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Meeting Pros: QUALENA ODOM-ROYES, CSEP, CMP with EventEssentials, LLC., Russell Lopinto, CMP with Tech Rentals, LLC

Meeting Pros

On this Episode of Meeting Pros:

QUALENA ODOM-ROYES, CSEP, CMP with EventEssentials, LLC. 

EventEssentials’ Principal Event Planner and owner is Qualena Odom-Royes, CSEP, CMP. Ms. Odom-Royes has over 18 years of experience in event and meeting planning. Accredited from The University of Georgia in Conference Planning and Meeting Management, she also holds the Certified Special Events Professional (CSEP) and Certified Meeting Professional (CMP) designations. Prior to opening her own event planning business, her background was in event management and marketing at MCI Telecommunications/WorldCom, handling corporate sponsorships and business to business advertising, and MTV Networks (MTV, Nickelodeon, Nick at Nite, TV Land, VH1).

Recognizing her talent for detailed organization and the need for a company that could plan meetings and events from start to finish with an emphasis on return on investment for the meeting organizer, Ms. Odom-Royes opened EventEssentials ten years ago. Since that time, the award-winning company has provided planning and facilitation services to organizations in a variety of different industries. The meetings and events have ranged from high-end executive gatherings for 12 people to large-scale business conferences for over 7,000. EventEssentials’ past and current clients include Cox Communications, The Coca-Cola Company Georgia Supplier Minority Development Council (GMSDC), Piedmont Hospital, Manheim, Scholastic and Taste of Atlanta. EventEssentials is a certified minority business enterprise and was named the 2011 Class 1 Supplier of the Year for GMSDC and earned the 2012 GMSDC Eagle Award recognizing their extensive partnerships with other minority business enterprises. A fervent advocate also of teaching, Ms. Odom-Royes developed the coursework and has taught the continuing education course (Event & Meeting Planning Certificate) at Clayton State University for the past ten years. In addition, Ms. Odom-Royes joined the online adjunct faculty at Argosy University in February 2012 where she teaches Business Administration courses.

In 2012 Ms. Odom-Royes was awarded the prestigious Dale Riggins Humanitarian Award for her outstanding professionalism in their service to the special events industry and the community at large during the Allie Awards Nite Gala hosted by the Atlanta chapters of ISES (International Special Events Society) and NACE (National Association of Catering Executives).

Ms. Odom-Royes’ past positions on the International Certification Committee as well as the Executive Board of Directors of ISES Atlanta, Lambda Epsilon Omega Foundation, Girl Scouts of Greater Atlanta and current appointments at Plan Your Meetings Magazine and Allie Awards have required analytical and technical skills; people management and liaison; meticulous record keeping and accountability. Her capabilities and dedication have earned her tremendous respect; and her general friendly demeanor has expanded her network of business contacts exponentially.





Russell Lopinto, CMP with Tech Rentals, LLC

Russell LoPinto CMP is the Vice President of New Business Development for Tech Rentals Inc. Aftergraduating from The University of South Carolina with a BA in broadcast journalism in 1984 Russell came to Atlanta and worked at CNN, WSB and a number of local production companies running camera, lights and sound. In 1989 Russell went to work for Total Audio Visual Services as a sales associate. At the time, TAVS was one of the largest A/V companies in the country. In 1993 Russell took the position of DOS & M for Tech Rentals Inc, which at the time was a relatively small A/V company. Since that time, Tech Rentals has grown to become one of the top 10 audio visual staging companies in the United States, as recognized by Rental and Staging magazine. Russell has served on the Georgia Meeting Professionals International, International Special Events Society and Professional Conference Managers Association boards, as well as the Hospitality Helping Hands board Executives.

Meeting Pros: Christophe Le Metayer with Christophe’s To Go, Kimberly Pierson with Jalee Catering on behalf of The Southern Classic Food and Beverage show, Olga Watness with Pure Red Events


On this Episode of Meeting Pros:

Christophe Le Metayer with Christophe’s To Go

“Cooking requires a light head, a generous spirit, and a big heart,” according to Chef Christophe Le Metayer, who brings all three to his innovative new venue, Christophe’s To Go ( Born in France and classically trained in the culinary arts, Chef Christophe has been following his passion for food and cooking for nearly three decades. Throughout his career he has developed a unique, globally inspired culinary style with the belief that “Great food is not ephemeral. It becomes part of you, influencing your emotions, thoughts, and sense of wellbeing.” As he cooks daily, he is inspired and driven by the opportunity, “to change an everyday moment into an unforgettable, sensual memory.”

Beginning at his critically acclaimed Saint Martin restaurant in Paris and continuing internationally, Christophe has dedicated his life to pursuing the ideal harmonious blend of science and artistry in the kitchen that demands precision but also creative inspiration and artistic flair. At the Ritz-Carlton Buckhead and Field Good in Alpharetta, he further honed his unique style of healthful, gourmet food that he now brings to Atlanta-area homes with Christophe’s To Go.

In a world of overly elaborate, sometimes excessive cuisine, Christophe’s understated approach is pure, “Keep food simple and beautiful and it will stir all of the senses, reawakening a primal bond with the natural world.”

Kimberly Pierson with Jalee Catering on behalf of The Southern Classic Food and Beverage show

On Saturday, August 31, 2013, Labor Day Weekend, 1:00 PM – 5:00 PM at the Rialto Center for the Arts, don’t miss the opportunity to sample foods and beverages from restaurants, chefs, caterers, bakeries and beverage companies in Atlanta and a few other areas. This event will showcase the culinary skills of these business owners by allowing attendees to sample items and vote for the fan favorites. Once inside all samples are complimentary. Healthy Choices, Vegan and Gluten-Free options will be available, along with an updated version of the southern favorites. Tickets are $25, and this event promises to be the best value in Atlanta for Labor Day Weekend.

Olga Watness

 Olga Watness with Pure Red Events


I’m Olga Watness the Passionate Party Consultant!
I’m a food and fashion goods buyer by education and Professional Events Planner for life who can Meet & Greet people in 5 languages, admires other cultures and creates custom events carefully follows the traditions of your culture. I’m a high energy fun loving Russian Girl with a bubbly personality, who came to Atlanta 8 years ago and absolutely love it! My company is based in Alpharetta, GA and

I traveled around the world a lot. Our clients often come from all different cultures and I can proudly say – I’m becoming a global, but always boutique, company. What is my many goals? I’m helping your dream to become a beautiful reality Private Parties and Business Affairs, Weddings and Public Events –

At Pure Red Events it’s Unique. Unforgettable. Yours.

I’m always happy to hear from you, call today 770.609.9912

Olga Watness of Pure Red Events

Meeting Pros: Rodney Mims Cook, Jr. & Sarah O’Brien with The National Monuments Foundation, Leah Stephens Economos with EEP Events, LLC

Meeting Pros

On this Episode of Meeting Pros:

Rodney Mims Cook, Jr. & Sarah O’Brien with The National Monuments Foundation 

Rodney Mims Cook: President of the National Monuments Foundation, graduated from Washington and Lee University, initiated the process to save the Fox Theatre, founding Trustee of the Prince of Wales Foundation for architecture. Constructed multiple monuments, buildings etc…

LinkedIn at Rodney Mims Cook

Leah Stephens Economos with EEP Events, LLC 

Leah Stephens Economos has been a part of Atlanta’s special events community since 2006. A series of sales roles with Atlanta’s most prestigious special events organizations have provided Leah with a 360-degree preparation for her current role as Event Planner at EEP Events. Leah proudly served on the original staff at the Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre, where she worked in catering and venue sales. Leah then accepted a role in catering sales with A Divine Event, and went on to work as a catering and design sales manager at Tony Conway’s A Legendary Event. Leah’s event experience spans a broad scope, from award-winning weddings to political rallies to corporate awards galas. Her clients consistently compliment her remarkable work ethic, creative problem solving abilities and top notch vendor network. In 2011, Leah was awarded the Tim Lundy, CSEP Rising Star Award, presented by the National Association of Catering Executives (NACE) and the International Special Events Society (ISES).

Leah can be reached via e-mail ( or phone (678-874-7107). Find reviews from her clients at:

Meeting Pros: David Samdperil with Track Seven Events, LLC., Jessica Williams Dorris with Jessica Williams Studio, Lou Guzzo with Spectrum Entertainment

Meeting Pros

On this Episode of Meeting Pros:

David Samdperil with  Track Seven Events, LLC.

David Samdperil is founder and co-owner of Track Seven Events. Beginning in 1999, David built a business that started as a DJ service and quickly grew it to a total event design and production company. Today that includes large-scale props, sets, lighting, theme decor, special efx, audio, video and more. Since the first NYC-themed design that consisted of a ten foot Statue of Liberty, David has continued to push boundaries to make his clients’ dream visions become reality designs. He is there with you every step of the way to ensure your vision has been heard, interpreted and executed. David loves that in this industry and with his clients there is unlimited creative potential. He believes that often times, that which seems the most “outlandish” can end up being the most amazing.

Jessica Williams Dorris with Jessica Williams Studio

Jessica Williams Studio prides itself in capturing memories and special moments through timeless lifestyle photography that tells the story of your day without words. Lifestyle photography is all about capturing the real emotions we display throughout everyday living, as well as the big moments in our lives, and using those images to tell the stories of who we are and how we feel throughout those moments. This is best done by getting to know and love our clients. I feel that the more I know about a person the better I can speak for them through the lens and I believe I have the ability to adapt my shooting style to tell your story, your way.

Twitter: @jwilliamsstudio

Instagram: jwilliamsstudio

Facebook: Jessica Williams Studio

Lou Guzzo with Spectrum Entertainment 

Louis is the DJ Manager at Spectrum Entertainment. He has over 24 years of wedding experience. Averaging over 150 events each year, Louis has fine- tuned his skills and will be a definite impact on your next event. He is an exceptional Emcee with natural instincts to get everyone comfortably involved in the Fun! Originally from New York, Louis competed among the best in a very saturated DJ market. He has a broadcasting degree from The Center for the Media Arts in NYC, and can provide any level of interaction from an outgoing personality to a more reserved service. He has performed for all types of events including Wedding Receptions, Corporate Events, Bar & Bat Mitzvahs, Sweet 16’s, and other Private Parties. He carries a huge library spanning from the 1920’s to current play with all ethnic backgrounds covered.


Meeting Pros: Cindy Harter Sims with Cindy Harter Photograhy, Yona Benstock with Flowers by Yona, Rebecca Gerber with Rebecca Diane

Meeting ProsOn this Episode of Meeting Pros:

Cindy Harter Sims with Cindy Harter Photograhy

Cindy Harter Sims

Cindy Harter Photography 25 West Main St Cartersville, Ga 30120 770.547.1018

Yona Benstock with Flowers by Yona 

Yona Benstock, owner and designer of Flowers by Yona, received formal floral design training and experience in Israel and Holland—quickly latching on to the European concept of “celebrating the subtleties of flowers.” This means designing with a purpose, tailoring designs to show the natural form of the flowers and the best part of the flowers being used, paying close attention to the details and proportionality and, most importantly, designing with the bride and groom in mind.

Each client, venue and wedding has a distinct personality and feel. Your wedding flowers should complement all of that, and at Flowers by Yona we will ensure all of that is taken into account as we turn your dream vision into a beautiful reality.

Rebecca Gerber with Rebecca Diane 

Treat yourself to the Rebecca Diane experience! Rebecca Gerber is the owner and Creative Director at Rebecca Diane, an invitation and stationary boutique that specializes in the design of couture, as well as 100% custom invitations, announcements and decorative paper accessories that are truly unique, unforgettable, and very you. Rebecca Diane believes that invitations should be PART of your guests’ experience, not just and invitation to the experience. A fabulous invitation sets the right tone for your special event, and coordinating paper accessories carry the design throughout the entire event.

Rebecca Diane creates custom designs for all types of social and corporate events, including weddings, mitzvahs, birthdays, anniversaries, graduations, baby announcements, bridal showers, baby showers, dinner parties, social gatherings, fundraisers, galas, and more. Talented designers and artists create exclusive, one-of-a-kind pieces including but not limited to invitations, menu cards, programs, escort cards, place cards, dessert table and food signage, custom monograms, monogramed runners, custom designed napkins, favor boxes and tags, and paper flower, and intricate die cut shapes.

Rebecca Diane’s hallmark is their boundless creativity and unique usage of materials and techniques to create an end product that is very you and totally unique. As a true innovative custom design studio, no material or printing technique is off-limits, and designers will personally shop all over the world for each and every job.

When you hire Rebecca Diane, you will experience true concierge service! A designer will collaborate with you and/or any of your other vendors to make sure that every Rebecca Diane piece is tightly coordinated with everything else at your event, and no detail is left unturned. Your guests will notice the difference, and appreciate it!