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Edmonton Event Awards 2017 | Judges

Edmonton Event Awards 2017

Thank you to our judges!

It is important to us to engage judges who are in your local industry. Thus we are very strategic in selecting judges. We look to engage 4-5 individuals that are upper management in larger organizations or individuals who have been in the industry for a long time. These individuals bring extensive experience and industry involvement to the process. We also feel they are more likely to have and be perceived as having minimal bias.

We welcome your recommendations on potential judges for future awards programs.

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Laura Gadowsky

Laura has over 30 years of meeting planning & industry experience. She is a skilled negotiator and an efficient and cooperative problem-solver who remains focused on a positive and successful result. Laura recently completed a 6 year contract at The Enjoy Centre; developing and building their event business. Under her stewardship, it was named Blush Magazine Venue of the Year for 2015.

While operating her own business, Laura currently manages projects for Santas Anonymous, Habitat for Humanity, The Air Show Network and Align (formerly the Alberta Association of Services for Children and Families).

In her volunteer life, Laura is currently the immediate Past-Chair of the Board for Northlands and the Chair of the Edmonton Rodeo Cowboy Benevolent Foundation.

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JoAnn Kirkland

JoAnn has enjoyed the past 18 years in various Sales, Marketing, Operations, and Destination Development roles in the fields of hospitality and tourism. Previous employers include Starwood Hotels & Resorts, Delta Hotels & Resorts, Island Outpost Hotels & Resorts, Westcorp Properties Inc. and Alberta Tourism, Parks and Recreation. JoAnn is a former Vice President with Edmonton Economic Development Corporation where she focused on fostering economic growth in the Edmonton Capital Region.

JoAnn is passionate about the City of Edmonton and has been involved with numerous organizations to drive awareness and economic prosperity. JoAnn has participated on the Board of Directors for the Edmonton Economic Development Corporation, Board of Directors for the Alberta Hotel & Lodging Association, Edmonton Destination Marketing Fund; marketing and promoting Edmonton in the national and international market place, Edmonton Tourism Meeting, Business, Travel & Events Committee, and Edmonton Board of Directors for the Canadian Country Music Awards.


Richard Wong

Richard Wong was appointed Executive Vice-President of Nova Hotels on July 1st, 2015 after serving as Vice-President and General Manager of the Chateau Lacombe Hotel since May 1, 2013.  The Nova Group of Companies own and manage 14 hotels in Alberta and Saskatchewan including the Chateau Lacombe Hotel, Ramada Hotel & Conference Center on Kingsway and the three other Chateau Nova and Nova Inn brands in the Edmonton Region alone.  

Prior to the Chateau Lacombe Hotel, Richard led the Travel Alberta’s Industry Relations Team as Vice President and was accountable for the delivery of Travel Alberta’s stakeholder engagement strategy, which includes industry and government relations, marketing, Travel Alberta’s Industry Conference, industry education and industry co-op program.

Richard moved to Edmonton, Alberta to transition the former Sheraton Hotel Edmonton into a Sutton Place Hotel brand. Active in the Community Richard has served as a board member of the Edmonton Oilers Community Foundation, Edmonton Economic Development Corporation, Edmonton Police Foundation, Fort Edmonton Park Management Company, Fort Edmonton Park Foundation, Canada 150 Society, Chair of the Edmonton Downtown Business Association, Edmonton Destination Marketing Hotels, NorQuest College Workforce Advisory Council, NAIT Tourism and Hospitality Advisory Council, President of the Edmonton Downtown Farmers Market, The Foundation of St.Josephs Seminary And Newman Theological College, Chair, Pilgrims Hospice Society, Kids Kottage, Glenora Rotary Club and many other community and charitable organizations.


Chris Buerger

Prior to launching LHAS Corp. in October of 2004, Chris started Edmonton’s premiere event management company in 1989 and sold it in 2004. Remembering back to her early years, Chris recalls the perplexed look on the faces of those who asked what she did for a living. She also remembers being at an international industry event in the early 90’s where discussions evolved around how we become regarded as professionals.

Fast forward to now … a time when our event industry is filled to the brim with true professionals. As a former Advisory Board Member for the Canadian Special Events Society and a past member of International Board of Governors for the organization formerly known as the International Special Events Society, Chris has witnessed impressive industry growth. Chris and her team have been proud recipients of numerous special event industry nominations and awards over the years and while her list of voluntary efforts is diverse, her proudest moments are those spent mentoring people in our great industry.

28 years spent growing two successful companies and Chris remains passionate about the world of events and loves the people it attracts. She’s excited that industry professionals are being celebrated and is truly honoured to be a part of the judging team for the 2017 Edmonton Event Awards.