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BizBash to Induct Industry Luminaries at Hall of Fame Ceremony

Four New York-based event professionals and one nonprofit join a prestigious group of honorees.

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Photos: Courtesy of Honorees

Four veteran event professionals from New York along with a nonprofit known for its creative and meaningful events will be inducted into the BizBash Hall of Fame at a ceremony September 20 at Hard Rock Cafe New York. Some 250 guests will celebrate Mary Dearborn, Thom Casadonte, Gary Pagano, David Stark, and Diffa: Design Industries Foundation Fighting AIDS. Chosen by the BizBash executive committee for their work, accomplishments, and contributions to the industry, the honorees join a distinguished group of industry professionals. The full list of BizBash Hall of Fame inductees can be found here.

Mary Dearborn
Vice president of sales, CxRA
Dearborn joined Restaurant Associates in 1987 as director of catering sales. In this role she established the CxRA central catering sales office and staffing services department. She was responsible all off-premise event catering as well as the corporate hospitality entertaining at the U.S. Open tennis tournament, Tour Dupont Cycling Stage Race, and multiple P.G.A. tournaments. In 1998 Dearborn was promoted to vice president of catering sales and assumed the additional responsibilities of overseeing the group sales department, business development for catering, and all new account openings. She now oversees all the event sales at exclusive CxRA locations in Boston, New York, Philadelphia, and Washington, D.C., including the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, and the Morgan Library, Museum in New York; the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston; the Penn Museum in Philadelphia; and the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C. Dearborn is the past president of New York chapter of the Society of Incentive Travel Executives and was the recipient of the first June Briggs Award for Excellence in Hospitality. Under her leadership, CxRA was selected as a member of the Chosen Few, an elite society of event professionals recognized for excellence in catering. Dearborn is a graduate of Smith College and received her grand diplome from Ecole de Cuisine LaVarenne in Pais.

Thom Casadonte
Head of global events, Bloomberg
At the top of his craft after more than 25 years in the industry, Casadonte excelled in strategic planning, program development, integrated marketing communications, brand strategy, experiential marketing, event design, and production as a B-to-B and B-to-C executive. Casadonte built and cultivated high-performing departments and managed key relationships while delivering marketing programs and experiences that drove business results. He held leadership roles at globally renowned companies, from Sony and IBM on the client side, to George P. Johnson and Maritz on the agency side, culminating with the role he was most passionate about: Bloomberg LP's global head of experiential and event marketing. For the past five years, Casadonte worked to build and lead Bloomberg’s Global Event Team across the Americas, Europe, Middle East, and Asia Pacific managing all client-facing proprietary engagements, third party/industry-sponsored programs, and internal employee events across the entire company. A strong advocate of education, Casadonte also served as a member of the Rutherford, New Jersey, Board of Education for 12 years and as its president from 2007 to 2013. Casadonte passed away suddenly in December 2015 and is being honored posthumously.

Diffa: Design Industries Foundation Fighting AIDS
With chapters and community partners across the country, the foundation raises awareness and awards grants to organizations that provide treatment, direct care services, preventive education programs, and advocacy for individuals impacted by HIV/AIDS. Mobilizing the resources of the design industry, Diffa has created memorable programs and events for more than three decades, from the Heart Strings tour to the Love Ball to Dining by Design. Diffa’s events have created unique platforms for creative professionals to highlight their talents through fashion, interior design, architecture, tabletop, photography, graphic design, or the performing arts. By combining talent, creative marketing strategies, and a national network of volunteers and donors, Diffa merges care with commerce to great success: It has granted more than $41 million to support hundreds of nonprofit organizations across the country.

Gary Pagano
Vice president special events, Viacom
Pagano, a veteran of Viacom with nearly 17 years at the company, produces a variety of events internationally. His tenure has included serving as supervising producer on the Video Music Awards, the producer of the Save the Music Gala, and event producer of upfront presentations for MTV, VH1, Spike, and others. Pagano has taught at New York University for more than 10 years and recently wrote the curriculum for it new diploma course in event production. He is an international judge for the Event Industry Awards in Ireland, and represents Viacom on the Board of Directors for United Neighborhood Houses, which awards college scholarships for students, many of whom are the first in their family to attend college. Pagano attended the first Global Event Summit in 2016, where the group worked on a white paper about current and future challenges to the industry.

David Stark
President and creative director, David Stark Design
Starting out as a painter before moving into floral design, Stark has been a leader and innovator in the event industry for more than 20 years. His full-service event design and planning firm is celebrated for the inventive, imaginative events it creates for a variety of high-wattage celebrity clients and events. Clients include major corporations such as Target, TBS, and Louis Vuitton; entertainment properties such as Saturday Night Live; and high-visibility events and fund-raising galas for nonprofit organizations including the Robin Hood Foundation, the Whitney Museum of American Art, and the Metropolitan Opera. Stark is the author of five books, most recently David Stark: The Art of the Party. He also is an active member of the nonprofit and design communities, serving on the Leadership Council of God’s Love We Deliver and on the Board of Advisors for the Brooklyn Museum of Art. He earned an undergraduate degree from the Rhode Island School of Design and master's from the School of Visual Arts.

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