The Event Supplier and Services Association (ESSA) board has elected Marija Erzen, director of Solutions2 UK, to the post of vice-chair of the association. Erzen will serve as vice-chair alongside her predecessor and newly appointed ESSA chair Lou Kiwanuka.

Kiwanuka, managing director of EventShaper, has over 25 years experience in events, including roles as show owner, venue manager, contractor and supplier. She has served on the ESSA board as both a member and as vice-chair. Kiwanuka was appointed chair on January 1, 2021, and was appointed the chair of the Event Industry Alliance in late 2020 as part of its scheme to rotate the chair through ESSA, the Association of Event Organisers (AEO) and the Organisation of Event Venues (AEV).

Erzen has a well-established track record in the exhibitions and events sector, having worked across two parts of the industry with the Business Design Centre on the venue side, and with suppliers Melville Exhibition and Event Services Ltd (now GES EMEA) and with her own organisation for the last 19 years, Solutions2 UK.

Kiwanuka said, “Increasingly we are seeing more people put themselves forward for the board and this year we also saw 3 board members put themselves forward for the position of vice-chair. This shows the passion and commitment of our members to get involved and really drive the association forward. It's clear that taking the chair at this time is not an easy task but with a strong and committed vice-chair, secretariat and board alongside me, I am confident that we are in the best possible position to support our members over the upcoming year."

Erzen said, “Being elected to the board of ESSA and now becoming vice-chair affords me the opportunity to represent ESSA members at this most challenging of times. There are many silent voices within the ESSA membership, many of whom have been long-standing supporters of the association but never engaged fully, I would like to see that change,”

“I am also a passionate advocate for the principle of Use an ESSA Member, and intend to champion this message. ESSA membership is not a pay and play option, our members are required to meet standards and can move towards accreditation. In the uncertain times we face, ESSA membership should provide some surety for customers,” she added.

ESSA director, Andrew Harrison, said, “We are a membership organisation and our board is elected by members from its ranks. As the new chair, Lou is already forging ahead with building a strong, dynamic board to meet our current circumstances head-on, and I am delighted that she will be joined by Marija as the new vice-chair. I am looking forward to working with Lou and Marija over the next two years to fulfil ESSA’s role in rebuilding and reigniting our industry."

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