skill in this area was recognized by the firm, and she was named Director of Events, tasked with building out a robust team that planned close to 150 events a year.

In October of 2020, Gina took the opportunity to follow her long-held dream- to take her passion and expertise and open her own business, SunRoc Events. She continues to educate herself within the event industry and became certified in Virtual Event & Meeting Management to further help her clients navigate in an ever-changing environment.

Gina currently resides in Irwin, PA, with her husband Anthony and two children. The name SunRoc is a combination of two of the most important people in her life, her children Sundra (Sunny) and Rocco. They are both her sunshine and her rock, bringing her joy and keeping her grounded. Incorporating their names into the name of her business serves as a reminder that, at the end of the day, it is all about family, happiness and finding the things in life that connect us, a philosophy that runs through everything she does.


Kristen's passion for marketing & communication started in high school when she took a marketing & communication class. After that, she was hooked! Kristen attended California University of PA where she received her Bachelor of Arts degree in Communication. She started her career managing events & marketing for a Marriott hotel. "I planned a 1-year-old birthday party and just watching the joy on his face and on everyone's face and thinking I helped make this happen, it brings you a sense of accomplishment and joy," Kristen says. Kristen went on to receive her Masters of Science in Integrated Marketing & Communications from West Virginia University and is now the Manager of Retention Marketing at Circle Graphics. When she is not in marketing mode, she is most likely planning a trip, hanging out with friends, or spoiling her nieces. 

Kristen Turner’s passion for Pittsburgh turned into a career in tourism and hospitality working for VisitPITTSBURGH.  Fast forward 18 years, Kristen has recently begun a new journey planning and managing events for the Allegheny Conference on Community Development.

In the past two years, Kristen completed the CMP and DES coursework and exams.  Kristen is a big believer in lifelong learning and networking and is actively involved in MPI, DI and ESPA.  In 2021 she received the first ever ESPA Leadership in Services Award for her work with VisitPITTSBURGH during the global pandemic.   

A native Pittsburgher, Turner spends weekends, preferably outdoors with her husband, two sons and the only other lady in the house, her Pitbull, Pepper.

Shaunden Bardell, is the Regional Director of Sales and Special Events for Live Nation Entertainment Venues within Greater Pittsburgh. These venues include Roxian Theatre and The Pavilion at Star Lake Amphitheatre.

Prior to devoting her work to Live Nation, Shaunden served as the Venues Manager for four Allegheny County special event venues, was the founder of one of Pittsburgh's top event design firms, Irie Event Design, and operated one of Pittsburgh's iconic entertainment venues, Mr Smalls Theatre.



Dr. Nicole Buse is an Assistant Professor of Hotel, Restaurant, Tourism, and Event Management at Indiana University of Pennsylvania (IUP). She has been teaching for almost a decade and loves sharing her passion of the hospitality industry with students. Dr. Buse advises the IUP MPI student chapter. This role involves connecting students with the industry outside of the classroom.

Emma grew up on a small family farm in New Carlisle, Ohio with her mother, Jennifer, and her sister, Rebekah. While growing up Emma was heavily involved in 4-H and FFA (Future Farmers of America) showing a variety of animals such as cattle and pigs, and sheep, along with taking sewing & other home economics projects. Throughout all of this Emma had many opportunities to help foster and grow her professional development skills especially during the 2018 year as the Clark County Fair queen, where Emma was a youth representative for her county at a state level.  This ultimately leads Emma to change her major in college a year later to peruse a degree in Public Relations.

Emma Hardacre is a 2022 college graduate from Waynesburg University, PA where she studied Public Relation. While in college Emma was involved with the Public Relations Student Society of America (PRSSA) where she found her passion in event planning. She was also involved in the school yearbook for three years and two years as the executive editor. While in college Emma was also a Bonner Scholar, during her four years of college Emma served over 1600 hours of service at many different local non-profits in the Greene County in Pennsylvania.

When Emma was not serving or attending school she worked at her mother’s business, which is a farm for adults with disabilities, as a Direct Support Personnel (DSP). The H.A.R.D. Acre Farm LLC is a small business that was founded in 2016 as a day program for adults with disabilities in New Carlisle, Ohio. Their goal is to provide a program for individuals to attend after they have aged out of high school where they can come to learn different life skills and have honor and respect daily, which is the acronym H.A.R.D. stands for in the Farms name. Emma has helped her mother grow this program and in doing so she found another puzzle piece to what she wanted to do in her career.

Melissa Hickman, Senior National Sales Manager, David L. Lawrence Convention Center, Pgh

I’m a Pittsburgh boomer-ranger with 10+ years in the hospitality industry.  After graduating from Penn State University in 2012, I began my career with Hyatt Hotels in Washington DC, moved to several cities (Baltimore, Denver & Seattle) and most experience as an Event Planning Manager. 

I’m excited to be back in Pittsburgh and get more involved with the hospitality industry within the city.  Along with MPI, I am an active member of PCMA, CSPI and closely involved with the Pittsburgh Business Exchange. 

A little about me:  I immensely enjoyed all the years of living across the country, Seattle has to be my favorite (besides Pgh, of course!) as it’s such an exciting city and love its close proximity to both mountains and beaches.  In my spare time, you can typically find me outdoors, running, hiking, skiing and spending time with the family.  I have nine nieces and nephews, so always exciting with that bunch!  After my move back to Pittsburgh in early 2021, I’ve enjoyed exploring the different neighborhoods, restaurants and breweries and finding the best parks throughout the city.

Ms Frankel has been in the events industry since 2019, having graduated from Robert Morris University with a BS in Business Administration, Hospitality and Event Management. Her business, Wynn Events PGH, opened in July 2022 to accolades and she continues to make her mark in Pittsburgh and surrounding areas with amazing wedding and event production. She has been a member of MPI Pittsburgh since August 2022.

Connect with Us

Job Postings