Canadian Association of Exposition Management
ABOUT CAEM RISING STAR AWARD * 2015 Rising Star Award Winner

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2015 Rising Star Award Winner

Kelly Antonaros, CEM, Manager of Operations - Zoomer Shows, Zoomer Media

Introductory Speech by Mikey Singer:

It is with great pleasure that I am here today to introduce the CAEM 2015 Rising Star award. The recipient is both a good friend and colleague who has worked on both sides of the coin, starting out on the associate side and recently making the switch to the show management side.
After joining CAEM in 2011, this individual has become a valued volunteer joining various committees and helping out where ever they were able. It was during this committee that this Star really started to “shine bright like a diamond” as we worked to overhaul this very awards gala and was an amazing sport when we would, more often than not; nominate this person to record the meetings minutes and events. A task typically needing delegation since no one is ever keen to do it.
Over the past two years I’ve had the pleasure of seeing this nominee make the transition from Associate to show management seamlessly. I was lucky enough to have this individual’s show right next door allowing me to watch all the magic happen. Leading up to the show they worked with me on co-marketing ideas and always had time for a phone call to hear new ideas, both good and not so good, I had come up with. I was happy to see they were not only surviving in their new job and position but thriving in it. Every time I would sneak over to see how they were doing, there they were with their colour coded binder in hand, hair perfectly coiffed, running the show’s move in like a seasoned vet.
The winner is a colleague and friend who has sold many a raffle ticket with me, beside me and for me as I went out for a quick cigarette. We’ve done 9 and dines together, purchased prizes together and even been stuck with Tara (who was supposed to be up here instead of me but she’s too busy) and myself during the flood a few years back after purchasing Sports day prizes. They are both deserving of this award and are probably blushing as I say all these nice but very true things.
So in an effort to keep it short so I can give this person more time to speak and all of us more time to schmooze, I’d like to finish in saying that Kelly Antonaros is a friend, colleague and also happens to be this year’s Winner of the CAEM Rising Star Award.
Congratulations Kelly you deserve this and I look forward to calling you “Superstar” for the rest of your damn life. Please help me to welcome Kelly to the stage...

Acceptance Speech by Kelly Antonaros:

To be a volunteer – by definition (according the is “a person who performs a service willingly, without pay “.
To be a volunteer for CAEM – for me, this is not a service. I think you all see how much fun I have at our events, so in fact, you might even say I do this for selfish reasons!
For those who know me well – you know how much I love being around good friends, sharing laughter, and focusing on the lighter side of life.
My work is very important to me – but more so, are the people I choose to surround myself with….
In this industry, we are encouraged to volunteer as a way of growing professionally, networking, and building on client relationships.
Never did I imagine, I would make so many incredible friends by being here, and ones that I would keep for life. I just have a feeling about that. 
I want to say a very special thank you to two “families” in particular, who are responsible for my presence up here today.
First, my family at Freeman, who gave me my start in this industry about 6 years ago.
And what a journey it has been! I was told if I made it/ ”survived” 5 years of this, I would be a “ lifer”.
Yep - I’m a lifer. In fact, I think I am addicted!
In particular I want to thank one person whom I hold very near and dear to my heart – Mr. Rob Halasz, my former director.
Rob - Thank you for teaching me two very important lessons in life : to focus on my successes ( not my mistakes ), and to always “look at the bigger picture”.
I will always remember you for the fun times and laughter we all had as a team, while you molded me into your little “work slave”….. (that was a good strategy, by the way!)
I am kidding, of course!
You made me feel like I was in integral part of the team, even when I was a newbie. And for that, I am so grateful, and I will never forget you.
And to my larger family of CAEM…..
Serge, Michael, and Christiane, thank you for the great big hugs and all the support you have given me throughout these last few years.
Being the new kid in a group where everyone seemed to know each other forever, was at times very intimidating….but you continued to encourage me, in ways that kept me growing.
You three, along with all the other CAEM friends, from the welcoming committee at my first conference in London (in 2011), to my volunteer committee peers whom I could not wait to see at the very next meeting - I say thank you. ( Yes Mikey, that includes you!)
You don’t know this, but there were days where seeing you guys was a highlight for me…plus it got me out of the office!
Speaking of the London Conference – to the beautiful young lady that approached and befriended there, on the exhibit floor – Tara Diaczyk, thank you for your nomination on this award.
I am so touched, but even more so, by your continued friendship.
It is people like you that make this association so warm and welcoming, and in turn, people like me that want to pay it all forward.
And I promise to do just that, by continuing to contribute to our CAEM family.
So to Tara Diaczyk, Mikey Singer ( two dear friends for life )…..the Nominating Committee, and the CAEM Board of Directors, thank you all so very much – this is a real honor for me.