Host: David Adler
Guests: Melva LaJoy Legrand, Margo Fischer, Kawania Wooten,Aisha Malik Rodriguez, Jennifer Charles, Becca Mai
Welcome to part two of our podcast with Head Table Talks. (Missed part one? Listen here.) In this special episode of GatherGeeks, BizBash chairman and founder David Adler sits in on a special event planners' luncheon—co-hosted by Melva LaJoy Legrand of LaJoy Plans and Margo Fischer of Bright Occasions—in Washington, D.C. These luncheons, known as Head Table Talks, aim to build community within the event industry and provide a safe space for event profs to network and collaborate. In part two, the focus shifts to the latest happenings in the event business and provides valuable insights into the industry's latest trends and challenges.
The group touches on topics that are shaping the fate of the industry and candidly discusses the pros and cons of new technology advancements, the legacy impacts of COVID-19 on the events sector, rising security concerns, and more. These event profs also share their own experiences of juggling personal and professional lives. Take a listen below, and keep scrolling to read more about our distinguished guests.
Running time: 53:01
Meet this episode's guests:
Melva LaJoy Legrand
As a self-made entrepreneur recognized for her work in the live event industry, as well as causes rooted in social equality as it pertains to women, health, and race and identity, Melva LaJoy Legrand is a public speaker, event producer/director, community leader, and storyteller. As the founder and CEO of LaJoy Plans, an event planning firm she relaunched in 2019, Legrand has been recognized as a trailblazer in the event industry, receiving the BizBash Top Event Industry Innovator Award and the Events Industry Council Global Social Impact Award in 2022. As of 2023, Legrand has spearheaded two new initiatives: Mondays With Melva, exclusive monthly content for her subscribers, offering career guidance as well as event planning tips, and Head Table Talks, an annual luncheon she co-created as a safe space for event planners.
Margo Fischer is the owner of Bright Occasions, a full-service event planning company specializing in bespoke weddings and milestone occasions. Fischer brings a wealth of industry knowledge and hands-on experience to her clients, from previous roles in corporate event planning and private event catering. She has a passion for curating unforgettable events. With a strong foundation in event planning and an impressive career in some of Washington, D.C.'s most prestigious venues, Fischer boasts over 14 years of expertise in the event industry. In addition to helping couples and families, Fischer has worked on community events such as the annual Art in Bloom museum experience and gala reception at Anderson House. She also co-produced the Beyond the Blackout series to highlight diversity and inclusivity within the event industry and is currently co-producing Head Table Talks networking luncheons to create a space for event planners to gather, mingle, and learn from one another.
Kawania Wooten, CMP, brings a unique mix of experience and skills to her businesses, Howerton+Wooten Events and The Enlightened Creative. Her vast experience in the hospitality world includes hotel management, casino and gaming, the culinary industry, and 30 years as a professional meeting and event planner for Washington, D.C.'s elite. Wooten strives for professionalism, creativity, and impeccable organization within every function planned by the Howerton+Wooten Events team. She is an adjunct instructor in the hospitality, tourism, and culinary arts department at Prince George's Community College.
Aisha Malik Rodriguez
Aisha Malik Rodriguez is the founder and owner of Aim Aro Logistics LLC, a dynamic company specializing in production and event management on a global scale. With a career spanning over 25 years in the event and hospitality industry, Malik Rodriguez has become a true expert in her field. Born and raised in Fairfax County, Va., and hailing from a rich Pakistani cultural background, Malik Rodriquez brings a unique blend of experiences and perspectives to her work. Her family, which is large and spread around the world, has instilled in her a deep appreciation for diverse cultures and traditions. Malik Rodriguez's company, Aim Aro Logistics LLC, excels in a wide range of services, including vendor management, event permitting, and emergency response management. With a passion for creating unforgettable experiences, she and her team are dedicated to helping clients navigate the entire event process from start to finish. Whether it's a festival, a government or military event, a corporate gathering, a nonprofit initiative, or a private celebration, Malik Rodriguez's expertise shines through.
Jennifer Charles is a co-founder and the chief creative officer at Something Fabulous. Charles' specialty is in designing experience and storytelling marketing. She has a degree from the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York City. Charles began her career in radio, television, and film. From interning at theToday show and Good Morning America to working in production with The Food Network and New Line Cinema, she has experienced storytelling from many different angles and industries.
Becca Mai is a West Virginia native who transplanted to the D.C. area shortly after launching a career in hospitality. She has been in the wedding industry for over 10 years specializing in planning for LGBTQ+, multicultural, and fusion weddings and events. While the majority of her career has been geared toward wedding operations, she has spent a lengthy portion of it building out platforms, training programs, and more. She is now a business strategist for wedding professionals and an inclusive wedding planner, assisting wedding business owners on the back of the business to streamline, automate, and organize with hospitality 100% in mind.