Lauren Kramer

Principal & Founder | CAE | CMP

Lauren is experienced in many facets of business event strategy, including strategic planning, branding, marketing and managing large-scale global conventions and expositions.  Her work at the International Council of Ophthalmology and the American Academy of Otolaryngology was global and diverse.  

A committed volunteer, she has served on the PCMA Board of Directors, was a founding member of the Capital Chapter where she served as President, and is a member of the PCMA Foundation’s “Legacy Society”.  Lauren has served on industry advisory boards, taught at a community college and considers herself a lifelong learner, having earned her CAE (Certified Association Executive) certification in 2017, a Master’s in Tourism Administration from George Washington University in 2008 and her CMP (Certified Meeting Professional) designation.  She received facilitator training from MAFN, the Mid-Atlantic Facilitator’s Network and has facilitated focus groups and board meetings for clients.

She was recently named by PCMA as a 2019 Lifetime Achievement Awardee as the visionary educator.

CERTIFICATIONS: Certified Association Executive (CAE), Certified Meeting Professional (CMP) 

PROFESSIONAL ASSOCIATIONS: Professional Convention Management Association (PCMA);

American Society of Association Executives (ASAE)

EDUCATION:  M.A. in Tourism Administration, George Washington University

Jennifer G. Richards

Senior Consultant | CMP

Jennifer is a meetings industry professional with over 30 years of convention and conference management in academic and health care professional associations. She specializes in project management, team oversight, contract negotiations, and logistics for non-profits, including strategic planning for sponsorship outreach and attendee engagement.

Jennifer’s role as the Director of Conference and Partnerships for the Anxiety and Depression Association of America involved management of their 1300-attendee Annual Conference as well as business development for annual partners and sponsors. During her tenure, she increased sponsorship revenue by over 100%.

As a consultant, Jennifer has worked with the American Society of Clinical Oncology, American Society of Civil Engineers, Multiple Myeloma Conference, International Society of Limb Salvage/Musculoskeletal Tumor Society, and Workplace Flexibility. She is known for her problem-solving and creative solution-oriented approaches as well as accuracy and timeliness in client communication.

During her 14 years at American Political Science Association, Jennifer streamlined technological processes for submission, scheduling, panel allocation, and affiliates while supervising a team of 3 full-time staff and 6 part-time interns.

Jennifer’s experience with innovative approaches to non-traditional session formats.  She has been trained to meticulously forecast and maintain conference budgets with an eye on cost-cutting and value-added contract negotiation.

CERTIFICATION: Certified Meeting Professional (CMP) 

PROFESSIONAL ASSOCIATIONS: Professional Convention Management Association (PCMA), American Society of Association Executives (ASAE) 

EDUCATION: B.S. in Journalism, Ohio University

Kelly Marks


Kelly has been in the meeting and events industry for close to twenty years. She has managed meetings for several groups, including the American Telemedicine Association (ATA), International Society for the Study of Xenobiotics (ISSX), Managed Funds Association (MFA), the American Spice Trade Association (ASTA), the Flavor & Extract Manufacturers Association (FEMA), and the American Resort Development Association (ARDA). The variety of clients has allowed Kelly to obtain a broad range of experience in the business events profession not only domestically but globally. Kelly has experience with site selection, contract negotiation, budget preparation, exhibit sales and management, housing management, sponsorship and vendor solicitation and ongoing communication, overall on-site meeting management, meeting wrap-up, and project management.

EDUCATION: B.S. in Hotel, Restaurant and Tourism Administration, University of South Carolina

Laura Barrantes


Laura is an operations guru with broad experience in nonprofits and higher education who thrives on building systems that help control chaos.  Having worked and planned events of all sizes across multiple time zones and continents, Laura is at ease diving into details while seeing the bigger picture.  

As the Executive Director of Arlington Academy of Hope, a nonprofit working in rural Uganda on education and health, Laura moved the US organization from ad hoc processes to professional operations with robust governance.  Serving as an Executive Assistant to the President at two mission-driven organizations, Laura thrived in conditions calling for independent thinking and problem-solving.  She is focused and results-oriented with strengths in cross-team collaboration and team building.  

Laura has worked at non-profits and universities of all sizes including TechnoServe, the American Political Science Association, the University of California, Irvine, and the University of Otago in Dunedin, New Zealand.  A lifelong camper, Laura still volunteers at the summer camp in Maine she started attending as a fifth grader.  In a nutshell, Laura describes her passions as “organizing people and things, summer camp, and donuts.”

CERTIFICATION: Nonprofit Management Executive Certificate, Georgetown University

EDUCATION: B.A. in Government, Cornell University, M.A. in College Student Personnel, University of Maryland, College Park

Brian Kirkland

Virtual Meeting Specialist

Brian has designed professional development programs and meetings in the association industry for nearly 15 years. He has previously worked with the American Society of Association Executives (ASAE), the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), the International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions (IAAPA), and the Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology (ARVO). Brian’s experience in the face-to-face and online education worlds can help you repurpose meetings into virtual events, create organization-wide professional development and content strategies, develop online education curriculums, build content for annual meetings and large conferences, and train content leaders in effective presentation skills.

PROFESSIONAL ASSOCIATIONS: American Society of Association Professionals (ASAE), Project Management Institute (PMI), The Learning Guild

EDUCATION: B.A. in Criminology, University of Pittsburgh; M.A. in Criminology, Indiana University of Pennsylvania