As executive director of the Strategic Event Management Team, Colleen Bagnasco, CAE CMP, has a firm belief in education and creativity in association management. While some executive association professionals have experience in different societies over the years, Colleen comes from a robust career at the Society of Actuaries. Her very first role was as an intern on their meetings team, then she became more involved in content and logistics, leading to her most recent role as senior director of events and a comprehensive understanding of the strategic, financial, and business development aspects of associations. Of this niche industry, she says, “Working in the association world is where my heart is. Having an understanding of each association’s mission and goals allows me and my team to provide influence from a meetings perspective.”
With meetings and events, Colleen knows that there are endless opportunities to be creative, no matter what size budget her team is working with. She has the experience and expertise to recognize the impact that meetings have on associations and on the hospitality industry. She strives to help associations grow by aiding them in optimizing their budgets and providing engaging experiences to attract attendees to their conferences and build membership. As an executive director and leader, Colleen likes an open, inclusive, collaborative, team environment in which creativity, innovation, and fun can come together to optimize results and explore new opportunities. She believes in building trust and partnerships with both vendors and team members; she has an open-door policy and enjoys working one-on-one with her team members.
To Colleen, the power of education in one’s field carries one far. She says, “If we’re educating associations, then we need to be educated as well.” She graduated with a bachelor of science in hospitality management, and her CAE and CMP certifications show her commitment to hospitality and the association field. She also acts as a vice chair for the meetings SIG for Association Forum, is on the events committee of the Greater Midwest Chapter, Professional Convention Management Association (GMC PCMA), and is a member of the American Society of Association Executives (ASAE), Association Forum and Professional Convention Management Association (PCMA).
When Colleen is not at AMC or other association forums, she enjoys wellness activities including Orange Theory Fitness, cycling, meditation and spending time with her husband (on the Harley) and two daughters. She also enjoys reading influential books.