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What does it mean to be a hero? 

When most of us think of heroes, our initial thoughts go to a man in blue tights and a cape. In the year 2020, your mind may go to the frontline workers– nurses, doctors, grocery store workers. Heroes are often described as courageous, brave, fearless and people who are willing to put their lives on the line for others in the face of danger. 

This year has made us realize that heroes are mothers, maintaining a job while helping kids with online school. Heroes are people living alone, being brave and surviving isolation. Heroes are individuals in the event industry, pivoting their productions to keep people connected, entertained, and inspired in this new reality we live in.

The Northwest Event Show (NWES) was inspired to start a campaign to highlight and honor individuals in the Events and Hospitality Industry who have successfully navigated the challenges that Covid19 has brought, and through creativity and perseverance, set a new course. We’re inspired by their ability to adapt to the times, see the possibilities, inspire others, and forge ahead in the face of adversity. They’re leaders in the industry who lead by example, with tenacity and determination. Simply said, they’re heroes. 

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Angela Shen
Savor Seattle

What makes you feel fearless?

Some of the most interesting people are not universally liked.

Meet Angela: Shen is a self-proclaimed “food evangelist.” She is a graduate of the Wharton School of Business and cut her teeth on Brand Management at Quaker Oats in Chicago.

Angela owes her incredibly abundant life to the passionate team at Savor Seattle and a loving family. During the past fourteen years in Seattle, she has had the honor of being named: Puget Sound Business Journal’s Top 40 Under 40, Seattle Tourism Ambassador, and Nellie Cashman Business Owner of the Year Finalist. She currently serves on the Visit Seattle Board of Directors and is a member of the Seattle chapter of Les Dames d’Escoffier.

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Karen Fassio
Director, One Commercial Partner Group

What makes you feel fearless?

Greta Thunberg

Meet Karen: “I believe in the power of communities and the role of technology to create accessible and sustainable solutions for people and planet. With technology in the hands of more people we can ignite imaginations and enable solutions that address the toughest challenges of our age.  Through a community of hundreds of thousands of technology firms, we help bring software solutions and services to people who need them.”

Karen leads Microsoft’s global channel inclusion strategy where they help technology providers bring to market solutions that are inclusive both in design and economic impact. And they’re guiding the growth of diversity within our channel ecosystem so that it is representative of our global communities along with reinforcing Microsoft’s commitment to addressing racial injustice.

Karen is on the board of directors for Friends of Youth ( and a proud co-founder and leadership strategy advisor for Women in Cloud (


Marka Waechter

What is one word that makes you feel fearless?


Meet Marka: Marka Jenkins Waechter is the CEO at SHW, a corporate events agency and also consults and mentors non-profits and start up organizations. 

She draws on 25 years of professional leadership experience within a myriad of sectors; airlines, travel technology, travel agency and travel merchandising, corporate events and content strategy, coaching, yoga and non-profit management. Marka brings a keen ability to quickly align resources around a common vision, builds a culture of trust through inclusion and transparency, ultimately delivering strong business performance, process efficiency and product innovation.

Marka is a lifelong native of the Seattle area and lives on a houseboat with her husband John Waechter, Freyja the “best dog ever,” and daughter Brooke Jenkins (29) who lives out, but still does laundry in!

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Melissa Jurcan, CSEP
Director of Experience + Storytelling

What makes you feel fearless?

“We only regret the chances we didn’t take.”

Meet Melissa: Melissa has worked in the event industry for over two decades. She has been a part of several mega events, including Super Bowls, 2001 MLB All Star Game, Tostitos Fiesta Bowl and BCS National Championship Game. She has created marketing and event campaigns for various companies, including: Seattle-Chinatown International District, Kevin Durant Charity Foundation, Seafair, opening the University of Phoenix Stadium & Qwest Field & Event Center, Tacoma Rainiers, Village Theatre, amongst others. Currently Melissa oversees experience and storytelling at Compass Group at Microsoft. 

Melissa has served in several leadership roles within ILEA, including the board of governors, chapter president, etc. In 2008 she earned the Certified Special Event Professional designation. She was inducted into the 2019 ILEA Seattle Hall of Fame. She is also a member of PCMA, where she is currently seeking the Digital Event Strategist certification, and serves on the board of directors for WFEA.

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Shelby Sewell
CEO/Culinary Director
Foodz Catering

What makes you feel fearless?


Meet Shelby:

After studying at Le Cordon Bleu Cooking School in 1988, Shelby moved to San Francisco and got a job at Ivy’s Restaurant. Soon after she was recruited to work at Rivers End in Jenner, CA where she spent a fantastic season. In 1991, Shelby’s husband got a job for Frank Gehry so they moved to LA and Shelby started working for Zabie’s Catering and restaurant. From there, they took a few years off and traveled through Europe ultimately landing in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia where they spent 4 years. When they returned to the USA after traveling through 33 countries in 7 years, Shelby started Foodz Catering. 23 years later and they’re still in business having helped define special event catering in the broader Seattle market.

Shelby is the past President of ILEA Seattle Chapter and multiple award winner. Most recently, Foodz Catering received the Best Catered Event 2019 Emerald City Applause Award.

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Shelly Tolo
Tolo Events

What makes you feel fearless?

Preparing and planning for the unexpected allows you to be fearless.

Meet Shelly: Shelly Tolo launched Tolo Events in 2002 after a 12-year career as a development officer and event planner for nonprofit organizations. Her business mission is to maximize events through strategic planning and creating fabulous atmospheres and programs. She holds a Master’s Degree in Public Management from Carnegie Mellon University with a concentration in nonprofit organizations. In addition to her business savvy, and being a past president of the Seattle Chapter of the International Live Events Association, Shelly has a keen eye for design and is recognized as a leading event designer in the industry.