LOS ANGELES Dwayne Jones is the director of strategic events and protocol for the L.A. 2028 Olympic and Paralympic Games Organizing Committee. Originally from Louisiana, he moved to Los Angeles in 2000 and has worked in events and partnership marketing for Universal Studios, Hollywood & Highland Center, and the L.A. Tourism and Convention Board, and he is currently on the leadership team for Fête Los Angeles, an industry networking group for L.A.-based event professionals.
What are you working on right now? Given that we are in the early planning stages with the L.A. 2028 Organizing Committee, my focus at the moment is on internal meetings and protocol visits from stakeholders, including the International Olympic Committee, the U.S. Olympic Committee, and international sport federation representatives. The next year will involve preparations for our delegation to attend the Tokyo 2020 Olympic & Paralympic Games, as well as partner activations that will commence as we initiate a joint venture with the U.S. Olympic Committee to sell sponsorships supporting Team U.S.A. and the 2028 Games.
What's in your event-day bag? Aside from basic office supplies, I always try to have painter's tape, fishing line, zip ties, an X-acto knife, and a calligraphy pen on hand.
What movies, TV shows, or books are inspiring you right now? Queer Eye on Netflix: The show's heart and “outside the box” take on the traditional makeover model is refreshing. Riverdale on the CW: I love the art direction and film noir visual elements. Plus, appealing to my age demographic by casting our “teen idols” as the parents is genius. The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel on Amazon Prime: They balance total immersion into 1950s New York with a timely strong female character who hilariously bucks the system.
What's your favorite new product? It's not new and I was a late adapter, but I'm a big fan of Google Docs and Sheets for sharing real-time updated information on projects and presentations.
What was the most memorable event you've attended lately? I've had the privilege of attending nine Olympic Games and two Paralympic Games. Nothing showcases every aspect of event organization, logistics execution, and hospitality more than a global sporting event. It is sensory overload for an event professional, and I always find myself discovering new ways to do things or thinking about how I would have done them differently.
What's the biggest thing affecting the event industry right now? Inclusion. It's very easy to get caught up in the logistics (and time crunch) of planning an event and miss opportunities to create an inclusive experience for everyone attending. I've learned so much through my previous work with the Special Olympics and the planning that L.A. 2028 is undertaking for the Paralympics that will help me in every future event that I produce.
We are in a time where language in event communications, onsite experiential elements, and overall event design are more important than ever in efforts to include everyone. Accessible bars and cocktail tables, gender-neutral restrooms, and eliminating pronouns from registration details are a few examples of things I see happening more often in the industry today.
How is your job different now from what it was five years ago? Technology has enhanced (and continues to change) the way we think about all aspects of event design and production. From guest communication to onsite experiences and social media engagement, staying abreast of technology advances is as important as the latest industry design trends. Those two elements often intersect, as we've seen with drone light shows and interactive photo/video technology at events.
What do you love about your job? While every event brings a new challenge and we continue to adapt to changing trends and tech, I love that the basics of creative thinking, attention to detail, and working with the right people are an industry constant. I've had the opportunity to work with some of the most talented and hardest-working team members you'll ever meet. At the end of the day, it's all about surrounding yourself with people that you trust. They bring levity and make even the toughest events enjoyable.