The Boycott Dilemma

Session Description

When Major League Baseball moved this summer’s All-Star Game from Atlanta to Denver in response to Georgia’s restrictive new voting law, it potentially set a precedent for other major events in the state. To what extent should meeting and event organizers respond to boycott pressures?

Hear Michael Gordon, principal at the Gordon Group and former spokesperson for Attorney General Janet Reno; Jack Johnson, chief advocacy officer at Destinations International; and Michael Skolnik, a documentary filmmaker and CEO of the Soze Agency explore this topic and the implications for event organizers.

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Course Information

Estimated Time: 30 min

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Michael Gordon

Throughout his career, Michael has worked with leaders in business, politics, and philanthropy. He founded the award-winning communications firm, Group Gordon, seeing a need in the market for a firm that excelled both strategically and tactically. His clients are among the most influential corporations, financial institutions, and nonprofits.

Group Gordon was named one of the top 100 Best Places to Work in New York City by Crain’s New York Business. PRovoke has honored Group Gordon at its SABRE Awards as one of the Top Five Corporate Agencies in North America as well as a Best Agency to Work For, noting that “Group Gordon has a reputation as one of the industry’s good guys, both in terms of the clients it represents and in terms of its own employee culture.”

Michael is a columnist with Business Insider, and his insights on communications matters have been featured in leading broadcast and print outlets including CNN, MSNBC, CNBC, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, the Associated Press, USA Today, The Guardian, and The Los Angeles Times, among many others.

Before beginning his career in corporate PR, Michael served in the Clinton Administration as spokesperson for Attorney General Janet Reno. A former attorney with Skadden, Arps, Michael earned J.D. and M.B.A. degrees from Columbia University and his B.A. from the University of Pennsylvania.

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Jack Johnson

As Chief Advocacy Officer, Jack Johnson manages the overall public policy operations at Destinations International including member advocacy education and training, development of destination tools and best practices, coalition work with peer organizations, industry research and related public affairs activities. He also oversees the board governance, the Destination Management Accreditation Program (DMAP) and the DestinationNEXT (Assessments and Planning) Program. Johnson brings unrivaled experience developing innovative strategies, policy solutions and civic consensus for government, not-for-profits and small businesses. Johnson has received numerous accolades including being named as one of Successful Meetings’ 25 Most Influential People in the Meetings Industry in 2018 for his work on opposing travel boycotts and bans. Currently, his work around positioning destination organizations as a shared value in each of their communities and speaking with a new lexicon based on the emotion-driven by those values has made him one of the leading voices of the travel industry.

During his previous tenure with Choose Chicago, Johnson played a leading role in the extensive reforms of the McCormick Place Convention Center and the Chicago Convention & Tourism Bureau, resulting in a new convention center operating model with both a travel industry and a citywide civic perspective. Johnson was integrally involved in the merger of the Chicago Convention & Tourism Bureau and the Chicago Office of Tourism, resulting in maximizing their resources, unifying the message and embedding the organization into the city’s economic development strategy.

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Michael Skolnick

Michael Skolnik is a founding partner of The Soze Agency, a creative agency that works with companies, non-profits organizations and movements to create campaigns rooted in compassion, authenticity and equity. Michael’s profile in the NY Times identified him as “the man you go to if you want to leverage the power of celebrity and the reach of digital media to soften the ground for social change.”
Earlier in his career, Michael served as President of Global Grind, a millennial media company. Prior to that, he spent over a decade as a film director and producer.
Michael serves on the Board of Directors for Rock The Vote, The Trayvon Martin Foundation, The Gathering For Justice and The Young Partners Board of The Public Theater.
Michael Skolnik is the proud father to Mateo Ali.

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Howard Givner

With over 20 years of industry experience, Howard is a widely recognized expert and innovator in the field of special events, meetings and small business growth strategy. Howard is the Founder and Executive Director of the Event Leadership Institute, provider of best-in-class training and education for the events industry, through online, on-demand video classes, interviews with industry leaders, white papers, webinars and live events.

Howard is the founder of Paint The Town Red, Inc., and the former CEO of North America for Global Events Group, the 13th largest event agency in the world, which acquired Paint The Town Red in 2008. During his tenure the company won over 30 industry awards. He is a Past President of the ILEA (International Live Events Associate) NY Metro Chapter; has served on the board of directors of MPI (Meeting Professionals International) Greater NY Chapter as VP of Education; has served on the Advisory Board of Special Events Magazine; been a judge of the Gala Awards & HSMAI’s Adrian Awards.

He is a frequent speaker at industry conferences on a wide range of topics. He currently writes the monthly In Business column for Event Solutions magazine. He has been profiled in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, CNBC, National Public Radio, ABC News, The Apprentice, and USA Today, in addition to numerous trade media.

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Beth Kormanik

A journalist for more than 20 years, Beth Kormanik is part of the Event Leadership Institute’s editorial content team. She served as editor in chief of BizBash, a leading media resource event and meeting organizers, following roles as senior editor and news editor. She led major projects for both print and online, including the annual list of Top 100 Events in the U.S. and Canada and the launch of the BizBash 1,000 most influential event professionals. She led coverage of a variety of high-profile events such as Art Basel Miami Beach, the White House Correspondents’ Association Dinner, and the South Beach Wine & Food Festival. Kormanik also served as co-host of the GatherGeeks podcast and regularly spoke to industry groups on meeting and event trends. Kormanik currently is a contributing editor to Event Marketer. She has written for the New York Times and was a reporter for the Florida Times-Union and Milwaukee Journal Sentinel newspapers. She also served as managing editor of Hotel Interactive, a trade publication for the hospitality industry. Kormanik is a graduate of Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism and lives in Brooklyn, New York.

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