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2024 BizBash 40 Under 40: Shelby Evans

Shelby Evans, 36, is associate director of foundation events for Inova Health Foundation.

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Shelby Evans, 36, is associate director of foundation events for Inova Health Foundation. She's based in Arlington, Va. A quote from her nomination: "Her care for clients, customers, donors, and audiences—and all aspects of their experience—knows no bounds, just as her impact on the industry. Every person who works with Shelby praises her for her exceptional work, steady leadership and strategic direction, precise organization, and unwavering ability to treat each person she works with as her No. 1 priority."

My career journey: "After completing a degree in fashion at Virginia Tech, I moved to Valenciennes, France, for the better part of a year to teach English. When I returned stateside, I started as a manager at a wholesale costume jewelry company, where I experienced my first foray into the event industry by prepping for and working at trade shows and showrooms for the brand. After a few years, I swapped necklaces and earrings for cloud as  a service and coordinated trade shows for an IT company.

Looking to gain experience in the venue management side of the event industry, I moved to a position as a planner for a conference center, where I enjoyed working with a variety of clients to bring their visions to life. My current position came to me through a networking opportunity, and it truly feels like a full-circle moment. Not only was I born at the health system where I work, I donated a kidney to my dad, and our surgeries were performed there. Being able to plan successful fundraising events and give back in my own way to the organization that gave me more time with my dad is a rewarding experience."

Evans says earning her CMP is her greatest career accomplishment so far. 'When I decided that I was going to dedicate more time and effort into more formal training with events, I did as much as I could to make sure that I would be on a level playing field with my peers that had been more directly associated with the industry,' she says.Evans says earning her CMP is her greatest career accomplishment so far. "When I decided that I was going to dedicate more time and effort into more formal training with events, I did as much as I could to make sure that I would be on a level playing field with my peers that had been more directly associated with the industry," she says.Photo: Sean Kelley Photography

What inspires me: "Finding and trying new things. I’m a naturally curious and observant person, finding inspiration all around. I love to incorporate an idea, concept, or product that I’ve come across and fit it into an event that I’m working on.

I’ve also found inspiration serving on the board for Fashion Group International’s D.C. Chapter for the past four years. Working with my fellow board members to plan educational and networking events for those in fashion and fashion-related industries stretches my realm of thinking in a different way from my day job, which makes for more ideas and creativity all around."

My greatest career accomplishment: "Getting my CMP is definitely a standout moment for me in my career. When I decided that I was going to dedicate more time and effort into more formal training with events, I did as much as I could to make sure that I would be on a level playing field with my peers that had been more directly associated with the industry.

I completed an event management course, boot camps, and study groups to not only expose myself to the content, but to provide myself a well-rounded platform of knowledge about the industry in addition to my real-life experience. Ever since I was little, I wanted to be like my dad, who had three letters after his name. He passed away before I received this designation, but I know he would have shared the true sense of accomplishment and pride I felt after passing the exam."

Evans says she would like to delve deeper into the world of experiential events. 'I’m intrigued about ways of incorporating more of the five senses into events as a way to make them more impactful,' she says.Evans says she would like to delve deeper into the world of experiential events. "I’m intrigued about ways of incorporating more of the five senses into events as a way to make them more impactful," she says.Photo: Sean Kelley Photography

The advice I would give my younger self: "Especially living in such a diverse and event-heavy area as D.C., I would have encouraged my younger self to attend and volunteer for more events in order to vary the range of my experience earlier in my career."

What's next: "I would like to delve deeper into the world of experiential events. I’m intrigued about ways of incorporating more of the five senses into events as a way to make them more impactful. I’ve also got on my vision board the goal to participate in more speaking engagements."


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