Meet the Virtual Meetings and Events Association Team

Jim Bennett

Jim Bennett

Executive Director and Founder

With over 30 years of experience in the meetings and events industry, Jim has held hotel sales roles from seller to VP of Sales (Hilton, Starwood, Dolce Hotels, Marriott and Atrium Hospitality. Jim also has experience in meeting operations, working at Experient managing M&E for the Corporate Division and then following a role as VP of Revenue Development. Jim has always held a passion for technology, video production and art and mixed it frequently into his work. With the medium of virtual meetings taking off in 2020 (out of necessity) and the change in the environment of live events, the creation of VMEA fills a critical void in the meetings and events industry. Jim stated "Organizations are shifting their programs to virtual, yet for many this is a new endeavor. Much of the material on the internet comes from providers with a vested interest in the usage of their service, thus the deployment of the VMEA." Our role is to curate information in an organized fashion to create best practices, gain valuable feedback and build collaboration to support all aspects of our membership in virtual meetings and events.

Paulette Hopkins

Paulette Hopkins

Founder

Paulette is a people person, and has an ongoing 30+-year love affair with the meetings and events industry. Her introduction to the industry came through a chance meeting with a business owner who had a major client with a key footprint in the LA Olympics. The Olympic experience tapped Paulette’s passion and fascination with the industry, and 6 years later she purchased the company from the original owner and never looked back. With an amazing team, her company flourished with Fortune based corporations, worldwide travels and experiences that will never be forgotten. The M&E industry has a vast number of impactful organizations that offer educational and networking opportunities, conferences, etc. She attributes her career success to timely knowledge gained through volunteer leadership opportunities offered by industry organizations that generated valuable experiences and rewards. Paulette served as an instructor for 12 years at the College of Professional and Continuing Education at Kennesaw State University (KSU). She is a past Board Member of SITE SE, is presently the Editor for ReConnect (a monthly eNewsletter for MPI Georgia), and is a current member of OMG, a virtual meetings networking group consisting of seasoned planners.

Lance Hornecker, CMP, CMM

Lance Hornecker, CMP, CMM

Founder

With more than 28 years of experience in the hospitality industry, Lance Hornecker has worked in many different facets ranging from Food and Beverage and Hotel Operations, to Sales and Marketing for such companies as Starwood Hotels & Resorts, Meeting Expectations, and more recently, Omni Hotels & Resorts. A graduate of the University of Nevada–Las Vegas’ Hotel Administration program, Lance began his career as a management trainee in Los Angeles, and has held positions within the cruise line industry before embarking on a Sales and Marketing career in Atlanta in 1996. Lance served as president of Meeting Professionals International – Georgia Chapter in 2006-2007. Lance earned the Certified Meeting Professional (CMP) designation in 2001, and the Global Certification in Meeting Management (CMM) in 2008. His extensive experience with Hotel Operations, Sales & Marketing Training and Supplier Side Contract Negotiation led to his contributing several featured articles in leading industry publications including the Atlanta Business Chronicle, MPI Georgia’s Quarterly journal, Breakout and featured articles in Meeting Professionals International’s monthly magazine. Currently, Lance serves as Vice President of Communications for the Georgia Chapter of Meeting Professionals International.

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