Leadership


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The Leadership team at ACCESS has hundreds of years of combined industry experience, with an average of 25 years per Partner.  Together, they comprise the exceptional leadership of ACCESS.

Christopher H. Lee, DMCP

Chief Executive Officer

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Chris began his destination management career in the early 1980′s, working for ACCESS Destination Services (then named California Leisure Consultants) in San Diego and Los Angeles. In 1989 Chris purchased the San Diego office and became President of that operation. He is a Co-founder and Past President of the Association of Destination Management Executives, a contributing author to “The Guide To Successful Destination Management”, and the 2006 Destination Management Professional of the Year honoree. Chris was also named one of the 25 most influential people in the meetings industry by Meeting News Magazine. He is a featured speaker and serves on numerous advisory boards in the hospitality industry.

Candace Bisconte, DMCP

Partner - Orange County

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Candi began her destination management career in 1978 with ACCESS Destination Services (then named California Leisure Consultants). Over the next ten years, she held operations, sales, and management positions with the company in San Diego, Palm Springs and Orange County. In 1989, Candi and her husband Greg purchased the Orange County office where she continues to serve as Partner.  As one of the founders of ACCESS, Candi represents over 20 years of experience in destination management and event production.

Greg Bisconte

Partner - Orange County

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Greg spent twenty years in real estate development and commercial property ownership and management before entering the meetings industry. In 1989, Greg and his wife Candi purchased the ACCESS Orange County office and he became Vice President and General Manager of that office. He continues to serve in that capacity today. In addition to his local management role, Greg oversees the I.T. systems of ACCESS Destination Services, ensuring that we are constantly equipped with the latest technology to provide superior service, quick response time, and immediate access to program information and resources.

Barb Smith, DMCP

Partner - Palm Springs

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Barb began her destination management career in 1976, with ACCESS Destination Services (then named California Leisure Consultants). She excelled in sales and management roles in all of Cal Leisure’s offices before purchasing the Palm Springs office in 1988 with her husband Ken, where Barb served as President. The Smiths are destination management veterans. Barb is well known and respected across the country as a destination management expert.

Ken Smith

Partner - Palm Springs

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Ken was involved in the commercial building industry in the San Diego, Orange County and New England areas for over 15 years before joining his wife Barb, in 1988, as an owner and General Manager of ACCESS Springs (then named California Leisure Consultants). Ken is currently a partner inACCESS and is actively involved on a local level with the business and hospitality community.

Jennifer Miller, DMCP

Partner - San Diego | Los Angeles | Arizona | Las Vegas

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Jennifer Miller began her career in the hospitality industry over 14 years ago as a meeting planner/account executive for a local incentive travel firm. In 2000, Jennifer joined ACCESS San Diego as a Program Manager. Then, as Director of Operations, she managed a team of program managers and was responsible for all client program operations and key account management. In 2004, Jennifer was promoted to General Manager of the San Diego office based on her client satisfaction record, leadership skills and business acumen. Jennifer is especially proud of leading a team of business professionals and growing the San Diego office which has twice been named by the San Diego Business Journal as one of “San Diego’s Best Places to Work.”

Gary W. Marr, CMP, LES

Partner - Chicago

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Starting in his teens as a buffet runner for his mother’s catering business, Gary eventually found himself the Senior Director of Catering in Chicago’s largest convention hotel, the Hyatt Regency Chicago for over 13 years. He was also a national trainer with Hyatt in Catering Sales & Marketing, Event Design and Creativity. Prior to Hyatt, Gary spent 20 years with Marriott Hotels spanning the country. While opening the Maui Marriott he fell in love with the design and creation of major themed events and business theatre where he says that he learned from the best of the best in the special events and Destination Management industries. He is an industry recognized expert in ‘all things catering’ and is known for his sense of style and scale of managing special events.

Kerri Chen

Partner - Chicago

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Kerri grew up in the hospitality industry and knows the ins and outs of event planning. From an early age, she knew she belonged in hospitality but had a knack for Accounting. In 2007, Kerri graduated from Marquette University with a degree in Accounting and IT. She went on to work at a Public Accounting firm in Chicago but still had the desire for the fast paced world of hospitality. In 2012, she joined Access to lead the Chicago team as Partner and Director of Finance. This transition helped her use her experience and knowledge of Chicago hotels in her day to day work life. In her free time, Kerri loves rooting on her local Chicago sports teams with her husband Matt.

Phil Lehman

Chief Financial Officer - Florida

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In 1994, Phil began his destination management career in Orlando with his brother Fritz. Phil held positions in all areas of his company including Executive Vice President just prior to the sale of the company in 2000. In February of 2002, Phil founded Experience Florida, Inc. Under his leadership as President, the company became a statewide leader in destination management over the next nine years. As owner of ACCESS Florida, Phil continues to advance his expertise in overall management and client relations with a focus on complete customer satisfaction and program success.

Jeff Nelke, DMCP

Partner - Florida

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Jeff is a Destination Management Professional leading the ACCESS Florida Team in the South Florida region of the United States.  Jeff began his Meetings and Events career with Maritz Travel in 1993 and has been using his extensive travel experiences to better serve the South Florida Destination market since 1996.  Jeff’s career has been focused on premium meetings and events such as: The Honda Classic, Superbowls, Product Launches, Reward Incentives, Financial Seminars, Pharmaceutical Sales Training and Executive Board of Director Meetings.  Jeff has always derived great pleasure using his creative solution solving processes to add value to the Meetings World.  In his personal life, Jeff enjoys spending time with his wife and two children along with playing softball and camping with the Indian Guides of South Florida.

J.B. Ryan, DMCP

Partner - Florida

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J.B. Ryan has been a destination management professional in Florida since 1993.  He has managed offices in Orlando and Ft. Lauderdale for the largest DMC in Florida (Hello Florida).  He left to start a hospitality recruiting company (OpenDoor) in 2005.  He was drawn back to the DMC business when he became Vice President and General Manager of ACCESS Destination Services in 2009.  J.B. recently became Partner/Owner of ACCESS Florida along with colleague Jeff Nelke.  He is past President and current board member of SITE Florida.  When he is not working on events in Florida, you can find him at the Windermere Little League baseball fields coaching one of this three sons.

Jeff Davis

Partner - Texas

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Jeff has over 20 years in the hospitality industry and a proven track record of selling, planning and executing comprehensive events.  He began is career in the hotel industry where he orchestrated hundreds of special events and meetings.  Before joining ACCESS, Jeff founded Outstanding Productions – one of the most successful DMCs in the Dallas/Ft. Worth Metroplex.  Jeff is one of the most enthusiastic people you’ll ever want to meet. He loves what he does and approaches the challenge of creating unique programs for each client as if each were the only one.

Patty Phelps

Vice President of Sales - Texas

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Patty practically grew up in the Destination Management Industry first having worked for her mother who established the second DMC in the country. She played a critical role in ACCESS Texas becoming the in-house DMC for the Gaylord Texan Resort & Convention Center, a position it has held proudly since 2004. Patty came to ACCESS Texas, the Destination Management Company, in 2001. Patty is a member of MPI, PCMA, SITE and ADME. In Dallas Patty was the Logistics chair for MPI PEC in Dallas in 2006, SITE Inspection Chair for PCMA in 2010 and was the Special Event Chair for ASAE in 2012. Patty is a devoted mother of three girls. She and her husband, Steve, are active in their daughters’ education and extracurricular activities which is why you will often find her on the soccer field.

Jaclyn Bernstein

Partner - New York

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Jaclyn’s career began at college at a boutique DMC, Tours de Force Events, rising to Vice-President.  In 1994, Jaclyn purchased the company with business partner Rob Hulsmeyer and embarking on 20 years of award-winning event productions, destination management, and professional recognition worldwide.  A true born and raised Brooklyn, New Yorker, Jaclyn’s known for her very NY personality. Jaclyn’s an acknowledged leader in NYC’s hospitality industry, sitting on the Board of NYC & Company / Convention and Visitors Bureau; as well as being inducted into the International Special Events Society (ISES) New York Metro Chapter’s Hall of Legends.  She’s also been inducted into Biz Bash’s and Event Solutions magazine’s Hall of Fames, as well winning the Spotlight ‘Event Planner of The Year’ and ‘Samaritan Service’ Awards.

Robert W. Hulsmeyer

Partner - New York

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Rob’s career in the events profession has followed an entrepreneurial path that includes multiple businesses, and encompasses a diverse range of experiences from entertaining to designing to producing.  In 1994, Rob partnered with Jaclyn Bernstein in forming Empire Force Events and embarked on 20 years of award winning events and programs prior to joining ACCESS. Known for his attention to detail and production knowledge, Rob was one of the first industry professionals to earn all three industry designations: DMCP, CMP and CSEP.  In addition to being recognized as Event Producer of the Year by Biz Bash, Rob has been induction into both the ISES New York Metro Chapter’s Hall of Legends and the BizBash Hall of Fame.

Maria DiBenedetto

Partner - Philadelphia

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Maria DiBenedetto has been producing signature events in Philadelphia for over twenty years. With a unique resume that includes staging and production, marketing and branding, business development and promotions and a touch of flair, Maria and her team offers the most comprehensive, personalized and strategic event support.  Maria is steadfast in her commitment to remain a DMC expert in Philadelphia and recognizes that her and her team’s greatest strengths remain in the robust knowledge of and key relationships within their city.

Danielle Phippen

Partner - Colorado

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A creative person at heart, Danielle never stops dreaming, building and developing new ideas, solutions and different approaches for programs big and small. With all of that creativity, she never loses sight of reality and works hard to make sure the vision matches client goals, objectives and budgets. With nearly 15 years in the industry, Danielle got her start with DSC in Colorado. During her tenure, she was responsible for selling $15M in programs in Colorado’s mountain resorts and Denver. An expert on most everything Colorado and the Rocky Mountains, Danielle is known for her loyalty and prides herself on creating lasting relationships with her clients and industry partners. Outside of work, this Colorado native finds happiness and balance in time with her husband, son and extended family and friends.

Heidi Brown

Partner - Colorado

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Heidi started her DMC career with DSC in Colorado, where she was pivotal in opening their Denver office nearly 15 years ago. In 2009, Heidi – along with her business partner, Danielle Phippen – opened the Workshop – one of the most respected, creative and operationally strong DMCs in the state. Throughout her career Heidi has been responsible for selling and operating programs of all sizes. Her expertise is in her attention to detail and ability to manage massive information and tasks while still maintaining top service levels. In her tenure, Heidi has been responsible for over $20M in successful programs. When she isn’t working, Heidi enjoys time with her three children and husband in Denver.

Shelley Pigéon, CMP

Partner - New Orleans

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Shelley Pigéon began her distinguished career in the meetings and conventions industry in 1988 in New Orleans, her native city, working for several destination management companies. In 1995, she joined Signature Events as Director of Sales and purchased the company with her co-worker three years later.  She is very active in the industry and has served on the Gulf States Chapter Board of Directors for Meeting Professionals International (MPI) for three years as VP of Finance, VP of Administration, and VP of Membership. She is also an international member of MPI and holds the designation of Certified Meeting Professional (CMP), and is an international member of the Society of Incentive Travel Executives (SITE), SKAL, and the Women’s Business Enterprise National Council (WBENC). Shelley has three children.

Jill DiMarco, CMP, DMCP

Partner - New Orleans

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An industry veteran, Jill has been in the meetings and events industry since 1989.  A native of New Orleans, DiMarco received her BS in Business Administration from Louisiana State University. She holds the designation of Certified Meeting Planner (CMP) and Destination Management Certified Professional (DMCP). She is a member of the Association of Destination Management Executives (ADME),  and Past Chair of the ADME/Accreditations and Certification Board. Jill is also the co-author of Best Practices in Destination Management.  Jill is married with two children.  Jill is serving on the Board of Directors of the New Orleans Convention and Visitors Bureau, and is currently enrolled as a Scholar in the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses Program.

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