The panel is comprised of an equal mix of judges from the supply and demand sides of the industry. As you can see below, the prestigious panel includes experts in design, art & architecture, AV technologies, as well as strategic thinkers from multiple disciplines including retail, sports, hospitality, and others. Judges were chosen based upon their experience and recognition among their peers, as well as their ability to think strategically and understand the value brought about by the applied technology. Judges vote independently and in an unbiased capacity.


Michael Blake is the CEO of HTNG. Michael previously served as the CIO of Commune Hotels & Resorts, encompassing Joie de Vivre, Thompson, Tommie and Alila Hotels. He provided strategic leadership and sound perspective to contribute to the management and evolution of Commune's global IT functions. Michael was previously the CIO for Hyatt and set the global technology direction for their global footprint. Michael has over 20 years of experience in finance and technology in various roles. Before his CIO positions with Commune and Hyatt, Michael was SVP of IT for First Data, CFO of IT Finance at Kaiser Permanente and Director of IT Finance for Sears. In each role, he was the highest ranking IT Finance resource and key internal consultant and advisor to international senior leadership teams. Prior to that, Michael held various financial roles within United Airlines including the controller of the IT organization. Michael holds a Bachelor of Science in Accounting from the University of Utah, received his MBA in Finance and Economics from the University of Chicago Booth School of Business and also his MS in Information Technology from Northwestern University. He also maintains several credentials and licenses: CPA, CMA, CISA and CITP. Michael served as a member of HTNG's Board of Governors since 2009 and held the Treasurer position for many of those years.


I have over 30 years of experience in the AV industry, with a comprehensive resume of job functions. Starting my career in AV rental, I did setup/teardown, technical operation, and management of the department. Moving on to installations, parts inventory, and simple programming of AV systems was the next step in my career. I then began complete design engineering and complex programming for both small and large systems. I had the opportunity to create a new AV division for a local furniture company, which helped me understand the business side of the AV industry.

Within AVIXA I have sat on the CTS Certification Steering Committee, been involved with the Technology Managers Council, and currently serve on the Market Trends Advisory Board. I hold certifications from various organizations; these include AVIXA CTS and Crestron MTA.

I am currently a Streaming Engineer on the Notre Dame Studios production team at the University of Notre Dame. Notre Dame Studios offers video streaming services for live events on campus, in our studio, and remote and hybrid productions. Past duties included the design and installation of audio and video systems at university locations worldwide. Other responsibilities have included Crestron programming, audio processor configuration, student training, staff mentoring, and system commissioning.

My volunteer work includes serving as the Lead AV technician at my church. I enjoy the outdoors, working on my classic cars, and playing poker in my spare time.


Mark has helped shape the event technology industry for almost 20 years. Mark has vast experience in all things Audio/Visual, beginning as a student learning electronic engineering and troubleshooting, to working his way up from entry level technician to a Global Product Manager with PSAV. With experience in arena event production (sports), concert production, corporate AV, AV Installation in commercial applications, broadcast television, project management, global product management, and business development, there hasn't been an area in live event technology that Mark has not impacted in a positive way. 


Brian is an authority & practitioner of global design, strategy and digital customer
engagement in key architectural practice areas such as mixed-use, multifamily, workplace,
resort hospitality and retail. Brian’s firm is the nexus point for some of the world’s leading
architectural technology & visualization agencies (Kipcreating & CorbisStudio) on the
cutting-edge of BIM Tech.

He has traveled the globe identifying consumer traits & behaviors central to sales and
design strategies. Brian works with brands/developers/architects to craft their “experience
personality” based on core brand attributes, advance digital techniques & tools to enhance
sales and to reach all generations of customers via technology engagements- from
interactive engagements to digital signage to VR configurator tools.

As an industry thought leader Brian has addressed more than 40,000 leaders in civic,
hospitality and financial industries, as well as leading retailers and manufacturers on five
continents. He has shared his expertise with The National Retail Federation, ICSC,
EuroShop, BrasilShop, GlobalShop, MAGIC/WWD, SEGD, American Express-Mexico,
FENALCO-Colombia, Outdoor Retailer, SMART Jewelry Show, PGA, SEMA, POPAI Asia,
and I-SPA.

Brian has served as the International President & Chairman of the Retail Design Institute - a
global non-profit professional association representing the retail experience & design
community. He currently sits on the VMSD Editorial Advisory Board, SEGD San Diego/OC
Board, Shop! Creative Collaborative & Technology Board contributing his expertise in
“Digital Engagement & Experience Design”. Brian writes the “Next Store” column in VMSD
Magazine on retail technology strategies and future applications such as VR & AR.


Jenny fell into the technology industry thirteen years ago, starting as a purchasing assistant at a distributor, she moved into sales over the next five years, focusing on interactive products. It was here that Jenny really developed a fascination with visual technology and was spurred to challenge her technical ability.

In 2012 Jenny joined Midwich's technical division as an IP Video Specialist responsible for sales and technical support where she was able to further her knowledge, joining a group of specialists actively easing the ever-converging worlds of AV and IT. In 2013 Jenny progressed to UK Technology Manager, responsible for all technical brands and market development and managing the technology specialists and tech support teams.

Today as Head of Technology for Midwich Group Jenny explores new technology ventures for Midwich globally, provides market analysis, acquisition rationale and central support to all group companies as well as representing the Group through public speaking at industry events.


As Leviathan's Chief Executive Officer, Chad facilitates creative strategy and all key business developments for the specialized creative agency, including managing the company's overall operations. His efforts have led to client relationships with Nike, Disney, Google, Kohler, McDonald's, Universal, Northwestern Mutual and Airbus among others. In 2019, he was appointed to the Board of Directors for the Society of Experiential Graphic Design (SEGD).

Chad previously co-founded digital creative agency eatdrink in 2002, which merged with Leviathan in 2012. Over the years, that firm produced breakthrough broadcast and interactive work for an amazing roster of brands and agencies. His prior experience includes highly productive stints with experiential marketing firm MC2 as an entertainment and technology project manager, and with leading Hollywood post-production sound company Soundelux as operations manager.

A native of the Southeastern United States, Chad earned his Bachelors of Recording Industry Management at MTSU. A presenter at SXSW 2014 and 2015, Chad has also spoken at many other high-profile events, including Apple's Design Lab series, InfoComm, TIDE, the American Marketing Association's High Five Conference, VCU Brandcenter's Friday Forum series, and numerous SEGD events. 


Michael Judeh is the Senior Director of AV Technology at Convene, the nation's fastest growing network of full-service meeting, event, and flexible workspaces. Michael is a coach-centric, empowering leader with a demonstrated history of managing technology in the entertainment industry over the last 10 years.

Michael leads Convene’s efforts to accelerate technology in hospitality and real estate while being instrumental in building a world-class team of hospitality-focused technology experts, proficient in AV and IT operations. He is responsible for ramping up Convene’s in-house capabilities by securing several major brand partnerships with high-profile tech companies in the industry. Michael is on a mission to conduct the first research expedition of its kind to find out the true demands of technology in the hospitality and events world.


Tobin Neis is the Director of Marketing for the Barbizon Lighting Company. His varied background includes work in industrial and traditional theater, museums, broadcast, houses of worship, and corporate audiovisual environments. Tobin is a member of the Illuminating Engineering Society of North America (IESNA), an ETCP Recognized Electrical Trainer, and on the board of directors for the Behind The Scenes Foundation.

Nick Nienaber

Nick Nienaber is the Head of Audiovisual Infrastructure for WeWork. Nick joined WeWork in 2014 and has been involved in the Design / Build / Operate process for their global fleet at every stage. Under his direction, WeWork's AV and UCC engineering teams have developed technology systems standards for multiple product lines under the WeWork umbrella. Nick holds certifications in Dante, Q-Sys, and Crestron.

Beth Warren

In her role at Creative Realities, Beth leads clients and teams in a persuasive pursuit of technology-driven ecosystems that add purpose, relevance and value to the consumer journey specific to a branded retail environment. When the industry came to a grinding halt at the onset of COVID, she helped Creative Realities pivot and bring to market a Thermal Device and AI Platform, and now guides clients and the industry on how to apply technology to build trust as the world reopens. Her role on the Board of the Digital Signage Federation provides an ideal platform to inform and inspire new practices for a new normal.

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