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2017 Annual Conference Keynote


Shannan Paul
Comedian, Speaker

A self-labeled Geek, Miss Shannan Paul brings roaring laughter to even the most curmudgeonly of crowds. Twin Cities newspaper, the City Pages says, “No matter where you’ve seen (or heard) her, you know just how great Miss Shannan is. With comedy that’s personal and relatable, she has the ability to make you feel like you’ve been friends for years, even if you’re only seeing her for the very first time.”

Her storytelling and infectious smile are sure to crack up even the most stone-faced curmudgeon. She can relate to just about everyone whether they be students, Sci-Fi fans, jocks, or soccer moms.

Her diverse professional background has given her an incredibly broad communication set and allowed her to work with people and groups covering a spectrum of ethnicities, age ranges and education levels. In addition, she is a touring stand-up comedian who has performed for a wide range of audiences. She has hosted numerous corporate and charity events. Miss Shannan is a regular guest on local TV talk shows speaking on pop culture and diversity.

Miss Shannan’s discussion on “Cultural Sensitivity for the Accidentally Insensitive” uses personal anecdotes and real world situations to teach the audience how to not “be that person” who walks blindly into an awkward situation. Miss Shannan can keeping you smiling and keep people of other cultures smiling along with you.

2017 Annual Conference Presenters


Mary Anderson
Anderson Race Management

Mary is the owner and president of Anderson Race Management (ARM). Mary established ARM in 1996 and provides race management, timing, marketing, and rental services for nearly 200 events each year. ARM Specializes in running, biking, swimming and triathlon events throughout the Twin Cities.  Mary has served on numerous boards including Minnesota Distant Running Association, Twin Cities Marathon as well as Minneapolis Park Board Foundation.


Rosanne Bump
St. Paul Festival and Heritage Foundation

Rosanne joined the St. Paul Festival and Heritage Foundation (SPFHF) in January of 2013 as their president and CEO. The SPFHF is proud producer of the St. Paul Winter Carnival and Cinco de Mayo West Side St. Paul. For the nine years prior to that, she was the President and CEO of the River Falls Area Chamber (WI) of Commerce and Tourism Bureau. There she planned a four-day community Festival, started a four-day bluegrass festival and conducted as many as 10 one-day community events each summer, including truck and tractor pulls, and several car shows.


Randy Dewitz
Fanfare Attractions, LLC

Randy L. Dewitz, Owner, Fanfare Attractions started the Company in September, 1994. He has provided management services for the Festivals and Events industry for over 34 years.  Randy received his Certified Festival & Event Executive (CFEE) designation from IFEA in September 2016 and Festival Manager certificate in April of 1993. He was the President of the Minnesota Festivals and Events Association. Has been a long-standing member of MN Festivals and Events Association and the International Festivals and Events Association. His Company manages the Operations for Saint Paul Winter Carnival, Cinco de Mayo- Westside, Grand Old Day, Irish fair of Minnesota, Twin Cities Pride Festival and Eagan 4th of July Funfest. They also work with over 25 other events and holiday décor venues across the Twin Cities.

Wendy Famodu
Ziegler Power Systems

Wendy has worked at Ziegler Inc. for over 30 years. During that time, she has worked in many areas of the company, but has spent more than the last 15 in Ziegler Power Systems specializing in special event power.  She sells and coordinates power for a multitude of events every year, such as the 3M Championship Golf Tournament and the Basilica Block Party, but also many smaller community festivals and concerts. She is the main contact for all aspects of the event, which includes on-site surveys, event layouts, scheduling power for load in, set-up, electrical permitting, on site monitoring and take down and load out.  Wendy has been a member of MNFEA for many years and on the board of directors since 2015.


  • J Marie Fieger
  • Nemer Fieger Ad Agency

  • J. Marie is president of Nemer Fieger, a full-service, client-centric ad agency that provides advertising, creative, event, and public relations services for clients who seek to raise awareness, drive traffic and sales, and build their brands. Before becoming the agency’s president, J. Marie ran the public relations department for more than 30 years. A University of Minnesota graduate, she lives on a hobby farm with her teenage daughter, fiancé, and many animals.



Ruth Glaser
Hazeltine National Golf Club/
Ryder Cup

After spending the 90s helping clients understand how to use ERP technology systems and the early 2000s in client services in the pharmaceutical/chemical industry, Ruth Glaser and a long-time friend tapped their entrepreneurial spirit to create Let’s Dish!, a retail business that helps busy people get good meals on the table. After experiencing the highs of raising private equity and rapidly building a franchise system, and the lows of the post-2008 economic apocalypse, she channeled her problem-solving and good-idea-generating skills to a small business with a big brand, Hazeltine National Golf Club. At Hazeltine, she is the Senior Director of Sales & Marketing, and was co-Chair of the Corporate Hospitality Committee for the 2016 Ryder Cup. 


Drew Gneiser
The Social Lights - Agency

Drew is Training Manager and Social Strategist, a storyteller and community builder who believes people are full of potential. Whether developing strategy and content with nonprofits, brands, or bands, Drew understands how social fits into the bigger business picture. Drew majored in Business (with a side of Radio) at the University of Northwestern-St. Paul. In the past few years, Drew has spoken at CreativeMornings/Minneapolis (which he now helps organize) and the Best of Social Media Summit in Washington D.C. and Orlando. He has blogged for Compassion International, Convoy of Hope, and Sevenly. 


Stephanie Hanson
MyTalk FM 107.1

Stephanie Hansen is the show host on MYTalk 107.1’s 10-year-old food show – the “Weekly Dish” co-hosted by Minneapolis St Paul Magazine’s food editor, Stephanie March from 9a-11a on Saturdays. Stephanie blogs about food at her lifestyle website Stephaniesdish.com as well as produces the @riverplacemkt Artisan Farmers market and is a social media manager for local food companies. Long a champion of small businesses Stephanie also hosts a podcast that features Minnesota makers called The Makers of Minnesota on Podcast One. Stephanie is the Past President of the Twin Cities Advertising Federation with over 650 advertising and marketing professionals as members. Stephanie is a member of Women in Networking (WIN), and MetroIBA a Twin Cities group championing local businesses and NAWBO, National Association of Women Business Owners. Stephanie is on the board of directors for Children’s cancer Research Fund and contributes her time to People Serving People, The March of Dimes and the Art of Well Cancer charity.


Adam Harness
Phillips Wine and Spirits

Adam Harness has worked in the service industry since he was 14.  His first job was with Castle Kitchens at the Minnesota Renaissance Festival serving roasted corn for hungry lines from morning until the cannon blasted at the end of the day.  16 years of bartending, developing menus, managing staff, going to grad school for education while studying, and learning the history of craft, classic, and modern cocktails.  Adam is now working for Phillips Wine and Spirits as an On-Premise account manager.  He continues to self-educate and share his knowledge with his sales team.

Phillips Wine and Spirits


Patricia (Patty) Hellen
Special Events Security Consultant

She has 30 years of Law Enforcement experience; 16 years as the Special Events Coordinator for the Minneapolis Police Department. Ms. Hellen has extensive experience managing large scale complex events that involved developing operational plans, managing staffing and equipment resources, and facilitating meetings with public safety stakeholders and planning groups.  During her time as the Special Events Coordinator she was involved with the planning of the 2014 MLB All-Star Game, 2008 Republican National Convention, 2001 Final Four Men’s Basketball Tournament and numerous Dignitary Protection visits. Today, she is currently working with the Minneapolis Police Department as a consultant preparing for the 2017 - 2018 Summer X Games, 2018 Super Bowl LII, and 2019 NCAA Men’s Final Four Men’s Championship Basketball Tournament.


  1. Theresa Janchek
  2. Woodbury Days

Theresa Janechek has been the President of the Woodbury Days Council (WDC), a non-profit organization, for the past 20 years.  An all-volunteer council with more than 50 members, WDC is responsible for planning Woodbury Days, an annual three-day community celebration. In her role as President, Theresa chairs the Sponsorship/VIP committee, working with area businesses to create win-win partnerships that raise sponsorship dollars to help cover the costs of the event, and promote those businesses to the community.  She takes great pride in having created partnerships that have kept several sponsors on board for 20 years now. 


Brad Kohorst 
Party Time Rental

Brad and Lori Kohorst have always dreamed of owning a business together. They set their sights on opening a quaint bed and breakfast, but quickly realized that it would probably work out better once they were retired. Committed to making the dream of being their own boss the couple packed up their lives in Becker, Minn. to move to the Brainerd lakes area and took over as the owners of Party Time Rental in Brainerd. Party Time Rental provides tables, chairs, linens and much more for events of all types and sizes, but the Kohorsts have made their niche in canopies. They provide a wide variety of large canopy rentals that seat from 40 up to 500 guests.

John Lafferty
Rock Events

John Lafferty is currently the National Events Director for Rock Events and Rock Security.  In this role, he is the oversight for Rock Security’s Las Vegas Event Division operations and manages large scale events for Rock on a national level. John has worked in the hospitality and entertainment since his humble beginnings as a stagehand in 1994.  In the past 22 years, John has worked in a myriad of roles and positions in the industry and proudly claims to have gotten his hands dirty in just about every job imaginable. With Rock Security, John offers consultation and management oversight to festivals and events.  His main focus is tailored to guest experience with highlighting proper training and execution of event staff. John is a proud Minnesotan and represents the MNFEA Board of Directors as a director who lives outside of the Metro area in Greater MN in the town of Comfrey.


Dennis was a fair-time employee for about 15 years starting in the Public Safety Division. He joined the full time staff in 1996. For the past 20 years he has served in various capacities with the Sales Division. In his current role as License Administration Manager he oversees all licensing disciplines with a focus on those involving percentage fees, food, beverage and beer and is liaison with many state agencies having jurisdiction over such operations. He also manages department finances and reconcilements with the finance division. Along with such duties he coordinates the selection, placement and oversight of all food, beverage and beer concessions. Dennis received his CFE (Certified Fair Executive) in 2009 and graduated from the IAFE Institute of Fair Management in 2014. Most recently he was appointed to the Board of Directors of the Minnesota Restaurant Association and will begin his term in 2017.
Before joining the fair staff Dennis was a bakery route sales representative for 25 years selling the classic Hostess snack products; including the likes of Twinkies, Ding Dongs and Ho Ho’s. He now claims with his fair food responsibilities he has spent most of his life selling “fun food” to the public.


Brian Laur
Hubbard Interactive

Bernie Laur is the Director of Digital Sales for Hubbard Interactive - Twin Cities and has been running the Digital Sales organization since October of 2008.  Since arriving at Hubbard, Bernie has been instrumental in creating Hubbard’s Social Media Management and Marketing and Digital Display advertising platforms.  Bernie and Hubbard Interactive have partnered with sister company, 2060 Digital, to also offer businesses SEO, PPC, Website creation, Email Marketing and Management, Podcasting, and much more.  Bernie is a 30 year veteran in the broadcasting and digital fields.  Before Hubbard, Bernie was General Sales Manager of WKTI Radio in Milwaukee; he lived the “Hip Hop Dream” as GSM of B96 Radio in the Twin Cities; and he co-created and managed the CBS Retail Group - Twin Cities.  Bernie holds a BA in Journalism/Mass Communications from the University of Minnesota – Twin Cities.  Having been born and raised in Milwaukee, Bernie is not just a Green Bay Packers fan, he’s a season ticket holder and owner!  



Brian Lukasavitz
Lukasavitz Law Group, LLC

Brian Lukasavitz, Esq., a Minnesota-based and licensed attorney with Lukasavitz Law Group, LLC. specializes in Arts/Entertainment, Non-Profit and Business Law. His background includes owning an event-coordination and theatrical production company and advising and consulting with clients in the areas of contracts, licensing and Intellectual Property.



Jackie Maas
City of Plymouth

Jackie Maas has over 25 years’ experience managing volunteers. Currently the volunteer coordinator with the City of Plymouth, she has also managed programs at the Minnesota Historical Society and the Minneapolis Institute of Arts. Her favorite aspects of working with volunteers are the relationships she builds with them through the years and the challenge of matching volunteer skills and abilities with the work that needs to get done. Jackie received a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Jamestown in English, psychology and history/political science. 



Steve Madson
SRO Productions, Inc.

Steve is the owner/president of SRO Productions, Inc., an event company with 40-plus years of music and entertainment experience in the Twin Cities. Steve started at SRO in 1993, purchased the company in 2004 from its founder and decided to place a larger focus on event production and creation. SRO produces about a dozen events annually in the Twin Cities including the Frozen Faceoff Fan Fest for the National Collegiate Hockey Conference (NCHC), Stone Arch Bridge Festival, City Pages Beer Festival and Cities Wine Tasting to name a few. SRO also provides exceptional production services for the Beer Dabbler festivals, concerts at Somerset Amphitheater and various events at Canterbury Park.

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Darren McConnell
Sysco

Darren has enjoyed over 30 years of working in foodservice.   He started as a busboy and worked his way through the front and back of the house all the way to General Manager.  Darren spent many of those years in Champps locations across the country as a Trainer and Manager.  Lately, he has been working with Sysco as a Business Resource consultant, where his main focus is helping local restaurants be as profitable as possible in a challenging environment. Darren holds a soft spot in his heart for the Minnesota State Fair, and has run the delivery and food service operations in St. Paul for the last few years.

Brett Palmer
AbiJack Management

Since founding AbiJack Management in 2004, Brett Palmer and Jen Palmer have been establishing and maintaining successful partnerships between the corporate world, the music industry and events with the ability to develop and manage partnership strategies.  AbiJack Management is always working to create unique marketing and branding programs for clients, and approaches each client as an individual, creating specialized programs that mutually benefit and raise the profile of the event and brand together. AbiJack Management has extensive experience implementing these ideas and managing the process from inception to execution.


Ryan Parranto
Phillips Wine and Spirits


Ryan Parranto for the past year has been a Division Supervisor with Phillips wine and Spirits.  He manages a team of 4 reps and has oversight of 14 key accounts.  Prior to this role, Ryan spent 12 years as an On-Premise sale representative, placing many…many new innovative products and managing a large territory within the Twin Cities Metro area.

Diana Rohlfsen
Biffs, Inc
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Diana is the Special Event Sales Specialist at Biffs, Inc. During her 18 years at Biffs, Diana he has built an impressive portfolio of one-time and annual events working with clients like the University of Minnesota, MN Vikings, Mid-America Festivals and Life Time Fitness; with high profile events like The Minnesota State Fair, Taste of Minnesota, 3M Championship and Pride Fest; with community-building events like beer festivals, outdoor concerts, art festivals, 5Ks and marathons; with philanthropic groups raising funds to cure diseases or to improve the lives of the disadvantaged; with brides and grooms and families planning reunions and graduation parties. Diana specializes in assisting event planners design their portable restroom plan, gathering the essential details and then communicating those details to Biffs’ logistics division. Prior to joining the Biffs’ team, Diana was the volunteer coordinator at Pax Christi Church in Eden Prairie, MN. 


Ruth Tambornino
2060 Digital / Hubbard Broadcasting

Ruth Tambornino is the Digital Brand Strategist at Hubbard Interactive, Hubbard’s Digital Agency. Prior to joining Hubbard Interactive, she was the Senior Manager of Field Strategy at Dex Media. In addition to Dex Media, Ruth spent a year working with a start-up software company as Director of Sale Enablement. Ruth has over 10 years of experience in digital marketing. A former small business owner and Real Estate professional, Ruth understands the challenges business owners face. Her professional focus is to educate business owners on the importance of digital marketing. Her areas of expertise include PPC, SEO, Digital Display, Websites and Mobile platforms. Over the course of her career, Ruth has received several awards for sales and training. She is certified in Google AdWords and is currently completing her business degree at Saint Mary’s University.

Vince Vanella
TVG Events

Vince Vanella has worked in the environmental services industry for over 30 years and has worked with Waste Management 25 of those years. He’s held numerous positions in operations, operations management as well as marketing. He has designed and implemented large commercial, institutional, event, and residential waste and recycling programs. Vince has been at the forefront of these changes of the waste industry’s “going green” initiative. For example, he was one on the founders of the Recycling Association of Minnesota (RAM). He also started the Ronald McDonald pop tap recycling program in 1989. About 4 years ago Vince, and his wife Kris, decided to branch out on their own and started The Vanella Group of MN. One of the company’s fastest growing division’s is TVG Events, where they provide a high level of environmental and logistic services for many events of all sizes in Minnesota.


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